Aug 10, 2020
Nebraska Football Coach Scott Frost Press Conference Transcript August 10: 2020 Season
Nebraska Football Head Coach Scott Frost held a press conference on August 10. “We want to play football this year at the University of Nebraska,” he said as the Big Ten Conference is expected to vote to postpone fall sports. Read the transcript of his briefing here.
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Scott Frost: (00:02)
Afternoon everybody. We’ve been kind of intentionally quiet as we have been trying to deal with this but I think it’s time to kind of be a little more upfront about how we feel with a lot of things. I want to start out by saying how proud I am to be representing the University of Nebraska, the city of Lincoln and the state of Nebraska in my job. I can’t imagine being anywhere and representing people that I care about more than the job that I’m in right now. There’s a lot of speculation, a lot of things swirling right now with what’s going to happen. I wish I had all the answers, I don’t. I have a group of players that I love, every single one of them. I ask them to fight for us all the time, to fight on the football field all the time and I think at some times the head coach’s responsibility is to fight for what they want too.
Scott Frost: (00:59)
Our football players want to play. The coaches want to coach. We want to play football this year at the University of Nebraska. From the beginning of this, we’ve respected the virus, leaned on the help of the medical experts that we have had access to, a great partnership with UNMC and people that know a lot about this. We’ve leaned on their expertise, leaned on their guidance. Our players feel safe. They feel taken care of and they want to play. I think what’s kind of being missed in a lot of these conversations is what the world looks like, what universities look like and what the lives of our kids look like if we don’t play football and I haven’t heard a lot of people talk about that but what does the world look like without football?
Scott Frost: (01:51)
A lot of people around the country are going to point to the fact that all these decisions are going to be financial. Let’s get past that for a second. Let’s get past the fact that the University of Nebraska Athletic Department will lose $80 to 120 million if we don’t play football. The city of Lincoln will lose upwards of $300 million if we don’t play football and the state of Nebraska will lose hundreds of millions of dollars if we don’t play football. Let’s get past the fact that a lot of people are going to be laid off, furloughs, lose jobs and their kids aren’t going to be able to have the same things that they have right now while their mom and dad are working. Let’s get past the fact that a lot of schools are going to have to drop sports and some sports may never exist again. Let’s take the financial piece completely out of it.
Scott Frost: (02:37)
Right from the beginning, our priority has been the health and safety of our student athletes. Nothing’s been more important. Winning or losing any game doesn’t matter as much to us as the health and safety of these kids that we are about and love that are playing for us and for the state of Nebraska every week. I want to stop and talk for a minute about what their lives look like if we cancel football tomorrow. If we cancel football tomorrow, we’re throwing up a white flag and saying this can’t be done and if that’s the decision that’s made, we’ll certainly abide by it but let’s think about our players and their health and well-being for a minute. Do we keep them here, do we send them home? Where do they go, what do they do, what do I do with them? The virus is going to be here whether we play football or not and our kids are going to have an opportunity to contract the virus whether we’re playing football or not. I don’t have license to talk about the number of players we’ve had that have tested positive but what I can tell you is we’re very sure that the vast majority if not all of them contracted the coronavirus somewhere outside of our building and not in our workouts.
Scott Frost: (03:50)
I still haven’t seen any evidence to say that a lot of these players are getting in these type of activities. We feel and I feel 100% certain that the safest place for our players in regards to coronavirus is right here where there’s structure, where there’s testing, where there’s medical supervision, where they have motivation to make smart decisions, to stay away from the virus because if they don’t they’re going to lose what they love and lose their opportunity to play football. The virus is here either way and I would contend that our players are safer here doing what they love to do and being monitored and screened constantly than we would be if we sent them home. They have better access to medical care here. If we send them somewhere else, are they going to have doctors screening them for symptoms? Are they going to have people taking care of them? Are they going to have access to medical care if they do contract the virus? Where are they going to go and what are they going to do? If we send them home they’re not going to have access to regular testing, to make sure that we know who has it, who doesn’t, who they should be hanging out with, who they shouldn’t.
