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Last updated: 03/31/2011 1:03 AM

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Football
Fickell Promoted to Assistant Head Coach; Will be Interim Head Coach While Tressel Serves Suspension
By Tony Gerdeman

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Since news first broke that Jim Tressel would be serving a suspension during the 2011 season the question floating around was who would be the man in charge on the gamedays in which Tressel was missing.

That question was answered on Wednesday as Ohio State announced that Luke Fickell had received a promotion to assistant head coach. It also brought along with it the title of interim head coach while Tressel served his suspension.

“Luke Fickell is a Buckeye to the core," director of athletics Gene Smith said in a University press release.

"He has earned this promotion to assistant head coach through his hard work, dedication and performance. We have great trust and belief in Luke’s ability to work with our entire coaching staff to lead our young men through the first five games this fall. I have confidence our entire football family will work together to maintain our standard of excellence.”

Fickell is entering his tenth year as a member of Tressel's staff. He became the linebackers coach in 2004, and co-defensive coordinator a year later, positions he will still hold along with his new titles.

"I know I'm truly proud to be able to stand up here and accept the role that they have placed in front of me," Fickell said, referring to Smith and Tressel.

"I know that being my alma mater, The Ohio State University is something I can truly tell you that I know, love and respect with all of my heart. And it's something that has been a part of me since I can't remember when."

Fickell graduated from Ohio State in 1997 after starting four years at nose tackle from 1993-1996 and setting a Buckeye record with 50 consecutive starts.

In 2010 he was named Assistant Coach of the Year by the American Football Coaches Association.

Having put in the time and received such accolades, some coaches may begin to feel entitled when good things come their way. That did not seem to be the case with Fickell.

His first words to the media were, “I'm definitely humbled and excited about the opportunity."

Fickell is one of the top young assistant coaches in college football, and the opportunity he is going to get this fall could cement him as one of the most sought after head coaching prospects in America.

While that doesn't seem to be on his mind at the moment, he knows what an opening he has been given.

"I am obviously very proud to be able to take this opportunity to maybe strengthen and take a new step in my leadership abilities and qualities," he admitted.

"But again, this place is not about one person. It's not about Coach Tress. It's not about whoever's going to be wearing the headset on Saturday afternoon.

"It's much bigger than that, and we always know that. Ohio State football never has been and never will be about just one person in particular.

"It's about Ohio State football, and most importantly it's going to be about these 2011 Buckeyes."

While the announcement was made one day before spring practice gets underway, there really is no plan to change things just yet. Tressel's suspension does not involve spring football, so as much as possible, it will be business as usual for the Ohio State Buckeyes.

Once spring ball is over and the summer camps have completed, Fickell and Tressel will finally talk about what being the interim head coach will really entail.

"We haven't really gone over any of the structural things like that," he said.

"We're focused on one thing—we're focused on starting Thursday. And I'm sure that after the spring, after the summer, when camps are all done, Coach will sit down and we'll go over the situation with the entire staff and how we will handle the whole situation.”


Until then, the plan is to keep everything just as it was before.

When it does come time for Fickell to assume the interim mantle, he left no doubt that it's not just about him--it's about everybody doing their part.

"We tell our kids that we know we'll go so much further as a team when nobody cares who gets the credit. And I think as a coaching staff we truly live that and believe that obviously from Coach Tress and the top down. We get that through to our kids each and everyday. We will go so much further when nobody cares who gets the credit."

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