2014 May Be a Contract Year for Luke Fickell, So to Speak

By Michael Citro on February 2, 2014 at 8:15a
83 Comments

Luke Fickell joined Ohio State’s coaching staff as a graduate assistant in 1999 — just three years removed from his last season as a celebrated Buckeye defensive lineman.

He spent the next two seasons as Akron’s defensive line coach, before returning to his alma mater in 2002 as special teams coordinator.

Since then, Fickell has risen through the ranks to defensive coordinator/linebackers coach this past year — with one important stop as interim head coach in 2011. He has played a significant role in shaping some great Ohio State defenses.

But he also presided over one of the worst statistical defenses in school history in 2013. We recently talked about the steep decline of the defense over the past few years.

On Fickell’s watch, the Buckeye defense allowed more than 21 points per game in 2013. That number looks even worse when you take away the shutouts against the feeble offenses of Florida A&M and Purdue. Teams with an offensive pulse (California, Northwestern, Iowa, Illinois, Michigan State and Clemson) scored a minimum of 24 each.

And Michigan’s offense, on life support for most of the season’s second half, put up 41 points and was virtually unstoppable against Ohio State, save for a single two-point PAT try. (Thank you, based Tyvis Powell.)

The Buckeyes finished 110th in passing yards allowed per game in 2013 and it wasn’t the kind of yardage that comes from forcing teams to pass. It was the kind of yardage that teams take because they can easily be taken. Ask Connor Cook or Tajh Boyd. They’ll confirm this for you.*

* I assume.

Fickell was there when the program needed him.
Fickell's love for Ohio State is unquestioned. Can he turn this defense around, though?

This off-season, Everett Withers and Mike Vrabel have left the OSU defensive staff. Chris Ash and Larry Johnson Sr. have replaced them. Athletic Director Gene Smith recently said Ash will oversee the entire defensive backfield, effectively shifting Kerry Coombs’ responsibilities.

In other words, Fickell will be the only defensive coach handling the same responsibilities as last year, assuming there isn't any behind-the-scenes demotion. If the Buckeyes don’t turn things around on that side of the ball in 2014, there’s only one more change Urban Meyer can make.

Fickell’s importance, or at least the importance of his position, is obvious. He is the first coach not named “Urban” listed in the 2013 Ohio State Media Guide. It may mean nothing more than alphabetical significance — or it could be telling — that Ash’s name is above Fickell’s on the OSU website roster page.

Meyer has defended Fickell as a coach on numerous occasions after poor defensive performances over the last two seasons. He should. This is Meyer's staff and throwing his guys under the bus is unprofessional and is not the hallmark of a successful coach.

But the writing is on the wall. The problems on defense, which cost Ohio State an opportunity to play for a national championship in 2013, cannot continue. If they do, Fickell is sure to be the next domino to fall.

Beyond Fickell, the buck has only one more stop, and that’s with Meyer himself. Ohio State has won two Leaders Division (I looked it up) titles in Meyer’s first two seasons, but nothing else. (And I'm not trying to belittle a 24-2 record over two seasons, because it is a fantastic record.) The Buckeyes are 0-2 in postseason games, with the defense allowing 74 points in those two contests.

The Buckeye offense posted 59 combined points in those two rather important games, with a pair of 100-yard rushing efforts by Carlos Hyde and one by Braxton Miller. Yet both were losses.

It’s easy to see which side of the ball needs the most work. And it’s evident that if things don’t turn around in 2014, native son Fickell won’t be around much longer.
 

83 Comments

Comments

CentralFloridaBuckeye's picture

Last year should have been a contract year for Fickell.  Love him as a recruiter.  I think he's a good position coach.  For a DC OSU needs someone who is a master of the game. 
Go Bucks!!

ChazBuckeye's picture

This^^^^
He's proven since 2011 that he's not ready for this on his own (and even with assistants on D he's still struggling).  

Some people think we’re the hunted.I don’t feel that way at all.We’re the hunter.Everybody wants an angry football team.Everybody wants a team on edge and a hungry team.If you’re a hunter,that usually equates to being hungry.

biggy84's picture

Luke is a good carpenter, but a terrible architect. 

+1 HS
steveoz49's picture

I think you're about to see a very hungry football team.

gm3jones's picture

Totally agree. I can only imagine how upset all these guys are. And I love Urbz quote of an angry team is a very dangerous team... Because if that is so, watch out Buckeye nation this will  be a fun season to watch.

