Frank Solich

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Frank Solich
Biographical details
Born (1944-09-08) September 8, 1944 (age 76)
Johnstown, Pennsylvania
Playing career
1963–1965 Nebraska
Position(s) Fullback
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
1966–1967Omaha Holy Name HS (NE)
1968–1978 Lincoln Southeast HS (NE)
1979–1982 Nebraska (freshmen)
1983–1997Nebraska (RB)
1998–2003Nebraska
2005–2020 Ohio
Head coaching record
Overall173–101 (college)
Bowls7–9
Accomplishments and honors
Championships
1 Big 12 (1999)
3 Big 12 North Division (1999–2001)
4 MAC East Division (2006, 2009, 2011, 2016)
Awards
Home Depot Coach of the Year Award (1999)
Big 12 Coach of the Year (1999, 2001)
MAC Coach of the Year (2006)

Frank Thomas Solich (born September 8, 1944) is a former American football coach and former player. He is the former head coach at Ohio University, a position he held from 2005 until 2021. From 1998 to 2003, Solich served as the head coach at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, where he also played fullback under Bob Devaney in the mid-1960s.

Contents

Early life and playing career

Solich grew up in Cleveland, Ohio, and graduated from Holy Name High School in 1962, where he earned all-state, All-America, and all-scholastic honors. He scored 104 points in high school but was being overlooked due his height, 5'7", and weight, 153 lbs. [1] When he got to his college weigh-in he got his trainer to tape 8 pound weights under his shorts. He now made weight at 162 lbs. He was a part of Bob Devaney’s first recruiting class at Nebraska, and became a standout for the Huskers in the mid-1960s, where he earned the nickname "Fearless Frankie". An All-Big Eight fullback and co-captain of the Huskers’ 1965 team, his playing career earned him induction into the Nebraska Football Hall of Fame in 1992. In Nebraska's 27–17 win over Air Force in 1965, he ran for 204 yards on 17 carries, becoming the first Husker to run for 200 yards in a game, and subsequently the first Husker to be featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated .

Coaching career

High school

He began his career in the Nebraska prep ranks, as head coach at Omaha Holy Name High School in 1966 and 1967. His 1967 team was state runner-up. Solich then moved to Lincoln Southeast for 11 years, where he compiled a record of 66–33–5 while capturing consecutive Class A state titles in 1976 and 1977.

Nebraska

Solich returned to college football at his alma mater in 1979, spending 19 seasons at Nebraska as an assistant coach under Tom Osborne: four as the freshman team coach, and 15 as running backs coach. In Solich's 19 years as an assistant, the Huskers captured three national championships and 11 conference titles. He was the position coach for many of Nebraska's standout running backs of the 1980s and 1990s, including Tom Rathman, Calvin Jones, Ahman Green, and Lawrence Phillips.

Osborne retired after the 1997 national championship season and named Solich as his successor. Solich directed the Huskers to six consecutive bowl games, including his 2001 squad, which started 11–0 but was beaten by Colorado 62–36 in the last regular season game. Despite that loss and failing to qualify for the Big 12 championship game, the Huskers still made it into the national championship game (ahead of #3 Colorado and #2 Oregon) in the Rose Bowl against Miami. Nebraska was beaten 37–14. Solich did win at least nine games in five of those six seasons, and finished among the top 10 teams in the nation three times. Solich compiled a 58–19 record (.753) at Nebraska.

Solich's 1999 Huskers defeated the Texas Longhorns for the Big 12 championship. Solich was named the Big 12 Coach of the Year in 1999 and 2001, and was one of seven finalists for the Paul "Bear" Bryant Award in 2001.

For the first five years as head coach, Solich served as his own offensive coordinator, as Osborne had for most of his tenure. His offenses centered on the option. He also utilized such plays as the Black 41 Flash Reverse Pass which became a highlight of Eric Crouch's Heisman Trophy-winning season in 2001.

The Huskers slumped to 7–7 in 2002, a year in which they fell out of the rankings for the first time since 1981; their 348 consecutive weeks in the AP Poll is still the longest in college football history. He gave up offensive play-calling duties to newly hired offensive coordinator Barney Cotton and brought in Bo Pelini, the linebackers coach for the Green Bay Packers, as defensive coordinator. 2003 began with Nebraska starting out 5–0, but suffered three key losses later in the year: 41–24 to Missouri, 31–7 to Texas and 38–9 to Kansas State. After winning the final game of the regular season, Solich was fired by new athletic director Steve Pederson.

Solich's 58 wins during his first six seasons as Nebraska's head coach exceeded those of his predecessors, Bob Devaney (53 wins) and Osborne (55 wins), both of whom are in the College Football Hall of Fame. [2]

Ohio

Solich took the 2004 season off, the first time he'd been away from the game in 39 years. In 2005, Solich was hired at Ohio University in Athens, and his impact on the football program was immediate. He arrived when renovation plans for the Ohio football facilities, which had begun eight years earlier (prior to 2004, the program was furnished with new coaches office, practice fields, a new 10,000 square-foot strength and conditioning center, enhancement to the team locker room, revitalization of Peden Stadium including installation of a state-of-the-art FieldTurf playing surface, improved and expanded seating complete with a popular concert-style berm at the south end zone) were nearly complete. They were finished with two final projects, new team meeting rooms and a new athletic training room. Fan interest in the program was revitalized and reached its highest since the 2001 season. Also, Ohio was selected to appear on national television six times for the 2005 football season, a record for the program. Solich's first home game as coach of the Bobcats was a memorable one, as Peden Stadium brought in its largest crowd ever. 24,545 fans were in attendance on September 9, 2005, to watch the Bobcats defeat the Pittsburgh Panthers, 16–10. The Pittsburgh–Ohio game was among the top 15 most viewed regular season college football games ever on ESPN2. [3]

The Bobcats' 2005 record under Solich (4–7) was the same as the team's record in the previous year under Brian Knorr. However, in 2006, Solich led the Bobcats to a 9–5 record including a MAC East Division title and a GMAC Bowl invitation. The bowl game (which Ohio lost to Southern Miss, 28–7) was the program's first bowl appearance since 1968.

