UCF head football coach Scott Frost and new defensive coordinator Erik Chinander address the local media Thursday about the new coaching staff as well as UCF football in general. Matthew Saunders and Daniela Marin, Central Florida Future
A coach who had a hand in the development of former Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota is now trying to get the best out of the quarterbacks at UCF.
Scott Frost? Yes. But he’s not the only one.
UCF’s first-year head coach hired Mario Verduzco from Missouri State for the task, reuniting on the same staff for the first time since they were fellow assistants at Northern Iowa in the mid-2000s.
“When I got the coordinator job at Oregon three years ago, he was the guy I went to,” Frost said. “He was the best I've ever been around as far as being a technician with quarterbacks, and I've been around some really good ones. He actually learned from Bill Walsh a long time ago, who I learned from at Stanford. A lot of the things mechanically that I taught Marcus and Vernon I got from Mario, and he came out and he was one of the few that I shared some of our offensive philosophies.”
The UCF football staff draws almost entirely from peers and players Frost worked with at Oregon (defensive coordinator Erik Chinander, offensive line coach Greg Austin, and offensive graduate assistants Kenny Bassett and Dustin Haines, and director of player personnel Sean Dillon), coached with at Northern Iowa (Chinander, linebackers/special teams coach Jovan DeWitt and quarterbacks coach Mario Verduzco) or with whom Frost shares Nebraska or Stanford ties (running backs coach Ryan Held, director of strength and conditioning Zach Duval, quality control administrator Barrett Ruud and offensive coordinator/wide receivers coach Troy Walters.)
In addition, tight ends coach/recruiting coordinator Sean Beckton, defensive backs coach Travis Fisher, director of player development Marcus Castro-Walker, assistant director of player personnel Ryan Callaghan, defensive graduate assistant Zach Crespo, quality control administrator Kevin Smith and senior administrative assistant Megan Taylor bring expertise along with strong institutional knowledge of UCF.
“There's some huge Nebraska ties on our staff, and some Northern Iowa, and some Oregon, and some Philadelphia Eagles (Austin and defensive line coach Mike Dawson),” Frost said. “That wasn't intentional; I hired the best people that I could find and the best people I knew. I wanted to hire extremely intelligent people that are team players and, more than anything, are in the business to be mentors to young men.
“We got a great coaching staff of really smart guys that genuinely care about the players. I think this place was starving for that kind of environment, and I couldn't be more excited about the staff that I put together than I am.”
Frost’s hire also seemed to excite Steelers coach Mike Tomlin, who was Frost’s position coach during his final season as an NFL player.
“Mike Tomlin’s special,” Frost said. “He actually, when I got the job here, he called me about seven or eight times to talk to me about being a head coach for the first time. It was right in the middle of his playoff run. When I was down in Tampa that was such a special group, it was Monte Kiffin, and Mike Tomlin, and Rod Marinelli, and Joe Barry, and Raheem Morris, and those were the guys that talked me into coaching.”
Yes, despite success at the high school, college and pro level, Frost had to be talked into staying in the game when his playing days ended.
“A little bit,” he said, “because, you wouldn’t think so with my parents being coaches and Coach (Tom) Osborne and some of the people I've been around, but I used to think those people were crazy for spending as much time in the office as they did.
“When you leave, you realize that everything that I do in a 13- or 14-hour day I enjoy more than anything I would do for one minute anywhere else. But those guys had to convince me a little.”