The last few months I have been asked to comment on the situation at Ohio State. Simple answer- How should I know!" I do not work there, nor do I hang out with the coaching staff. I believe almost nothing the media reports, including SI or ESPN, or even the local Columbus media. How should I know what is going on at Ohio State.
I have known Jim Tressel since his Syracuse days as an assistant. Not well at that time, but over the years we have become friends. That is really no huge accomplishment, because Coach Tressel has developed friendships with many, many coaches. I can say this, however - Coach Tressel has done more for Ohio high school football than anyone, since my hero, Woody Hayes. I can remember when the Ohio State Clinic was down to around 400. Now up to 1,600. I can remember when the summer camps were down to 400-500 total campers. Now they get 500 campers at just a one day camp.
I am excited to have Luke Fickell as the new head football coach at Ohio State. First saw him wrestle for Columbus DeSales High School at the Galion Regionals his senior year. Tremendous competitor. Smart. Personable. Watched him all four years at O-State. Biggest complaint was he should have been an offensive center. Not athletic enough to play on DL. Excellent balance, leverage and quickness, but not athleticism. With the experience at center at OSU, he would have played that position in the "league." Now he would be winding down his pro career, much the same as his buddy, Mike Vrabel.
Fickell is re-freshing, because he has the natural smile, but also has the toughness and discipline needed to lead people. Watching him at camp, he has a different presence about him. Friendly, but very aware of how certain high school players are competing. Personable, but very aware his job at this camp is to evaluate talent. Skake hands with well-wishers when the day is done. For what it means from me, he is an excellent evaluator of talent. The prospect's desire to compete is big for him. Hopefully, he does not get caught up in the "Five Star" bullcrap. As of now , he has not. Najee Murray and Devan Bogard are not five stars, but they are going to be very good college players for OSU.
Sometimes youth is not a negative. Fickell has not been coaching at Upper Sandusky High School the last ten years. Hopefully, being a college head coach has always been a dream, and he has taken some notes along the way. You cannot train to be a head coach. Being a co-ordinator does not mean as much as people like to think it does. Only from an organizational point does being a DC or OC help that much. There were reasons he landed the BGSU job, but Urban Meyer was not an OC at Notre Dame. Head coaches just have the "it" factor. Honestly, if Josh Daniels had not tried to be Bill Belechek, or be a tough guy, he may still be coaching Denver. Fickell is grounded, which will help him learn and gain wisdom sooner than anticipated.
Schemes are important. Assistant coaches are important. Discipline is important. Media relations are important.(maybe). Communication with players is important. But "fast horses" usually win the race. Talent is the key. If you do not enough really good players, your chances to win are limited. I always joked with the Indiana staff, when Bill Mallory was the head coach. They never got outcoached, just got out peopled. Luke Fickell can recruit. Ohio State players are the best recruiters. Ohio State is Ohio State. Recruiting talent to meet your needs is important. At times college coaches seem to worry about the media, but Fickell will not do that.
Of course, I am just John McCallister, but I wish the best for Luke Fickell. A combination of youth, energy, and knowledge, he will be okay. Go Bucks!