Scott Frost: (04:59)
Again, I truly believe at the bottom of my heart in regards to testing and the things that we can do for our players that they’re safer here than they are if we cancel the season and send them somewhere else. You got to touch on nutrition. If we’re not in business here, our kids aren’t going to be eating the same way. Nutrition leads to a lot of immune boosting and strengthening. I believe our kids are safer if they’re getting sleep and routine eating the right way and doing the right things here. I don’t know how many of our kids will be able to make it through school if they’re not here getting the academic help that they can I assume because we have a smart team, the vast majority would, but our kids aren’t going to have access to those things. Mental health is a big thing. Our players love what they do, they want to play, they want to be here playing. They have mental health support here. Without the structured environment here, I worry about our kids. I worry about our kids in relation to drugs, I worry about our kids in relation to alcohol, I worry about our kids in relation to the decisions they’re making outside of any kind of football structure or workout structure.
Scott Frost: (06:09)
Truly at the bottom of my heart believe that our kids are safer in this environment than they are somewhere else. I think fewer of our kids will get it, fewer of them will get sick. We want to fight for these players any way we can. I am passionate about this because I care about our players and our players want to play. There’s been a lot of narratives out there. I was proud of our players a week or so ago when a statement came out from Big 10 United. We didn’t steer or direct our players as to what to do. The only direction we gave them was make sure that if this is a voice that’s supposed to be speaking for you, make sure that you agree with what the voice is saying. Our leadership got together and advocated from the Big 10 United group and right on the heels of that on their own accord put out a lot of tweets about how they feel about Nebraska and said we want to play football.
Scott Frost: (07:08)
If football is a mitigating factor, if football is a reason that kids are going to get sick, catch COVID, put themselves at risk, I’ll be the first one if I think football is a reason these guys are in danger to try to pull the plug. Our kids want to play. We want to let them play and I truly at the bottom of my heart believe this is the safest place for them, doing what they love and being taken care of by a bunch of people that care about them. If we send kids home, they’re going to be in closer contact with a lot of people, family members and other people that might be at higher risk for coronavirus than if we keep them here in an environment where they’re around other young, healthy people. If I had a son I’d want him playing football. I think this is the safest place that he could be [inaudible 00:08:02
Scott Frost: (08:02)
… think this is the safest place that he could be. And a lot of schools around the conference probably feel the same way, that the safest environment that we can put these guys in is an environment where they’re being monitored constantly, being screened, being tested, being taken care of, being protected if they do get sick, I’m passionate about this because our guys want to play. I’m proud of who they are and the decisions they’ve made. I think it’s our responsibility to make sure that they respect this virus. I’m not a doctor. And I don’t understand a lot of these things. The medical experts that we’re leaning on are the ones that are guiding our decisions. Sometimes I think our players aren’t scared enough of this, because of the guys that we have on our team that have had this, that haven’t had very many symptoms or have been just slightly symptomatic or not symptomatic at all. I’m not sure our players respect us enough.
Scott Frost: (08:55)
That’s our job as leaders of this program, this university, and this athletic department, to make sure that we keep them as safe as possible, even when they’re not taking it seriously enough. There’s a lot of reasons. I think guys are safer here. And every single one of our guys is passionate about playing. We’ve told guys right from the start of this pandemic, that if there’s anything we’re doing, anything we’re asking you to do that you don’t feel safe about, that every single one of them has the right to say that they don’t want to be a part of anything. I fully believe that it’s their right to say they don’t feel safe, they don’t want to play. We let them know they wouldn’t be penalized in any way in this program. If they make a decision, that’s their decision, and they don’t feel safe doing the things we’re doing. We haven’t had one yet. If we do, I understand, but our football team wants to play and we want to fight for their opportunity to play.
Scott Frost: (09:56)
The leadership at the University of Nebraska has been incredible. The guys that I’ve worked with from the Governor to Ted Carter, to Ronnie Green, Bill Moose, and others, our board of regents. We’re committed to playing football at the University of Nebraska. We’re a proud member of the Big Ten. I think it’s the best conference in the country. We want to play a Big Ten schedule. I think our university is committed to playing football any way that we possibly can, regardless of what anybody else does. And look forward to the opportunity to let our guys get on the field and show the progress that they’ve made in a safe environment.
Speaker 1: (10:42)
Thanks coach. We’ll go to questions. So just a reminder to unmute yourself if I call on you. First question, KETB, Andy Kendy.
