The drama is over ladies and gentlemen. UC has officially named a new head football coach. Signed to a six-year deal reportedly worth $2.3 million annually and a $3.5 million buyout, Luke Fickell will take the reins of a team, which, on paper, is very young and poised for a great year in 2017.
We all know Coach Fickell as that interim coach who bridged the gap at Ohio State between Jim Tressel and Urban Meyer, but Mr. Fickell is much, much more. At 43 years old, the Ohio native and father of 6, including 2 sets of twins, is the epitome of hard-hitting, cold-weather, grind-it-out Ohio football. Four words to describe Fickell: passionate, blue-collar, tough, fundamentals.
He played nose guard at OSU from 1993-1996. He briefly played in the NFL before joining the Buckeye coaching staff in 1999 as a GA under John Cooper. He then coached the defensive line at Akron in 2000 before returning to OSU in 2002 as the special teams coordinator under Jim Tressel. He took over the linebackers in 2004. In 2005 he was promoted to co-defensive coordinator. In 2010, he was honored as Assistant Coach of the Year. In 2011 after Tressel resigned Fickell was appointed interim head coach of the Buckeyes. While the team’s record was just 6-7, OSU was facing a myriad of NCAA investigations, suspensions, penalties, all of which was a recipe for disaster for anyone.
In 2012 when Urban Meyer was named the OSU head coach, he kept Coach Fickell on staff and named him co-defensive coordinator, a position he retained until moving down to Clifton. If you know nothing else about Luke Fickell, think about it this way – Urban freaking Meyer decided to retain him and appoint him in charge of the defense. When Urban took the OSU job he made it clear his intention was to step back and avoid micromanagement by creating the best staff possible and entrusting them to do their jobs. With these factors in mind, he gave Coach Fickell his seal of approval. If he’s good enough for Urban, he’s good enough for me.
So what can we as fans expect under the Fickell regime?
• On top-down mentality – A hard-nosed, fundamentally sound football team with blue-collar roots. We should expect a team that plays in short-sleeves in November and December, a team that will punch you in the mouth on defense, a team opponents from warm weather states will not want to play in Clifton when the temperature drops, a team with quite a motor. Coach Fickell is extremely passionate and gritty. Expect these traits to immediately show on the field.
• On offense – Coach was adamant UC will do everything fast and will not waste time. As with every coach since Brian Kelly, we should expect up tempo, spread you out, shotgun, run and gun. Exactly what style will depend on the offensive coordinator and starting QB next year – 2 factors yet to be determined.
• On recruiting – Coach Fickell was very clear he will recruit a specific type of player that fits his model – players with passion who want to get better. We can expect to see more of the Zach Collaros, Mardy Gilyard, Connor Barwin, JK Shaffer types of players. They may not have Rivals hype or 4 stars next to their name, but they will be smart, savvy, hard-working recruits. Most importantly, we will renew our recruiting in Ohio, namely, in Cincinnati’s backyard.
• On staff – It is unclear who will be on Coach Fickell’s staff. He is working on quickly putting together his coaching team. However, we do not have any idea who the offensive and defensive coordinators will be. Many rumors are circulating Kerry Coombs will be joining Luke Fickell. However, Coombs confirmed via Twitter “he is a Buckeye” so we will just have to wait and see who will arrive in Clifton besides Coach Fickell. We also hope to see the talented and young Zac Taylor continue his tenure at UC, possibly as the quarterbacks coach.
Stay tuned for additional updates as the Fickell era continues to unfold.
By Andy Smith