There is nothing more remarkable as learning to think better.

InvertMyVeer's picture

Watch out JDUNC because there's bout to be a tidal wave of upvotes coming your way! That is so awesome lmfao

Football is complicated...

allinosu's picture

It's times like this when I wonder if people just want to bitch. It wasn't the play calling that was the problem. It was players carrying out the responsibilities and breakdowns in fundamentals. Stuff that needed fixed in practice, especially by position coaches. They were not on the same page when they walked on the field. We can only guess who Urban holds responsible which we do all the time but If it was Fickell he would be gone.

ChazBuckeye's picture

Everyone is so quick to place blame on the coaches, yes that's true.  However, how can many of you keep blaming this on the players when this coach has had them for two years now instructing them on the fundamentals.  How good are those LBs looking?????  Or was that because they're all injured...more excuses.
It's time to stop making excuses for Luke, former great Buckeye or not.  He better get things right this year because we can't keep blaming the players or other assistants if he's the problem.  We'll all find out in early October at East Lansing if the defense has turned around.  Because you can bet Connor's still licking his chops after last year and if I were him, I'd be doing it again bc Fickell's still the DC.  
If the addition of Ash and Johnson Sr turns the D around, then in my mind, one of them should step in and take over the DC role.  It's not rocket science at this point.  OSU needs an experienced DC and the players deserve coaches that will make them better.  Not what we've seen in the last two years.  The proof is in the stats.  In the weak B1G, OSU allowed 21 points a game...need I say more.  

Some people think we’re the hunted.I don’t feel that way at all.We’re the hunter.Everybody wants an angry football team.Everybody wants a team on edge and a hungry team.If you’re a hunter,that usually equates to being hungry.

Optimistic Buckeye Pessimist's picture

Sure. As long as you admit that I should be a hall of fame quarterback. I just didn't have the right coach!

Read my entire screen name....

ChazBuckeye's picture

See Terrell Pryor...I think Tom Herman just may have done a lil better job developing TP then Tress's QB coach Nick Siciliano.  Just may be... 
So I have to admit, yes you should be a Hall of fame QB;-)

Some people think we’re the hunted.I don’t feel that way at all.We’re the hunter.Everybody wants an angry football team.Everybody wants a team on edge and a hungry team.If you’re a hunter,that usually equates to being hungry.

allinosu's picture

We did not have depth talent at LB and when injuries happened talent fell off. We had kids leave the program ,we miss on a few recruits and we red shirted some. Did you forget what we lost from the year all the way around. Injuries do affect outcome.

Actorjonnyb's picture

wasn't the playcalling? Kidding right? The personnel was there to be much better. Coaching was not.

buckeyeinla

-1 HS
ChazBuckeye's picture

^^^Yessir!

Some people think we’re the hunted.I don’t feel that way at all.We’re the hunter.Everybody wants an angry football team.Everybody wants a team on edge and a hungry team.If you’re a hunter,that usually equates to being hungry.

allinosu's picture

You got half of it right.

D-Day0043's picture

It wasn't the play calling that was the problem.

There were many times we were in the nickel or dime against 12 and 21 personnel. Calling a 3-2-6 defense on a 3rd and short against a mobile quarterback. Only rushing 3 period when the defensive line is the strength of the team. Vanilla blitz schemes.
yes the players were awful, but the play calling was equally awful. If your not very good the best you can hope for is to disrupt and they didn't even try.

I am D-Day0043 and I approve this message.

t-dub's picture

Coach Fickell is all Buckeye, but if the entire defensive staff (focus on Fickell) doesn't right this ship i think there will be a significant shake up.  At the beginning of last year I thought that Coach Meyer was setting Luke up to get snagged for a HC position, but it did not turn out that way.
I am not a fire Fickell guy, but winning is no accident.  You are either part of the solution or you are part of the "former club".   

"What is our aim, I can tell you in one word. Victory" Winston Churchill

Bamabucknut's picture

Unless Fickelll's role is  minimized to coaching linebackers...and certainly having nothing to do with the defensive scheme and play calling we are going to have more of what we have had for THREE YEARS of thee worse defensive football in OSU history.
IMO he should have been fired.Urban wouldn't let an under performing player play.Why should a coach be any different.