Andy Kendy: (10:54)
Hey Coach. Thanks for doing this. You mentioned wanting to play. If the Big Ten comes out and says “The Big Ten is not going to play football,” would you entertain the possibility of playing games that you would schedule outside the conference? You guys practiced this morning, what were you told this morning about going out and continuing practice, not knowing the future or what’s going to happen tomorrow?
Scott Frost: (11:23)
We certainly want to play football. I think that’s our priority. Our priority is to our kids, making sure they’re safe, and allowing them to do what they want to do. We want to play a Big Ten schedule. I hope that’s what happens. Our university’s committed to playing no matter what, no matter what that looks like and how that looks. We want to play no matter who it is or where it is. So we’ll see how those chips fall. We certainly hope it’s in the Big Ten. If it isn’t, I think we’re prepared to look for other options. The only direction we’ve gotten on practice so far, is that we continue to be in a period of no pads, until we hear different from the Big Ten Conference. So we should have had our first padded practice this morning, and instead we stayed helmets only.
Speaker 1: (12:16)
Next question, Lincoln Journal Star, Parker Gabriel. Unmute yourself, Parker.
Parker Gabriel: (12:22)
Hey Scott. Thanks for doing this. Who, in your estimation, should ultimately make the decision on whether the Big Ten goes forward? Obviously, there’s a lot of layers of administration and all that. But in your mind, at the end of the day, who makes this call if the Big Ten plays this fall?
Scott Frost: (12:43)
I think the university presidents make that decision at the end of the day, in conjunction with the Commissioner. And I know there’s been a lot of conference calls, continuing calls, and conversation in regards to that. It’s their decision. I know where our university president stands, and he wants to play football.
Speaker 1: (13:09)
Omaha World-Herald, Sam McKewon.
Sam McKewon: (13:12)
Scott, thanks for doing this. What changed from last Wednesday until today from your vantage point? What exactly changed in the Big Tens? Point one. And two, do you think the Big Ten, based on what you know, would allow you to pursue a schedule outside the conference structure?
Scott Frost: (13:30)
I don’t know the answer really to either one of those questions. I don’t want to speak for the Big Ten. It seems like we’re looking for a lot of reasons to not play right now. And certainly again, I’m not a doctor, I’m not a expert on any of this. I can only listen to what experts have to say. We have to do what they tell us in order to keep our kids safe. Just having the limited experience that I have in dealing with our team since they’ve been back, I fully believe that we can pull this off in a way that’s safe for our student athletes. And we’ll continue to. I don’t know what’s changed in the last week or so. We’ve kind of felt like we’re at a position where we either have to make some hard decisions right now, or there’ll be a lot harder decisions to make down the road. And I think the people at the University of Nebraska are committed to playing.
Sam McKewon: (14:26)
You’re on coaches calls all the time. To your knowledge, do any of the coaches in the Big Ten not want to play this season for whatever reason?
Scott Frost: (14:34)
No. On the calls every coach says that they want to play. I think every school is in a little bit different situation, from political environment, to the shaping of their student athletes, to how quickly they got them back. Everybody’s in a little different situation. But people need to understand the carnage and aftermath of what college athletics looks like if we don’t play. This isn’t as simple as canceling a Little League game, and picking up and playing the next Saturday. There’s a lot of effects to our states, to our communities, to our universities, to our athletic departments, to other sports, to people’s employment and jobs. This is a huge decision. And that’s why I’m proud of the leadership the university University of Nebraska that’s going to continue to fight for Nebraskans and for this university and this athletic department.
Speaker 1: (15:29)
Brian Christopherson, Nebraska 247.
Brian Christopherson: (15:35)
Hey Scott. Thanks for doing this. Have you had any players that have expressed reservations about not going forward? And what can you say about the leadership you’ve gotten from your players throughout this process?
