If Scott Frost’s seat wasn’t already hot at Nebraska, a 30-22 loss to Illinois in “week zero” got the burner quickly turned up last Saturday.
Frost continued to stoke the flames in a news conference Monday. “About half of our game plan was out the window when they lined up how they did,” he said, eliciting the kind of mockery befitting of such a statement.
Kentucky’s season, meanwhile, doesn’t start until Saturday — the Wildcats host Louisiana Monroe at noon — but Mark Stoops’ name has already started to bubble up as a potential hire by other programs heading into 2022. Louisville radio host Mark Ennis tweeted a joke(?) while the Cornhuskers were still playing: “Nebraska boosters googling Mark Stoops, Luke Fickell, and Matt Campbell right now.”
Pete Thamel, co-host of the Yahoo Sports podcast “College Football Enquirer,” offered up Stoops as one of two “intriguing” candidates (along with Minnesota’s P.J. Fleck) for Nebraska to consider if Frost were to be let go after this season.
“Go hire Mark Stoops,” Thamel said. “ … He’s been about as good as Kentucky as you can be. And, look, they (Nebraska) just need to get back to baseline functional. If Mark Stoops has showed anything, it’s that he can get a perpetually awful program to baseline functional.”
Pat Forde, a Sports Illustrated columnist who formerly wrote for the Louisville Courier Journal, said he liked those names as possible candidates but wasn’t convinced either would seriously consider the Cornhuskers.
“They could probably throw more money at you, more, ‘Hey, whatever you want, we’ll do it for you,’” Forde said. “ … At the end of the day, it’s tough for me to say, ‘Yeah, I think I can do it at Nebraska.’ I’d have a hard time convincing myself.”
Dan Wetzel, the show’s third host, thinks Fleck might be more gettable than Stoops.
“If I’m Mark Stoops, I’m not leaving Kentucky,” Wetzel said. “I know you’re not gonna win the league, (but) you’re not winning the league at Nebraska. He gets a ton of players from Ohio, which is right on the border. He’s an hour and a half from Cincinnati. And he’s a few-hour drive up into Columbus and into northeast Ohio where his family’s from. They get a lot of kids out of Detroit.
“Kentucky will pay him. The SEC’s got so much money rolling in. I wouldn’t do it. I think that’s the problem. No disrespect to Nebraska. It’s a historic program. It’s got a great game-day environment. The whole scene. But that’s all it is at this point.”
Thamel suggested that Nebraska’s division in the Big Ten is more “winnable” than Kentucky’s in the Southeastern Conference. He also offered this praise of Stoops in tandem with a dig at the Cornhuskers.
“He’s a proven winner at an outlier, and at Nebraska, you have to admit you’re an outlier program at this point.”