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Scott Frost coached UCF in the Peach Bowl, which was cool for Nebraska too

He’s off to Nebraska full-time now..

Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl - Auburn v Central Florida Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Scott Frost coached UCF in its Peach Bowl win against Auburn on New Year’s Day. It was Frost’s last game with the Knights, as he now leaves to take over permanently as the head coach at Nebraska, his alma mater.

It’s not unheard of for departing coaches to work bowl games with the teams they’re leaving. The most common cases are like Frost’s, where a coach has succeeded to such an extent that he’s getting hired to a bigger job elsewhere. This year brought one weird case, where Arizona State’s Todd Graham coached the Sun Devils in a Sun Bowl loss a month after the university fired him.

Ordinarily, everyone insists that it’s not awkward. Football coaching is a high-turnover industry, and most programs have an interim or lame-duck coach at some time or another. But it usually seems at least a little weird when a lame duck roams the sidelines. Many newly hired head coaches decide to leave for their jobs right away.

Frost’s desire to coach UCF in this game was clearly genuine.

Every coach at every program will tell you about how he really loves these kids and how hard it is to leave them for another gig. Frost really seems to mean it.

Days before Nebraska announced Frost’s hiring, the coach gave an interview to the Orlando Sentinel in which he offered some really emotional quotes about UCF:

“It’s hard to put in words. … I turned down some other jobs when I was at Oregon because I loved that place. There was a tear in my eye when I got on the plane to fly down here, but this place has been exponentially better than I even could have expected. The fans here, the community, these players. This is a special place and it’s only going to keep getting better.

“I’m glad that I was the one to help get this place back to where it should be. This place should compete for conference championships every year because of what it is. People in this community have been so great to me with the birth of my child, and I can’t tell you how many bouquets and gifts and phone calls we got. I’ll always cherish the decision I made to come down here. I’ll be a UCF guy the rest of my life.”

“I can’t tell you how much I love this place and these players,” he added.

That’s not boilerplate stuff from a coach on the outs.

After UCF beat Memphis days later in the AAC Championship Game, Frost was crying on the field and had a heartwarming scene with his players in the locker room.

Frost is taking almost his entire UCF staff with him to Nebraska, headlined by Troy Walters, the offensive coordinator who led UCF to a No. 1 finish in points per game. Frost’s assistants joined him in sticking around for this game.

The soon-to-be Nebraska staff has not mailed it in at UCF.

“Our first Monday practice after our break, obviously there was a little confusion in the air, and it felt weird at first,” senior linebacker Shaquem Griffin said. “But after that first day, we just kind of sky-rocketed off. We really felt like the coaches were really there for us.

“Usually when you have teams who have coaches that go to another team, they just go off and start recruiting and not really worrying about the team that they just left. We didn’t get that feeling from them. They came in, and Coach Frost was flying back and forth like crazy. I remember he came to practice one day and threw up. But it was because he wanted to be there for us.”

The time commitment is hard, but Nebraska benefits, too.

Frost has had to do some shuttling between Lincoln, Orlando, and Atlanta, the site of the Peach Bowl. That sounds like a hard thing to pull off.

"I give our coaching staff a lot of credit," UCF quarterback McKenzie Milton said. "They would be out till the wee hours of the night recruiting for Nebraska and then still coming to practice at 7 or 8 a.m. to help us game plan."

Frost and his staff had to spend some time getting a signing class together at Nebraska. The introduction of an Early Signing Period from Dec. 20-22 wasn’t conveniently timed, and spending time on UCF couldn’t have helped. But Nebraska was fine with Frost coaching this game anyway.

Nebraska athletic director Bill Moos viewed the game as a advertising opportunity for the Huskers.

“You can’t put a price tag on it,” Moos told HuskerOnline. “It’s a 3 1/2-hour marketing commercial for Nebraska football. Because that’s what those guys are going to be talking about, the announcers.

“They are going to be showing ‘Scott Frost in Nebraska’ and all of this. Then recruits are going to be watching that offense and go, ‘Boy, I could fit into that.’ I think for whatever small negatives there might be, there are tons more positives.”

Frost got to coach his team. Nebraska got exposure in one of the biggest bowl games of the year despite finishing 4-8. That works for all parties involved.

College football's first bowl game was almost its last