Scott Frost surprised many people when he left a comfortable, well-paying, high-profile coordinator job at Oregon in December 2015 for UCF, a team who went 0-12 in 2015. He may surprise more people if he's not on the sidelines of a Power Five program in the near future.
The 42-year-old has just one year of head coaching experience and seven more years as a full-time FBS assistant, but he's a revered, sought-after offensive mind that could be the next up-and-comer to leave the American for a bigger gig.
Eleven of the conference's 12 teams have changed head coaches since 2015. Four of those openings came because coaches voluntarily left, including three of the five in 2017 — Houston, South Florida and Temple. Frost, Mike Norvell (Memphis) and Chad Morris (SMU) and other AAC coaches have been mentioned as possible Power Five candidates.
"It's not just a good football conference; it's a deep football conference," Frost said via phone this week. "Every week that you show up, there are teams that can beat you. And that speaks to the depth of this league. I don't think that the trend is going to change. If a team is really good in this league, I think their coach is going to be desirable to people because of the level of football played in this conference."
The second-year Knights' coach, who went 6-7 last year and finished third in the East with a 4-4 mark, also discussed an issue facing all FBS coaches: the elimination of two-a-days. The NCAA Division I Council announced in mid-April — less than four months before fall camps were scheduled to open — that multiple contact practices in one day were no longer allowed. The plan, endorsed by the NCAA Sport Science Institute and scientific and sports medicine organizations, recommended the action to protect the healthy and safety of student-athletes.
Frost says that while teams are still able to get their allotted 29 practices in despite the elimination of two-a-days, the change also comes with some bad.
"The change happened so late that people were scrambling to figure out the best way to accomplish what you needed to accomplish in the timeframe that they gave us," he said. ". . . When we started camp, our guys were still in summer school. We've been practicing for a month now without playing a game, so the camp took a lot longer and was probably taxing in other ways on players around the country because of the duration of it. . . . I think everybody is probably going to have to find the right formula to make sure they get their team ready."
UCF begins the season at home against Florida International on Thursday, 35 days after they opened camp on July 27.