Optimistic Buckeye Pessimist's picture

Urban wouldn't let an under performing player play

If this were the case, we may not have been able to field a defense the past few years....

Read my entire screen name....

zacisone's picture

What about Shazier and Bosa? I definitely get your point though.

Zacisone

Crimson's picture

THREE YEARS of thee worste defensive football in OSU history.

If it's been happening for three years, we should FIRE HEACOCK!!!!!!!!!!

allinosu's picture

Because he knows better than you what the problem is.

mb5599's picture

I am all for loyalty, but if this defense does not improve, Urban would have no choice but to make some drastic  changes on that side of the ball.  Fickell would be the first to go and possibly Coombs.  I think Ash and Johnson would be safe since they just arrived. We have the athletes.  There is no reason why the defense struggles the way it has.

Big B

bull1214's picture

i dont blame fickell but i also cant give him a pass. thats the nature of the job. the credit when its good, the blame when its bad.
my only fear when it comes to fickell is that he's a "players coach" to the extreme. thats great as a recruiter but can be an anchor as a coach when they're grooming the young guys. fear is a great motivator and im not convinced fickell sells fear to his players enough.
i dont have a problem with the defensive style as a whole. for one, its very similar to heacock's style and that worked well for several years. 2ndly, i believe style and play calls are usually based on the abilities of the players. they are what they are til they get coached up to be better. i just hope the coaching up happens soon.

gm3jones's picture

I think I am in the very few minority that think Fickell deserved another chance this year, but I think this is correct. All eyes will be on what he does this year. If he callls plays, there better be a much more efficient D than past few years. If not, nobody will feel bad for letting him go. He has been given more than enough fair chances.
With that being said, Fickell is a true Buckeye. I know everyone knows that, but I think that should go a long way with these kinds of decisions. You know nobody is more upset about the D than Fickell is. He will adjust the way he does things and figure it out. I want him here as a coach and mold him as our future head coach-- if he gets his stuff together and learns how to scheme, develop and nurture these young boys into men a lot better than he has here recently.

There is nothing more remarkable as learning to think better.

buckeyedude's picture

The secondary was the weak link in the OSU D. That was Coombs' responsibility. He has now been reassigned. I'm more than OK with that.
Hopefully the defensive play calling changes also.

 

 

NitroBuck's picture

The secondary was only partly Coach Coombs' responsibility...he had CB's.  Everett Withers was responsible for Safeties.  My belief is this was a bad arrangement, as all to often the two groups were not on the same page.  Of the two groups, I believe the CB's (while not stellar) performed far better overall than the Safeties.  They had issues before Bryant got hurt, and were a mess after that.
That said, I agree with having Ash responsible for the Secondary.  I believe we will see a much more cohesive group with far fewer breakdowns as a result.

Ferio.  Tego.

Statutoryglory's picture

During the Buckeye Cruise, Ash sits to Urban's right and Fickell sits in the back on a stool with a dunce cap on.  This means Urban values Ash more and he has final say on playcalling.  

Ericgobucks's picture

I respect and admire Fickell as a Buckeye and always will. As a coach, he's never done anything special. Results matter in both recruiting and on-field performance. All the Fickell hype since he returned as a coach appears to be wishful thinking. He needs to move on to a MAC type school and see what he can do on his own. I think trying to hold on to his dream job at this point is risking his future as a coach. I, personally, am one who feels he has shown nothing that warrants such a lofty title. Sorry, I wish he did, but he has to earn it. 

Statutoryglory's picture

Unless he didn't want to leave Ohio, he was a fool to pass up the FAU job.  He can drive two hours and do all of his recruiting and even cherry pick Ohio 3*s looking to get out of the cold.  

BuckRock's picture

I agree , he should never have started coaching on the BIG stage right away, unless it was some special teams gig, he is holding onto his dream job and it definitely shows.
 
He is paid an enormous amount of money to WIN and to coach the DEFENSE!!  Well 3 seasons later and I have to admit the worst defense I have ever seen in my life... I have seen better defensive schemes and play calling at the High School level.
 
He must go after this year!  If the defensive backs improve dramatically will fickell receive the credit??  
 
I believe he should only receive credit, where credit is do.
If he is calling the Defensive game plan and doing the play calling and our defense improves then I would say he deserves credit.  Not until then.
 