Scott Frost: (15:46)
The leadership’s been great. Our team’s as close as I’ve seen it be. Our players biggest concern in regards to not playing or playing this season, is what happens to their eligibility, to be honest with you. The guys don’t want to waste a year of-
Scott Frost: (16:03)
To be honest with you. The guys don’t want to waste a year of eligibility. If we play a broken season, a two game, three game, four game season, where they’re going to lose an opportunity to play for a whole year… that’s been the biggest concern that I’ve heard from our players. We’re waiting to hear on eligibility decisions from the NCAA. Other than that, our team wants to play. We’ve had one guy or two since the cardiac issue has come up, that’s been a concern about that. Our university is committed to doing whatever we have to, to give EKGs and cardiac MRIs and other things to make sure that the players are in the best health that they possibly can to play and they’re not at risk. We’re going to be able to try to address any way we can, all of these issues and mitigate risk for our players and our players [inaudible 00:16:56] have wanted to continue practice and play football.
Speaker 1: (17:01)
Next question from Husker Online, Sean Callahan.
Sean Callahan: (17:08)
Hey coach, I guess there’s been a lot of reports out there about playing spring football. What are your thoughts on that? Could that work? What are the positives, negatives if the Big 10 were to try to go that route?
Scott Frost: (17:21)
We’re committed to trying to play right now and trying to play in the fall. We’re going to continue to explore any options that we can to try to be able to play football this fall, and this season. The longer you keep a business shut down, the harder it is to reopen, and we can push this off to spring. I’m not sure the factors that make people want to shut down football right now won’t still exist in the spring. There’s no guarantee we’re going to have football even if we try to push it to the spring. And also, Sean, this is a contact sport. This is a physical sport. I don’t know how it would work trying to sandwich two full college football seasons into one calendar year. But I know there’s a lot of challenges that would get unpacked if you tried to pull that off as well. I think here in Nebraska, we’re committed to doing everything we can to play this fall.
Speaker 1: (18:14)
Just to reminder, if you have a question, go ahead and put it in the chat that you want to ask a question. Next one from Mitch Sherman of The Athletic.
Mitch Sherman: (18:23)
Hey Scott, you mentioned the importance of the time here. Have you had any discussions yet, or know of anyone on your staff who has, about how it would look if you did have to look outside of the Big 10? Would it be a geographical thing? Could you be an independent? What are options there? And if there wasn’t football on campus at Nebraska in the fall, would you be able to do anything from a team point of view, practice, just focus on recruiting? What would that look like?
Scott Frost: (18:59)
Well, it’s way too early for me to tell you what it would look like if the Big 10 doesn’t play. We’re a proud member of the Big 10. We want to play a Big 10 schedule. I think the only reason we would look at any other options is if, for some reason, the Big 10 wasn’t playing and only a handful of teams from the Big 10 wanted to continue playing. If that’s the case, I think we’re prepared to look at any and all options.
Scott Frost: (19:26)
What would we do if the season got pushed? Kind of to my point in my opening, you just asked me if we should continue workouts if we don’t have a fall season. It makes no sense to me that we’re going to ask kids to continue to work out, to put stress and strain on their body, to be around each other or potentially practice for a season next spring. If it’s too dangerous to play football, it should be too dangerous to do any of those things. And yet here we are with our kids on campus, practicing, getting ready to shut it down and then speculating about whether or not we’re going to be able to continue practicing our workout together in groups.
Scott Frost: (20:04)
I hope we don’t have to go down any of those roads, Mitch. I hope we can stay on course here and play football this fall and do it in a way that’s the safest possible for our student athletes.
Speaker 1: (20:15)
Steve Sipple, Lincoln Journal Star.
Steve Sipple: (20:18)
Hi Scott. Thanks for doing this. How quickly, which it’s August 10th, how quickly would your team be ready to play a game right now?
Scott Frost: (20:29)
Mitch, I think if I took a straw poll of our team and asked them when they could play, give us about a week and I think we’re ready to play football. The only thing we’re missing right now is having had the pads on getting our guys a little bit used to the contact, blocking and tackling a little bit. We can be ready to play really quick.
Steve Sipple: (20:48)
How has your energy, your team’s energy been affected maybe by the… has the energy been affected by the past few days of sort of wild speculation?
Scott Frost: (20:59)
I was worried about that this morning when I went out on the field. Sip, brought the team up at the beginning of practice and guaranteed them that they have people here in Lincoln that are fighting for them to play. After that huddle with the team, we had one of the most passionate and energetic practices that I’ve been a part of. I told the guys afterwards, I was happy for them, because guys that’ll give everything they have in a situation like that, that those are the type of guys I want on my team.
