LINCOLN, Neb. — Larry and Carol Frost‘s quaint, multi-level home is the easiest one to locate in their suburban Nebraska neighborhood under a dark, December sky.
They are the only family on the block who have a row of glowing snowmen wearing uniforms planted in the front yard for those passing by to see as they survey Christmas lights. Each “Frost” man trumpets its own story of accomplishments, with uniforms ranging from the military and Olympics to athletic careers at Stanford and Nebraska. You’ll also find one princess, courtesy of one of three grandchildren.
These are the first and last prominent displays of remarkable achievements you will see at the Frost home. No trophy room exists to exhibit the slew of gold track medals and awards to commemorate more than 200 football victories, most of them amassed by their son and new UCF football coach Scott Frost.
There’s no reason, after all, to keep a museum of Frost sports history because just about everyone in Nebraska already knows it. And, soon, Florida residents will know it, too, as Scott works to transform an 0-12 football team into a winner at rapid, Oregon-paced speed.
A program turnaround of this magnitude could be a daunting task for any first-time head coach. But Scott Frost, who recently left his job as the Ducks’ offensive coordinator, has been preparing for this moment for the past four decades.
“My dad’s been a high school football coach for 40 years and just retired. My mom was an assistant football coach for 30 years, so I got it from both sides,” Scott Frost said. “They’re both tremendous coaches and educators, and I’ve learned a lot from them.”
Just 12 days ago, Scott Frost was introduced to UCF fans as the young, ambitious first-time coach who wants to play fast and fun football.
But that doesn’t even begin to cover the unique background and skills he’s bringing to the Knights. To really understand Scott Frost’s values as a coach, you first have to get to know his parents — both aptly called Coach Frost.
A couple of destiny
Most evenings, Carol ran a mile and a half down the street to the Nebraska state fairgrounds from her university dorm room to train by herself at a makeshift discus and shot put circle near the pig and sheep barns.
She couldn’t use Nebraska’s facilities because women’s sports were forbidden and there were no Title IX protections to give her access.
When she wasn’t training, she’d break into local high schools to workout at after the boys had long gone home.
One evening, she found herself at a small, dirt track at Malcolm High School. Or rather, Larry found her.
“There were a couple of girls over there throwing shot put and I asked them about their team and everything and said, ‘Who’s the big star?'” said Larry, who was a junior at Malcolm High at the time. “And they pointed at her. She was over there throwing the javelin.”
He was immediately smitten. Her talent, determination and work ethic kept his eyes on the short-haired, blonde college girl.
Carol would umpire softball games in the summers and he’d come by after his baseball games to see if she was correctly calling the balls and strikes.
Eventually, the two struck up a friendship and would grab postgame chili hot dogs at Kings. That turned into dates, movies, fishing, hunting and basketball games. Some years down the road, after Larry became a starting wingback at Nebraska and she competed in the 1968 Olympics, he took her back to that Malcolm High dirt track and proposed to Carol on the shot put ring.
They’ve been married for 46 years.
“I was terribly impressed with her athleticism and she ate real well too,” Larry quipped.
A power couple is born
The same school that once denied her athletic dreams now employed Carol as the second track and field and cross country coach in school history at a meager $2,000 salary in 1977. She had to oversee 16 events and had just one paid assistant coach.
She needed another coach, but she didn’t have the budget to expand her staff. Larry, who was also coaching high school football at the time, joined her as an unpaid assistant.
He coached the jumpers and sprinters, including nine-time Olympic sprinter Merlene Ottey.
As the program grew — along with recruiting demands — so did the Frost brood, which now included two young boys, Steve and Scott. The couple decided to focus on raising their family along with coaching and teaching at the high school level. They moved three and a half hours away to a small town called O’Neill.
“He needed a receivers coach,” Carol said. “And ever since college at Nebraska, I had been going to practices and throwing patterns to him. He was a fanatic workout guy and he’d go out when everybody else had gone in.”
Larry joked, “She could be a quarterback if she had any speed.”
His pass-oriented offense — which was somewhat ahead of his time considering that power-I formation dominated football — required at least three offensive coaches.
It was a no-brainer for Larry to hire Carol after witnessing his wife’s strong arm throwing a softball, a javelin, the shot put and discus.
Convincing others that a woman could coach young men in football took some time. The players usually adapted quicker than the adults.
“The people in Nebraska, when we started out doing that, were skeptical and then she’d throw about four [footballs] and then they understood,” Larry said.
The family moved again and Carol’s first paid assistant job, ironically, came in what they called the good ol’ boy network of Texas high school football. But it was anything but easy as her oldest son, Steve, recalled.
Fans from opposing teams would call her names and whistle cat-calls. In the earlier part of their coaching stint at Palestine High, Carol would sit in the stands with the other coaches’ wives.