Arizona_Buckeye's picture

Personally - Luke Fickell is one of my favorite Buckeyes of all time, not only as a player but what he has done on the sidelines and the recruiting trail.  He is passionate about coaching and he loves THE Ohio State University!  He is a class act and that showed in the way he handled the entire Tressel fiasco, which was just plain incredible.  To me, that stands mountains above defensive stats anybody wants to blame him for!

The best thing about Pastafarianism? It is not only acceptable, but advisable, to be heavily sauced

Arizona_Buckeye's picture

Jesus - you get down voted for saying positive things and that you like Fickell - rough crowd.

The best thing about Pastafarianism? It is not only acceptable, but advisable, to be heavily sauced

buckeyejma's picture

Fickell is a pretty damn good linebackers coach and a gr8 recruiter for he buckeyes, but a positions coach is a specialist, that works only with a small group of a team, I believe that is where Luke is the best fit for the scarlet and gray.

Step aside Nick, Urban is the real rock star!

Findog5's picture

Stunned Fickell is still on the staff.  

NCFinn

InvertMyVeer's picture

Did we win? 

Football is complicated...

Hovenaut's picture

You know, I do not recall him posing that question after the last two games.

"Success...it's what you do with what you got" - Woody Hayes

InvertMyVeer's picture

I think we should have held him to his own standard there, but to use another Fickell line it is what it is. Ash gives me hope that we can right the ship though.

Football is complicated...

ShowThemOhiosHere's picture

Time to put up or shut up.  I'm excited for the Ash hire, though, and hopefully he can turn around the defensive backs.  But if the defense still stinks, then Fickell is left as the only common denominator between the 2014 defense and the 2013 defense.

Class of 2010.

BuckeyeJAK's picture

There is only so much you can do to hide the weak links. Like Roby playing mostly run support. The new highly touted linebackers need to step up and play the way they were recruited to play. This defense needs to get physical and attack. There were D- backs who never turned their heads to look for the ball giving up big plays or penalties they need to use their heads and play smarter.
 

Mark May is a mental midget

Dublin68's picture

I hope Ash is going to call the defense. Three years is enough for Fickell to call the defensive play, plus he could not adjust during the game.....I think Meyer got his Defensive Co in Ash and he will let Fickell stay another year since his contract run through April 2015

bucknut94's picture

I like Fickell. I believe we are putting too much of the blame for a bad secondary and defense in general on Fickell. He had to go with the hand he was dealt. Injuries to the secondary and inexperience took its toll. I will defer judgment until we get into the 2014 season and see how the defense plays out. I'm confident it will get better with the changes in the coaching staff and a year of teaching a scheme to some great athletes.

Becool12's picture

I find it hard to say I love or hate Fickell. I agree that there were some very stupid play calls this year, but there were some players who were clearly struggling with production and injuries. On the D-Line, we played very very light. Our players could get a lot of pressure on the quarterback but couldn't stop the run. Diesel didn't really live up to expectations due to injuries. Our linebackers sucked at coverage, outside of Shazier. Grant and Perry were constantly watching the quarterbacks and not their men. They played the run very well, outside of a couple of mistakes. I think next year, our linebackers are definitely gonna be a bit better. I still don't see any linebackers who could really defend the pass well. Grant very athletic but also has stiff hips and mentally is focused on the run. Perry is even more athletic but isn't mentally prepared for the games either. I'm not sure about Mitchell or Johnson, but the their linebacker will have a lot of expectations. And, our secondary over the past couple of years were often bailed out by our strong defensive line but this year we were really exposed. Call it bad scheme or bad coaching or whatever, but our players were often caught watching quarterbacks or taking bad angles. I think we have some very good and smart players coming up so our secondary should greatly improve

allinosu's picture

I agree with improvement is needed in tackling, reading and reacting and knowing your responsibilities and being in a good position to make a play but do you even know what very stupid play calling is?  

Becool12's picture

Yea, very stupid play calling is putting Pittsburg Brown in a position where he has to play one-on-one with any receiver. There were also some questionable calls with dropping Spence back in coverage so much when he is clearly our best pass rusher on a line that can't really get sacks without him or Bosa. 

allinosu's picture

Did you bitch about it when it won the game over Arkansas? Wow it must be great to sit in your chair and criticize anything that goes wrong. P brown does play pass defense doesn't he. You obviously have a problem with the way Urban runs his team. Why aren't you calling for his head.

