Even after Urban Meyer was hired to be the next head football coach at Ohio State, there were rumors circulating that Luke Fickell could still leave for a head coaching position elsewhere. Illinois, Akron and other schools were being tossed around.
But Fickell has put those rumors to rest and clearly stated that he is a Buckeye and will be on the sidelines next season helping Urban Meyer and Ohio State.
In an article on ohiostate.scout.com by Ari Wasserman, Fickell states:
To me there is no other place for me to go in college football and that’s the way I feel about Ohio State . . . 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. . . . 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. For the program I wanted what was best, I am excited to be back and to me that’s the most important thing.
With Fickell staying on, is this bad news for Michigan? What is the association between Michigan and Fickell and bad news? Wouldn’t Meyer’s resume of an almost 82 percent winning percentage and two national titles be the bad news?
It is no secret that Jim Tressel knew how to beat Michigan and John Cooper did not. The issue: Did Fickell learn from the master? I will argue yes.
But wait! Ohio State lost to Michigan for the first time in seven years; how can you state that Fickell learned from Tressel? Didn’t you see the final score? Ohio State lost 40-34! How can you state that Fickell knows how to beat Michigan when he didn’t?
John Cooper’s teams had a history of having success during the season but losing to Michigan. Sometimes, Cooper lost bad. Scores of 31-3, 28-0 still hurt the Buckeye heart. This last OSU-Michigan game should have been something closer to these Cooper era scores. Michigan was hot, defeating Nebraska big while OSU was reeling, losing to Purdue and a depressed Penn State team. But the Buckeyes came within two yards of a wide open Devier Posey from pulling off the upset.
Let us look at what Fickell had to overcome. He was thrust into the head coaching job after Jim Tressel’s resignation/retirement. Nathan Williams, one of the top defense players and who Meyer stated is the heart and soul of the defense, was lost after the first game.
Devier Posey was suspended five more games. One saw how Posey changed the offense. Where would Braxton Miller be if Posey had less than a 10-game suspension? When Ryan Broyles of Oklahoma was lost, the Sooners offense and team became totally different. Could Miller and Posey had a better connection if Posey was not suspended for 10 games? Would that have been enough for Ohio State to have won its eighth straight?
Other factors to account for: Andrew Sweat, one of the Buckeyes leading playmakers, was injured and could not play, while starting safety Christian Bryant suffered the same fate. Back-up Ohrian Johnson was injured twice during the game, and freshman playmaker Ryan Shazier basically played most of the game on one leg. Not to mention the game was in Ann Arbor and Ohio State was playing with a true freshman quarter back instead of senior quarterback Terrelle Pryor.
Remember when Denard Robinson was a true freshman? He was essentially a wildcat runner when he was in the game.
Fickell also had the Urban Meyer rumors and his own future to deal with. Taking all these things into account, it was almost fate that UM would end the seven-year losing streak. But with all those challenges against the Buckeyes, they were within two yards of a wide-open Devier Posey for the go ahead touchdown. Fickell almost pulled it off.
Though some may disagree, Fickell showed me he learned from Tressel, the master, on how to beat Michigan. Ohio State should have lost maybe 40-17, but they stayed in it till the end against a vastly improved Michigan team that more resembles Michigan teams of the past. This is bad news for Michigan.
One move Urban Meyer needs to make is to give the reigns of beating Michigan into Fickell’s hands. Don’t change what Tressel started and take it to another level if possible. Fickell and Meyer are already talking a lot; I hope Meyer takes to heart Tressel’s method of defeating Michigan.
Sometimes, ego can get in the way, and if Meyer wants to beat Michigan his own way, it could prove detrimental. Let Fickell continue what Tressel started and have Meyer add his own wrinkle but keep the essence of beating Michigan the same. Tressel’s record of 9-1 and now Mark Dantonio’s 4-1 are no fluke, Tressel knew something about how to win “the game.”
If Fickell knows his secret, Meyer needs to keep it going. Buckeye fans are now accustomed to beating Michigan.