This fall I was blessed to work as a freelance photographer for KETV News Watch 7 (ABC) Omaha, covering Nebraska football in Lincoln. The games this season were tough to watch. The turnovers, the missed blocks, the missed tackles, the missed opportunities. The Ohio State game was especially tough to photograph as there weren't too many highlights on either side of the ball for Nebraska. I averaged about 50 photos per game for KETV, that game I submitted less than 40. Working the sidelines was also a challenge due to the increased number of visiting photojournalists from Ohio, as well as increased in-state media coverage.
I went back through the photos and picked out my fav five from each of the home games to present you with a review of 35 photos from Nebraska's 2017 football season. at Memorial Stadium.
Then, Scott Frost happened. in one December Sunday afternoon at Memorial Stadium, the historical and humiliating 4 and 8 season became a distant memory as the elevator doors opened and Scott Frost stepped out as Nebraska's new head football coach. The air was electric with excitement as hundreds of people packed into the Club Level of Memorial Stadium to await the return of their native son. As those elevator doors opened the cheers erupted. Scott Frost could be seen holding back tears. I can only imagine what he felt, what it was like for him to return home to a huge welcome from friends, family and former teammates.
After watching what Coach Frost's offense did this past season at the University of Central Florida, I'm expecting a lot of thrilling action shots in 2018 and beyond. I think I need to buy a new lens.
To view all of my photos shot for KETV this football season, go to the following links below for each game plus the Scott Frost press conference.
KETV Husker Football
Nebraska hosts Arkansas State
Nebraska hosts Northern Illinois
Nebraska hosts Rutgers
Nebraska hosts Wisconsin
Nebraska hosts Ohio State
Nebraska hosts Northwestern
Nebraska hosts Iowa
Scott Frost Press Conference
All Rights Reserved - 2017 © Skip DeBusk
Photos cannot be used without signed permission from KETV and Skip DeBusk
Just three months ago at the start of the college football season, no one imaged the events that would take place over the past few weeks resulting in the quarterback from the University of Nebraska's last national championship in 1997 returning home as its head coach. Scott Frost certainly didn't imagine it. He was focused on rebuilding a football program at the University of Central Florida that went 0 and 12 before he arrived on December 1st 2015. Just two years later he would take them 12 and 0 winning the American Athletic Conference (AAC) title in double overtime against Memphis and becoming both the AAC Coach of the Year and Home Depot National Coach of the Year. But then Nebraska happened.
Nebraska fans too thought that head coach Mike Riley and company were in the process of rebuilding the football program in Lincoln. But, early in to the season things were off to a shaky start with a 7-point win over Arkansas State, a bad showing on the road against Oregon, then a terrible showing at home losing 21 -17 to Northern Illinois. If warning bells weren't going off already, they were now, especially in Athletic Director's (AD) Shawn Eichorst's head who gave an impromptu interview with the media following the post-game press conference. He knew that his tenure at Nebraska was directly tied to on-field success of the football program since he had fired seven year head coach Bo Pelini after a 9-win season and hired his own guy, Mike Riley out of Oregon State. Five days later Nebraska President Hank Bounds and Chancellor Ronnie Green would relieve Eichorst of this duties as AD effective immediately citing that Nebraska football wasn't being competitive enough.
Three weeks later on October 15th Nebraska had hired their new AD, Bill Moos who was the current AD at Washington State. I don't think anyone in Nebraska had heard of Bill Moos before, but Hank Bounds and Ronnie Green assured us that they had found the "right fit" for this position at Nebraska. At this point in the season Nebraska was now 3 and 4 with embarrassing at home losses to Wisconsin and Ohio State. Back in Florida, Scott Frost was quickly building momentum as UCF was taking care of business on the field at 5 and 0. Nebraska fans knew change was coming to the football program, but was it. Many thought that Bill Moos, a PAC 12 guy would retain Mike Riley, a former PAC 12 guy. There was a lot of anxiety about the season, the program, the leadership...probably because this had become routine at Nebraska since then Chancellor Harvey Perlman hired Steve Pederson as AD in October of 2002. When Steve Pederson fired head coach Frank Solich in 2003 following a 9-3 season and two years after making it to the 2001 National Championship game, he stated that he would not "let Nebraska gravitate into mediocrity." At that point, the legacy of culture, coaches, and staff that began with Bob Devaney in 1962 came to a crashing closure. So ya, after 15 years of "mediocrity" Nebraska fans had become leery of change, longing for the days of the 1990's when the program was at it's peak in not just winning, but bruseing competitiveness.
Bill Moos wasted no time in embracing his new University, the fans and the state. He was also evaluating the football program stating that as a general rule he didn't like to fire head coaches during the season. Seeing Bill Moos on the sidelines these past few games and listening to him during press conferences, I think President Hank Bounds and Chancellor Ronnie Green hired thee perfect fit to lead Nebraska's athletic department.
Then came a purely pathetic loss on the road at Minnesota. Nebraska was sitting at 4 and 6, meanwhile in Florida, Frost had all of the momentum with UCF charging ahead at 9 and 0. What Husker fans didn't know was that Bill Moos had already met with Scott Frost and wanted him.
Scott Frost was having seconds thoughts about coming to Nebraska as late as the Friday night before the AAC Championship game. That's when he called Tom Osborne, They talked for a while. Scott had a lot of questions. He wanted to make sure that the leadership was right and that there wouldn't be any roadblocks, that he could run the football program his way. As fans, I think we've all seen these roadblocks the past 15 years. Even with Mike Riley, I heard rumors that because Shawn Eichorst knew his job security was tied to wins on the football field, he micromanaged Riley. For example, according to rumors Riley didn't want to hire Bob Diaco and we witnessed what a mistake that was. Worst season since 1961.
I wasn't on the Scott Frost bandwagon, I was a Chip Kelly fan. I had hoped Nebraska would hire Kelly three years earlier when Bo Pelini was fired. However, as Bill Moos said during the press conference introducing Scott Frost, we just landed the biggest up and coming coach in America. After watching Frost in his presser after winning the AAC Championship and then watching him at Memorial Stadium on Sunday, I'm very impressed with him, and agree with Bill Moos..
I feel like Nebraska has returned to its roots, that 15 years of wondering aimlessly through college football as long-held school and NCAA records fell into the gutter of mediocrity, the legacy of former Chancellor Harvey Pearlman who started the downfall of Nebraska football has been closed. With Scott Frost we get back to the culture of Nebraska football because we finally have someone in a head coach who grew up with it, played in it, and won a National Championship because of it. The current players I saw leaving Stadium One after their first meeting with Frost had smiles and were excited about this new opportunity. Former players are ready to come back and to be a part of this program. I don't know who he was, but I road on the elevator at the stadium with a former player who couldn't stop talking he was so excited about the future of the program with Scott Frost. He said that Nebraska is back, that we are truly back, that Frost gets this place and he knows what this place use to be and will make it that way again.
I'm going out on a limb and guess that Memorial Stadium will probably be sold out for the spring game April 14th.