Becool12's picture

Ok, without getting all pissy and defensive, I have supported Fickell and defended him against everyone who said he should be fired. I criticized the players over the coaches everytime because the scheme worked with our past teams. I never called for Fickell's head or Meyer's head or any other coach's job because I believe it is the fact that we don't have as much talent on the team as we did 3 years ago ro 4 years ago. Now, though I supported Fickell doesn't mean he hasn't done anything wrong. My problem with Fickell is not his scheme but his inability to make adjustments to the scheme based on the players in the system. That is what separates great coaches from good coaches. 
 
And, to compare Solomon Thomas dropping back in coverage to Noah Spence dropping back in coverage is pretty funny. Solomon Thomas was our backup linemen and wasn't as important to the pass rush as Spence. Spence is pass rusher and maybe one of three players on our defensive line that could consistently cause presser on quarterbacks. Now, when you drop him back in coverage, we are relying one only Joey Bosa and Michael Bennett alone to get to the quarterback. And I don't care who you have back there throwing the ball, if you give a quarterback enough time and protection he can pick apart any zone defense. 

allinosu's picture

First of all it's a bait play.You hope the QB thinks it is an open area and he pulls a quick trigger. It would be a bigger surprise if Spence would drop so I find your analogy pretty funny and it is a good idea to give the offense a change up once and awhile. You have to think Urban is an idiot. He would have to be after listening to your expertise and not fire him on the spot. I want a better defense as much as you do and if I was convinced as much as you this is all we have to do to get the job done then I want him gone too.

ABrown07's picture

Yes, it is a bait play. You do know DE's do more than just pass rush, right?

I don't like nice people. I like tough, honest people.
-Woody Hayes

ChazBuckeye's picture

Loved the write up Kyle.  If the other readers comprehended those glaring statistics, there should be little to NO room to make excuses anymore.  I've been thinking of many of these stats you brought up before and it's lucky to say the least that OSU's offense is their best defense at the moment.  It pains me to hear ppl bring up the worthless shutouts of FAMU and Purdue.  I want to throw up in my mouth when I hear ppl use those games as examples of "good" defense.  OSU's defense must get better and not just allowing 14 points on average a game. They have to be in the top ten in all categories or OSU will be destined to lose on the big stage again in 2014.  

Some people think we’re the hunted.I don’t feel that way at all.We’re the hunter.Everybody wants an angry football team.Everybody wants a team on edge and a hungry team.If you’re a hunter,that usually equates to being hungry.

allinosu's picture

I'm not making excuses. We all want the same thing but I'm unwilling to fill in the blanks with what we don't know  with guessing as though it is fact. Urban know what we don't and adjusts. That gloom and doom attitude at the end fits you.

Michael Citro's picture

Loved the write up Kyle.

 

Thanks, Steve.

hcazualcc's picture

lmao...how dare you call him steve!

BuckRock's picture

In some ways I believe Fickell is being protected, no one wants to speak about his input for each game, weather or not he calls plays, is he creating the defensive schemes we are seeing week in and week out, was it his defensive game plan against Sparty and Clemson??
I believe if the answer to the above questions was YES, then he needs to be fired!
However, gene smith, urban and others refuse to comment on his EXACT role, rather they say he is the CO- defensive coordinator and they leave it at that, no one's really knows, but I fear he is the reason for the horrible defensive sachems and play calling.  When he was the interim head coach, we lost 6 or 7 games that year...do you remember the defensive game plans?  They look the same as they do now, only difference is now we have Urban style offenses generating huge points every game!
 
He need's to go!  I love him as a player, and recruiter, but those things do not WIN; nor do they create winning defenses!!!

Crimson's picture

When he was the interim head coach, we lost 6 or 7 games that year...do you remember the defensive game plans?

Fire Heacock!!!!

allinosu's picture

Yes the CIA killed Kennedy, Bush knocked down the towers and Fickell is being protected. Urban would not hesitate to fire him if he though he was the problem.

FitzBuck's picture

Two of the three are true.....paranoid. 