Steve Sipple: (21:34)
Speaker 1: (21:35)
Next question, Mike’l Severe 1620 in Omaha.
Mike’l Severe: (21:40)
Hey Scott, you mentioned earlier, and I believe Jared did too, that if there was no season this year that it could damage sports far more than we thought it could ever. What kind of damage do you think it would do if we didn’t have a college football season? What are some of the things you think that would… how it would damage it?
Scott Frost: (21:57)
I skipped over that and I didn’t Mike’l. Our best guess, like I said in the opening, is there’d be an 80 to $120 million hit to the University of Nebraska athletic budget. Our athletic department actually give several million dollars a year back to campus, which I know is going to take a hit of its own. I don’t know how many sports are going to be able to exist if we lose out on $120 million. I don’t know how many people’s jobs will be in jeopardy if we lose out on that. If conferences start to disintegrate and some were playing and some aren’t, I don’t know if that landscape ever stays the same.
Scott Frost: (22:38)
The biggest factor is if we don’t play football, we’re not going to be able to pay for anything until we start making money here again. And like I said, in the opening, our number one priority is the health and safety of our kids, but I still want to be able to field a team next year. If we don’t play football, I don’t know what happens to eligibility with kids. If we give all our seniors back a year of eligibility, if we don’t play football, we’re looking at carrying 105 to 110 kids on scholarship for the next four years, coming off a season and calendar year where our athletic department took an 80 to 100 million, $20 million budget hit. There was no way we can afford to do that. I don’t know how we afford to pay for a lot of the things in the athletic department that we’re continuing to pay, much less on the university level. If we don’t have football, the entire landscape of college athletics, college football university systems, the number of sports at universities, that could all be affected. I don’t think anybody… I don’t think very many people have really taken a serious look at the aftermath of what all this will look like if universities are forced to closet football for the fall.
Mike’l Severe: (24:00)
Speaker 1: (24:02)
Back to Parker Gabriel, Lincoln.
Reporter 1: (24:03)
Back to Parker Gabriel, Lincoln Journal Star.
Parker Gabriel: (24:06)
Hey Scott, you said that all of the coaches, when the coaches are together, support playing. From what you know is President Carter or at that level, the president’s level, does Nebraska feel like it’s in the minority at that level of decision-making regarding the schools in the Big 10 that are advocating for playing versus not playing?
Scott Frost: (24:30)
I don’t know that for sure. I’m not on those calls. I just can’t tell you how proud I am to be associated with Ted and Ronnie and our board and Bill. I know for sure at Nebraska, it’s unanimous we all want to play football.
Got time for two or three more. KLIN, Kaleb Henry.
Kaleb Henry: (24:50)
Hey, Scott. Thanks for doing this. Talking about the other coaches, obviously, you’re not the athletic director, but what have the conversations been like, talking with John Cook in volleyball or even softball and baseball, cross country? What have those conversations been like with your peers at Nebraska, talking about what the fall’s going to look like?
Scott Frost: (25:09)
Well, nobody’s a bigger Nebraska volleyball, baseball, track and field, soccer fan than I am. I want what’s best for all those programs, just like they want what’s best for us. A lot of those guys are nervous, too. Mark Manning’s been in the office wondering if we know what’s going to happen. I was on the phone with Will Bolt two nights ago. Call it what it is. I think about 85% roughly of our athletic department revenue comes through the sport of football, and I’m proud of that fact, because we help support a lot of other student athletes’ ability to play the sports that they love, just like our kids get to play the sport that they love.
Scott Frost: (25:51)
If you take away 85% of revenue and put us in that big of hole as an athletic department, realistically, it’s going to be hard to continue to field all those sports. I’m not sure what it would look like on the tail end of that. That’s not just at the University of Nebraska. I think we’re in a better position than just about anybody else in the country, but those are all the problems and obstacles that you’re going to encounter if football doesn’t go off this year. I want what’s best for all those sports, including ours.
Back to Steve Sippel, Lincoln Journal Star.
Steve Sipple: (26:28)
Hey, Scott, the edict that came from the Big 10 on Saturday, did that catch you by surprise? Did you hear anything about that coming?
Scott Frost: (26:37)
The acclimatization period?
