Following the excellent work by guest poster Ty Kelly, we here at the BBC wanted to kick off a new feature looking at the coaching candidates that may be getting a look-see by the University in the coming year. Of course, we’re not going to limit ourselves just to the reasonable candidates, we’ll be taking a look at every name that comes down the pipe. This will give us an opportunity to explore all the different angles that OSU might be looking at with the candidates.
It’s important, though, that we start this feature with our personal favorite for the position. I think you already have a pretty good guess who that is.
Luke Fickell was named Interim Head Coach of the Ohio State Buckeyes on May 30th, 2011. This was the brightest silver lining to the darkest cloud imaginable. That happened to be the same day that Jim Tressel formally resigned from the same position.
Years before this situation arose, many Buckeye fans had speculated about how the program would move forward from the Tressel era. Clearly continuing the on and off field success would be important. The name that continually came up in regards to a replacement (then believed to be stepping in once Tressel retired) was Fickell himself.
Much of the discussion regarding Fickell was firmly in the realm of wild speculation, though there were a number of factors that supported the belief. One of the biggest had to do with the success of the players who played for him. Names like AJ Hawk, Bobby Carpenter, James Larenitis, Marcus Freeman, and Anthony Schlegel roll across Buckeye fans’ tongues with ease. All of them were possible due to Fickell’s skill.
In 2005, Fickell was promoted to co-defensive coordinator of the Buckeyes. Many people believe that this is the point that the OSU defense turned a corner and became a much more aggressive unit overall. In the two years prior to Fickell’s promotion, the Ohio State defense gave up 229 points (2003: 11-2 season) and 219 points (2004: 8-4 season). After Fickell’s promotion, the Buckeyes never gave up more than 186 points (last season). In fact, the 163 given up by the Bucks in 2009 was the lowest since 1998 (144).
The defensive statistics since the Woody Hayes era are quite interesting and educational. There’s a lot of fact behind the idea that Fickell has made significant improvements in the play of the Buckeyes. Consider the averages of total points scored against the Buckeye defense in each of the following eras:
A couple of interesting things jump out.
Fickell does not have the Head Coaching resume possessed by a number of other coaches we will feature on this list. Fickell has never held a head coaching position during his career, something that may reflect negatively on him in trying to make the position permanent.
On the plus side, he does have one season to demonstrate he can do the job and has clearly indicated that doing it the right way will be more important than anything else. I think he’s on the right track to negating his lack of experience in the job.
Nose Guard, Defensive Line, Ohio State Buckeyes (1992RS, 1993-1996).
Awards and Honors:
2010 AFCA Assistant Coach of the Year Award
Fickell is the first OSU coach to win this award, and the fifth Ohio State Head Coach to have been honored by the AFCA. Previous AFCA award winners include Carroll Widdoes, Woody Hayes, Earle Bruce, and Jim Tressel. It is certainly no small honor to be included in that company.
Reasons Ohio State could hire Fickell:
Reasons Ohio State wont hire Fickell:
*That’s not exactly fair to Tressel. Tressel’s pre-Fickell numbers are over only 4 seasons, including his two worst (2001, 2004). Though, it also includes one of Tressel’s better defenses, 2002 which gave up only 183 total points all season (14 games).