Fitzbuck | Toledo - Ohio's right armpit | "A troll by any other name is still a troll".

mobboss1984's picture

This is fickell last year. Urban is being respectful to a osu faithful

Always be yourself, express yourself, have faith in yourself, do not go out and look for a successful personality and duplicate it.
Bruce Lee
 

Ashtabula's picture

I can't believe so many fans are actually hinting that Urban is afraid to fire Fickell.  Rest assured, if Urban believed Fickell was the problem, he would be gone.  Urban has commented numerous times that he doesn't hire friends, because it is too hard to fire them.  Trust me when I say he has even higher expectations for his coaches than for his players.

johnblairgobucks's picture

Reading through this thread's comments, and for all the posters that feel the linebackers (outside of Boren's 1/2 year and Shazier)  the past 2 years have been anything below average, I question whether you have been watching them play the position. 
Perry, Grant and Klien have had their chances at starting and displayed poor play recognition, inability to shed blocks, poor pass coverage skills and poor pursuit angles.  They have been decent tacklers, but making a tackle 7 to 8 yards from the line of scrimmage isn't what we should expect from a starting OSU linebacker, that is a free safety. 
I'm not claiming to be able to do better, I'm not sure if it is the position coach's fault or just the fact that the recruited kids haven't panned out.  However the defenses problems start and end with the linebacker position, IMO.  Years past stopping opposing offenses on 1st and 2nd down, leading to 3rd and longs (obvious passing situations) has helped out our defensive secondary.  Recently, run plays, bubble screens and draw plays that should be contained by serviceable linebackers, are going for 4 to 5 yards a pop, putting stress on the entire defense. 

allinosu's picture

The swami has spoken
 to moboss

ScarletNGrey01's picture

Love Coach Fickell the person, he is a buckeye through and through, rooting for his sake and the team for the defense to have a big turn-around next season.  If that does not happen, he is a strong, solid guy that will bounce back at some other institution, sometimes a change is good for everyone involved.  I know that's been true in my career.

The will to win is not as important as the will to prepare to win. -- Woody Hayes

Ericgobucks's picture

I have to admit, "did we win" really pissed me off. I appreciate he's under tremendous pressure. He's also making 600,000$ a year in Ohio, which is HUGE money. Coaches know what a meat grinder they are signing up for. Stop feeling sorry for young millionaires. 

HotSauceCommittee's picture

When we speak of Fickell can we stop leading the comments with "he is all Buckeye", "he is 100%", "more Buckeye than" etc? We get it! We know it!

If we do this we have to add comments about his underachieving defense, poor adjustments and the fact that the defense didn't improve at the end of each statement.

Ashtabula's picture

Coombs demoted and Withers takes a pay cut to take a dead end HC job. Urban has diagnosed the problem and solved it. I don't love Fickell or believe he deserves our gratitude, but the person that matters the most (and despite what we fans all like to think, knows the most) believes Fickell is part of the solution.
 

GoBucks92's picture

This will be a pivotal year for the D with leaders like Shazier, Bryant and Roby leaving. Luke will be under a lot of pressure to make up for this and he won't have his buddy Vrabel with him. There is a lot of young talent, on paper. Is Luke the guy to coach them up? Not sure based on what we've seen. I really miss the swarming tackling we were used to in the Tressel/Dantonio/Heacock years. Was it coaching or the players? I think this year will tell the tale. 

"Let's beat the s*** out of Michigan!" -- Urban F. Meyer

ghalephoto's picture

When Urban arrived one of the 1st things he did was have dinner with Fickell.  He stated how he wanted and needed him and his family in Columbus.  Urban Meyer obviously is a Luke fan and I don't see him ever running him out of Columbus.  Fickell is here as long as Fickell wants to be here.  His role might change, but I just don't see U. Meyer making one season a do or your gone season. 

BuckeyeJAK's picture

We need improvement on all levels to win the Championship we chase

Mark May is a mental midget

BuckRock's picture

Politics is everywhere...

irishfury's picture

I wanted Fickell gone.  Urban has forgot more about football today then I know so I have to trust him.

BuckeyeJAK's picture

Chris Ash 2010 - 2012  top 30  pass Defense Each season at Wisconsin
2013 Arkansas improved from 113th in 2012 to 72nd in 2013
 

Mark May is a mental midget

FitzBuck's picture

I still love Ficks.  A couple of things to remember.  OSU finished 3rd in the country in sacks this year.  DL and LB play was good and we had young DL and LBs.  Run D was again solid this year.  Who was it that helped convert Zack from FB to LB in one season?Fickell called the base D and Withers called the coverage - coverage was always the problem.  Most importantly Fickell is a true Buckeye.  Support him.  If the LB and DL take a step back that's one thing.  If the D as a whole doesn't improve then yes start calling for his head but not yet.  We owe him one more year based on what he has done  and what Urban has seen.  I don't think there is a chance he would still be here if he was the problem.  Look at who is gone and who has had their job responsibilities reassigned.  Considering all of the above why is Fickell not getting more support?

