At the time we went to press, Jim Tressel was still the head coach at Ohio State. We had this to say about the soon-to-be-axed "Sir Telfon"...who's nickname has such been retired for obvious reasons.
But even as I write this, there is no way to know for sure if he'll be on the sideline this coming season. All signs point to yes. After he sits out his 5-game suspension, it is assumed that he'll be back in the saddle. I think it will take a swift NCAA ruling, or more ugly headlines like the ones that are just coming out now about some Ohio State players are/were getting free used cars that will ultimately force Sir Teflon to fall on his own sword. But make no mistake, Tressel is a very proud guy who takes his image very seriously...it will take a lot for him to step down on his own.The brass at Ohio State, who could be facing the music themselves before this whole situation is sorted out, saw to it that Tressel is better off unemployed then as the head coach of their school. In his stead will be one of his many right-hand men, Luke Fickell who served at Tressel's linebacker coach since 2004, and his co-defensive coordinator since 2005.
Luke Fickell - Ohio State
Career Record: 0-0
Let's get one thing out of the way, no one is expecting greatness from Luke Fickell. Yes, Ohio State is a top-flight football powerhouse...sort of. Their wings have been clipped a bit, and it's only going to be getting worse once actual football starts being played. Luke Fickell has all the cards stacked against him at this point. The rallying cry for Fickell is to just go out there and play 100% and try and ignore the destruction of the program that is and will be going on all around him.
As far as Luke's Ohio State pedigree, he's basically their version of Northwestern's Pat Fitzgerald. Great linebacker who led the team during one of the best stretches of successful Ohio State teams in recent memory. He has the experience of coaching at the school since 2002. And he was one of the odds-on favorites to succeed Tressel when he was eventually going to step down. At least according to the fan's general consensus.
Like I said, no one is expecting a 10-win season and a BCS bowl, although they will win their fair share of games. Actually, you can pretty much guarantee that no matter how well Fickell and Ohio State do on the field, a bowl game is pretty much out of the question. The rug has been pulled out from underneath Ohio State's football program. The best Luke Fickell can hope for is to keep his players focused on the game at hand, and try not to get too distracted by all of the off-the-field crap that is sure to go on. He does have some talent to work with, especially on the defensive side of the ball.
So what's it going to take for Luke Fickell to stick around for more than one year?
A ton. He's going to need to basically cure cancer on the sideline in order to win over the OSU die-hards. Because once that last second ticks off the clock in the Big House on November 26th, all eyes of Buckeye Nation are going to look to Urban Meyer. And I'll tell you this, if Urban so much as sniffs in the direction of Columbus, Luke Fickell is done like Thanksgiving dinner.
Important Games in 2011:
9/17 @ Miami FL
10/1 vs MSU
10/ 8 @ NEB
10/29 vs WISC
11/19 vs PSU
11/26 @ MICH
MBN Hotness Meter: Dead Man Walking