Urban Meyer Ohio State Rumors: Why Coach Must Retain Luke Fickell on His Staff
Luke Fickell bleeds Scarlet and Gray. He is as Buckeye as they come and represents everything Ohio State is. He's hard-nosed, tough, defensive-minded, an Ohio native and a former great player at OSU.
Fickell walked into the toughest of situations this year at Ohio State and although he was not successful enough to receive a contract extension as the head coach, I'm not sure anyone would have been. Combine the difficult situation with Fickell's inexperience as a head coach and you'll get a 7-5 or 6-6 season no matter who fills in.
However, Fickell has shown great potential as a head coach and his assistant coach resumé is impeccable. If the young coach is willing, it would benefit Urban Meyer tremendously to retain Fickell.
His Moderate Success as Head Coach
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Has Fickell had his troubles this year? Yes. Has Fickell looked completely in over his head at times this year? Of course.
But let's not forget that Fickell was a rookie head coach and inherited a dismal situation at Ohio State. He inherited a team with a terrible backup quarterback and a freshman quarterback behind him.
He inherited a team without their leading rusher, leading receiver and a starting left tackle, all due to suspensions.
On top of all that, Fickell has been forced to attempt to fill the immense shoes of Jim Tressel in his first year ever as a head coach.
All this considered, a 6-6 or 7-5 record is nothing to sneeze at. The fact that this young OSU team was able to redeem last year's loss to Wisconsin this year at home was truly incredible. A win over Michigan this Saturday (which is certainly possible) would only further the impressiveness of this year.
Had Fickell started the year with at least Boom Herron and Mike Adams, he might have been able to pull out wins in close games against Michigan State and Nebraska.
While this year has not been great, Fickell has done everything he can to hold this team together, and has done an admirable job.
The Defense's Success in Recent Years
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In 2005, Fickell was promoted to co-defensive coordinator of the Ohio State defense. Since then, the Silver Bullets have been one of the top defenses in the nation with the exception of this year.
I'm not saying Fickell is the only reason for this success, but he has certainly contributed.
In 2010, the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) named Fickell Assistant Coach of the Year. Luke Fickell has been a stellar assistant in Columbus and could help Meyer greatly on the defensive side of the ball.
Fickell loves Ohio State and it's very possible that he would entertain the idea of returning to the staff at OSU. If he does, Meyer must retain him on his staff because if he doesn't you can guarantee Fickell will be roaming the sidelines somewhere else in the country as a head coach or a defensive coordinator.
His Love for Ohio State and His Roots
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As I said in the introduction, Fickell bleeds Scarlet and Gray. He loves this program with all he has and it's a sheer blessing to have him represent the university. Fickell is a family man and a true Buckeye. His fill-in job as head coach this year proves that he has absolutely no problem doing anything he can for the benefit of Ohio State.
This program is better because of his involvement.
As a player, Fickell started a school record 50 consecutive games from 1993-1996. He was a tough and stingy nose guard who won two Big Ten Championships and four bowl games. He knows the ins and outs of this program and understands the tradition and glory it possesses.
This university needs people like Fickell, who knows and loves everything about Ohio State.
The Linebacker Success in Recent Years
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Throughout the dominant Jim Tressel era at Ohio State, the best position year in and year out was always the linebackers. Ohio State churned out NFL linebackers each year and always had a dominating presence out of this position.
Since 2004, Fickell has coached the linebackers and excelled tremendously. Fickell coached the likes of AJ Hawk, Bobby Carpenter, James Laurinaitis, Brian Rolle and Ross Homan to name a few.
Of course these players were extremely talented, but Fickell was a major component in their development and obviously has the ability to develop talent at a consistent rate. Just ask some NFL teams.
Urban Meyer's Health Issues
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While I am extremely confident that Urban Meyer will experience a great amount of success in Columbus, his health is still a glaring issue.
Remember that just when it seemed that Meyer was going to build a dominant dynasty in Gainesville and retire as a Gator legend someday in the far future, he resigned due to health issues twice, the second time being permanently. Meyer was suffering from heart issues and decided to retire in order to preserve his health.
Although Meyer was quoted as saying "I'm in a good place right now mentally and physically." It's hard not to worry about these health issues.
If Meyer retains Fickell, Ohio State would have an excellent head-coach-in-waiting option. Despite the fact that Fickell isn't ready to be the head honcho in Columbus, a few years under a great coach like Meyer would prepare him tremendously.
With Fickell still on the staff as Defensive Coordinator, Meyer's health issues become a little less alarming and risky.
One day Fickell will make a great head coach. There's no doubt about it. Why not retain the young coach and have him ready to take over if Meyer's health difficulties continue? Seems like common sense to me.