Precedents Exist for Current Situations Surrounding OSU Coaching Staff
By John Porentas
The hire of Urban Meyer has the Buckeye Nation looking to the future with unbridled excitement and anticipation. According to Buckeye historian Jack Park, the Meyer hire and the situation involving Luke Fickell also has some historical precedence.
According to Park, Meyer becomes the second person in history to take the head coaching job at OSU after having coached against the Buckeyes at a different institution.
Former OSU Head Coach Wes Fesler served as the head coach at Pittsburgh in 1946. The Buckeyes and Panthers met on the girdiron that year with OSU claiming the victory. In 1947, Fesler was named the head coach at Ohio State, and Pittsburgh was once again on the schedule. In that season, Pittsburgh won the game despite having a miserable overall season, so Fesler's career record in OSU vs. P:itt games was 0-2, with a loss coming while coaching each team. Meyer has coached against Ohio State twice. He lost as the head coach at Bowling Green and won as the Florida head coach making his record 1-1 in game involving Ohio State.
There is talk that current OSU Head Coach Luke Fickell may remain at OSU on Meyer's staff as an assistant, and once again according to Park, there is precedent for that at Ohio State.
Paul Brown accepted the head coaching job at Ohio State in 1941, leaving a job as the head coach at Massilon High school to do so. Brown brought an assistant coach on his Massilon staff with him by the name of Carol Widdoes.
Widdoes served on Brown's staff in 1941, 1942 and 1943, but in 1944 Brown was drafted into the army. Widdoes was named OSU's acting head coach in 1944 and guided the Buckeyes to an outright Big Ten championship and a No. 2 ranking in the final AP poll. Despite a designation as "acting" head coach, Widdoes was named college football's national coach of the year.
Widdoes coached the Buckeyes again in 1945, but declined the job in 1946. Widdoes had expected Brown to return to the Buckeyes in that year after his stint in the service, but when Brown announced that he would instead move on to organize the Cleveland Browns, Widdoes elected to step down. Instead of Brown or Widdoes, OSU named Paul Bixler as its head coach in 1946. Bixler immediately hired Widdoes as an assistant, thus making Widdoes the first person to serve as an assistant coach at OSU after having served as the head coach.
Bixler's tenure lasted just one year. After a lopsided loss to Michigan Bixler was fired and Wes Fesler was hired in 1947. Fesler retained Widdoes as an assistant in 1947 and 1948. Widdoes eventually took the head coaching job at Ohio University in 1949 and remained at that school until his retirement, eventually serving as that school's director of Athletics.
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