In the 2007 season, the Bobcats took a step backward and finished with a record of 6–6. Two of those losses were by less than three points, and a third was a 28–7 loss to nationally ranked Virginia Tech. The Bobcats were one of six bowl eligible teams that missed the postseason.

On July 18, 2008, Solich was given an extension of his contract through the 2013 season.

In 2009, Solich led the Bobcats to a 9–5 overall mark with another MAC East championship and an appearance in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl. That 2009 senior class amassed more wins (28) than any other Ohio football class in more than 40 years.

In 2011, Solich coached the Bobcats to a 10–4 record, another MAC East Division title, and their first ever bowl win. The Bobcats defeated Utah State 24–23 in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl. It was Ohio's first ten win season since 1968. [4]

During the 2012 season, Solich coached the Bobcats to a 7–0 start, which saw their first Associated Press Top 25 weekly ranking since 1968, as well as a spot in the weekly coaches poll. In October 2018, Coach Solich celebrated his 100th win at Ohio University. Later that year, he passed Bill Hess as the second-winningest coach in school history. A 66–24 victory over Bowling Green in November 2019 gave Solich his 111th win as Ohio coach, making him the winningest coach in MAC history.

In 2021, Solich stepped down as head coach of the Ohio Bobcats to focus on his health. He retired with a career record of 173-101 (0.631) with a record of 115-82 (0.584) at Ohio. [5]

Personal life

Solich married Pamela Wieck of Beatrice, Nebraska. They have two children, Cindy and Jeff.

In 2005, police in Athens, Ohio found Solich passed out behind the wheel of his car, facing the wrong direction on a one-way street. Solich was convicted of drunken driving, resulting in a $250 fine and driver's license suspension. [6] He attempted to fight this based on testing that revealed the "date rape" drug GHB in his system. His attempt to withdraw his plea failed. [7]

Head coaching record

College

YearTeamOverallConferenceStandingBowl/playoffsCoaches#AP°
Nebraska Cornhuskers (Big 12 Conference)(1998–2003)
1998 Nebraska 9–45–3T–2nd (North)L Holiday 2019
1999 Nebraska 12–17–11st (North)W Fiesta 23
2000 Nebraska 10–26–2T–1st (North)W Alamo 78
2001 Nebraska 11–27–1T–1st (North)L Rose 78
2002 Nebraska 7–73–54th (North)L Independence
2003 Nebraska 9–3*5–32nd (North) Alamo*1819
Nebraska:58–1933–15* Did not coach bowl game
Ohio Bobcats (Mid-American Conference)(2005–2020)
2005 Ohio 4–73–54th (East)
2006 Ohio 9–57–11st (East)L GMAC
2007 Ohio 6–64–4T–4th (East)
2008 Ohio 4–83–5T–5th (East)
2009 Ohio 9–57–11st (East)L Little Caesars Pizza
2010 Ohio 8–56–22nd (East)L New Orleans
2011 Ohio 10–46–21st (East)W Famous Idaho Potato
2012 Ohio 9–44–43rd (East)W Independence
2013 Ohio 7–64–4T–3rd (East)L Beef 'O' Brady's
2014 Ohio 6–64–42nd (East)
2015 Ohio 8–55–3T–2nd (East)L Camellia
2016 Ohio 8–66–2T–1st (East)L Dollar General
2017 Ohio 9–45–32nd (East)W Bahamas
2018 Ohio 9–46–2T–2nd (East)W Frisco
2019 Ohio 7–65–3T–2nd (East)W Famous Idaho Potato
2020 Ohio 2–12–1T–3rd (East)
Ohio:115–8277–46
Total:173–101
      National championship        Conference title        Conference division title or championship game berth

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References

  1. Brody, T. (November 2, 1964). "A light man to do the heavy work". Sports Illustrated. 21: 54–55.
  2. Nebraska Yearly Totals Archived February 16, 2010, at the Wayback Machine on cfbdatawarehouse.com
  3. "Ohio Game Scores Well In ESPN2 Ratings Game". Mid-American Conference. September 15, 2005. Archived from the original on November 12, 2013. Retrieved November 12, 2013.
  4. "Ohio scores in waning seconds to upend Utah State, earn 1st bowl victory". ESPN.com. December 17, 2011. Retrieved November 12, 2013.
  5. https://www.thepostathens.com/article/2021/07/ohio-bobcats-football-frank-solich-announces-reitrement-2021-season
  6. "Solich apologizes for DUI, will remain Ohio coach". ESPN.com. November 29, 2005.
  7. "USATODAY.com - Solich's lawyer argues Ohio coach was drugged". usatoday30.usatoday.com. Retrieved December 1, 2016.