Solich wants to continue coaching

Updated: September 1, 2004, 12:36 AM ET
Associated Press

OMAHA, Neb. -- Former Nebraska football coach Frank Solich says he is preparing for a future in coaching but he hasn't forgotten the past.

Solich said during an appreciation dinner for him on Tuesday night that he has a great deal of energy and passion for football and that he is convinced that coaching is something he should continue to pursue.

Omaha billionaire Warren Buffett and Rep. Tom Osborne, R-Neb., the Hall-of-Fame coach who was Solich's predecessor, were hosts for the dinner at Qwest Center Omaha's grand ballroom. About 800 friends and associates of Solich attended.

Solich's firing last November was not the focus of the evening until Solich took the dais at the end.

Solich has not commented publicly to any great extent since his dismissal. He said that's because he didn't think it would be in the best interest of the Nebraska football program for him to do so.

He said people should not interpret his silence to mean that he didn't care.

"I don't accept what happened to my staff," Solich said. "I don't want it perceived that I just shrugged off what happened to my staff."

Only two of Solich's assistant coaches were retained by new head coach Bill Callahan.

Solich said he and his wife would be at a wedding in Texas when the Cornhuskers open the season on Saturday and that he would be attending games across the country in following weeks.

"I want my players who are still in the program to know that I wish them the best," Solich said. "I want nothing but success for them, and I look forward to following them."

Solich said he has attended numerous spring practices and preseason camps at both the college and professional level the last six months. He said he'll spend next week in Austin studying the system of his old rival, the Texas Longhorns.

"When you're out of coaching for a year, there are no guarantees," Solich said, "but I'm moving full speed ahead."

Solich led the Huskers to a 58-19 record over six seasons. He had five nine-win seasons, including a 12-1 mark, Big 12 championship and No. 2 final ranking in 1999. The Huskers played in the national championship Rose Bowl game after the 2001 season, but slipped to 7-7 the following year.

Athletic director Steve Pederson, saying that the Huskers had fallen behind the elite teams in the Big 12, dismissed Solich after a 9-3 regular season last year.

After his firing, Solich withdrew his name from consideration for the Army head coaching job and was in the running for the Cincinnati job.

Solich was recruited by Bob Devaney in 1962 and lettered as a fullback from 1963-65. He was an all-conference performer in 1965.

Osborne said Solich represents an "unusual era" in college football, that being a four-decade run of success at Nebraska. Osborne said during Solich's association with the school, the Huskers have posted a 415-88 record -- the best mark of any major-college team over that span.

"All the players and assistant coaches played a major role, but Frank was involved in the whole thing," Osborne said. "We're trying to say thanks to Frank in some way."

Osborne praised Solich for his integrity, his genuine concern for his players and for the 90-percent graduation rate for Solich's players.

When Solich was fired, he was the sixth-winningest active coach in Division I. Osborne said Solich's credentials are better than those of a number of coaches who have been enshrined in the College Football Hall of Fame.

"I suspect 30 years from now some football junkie will be looking through some statistics and say, 'I don't know who that Solich guy was, but he was a heck of a coach,' " Osborne said.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press