It has been nearly one month since Jim Tressel resigned from Ohio State in the wake of a scandal that rocked the program, shook up the landscape of the Big Ten, and cost the university one of the best coaches in America. While the program will move on, anyone that replaces the vest will have big shoes to fill. It appears the first guy that will give it a go is Luke Fickell.
Fickell is a Columbus native, who bleeds scarlet and grey and understands the program inside and out. The former Ohio State linebacker was most recently the team’s defensive coordinator and while he was prepared to coach the first five games of the season anyway, it looks as if the Buckeyes are removing the interim tag from his title.
On one hand, taking the interim tag away from Fickell is smart from the standpoint of recruiting. A number of kids are starting to choose their college nowadays based on the guy that is walking the sidelines and they want to know who is going to replace Tressel before making a decision. Not to mention, Fickell might also be the right person for the job given his background. However, Ohio State is one of the best coaching jobs in the country and despite the fact that the Buckeyes could face major sanctions following their court date with the NCAA in August, it’s not every season such a prestigious job opens up in college football. So before making any commitment to Fickell, a program the caliber of Ohio State needs to conduct a widespread coaching search. The Buckeyes are coming off one of the biggest scandals in college football in recent years. They are trying to recover from the national embarrassment and they need someone with a little cache as they are about to enter some of the most critical years in the history of the program.
Luke Fickell joined The Dan Patrick Show to talk about getting the interim tag removed from his job title, how excited he is to get his dream job, whether or not he has had contact with Jim Tressel since his resignation, if he has talked to Terrelle Pryor, if he has any doubts he can succeed as the head coach of Ohio State, and what kind of sanctions he is expecting from the NCAA at this point.
On getting the interim tag removed from his title:
“Mr. Smith, we had talked about that a couple of weeks ago. (Host: What did they say?) He said we’re taking off any interim tag. I’m not sure if it was something he was supposed to talk a little bit about in the press conference, but I don’t think he actually brought it up. He assured me that’s the way that they wanted to go.”
How happy he is to take over as head coach at Ohio State:
“It’s exciting, it really is. It’s been a whirlwind as we speak, but when it’s something that you grew up hoping and wishing and striving for, when something like that happens it become an unbelievable excitement.”
On the contact he has had with Tressel since his resignation:
“Yeah. There’s been nothing really said. We know he’s there. We go back and forth every now and then, but really face to face that Monday night.”
Whether or not he has talked to Terrelle Pryor:
“He left me a message. I was actually at the Taylor Swift concert so I didn’t get a chance to speak with him. (Host: Will you call him?) I haven’t had the opportunity to. He knows that we wish him the best of luck and we’re going to encourage him, when we do talk to him, about getting back and finishing his education.”
If he feels like he has to change the culture:
“That’s a unique thing. I think the focus is what we’re really, really interested in. That’s what we’re gonna move forward on. That’s probably the main ingredient for the summer and going into the fall camp. It’s not the culture as much as the focus. Getting back to the things that we believe in and truly making sure we are focused on those things so that they know exactly what expectations are.”
Whether or not he has any doubts in his ability to be successful at Ohio State:
“Not one bit. I’ve been here long enough, I know what the foundation is, I’ve played here obviously. So 15-18 years of my life entrenched in this program I have no doubts.”
On the sanctions that could be coming to program:
“It’s still hypothetical and for us right now we don’t have a whole lot of time to focus on those kinds of things. We just really are focused on the things that we can control and really continuing to tell our guys and make sure they understand that we’re moving forward. We’re focused on the now and what’s going to happen with that is out of our hands. We’ll let those in charge of that do their job and hey we’re gonna really worry about the things we can control.”
Who would win a cage match of the Big Ten coaches?
“Me. (Host: (Michigan Head Coach Brady) Hoke looks like a pretty big guy.) I don’t know them. I just know my abilities and I got confidence in what I do and, you know, 18 years of wrestling probably does help a little bit, in my book.”