Steve Sipple: (26:39)
Scott Frost: (26:40)
We got an email on it. We were in about period eight of practice that morning when someone walked out and showed me that ruling. We were in helmets only that day, and so it didn’t really affect us that day. We took a day off yesterday, and we’re back out there today. Normally would have been in pads today, and we had to stay in helmets only. Our guys are ready to start hitting. We’re doing everything. But right now, in our practice, it’s going to be hard for us to practice too many more times without getting the helmets and pads on. But we’ll continue to do it as long as they tell us we have to.
Steve Sipple: (27:20)
Do you have any sense of when that might be that you can get in pads? Have you had any correspondence in that regard with the Big 10?
Scott Frost: (27:29)
All we’ve heard is they’re going to keep us in an acclimatization period indefinitely. Hopefully, it’s just a matter of days, but we’ll wait to hear.
Steve Sipple: (27:39)
Hail Varsity, Derek Peterson. One more after Derek, if there is one.
Derek Peterson: (27:47)
Hey, Scott. Some of the professional leagues that have been in a bubble, they’ve been playing. They’ve been playing without problems. The MLB is not in a bubble, but they’ve made a go of it, and they’re having problems, but they’re still trying. Would there be disappointment or frustration on your part, I guess, if the plug is pulled before you even had a chance to try?
Scott Frost: (28:08)
Yeah, and, again, I don’t want to speak too much on medical things, because I’m not a doctor. I’m not the expert on this. I know that putting college football players in a complete bubble and protecting them from getting this virus is going to be impossible if we play football. I also know that if we don’t play football, putting the same kids in a bubble and protecting them getting from getting coronavirus is impossible. That’s why my question is is football the mitigating factor in the risk for these players? I believe they’re safer in an environment here, where we’re monitoring them, keeping track of them, giving them motivation to stay away from situations that could put them at risk.
Scott Frost: (28:51)
If our goal is to keep every single student athlete in the country from contracting coronavirus, we’re going to fail whether we play football or not. If kids do acquire it, I know they’re in good hands here. I know in other universities around the country, in our league, they’re in good hands if they do happen to acquire it, and I don’t believe whether we play football or not is going to be the mitigating factor in whether they acquire it or not. I hope none of my kids get it from here on out. If they do, we’re going to take care of them, and I think they’re safer here than they would be if we cancel and send them home.
Last question for Coach. Omaha World Herald, Sam McKewon.
Sam McKewon: (29:33)
Hey, Scott. You had mentioned in a previous answer that some schools don’t necessarily have the same environment or situation that Nebraska does. In Nebraska, all of the politicians are pretty aligned, including your university administration. At Nebraska, you guys brought your team back a long time ago. What are some of the things that other schools, maybe in the Big 10 East, might be dealing with, whether it’s environmental or when their team came back or politically that’s different than Nebraska?
Scott Frost: (30:01)
Yeah. I don’t want to get political. That’s not my job. I’m lucky enough to be in football, where I don’t have to get political. I just know there’s a lot of people involved in these decisions, Sam. I think every local health department’s somewhat involved. I think there’s governors involved. There’s university presidents, chancellors, ADs, football coaches. To make a commitment to play like we want to and are doing here at Nebraska, you have to have everybody aligned. I think all the people that I talked to that are involved in making this decision believe the same thing I do, that the best thing for our state, the best thing for our community, the best thing for our university athletic department football team and the health and wellbeing of our student athletes is to play and keep an environment where we can protect them.
Before you go, Coach, did you want to mention the [inaudible 00:00:30:57]?
Scott Frost: (30:57)
Yeah. I’m going to give you guys access to some players here. I want you guys to know we haven’t directed them, haven’t prepped them. I know they’re passionate about wanting to play. I told you what they did in regards to Big 10 United. These guys made a decision on their own that they wanted to play football and didn’t want to be a part of a statement that was supposed to reflect what all the student athletes in the Big 10 thought that made it harder to play than what it already is. We’ve got Adrian DiCaprio and Matt Farney out, coming up. Welcome you to ask them whatever they want. We didn’t prep them or tell them what to say. I want you guys to hear from them and give you an opportunity to ask them questions. But I know this. Those guys, like the rest of our team, they want to play football.