“She was coaching these guys earlier in the day and then for appearances’ sake, she had to sit in the stands with the rest of the coaches’ wives . . . which was ridiculous,” Steve said.
That didn’t last long. Larry never cared much about appeasing others’ opinions.
“I’m stubborn and I wanted to win,” he said. “Her technique she teaches, whatever she knows and can teach, she is great at that.”
Carol added, “throwing is all technique.”
The next dynasty begins
When Larry’s father died, the couple decided to move back home to Nebraska to be closer to his mom. He is an only child.
The couple moved to a small town called Wood River.
Much like Sunday night football film sessions after supper when mom and dad grabbed their yellow tablet folders and graded tape, moving became another part of the Frost’s family coaching experience.
“It was very difficult,” Steve said. “You’d get something established and then you’d have to go, but in many ways it made the bonds tighter with the family. When we moved to Wood River, where Scott spent all of his high school years, I was a junior. And that was when he and I became very, very tight because we were both new [in] town and we didn’t really know anyone.”
Scott was named the starting quarterback as a freshman and some people questioned if he was benefitting from favoritism since his father was the head coach. But any doubts were quickly quashed by his performance on the field.
Larry’s favorite memory coaching his son came during Scott’s sophomore season when he pulled the team from a halftime deficit to a playoff victory with three touchdown runs of more than 50 yards. Scott also blocked a punt and collected 10 tackles.
“That was Scott’s coming out,” Larry said.
Scott finished his high school career with 11,137 total yards of offense, which then registered as the third highest total in U.S. high school history.
His parents got a rare front seat to his sports journey, having coached him in both football and track. Carol, who was the head track coach, was the one who placed the gold medal around Scott’s neck when he won the state shot put title his senior year.
“I think we’ve done a good job, mostly Carol, raising the two kids,” Larry said. “They have moral standings and if you interview Scott for long, you’ll find out that he’s a straight forward guy. He’s not exactly [Donald] Trump, but he’ll tell you what he thinks, be honest about it and you can believe it. I’ve always told him if you lose your credibility, people won’t believe you and then you’re in big trouble. I think they must have listened.”
A new Coach Frost
The only coaching record Larry, 68, and Carol, 70, can clearly recall is from Wood River because they coached exactly 100 games there in 10 seasons. They won 71 of them.
Neither can remember the exact number of wins and losses during their elite coaching careers, in part, because they jumped around to so many schools during 47 years of coaching. The other reason is because neither of them is truly retired.
They’ve coached football off and on at a small, private Christian school and are substitute teachers.
Every year, Larry borrows sporting equipment from the University of Nebraska to help run various sports competitions during the Boys and Girls State program, sponsored by the American Legion.
“They never chased state championships or All-American or All-State or any of those kind of accolades,” said Randy York, senior writer for Huskers.com and a former sports writer for the Lincoln Journal Star in the ’70s and ’80s. “Their commitment to what they were doing was for two reasons: to help kids be better than they’ve ever been and to sharpen the focus on what athletics really means, which is truly just maximizing anything that you have.
“I’ve never seen a male-female tandem so much on the same page and yet they’re very different kind of people.”
Larry is bold, Carol is a technician and both are gifted teachers with a passion for coaching. The greatest proof is their children.
While Steve, 43, didn’t pursue a professional athletic career, he is a successful businessman who’s worked for Google, Yahoo! and is even a former Jeopardy champion.
Scott, 40, has never seen a losing season since starting his full-time coaching career. From 2007-14, he’s compiled a 103-18 record serving as an assistant coach at Northern Iowa and Oregon.
“I see in Scott a lot of the way his dad coached. Larry has very, very seldom yelled at players,” Carol said. “I’ve seen him yell [at] an official once in a while, but he doesn’t yell at his team, he doesn’t yell at his kids. If they make a mistake, he’ll pull them off the field and try to help them. He tries to fix things in practice.
“And as I watch Scott coach now, at Northern Iowa and Oregon, I see the same kind of thing. . . . He gets his point across without swearing, without yelling, without degrading and I think he got a lot of that from his dad.”
Scott Frost experienced more victories than defeats as a coach and that’s something he’ll hope to continue at UCF despite the team’s recent struggles.
He’ll need to develop patience through the process, Larry said.
Larry has taken over his share of fixer-uppers in the past 47 years.
Both Larry and Carol are looking forward to traveling to Florida in the spring to watch some practices. They’ll just have to remember “Coach Frost” in Orlando is their son, Scott.
“We watched a lot of practices at Oregon and a kid will yell, ‘Coach Frost’ and all three of us think they’re addressing us,” Carol said laughing. “Because even now, kids from 20 or 30 years ago, it’s not Mrs. Frost or Mr. Frost or Larry or Carol. When they come up to us, it’s still Coach Frost. And it’s really neat to know that our son is the head coach and is called Coach Frost.”