Scott Frost is the National Coach of the Year
Before we begin let us look at where UCF was projected to finish this season, shall we? According to Sbnation and Athlon sports, UCF was predicted to finish last in the conference. 1-2 wins were predicted in the conference. 3-4 wins was the maximum that UCF was supposed to win overall. Not even the strongest of UCF supporters had predicted a bowl game. Hell, I wouldn't do a prediction for the season because I thought that this team was going to be in full rebuild mode. Yet here we are several months later. UCF sits in 3rd in the AAC East at 4-2 and 6-4 overall. Oh and UCF is going to a bowl game following a winless season. There has not been a bigger turnaround in college football this season than what Scott Frost has done in Orlando. The way he has not only had his team produce in the field, but also how he rebuilt a program off of it. Oh and he's done all of this in only 10 games. This is why Scott Frost is far and away the Coach of the Year in college football.
Let us remove the big time head coaches: so this eliminates the likes of Sabin and Harbaugh. Chris Peterson is the leading candidate at a Power 5 school so we will keep him in the discussion. Neal Brown and PJ Fleck are the obvious candidates out of the other G5 coaches. So the question becomes what separates Frost from these other 3 coaches? After all the other coaches have better records than Frost. Well the answer is simple: expectations. Heading into the year, Washington was expected to be a top 15 team and challenge Stanford in the Pac12 North. Central Michigan was expected to challenge Northern Illinois for the Mac championship. So in essence Washington and Western Michigan were supposed to be good. Both Troy and UCF had lowered expectations, however Troy wasn't coming off a 0-12 season. So the fact that both of these programs have exceeded expectations by a wide margin is impressive with Frost having the edge due to UCF's previous season compared to now.
Fine fine you aren't convinced by the expectation argument. Well how about the fact that Frost had to overhaul the offense, defense, and every position in between. Oh and had to do it in 6 months. You see these other coaches have been at their respective schools for multiple years. They have had time to implement their system, get comfortable with the players strengths and weaknesses. Frost was coming in blind and bringing the complex Oregon with him. He had to take a program that spent years running a basic version of a Pro Style offense and get the players used to the spread option. An offense that was one of the slowest in the country in terms of pace now had to become one of the fastest. Oh and let's not forget that the defense which had typically run a stoic and passive 4-3 had to adapt to a hyper aggressive of the 3-4. Oh and Frost had to figure out which position suited the players strengths the best. It's logical to think that UCF would be awful with all the changes and be in total shut it down, rebuild mode by now. Yet here UCF is at 6-4, going to a bowl and having the #15 defense in the nation according to S&P while being #56 overall according to S&P(UCF was predicted to finish 100 in S&P this year). Oh and did I mention that UCF has a top 10 redzone offense and defense this year? In fact a stat just came out 2 weeks ago that read that UCF had the biggest point differential increase on both ends of the ball in the country this year. No other team had that sort of leap. The stats don't lie: the most improved team in the country this year is UCF.
Still not convinced? Well how about the fact that f the potential nominees I listed for coach of the year that UCF's freshmen have had the biggest impact out of Washington, Western Michigan, and Troy. UCF has been freshmen led in several key skill positions whereas UW, WMU, and Troy have all been led by upperclassmen. Oh and these same freshmen were all recruited just 6 weeks prior to the signing period by Frost. Hamilton, Killins, Milton, Hill, Snelson all have had flashes of brilliance this season. Other coaches would have been too scared to have played all of these freshmen, but not Frost. It adds to his brilliance that Frost is willing to gamble and succeed with these freshmen whereas the others have had the luxury of upperclassmen. Yet UCF and Frost keep winning. But it's not just the freshmen success that adds to Frost's campaign it is the career resurgence of many of the UCF players that also adds to his credentials. By now everyone is familiar with the Shaquem Griffin story(as you should be) and how Frost revived Shaquem p's love of football by moving him to linebacker. But what about the other players that has not been talked about? Well Dontravious Wilson, Mark Rucker, Taylor Oldham and Pittman are all putting up career numbers under Frost. He has taken these players that were mocked last season and showed that with great coaching that those players can put up tremendous numbers. That is an testament to Frost.
I don't think people realize how bad UCF was last year. Sure 0-12 leaps out on paper, but my guess is people don't realize how truly bad it was. Of course there is the stats: UCF was ranked dead last in every major category( in both normal and advanced metrics) last year. But people outside of UCF don't know how cancerous George O'Leary had become. How George refused to adapt and change. It cost UCF, not only on the field, but in recruiting. George had pissed off several prominent Broward and Dade high school coaches with his uninformed opinions, which is why UCF had to recruit the likes of New York and not south Florida. He had also made the locker room filled with fear and not fun. A place where players were dominated by the coaches and treated more like indentured servants than players. Players names on the back of uniforms? Ha that was a funny joke. Yes, UCF did win the Fiesta Bowl, but that masked a lot of problems behind the scenes of the O'Leary tenure.
So that was what Frost was walking into. It also makes the turnaround more impressive. Yes on the field is great, but Frost and his staff have already healed old wounds. Consider this: UCF had more south Florida recruits in Frost's first class than in O'Leary's last two. The player's have their names on the jerseys and new uniforms weekly. No longer are the players afraid to make mistakes, no longer afraid in general. UCF is finally fun and cool. That is thanks to Frost. He has remade this program in his own image. Has completely overhauled what UCF is and turned that notion on its head. He's done this all in a year. Completely rebuilt and remade UCF. The other candidates had atleast 2-3 years to do that, Frost has done it in 1 year. That alone should get him coach of the year.
As Jeff Sharon pointed out, Frost is the second coach ever to take a team that was winless the year before to a bowl game the following season. What Scott has done is impressive and exceeded every expectation this season. Hell UCF still has a shot at winning the East division of the AAC. Scott Frost was supposed to struggle as UCF rebuilt. Yet there have been no struggles. Frost and UCF have proved that you can make all the preseason predictions you want, but in the end only the final result matters. Scott Frost is the coach of the year.