Scott Frost owed ridiculous buyout if Nebraska fires him this season

Scott Frost, Nebraska Cornhuskers. (Mandatory Credit: Ron Johnson-USA TODAY Sports)
Scott Frost, Nebraska Cornhuskers. (Mandatory Credit: Ron Johnson-USA TODAY Sports) /

Scott Frost has not brought Nebraska football back to glory like expected, but a massive buyout may save him from being fired this season.

Coming back to Lincoln as Cornhuskers’ head coach after leading UCF to a 13-0 season in 2017, Scott Frost was supposed to lead Nebraska football back to glory. A 4-8 campaign in his first season was an easy mulligan, chalked up as a building year.

But that was followed by a 5-7 mark in 2019, and a 3-5 mark in last year’s abbreviated season. Then came Saturday’s 2021 season-opening loss to Illinois, with a score (30-22) that didn’t really reflect the margin the Cornhuskers were beaten by. Naturally, the heat has been turned up on Frost.

Nebraska brought back another star from the better days of the football program this offseason, with Trev Alberts coming in as the new athletic director after Bill Moos suddenly retired. Moos hired Frost.  An NCAA investigation into “improper use of analysts” and “unauthorized off-campus workouts” looms over Frost now too.

Nebraska football: Will a huge buyout save Scott Frost?

A 12-21 record through his first 33 games is not what anyone envisioned when Frost was hired. A last-place finish in the Big Ten West this year feels likely. The athletic director that hired him is gone, which is always a bad development for a college coach who’s not meeting expectations.

Frost’s contract runs through the 2026 season. If he was fired after this season, he would be owed a $20 million buyout.  That’s a lot of money in normal circumstances, let alone coming off lower revenues for athletic departments who’ve dealt with pandemic-affected seasons for the last 18 months. The result of the NCAA investigation looms as a reason to fire Frost with cause, and thus avoid that huge payout.

Frost’s buyout goes down to $5 million each season through Dec. 31, 2024. Then it goes down to $2.5 million for the two seasons after that, through Dec. 31, 2026.

Next Saturday, the Cornhuskers should put an easy mark in the win column against Fordham. But it’s hard to find another clear-cut win on the schedule (Oct. 30 vs. Purdue?).

Frost is not safe from an in-season firing, let alone being let go when the season is over. That $20 million buyout is all that would save him, and even that is hardly guaranteed at this point.

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