Fickell Settles In For Next Chapter At OSU

No one can question the loyalty Luke Fickell has for Ohio State. A year after serving his alma mater as interim head coach, Fickell is back coaching linebackers and getting a fresh perspective by working with new coaches.

Many Ohio State fans probably felt the same way Ryan Shazier did when Luke Fickell decided to remain at OSU when Urban Meyer took over as head coach of the football Buckeyes.

Shazier was happy to keep Fickell in Columbus.

"It's really nice," Shazier said. "He's one of the reasons I came here. I really liked Coach (Mike) Vrabel last year, so I'll miss him. But it's great having Coach Fickell as coach."

Much has changed for Fickell in a year's time. Last spring Fickell was working alongside Jim Tressel, who led spring practice before stepping aside to let Fickell take over for what was supposed to be the first five games of the season. Tressel's suspension turned into his departure, thrusting Fickell into the position of being Ohio State's interim head coach.

What happened next is well known. The Buckeyes struggled through a 6-7 campaign, the football program was hit with a postseason ban by the NCAA and Ohio State chose to hire Urban Meyer as head coach instead of Fickell. Despite not keeping the top job, Fickell chose to stay at his alma mater as the defensive coordinator/linebackers coach, however.

Neither of those titles are unfamiliar for Fickell. He was the co-defensive coordinator with Jim Heacock for six years before his elevation to the interim head coaching job. He had also led the linebackers for seven seasons.

Getting Fickell to talk about himself is generally a difficult task. He's more than willing to talk about his players, his beloved school or his fellow coaches. Still, he did say there is a good reason he chose to remain at OSU instead of heading somewhere new.

"The most important thing for me in general is (this) an opportunity to see different ways," Fickell said. "It's exciting for me. I don't want to make this ... about me. I want to talk about Ohio State. But to have the opportunity to see different ways of doing things and not really have to leave and take my family and move, there couldn't be a better situation for me."

Fickell has seen plenty of fresh faces in defensive coaching staff meetings since Meyer finalized his staff. Fickell is obviously familiar with former OSU teammate Vrabel, a man Fickell hired to coach the linebackers last season. Vrabel will lead the defensive line this season and will be joined by newcomers Everett Withers (assistant head coach/co-defensive coordinator) and Kerry Coombs (cornerbacks coach).

"You can't get any better than having a little bit of a different perspective at times," Fickell said. "None of us like change sometimes, but it's good. Sometimes it's uncomfortable. Like Coach will tell you, change is uncomfortable but it's really good. It's good to help you grow.

"It's good to have differences of opinion as you formulate things and put things together."

There might be the occasional disagreements, but Fickell said Meyer's desire to have alignment - people on the same page - has been pretty easy to achieve.

"If you could spend 45 minutes in that defensive staff room with us, you'd see that it runs very well together," Fickell said. "There are no egos. The personalities are unbelievably matched. It's a joy. It really is. I know that we can say that in the media, but I'm telling you, it's really a good time. We all have our opinions, but the No. 1 thing is nobody has an ego.

"When that happens and you can all be aligned, I'm not worried about what's best for me. Coach Withers isn't worried about what's best for him. We're worried about what's best for Ohio State."

Not one can argue that Fickell has always done what's best for Ohio State.

Buckeye Sports Top Stories