LINCOLN, Neb. -- Former Nebraska Hall of Fame coach Tom Osborne said Scott Frost's arrival as coach has "lifted the mood of the entire state" and he thinks the Cornhuskers' hallowed streak of 361 home sellouts -- an NCAA record -- would have ended had Frost not returned to his alma mater.
"Last year was hard for the people here because we went 4-8. I don't think the stadium would have been sold out," Osborne told ESPN. "We've been sold out for 50-plus years. I think that streak would have gone had Scott not come back, so there's a significant renewed enthusiasm."
Nebraska has sold out every home game at Memorial Stadium since a 16-7 win over Missouri on Nov. 3, 1962, which was Bob Devaney's first season as head coach. Osborne coached under Devaney as an assistant at Nebraska from 1964 to 1972 before serving as the Huskers' head coach for 25 years from 1973 to 1997.
Osborne, 81, coached Frost at Nebraska, and their final year together was 1997, which remains the Huskers' last national championship. Osborne said Frost's return has "heightened my engagement and level of interest."
One of the things Osborne said he told Frost when he was trying to decide whether to leave UCF, where he coached the Knights to an unbeaten 13-0 season a year ago, was that he thought Frost would have a "little longer runway" at Nebraska than he would at Florida and some of the other big-name schools that were wooing Frost.
"What he did here as a player and with him being from the state, I think people here are going to give him a little bit more time, a little bit more encouragement and be behind him," Osborne said. "He certainly has unified the state of Nebraska. There's a different atmosphere now than there has been for several years. That's been good to see."
Frost said it has been "humbling" to have Osborne around and be able to bounce things off of him.
"Coach Osborne was as good a man as there's been in this profession, and he's a great resource for me," Frost told ESPN. "He's too good a guy to just come in and tell me something. He usually waits for me to ask. That just means I will be asking him a lot of questions."