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Steven M. Sipple: Frost stiff-arms contract discussion and other takeaways from NU luncheon

Steven M. Sipple: Frost stiff-arms contract discussion and other takeaways from NU luncheon

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Parker Gabriel and Steven M. Sipple discuss Scott Frost's full plate: coaching, game prep, recruiting, transfer portal and searching for coaching replacements.

Lest you were in doubt, Nebraska still has two football games remaining this season. 

We know this to be true because the Huskers (3-7 overall, 1-6 Big Ten) materialized Monday for their weekly news luncheon.

Some takeaways: 

1. Frost stiff-arms metrics discussion: Nebraska coach Scott Frost always takes the podium last at these gatherings.

Once he took his spot at the microphone, it got fairly interesting right off the jump.

The first question was about Frost's recently restructured contract — specifically, the agreed-upon metrics he would have to achieve to bump his salary back to $5 million (from $4 million) in 2023 and beyond. 

What exactly are those metrics? 

"Those are just making sure we get on the right track and get winning," the coach said. "I don't want to say much more than that. It's obvious what we need to get done here. It doesn't take too smart a guy to figure that out." 

In a column for Monday, I wrote that in future seasons it would be fair to expect Nebraska, at a minimum, to enter the last few weeks of the regular season in contention for first place in its division. That's happened only once (2016) in the past seven seasons. 

It's completely understandable why neither Frost nor Nebraska athletic director Trev Alberts would want to specify publicly the exact nature of the metrics in Frost's new contract. It inevitably would lead to a lot of "win counting" among fans and other interested observers during a season in which Frost almost certainly will be under intense hot-seat scrutiny. 

In short, it would add a strange dynamic to the 2022 season.

A school spokesman last week said the metrics referenced in the contract are not part of a record that is subject to an open records request.

Alberts referenced "very clearly defined expectations" for Frost during a formal interview last week with the Journal Star and Omaha World-Herald, but didn't say what they were. 

My guess is, the Journal Star will come up with another open records request.  

Actually, that's not a guess. 

2. Keep your mind on the "why": An extremely important part of this week's Nebraska football discussion regards something I've heard often from Husker volleyball coach John Cook.  

Cook instructs his players to ask themselves why they feel it's important to achieve certain goals. 

Why does it all matter, all the work, all the strain (Bob Diaco alert)?  

We all know Nebraska's record on the football field isn't what anybody on the team wants. The Huskers have come up short of essentially all their most important goals. Now, they get ready to face 19th-ranked Wisconsin (7-3, 5-2 Big Ten), which still has designs on winning the Big Ten. You have to anticipate that the Badgers will be highly motivated for the 2:30 p.m. game at Camp Randall Stadium. 

Why should Nebraska have any chance to match Wisconsin in terms of motivation? 

What is Nebraska's "why?" 

Along those lines, a reporter Monday had an interesting way to phrase a question to Husker junior quarterback Adrian Martinez: "What drives you to try to finish the season out the right way when it seems like the administration has punted until next year?" 

That's in reference to Nebraska last week parting ways with four offensive assistants. 

Said Martinez: "It's about pride. It's about pride for us as players." 

He also pointed to the fact that it's a rivalry game.  

"The same goes for the next week (against Iowa)," Martinez said. "These are big games for us, regardless of where we're at in the year. Those games will always mean something. 

"We're just as inspired, if you will," he added. "We're just as fired up to stick together and fight the odds and find a way to get some wins." 

Wisconsin opened as a 10-point favorite. That seems a bit high. 

Parker Gabriel and Steven M. Sipple discuss job responsibilities for the Husker fill-in assistant coaches for the remainder of the season.

3. Quiet-but-important improvement: In many seasons, at least one Nebraska defensive statistic might be getting more attention than it is this year. Because of all the losing, this particular stat tends to get lost in the ether. 

So, I'm glad it was brought up Monday. 

The Huskers have held opponents to 3.7 yards per carry. That's good for only eighth in the Big Ten. But bear in mind, this is an exceptionally tough defensive conference. 

Also, consider how far Nebraska has come in this area. Last season, the Huskers allowed 4.2 yards per carry after surrendering 4.8 in 2019 and 5.0 in 2018.

When you're giving up 5.0 yards per carry, you're basically surrendering. Yeah, that's harsh. But, man, NU had to get much better in this area.

Kudos to Erik Chinander and his crew. The Blackshirts rally hard to the ball on a consistent basis. They've tackled well most of the time.

It's been a joy to watch.

I'll go back to the topic later this week. 

4. Quote of the day: In discussing Nebraska's improved run defense, sophomore inside linebacker Luke Reimer identified one especially important trait that a unit must possess. 

"Violence," he said flatly. "I mean, you have to be extremely violent. In the Big Ten, it starts with the defensive line and linebackers. You just have to be extremely violent up front. Even if you're wrong on your (assignment) call — if you're violent, you're not going to be wrong."  

A graduate of Lincoln North Star, Reimer leads Nebraska with 96 tackles this season, including four for losses. 

I'm not exactly Bob Stoops, but it appears Reimer botches very few assignments.

Nebraska quarterback Adrian Martinez speaks at the NU athletics press conference on Monday, Nov. 15, 2021.

Nebraska inside linebacker Luke Reimer speaks at the NU athletics press conference on Monday, Nov. 15, 2021.

Nebraska tight end Austin Allen speaks at the NU athletics press conference on Monday, Nov. 15, 2021.

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