Fickell: There is No Other Place
By Brandon Castel
COLUMBUS, Ohio — After one more game, Luke Fickell will no longer be the head coach of the Ohio State football team.
Photo by Jim Davidson
Whether that was decided in November, or back in May after Jim Tressel was forced into retirement is of little consequence at this point.
The Buckeyes were 6-6 under Fickell. They went through just about as much as any team could without ripping apart at the seems. For that, Fickell was asked to remain on staff in Columbus by new head coach Urban Meyer, who will officially assume his new role after the Buckeyes’ Gator Bowl matchup with Florida on Jan. 2, 2012.
Fickell guided Ohio State through some tough times, and he would likely have some other options after the bowl game, but the 38-year old has no plans to leave Columbus any time soon.
“To me there is no other place for me to go in college football and that’s the way I feel about Ohio State,” Fickell said while appearing on the Gator Bowl teleconference Sunday evening.
“When I got the opportunity to sit down with Coach Meyer, the No. 1 most important thing is that he’s got to do what’s best for his program and moving it forward.”
A former player under John Cooper and assistant coach under Tressel, Fickell did his best to move things forward at Ohio State. He did not get caught up in his own future or that of the football program, which still awaits a final ruling from the NCAA’s Infractions Committee.
None of it was good enough; not for a team that was used to playing in BCS bowl games. It wasn’t a fair draw for Fickell, who had to replace his star quarterback after Terrelle Pryor bolted for the NFL in June, along with a number of key players on offense.
As the season wore on, it became apparent that Ohio State needed to start with fresh leadership at the top, not to mention an overhaul of the coaching staff. Fickell was interested in being a part of it, but knew sometimes that kind of thing doesn’t work.
“If that happens to be me, (I told him) I’d love to be a part of it, but I know that doesn’t always fit the bill,” Fickell added.
“For the program I wanted what was best, I am excited to be back and to me that’s the most important thing.”
Fickell has been a key member of the coaching staff in Columbus since joining the Buckeyes as a special teams coach in 2002. He became the school’s linebackers coach in 2004 and co-defensive coordinator the following season.
Meyer is still trying to piece together his staff for the 2012 season and it’s uncertain exactly what role Fickell will have at Ohio State going forward. He certainly wasn’t going to let the cat out of the bag on the eve of the postseason.
“I am going to be a part of the staff and we have talked about in what capacity and stuff, but until he goes public and releases all those things, I am going to allow him to make those decisions publicly,” Fickell said.
“We have an idea of the direction we’re going and he has an idea. That’s his area to go ahead and let everybody know.”
When he isn’t out recruiting, Fickell has spent a lot of time with Meyer since the former Florida coach was announced as the 24th head coach in OSU history last Monday. Meyer has leaned on a Fickell for a number of staff and personnel decisions, but Fickell didn’t say exactly how much he would be able to lean on Meyer in their game against his former squad.
“We are going to continue to focus on the guys that are going to be coaching the bowl,” Fickell said.
“I couldn’t tell you exactly how the whole situation is going to work, but I don’t know if I would sit there and explain it to anyone other than our team and our coaches anyway”
The Buckeyes decided to keep Fickell and his staff in place for the bowl game, with Meyer taking over day-to-day operations after the bowl game. It has already been rumored that Meyer will keep a few of the current assistants on his new staff, but others could leave to take new jobs if they know they won’t be retained after the New Year.
“Just know you’re going to get our best effort and these guys are going to know they are going to get coached and it may be by more people and who knows who may not be there at times as well,” Fickell said.
“It will be interesting to see how the whole situation is going to work out, but we’ll be excited about doing it.”
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