Solich should recruit Ohio well

Updated: December 16, 2004, 8:49 PM ET
Associated Press

ATHENS, Ohio -- Former Nebraska coach Frank Solich was introduced as Ohio University's new football coach Thursday, returning to the state where he grew up and promising to rebuild a program that has gone 11-35 over the past four seasons.

"It's great to be back in the game, and it's great to be back in the game at Ohio University,'' said Solich, who has been out of football since being fired at Nebraska a year ago after going 58-19 over six seasons.

Frank Solich
Coach Frank Solich said the MAC and the enthusiasm of Ohio University officials were big draws.

Solich signed a multiyear deal with a base salary of $240,000.

Solich had replaced Tom Osborne, who retired from Nebraska in 1997 after winning three national championships in four seasons. Osborne, now a U.S. congressman, was 49-2 in those final four seasons, leaving Solich with an almost impossible task of maintaining that success.

Solich, an assistant under Osborne from 1979-97, led the Cornhuskers to the national championship game in the 2002 Rose Bowl, where they lost 37-14 to Miami.

Nebraska was only 7-7 the next year, the school's first non-winning season since 1961. Solich was dismissed the next season despite going 9-3. Assistant Bo Pelini then coached the Cornhuskers to a 17-3 win over Michigan State in the Alamo Bowl.

Solich's name has been mentioned for openings at more well-known schools, but he cited the enthusiasm by university officials, his familiarity with Ohio and the success of the Mid-American Conference as reasons why he accepted the job.

"It's obvious to me ... that the MAC conference produces some great football teams and great football players,'' he said.

Solich takes over a program that went including 4-7 this year under coach Brian Knorr, who was fired Nov. 18. The Bobcats have had only two winning seasons since 1982.

Osborne said he spoke with Ohio athletic officials this week and gave Solich a strong recommendation.

"He's pretty well known among high school coaches back there, and that will be an advantage for him,'' Osborne said.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press