Fitzbuck | Toledo - Ohio's right armpit | "A troll by any other name is still a troll".

ibuck's picture

Michael Citro, was this post supposed to let folks (including yourself?) vent about Fickell?
There's not much new to inform opinions. So, it seems that folks can be as wrong about Fickell as they are/were about Gene Smith. Those who were sure that the AD was culpable in Tressel's troubles, must have been shocked (SHOCKED!) to see him promoted, get an extension and a raise. 
With two coaches departing and one apparently reassigned, we might reasonably assume that Urban took steps to improve the defense. And Meyer is too much a professional and good person—unlike some posters here—to throw anyone under the bus, so we may never know what really went on. Since Fickell is still around, the possibility that the Fickell haters are wrong, lingers. Some folks just can't let go of their opinions, even if unfounded, and have too much emotional energy invested in "being right." And that's a shame, because needing to be right is a big obstacle to being happy and emotionally healthy.

Our honor defend, we will fight to the end !

Michael Citro's picture

Michael Citro, was this post supposed to let folks (including yourself?) vent about Fickell?

Nope, just thought it was important to lay out that Urban Meyer has changed everything else about the defensive staff, so this year is critical for Luke Fickell's future at Ohio State. It is a topic of import to Ohio State football, and, therefore, to the readership of this site.

BroJim's picture

I get it, our defense was dreadful, but the guy is not a bad coach. Fickell has developed great players and coached great defenses, why is there so much distaste for this man?

I season my simple food with hunger

bull1214's picture

after reading many different takes on our defensive problems ive arrived at this summation:
1. unsatisfactory db play=blame fickell
2. unpopular db coverages=blame fickell
3. injuries and lack of depth at lb'er=blame fickell
4. offense stopped giving the ball to hyde in 4th qtr and lost lead=blame fickell
5. way too many poorly thrown deep balls along with no short routes=blame fickell
its easy to see the problem is that fickell has too much on his plate since he's responsible for all that........

allinosu's picture

You forgot the defensive line improvement= 100% all Vrabel.

sivaDavis's picture

I forgot which player it was, I'll be sure to post when I find it, but he said that the players weren't on the same page with what the coaches wanted to do in the scheme. If that's true, there's your coverage problem. It wasn't clear enough for them. That falls on Withers and Coombs. I think Ash completely taking over the secondary and wanting to get on the same page with Fickell from day one is HUGE. I like Fickell the LB coach, just not the DC. And if you think about it, if Ash is calling the plays AND coaching the secondary, there might be something special brewing in Columbus. Even if he isn't, he is going to be at Fickell's side constantly picking his brain and finding out what Luke wants to do so Chris himself can set up the best coverages possible. That's just how great he is. He can fine tune these DBs and safeties. He is a GREAT DB coach, a guru if you will, and in my personal opinion a match made in heaven with all this talent on this Buckeye team.

"I've had smarter people around me all my life, but I haven't run into one yet that can outwork me. And if they can't outwork you, then smarts aren't going to do them much good." - Woody Hayes

andretolstoy's picture

I wish we could have one of these fair assessments (this is one is fair BTW) without the "if only Fickell could not make the calls" or "he's bend don't break" comments...

NitroBuck's picture

A lot of folks here are awfully hard on Coach Fickell.  The man has proven his worth over the years as a LB Position Coach (Hawk, Carpenter, Schlegel, Freeman, Laurinaitis, L Grant, Moeller, Rolle, Shazier with solid contributions by guys like R Homan, Sabino, Sweat, Spitler and Klein).  Fickell was Co-DC / LB's Coach for many of those guys, so we know he can do both. Too many people overlook the fact that OSU basically lost two recruiting classes worth of LB recruits, so the quality depth has been lacking the past two years.
As for who was calling defensive plays, I don't think any of us knows whether it was Fickell or Withers.  To me, it is completely unfair to lay all of the schemes and play calling problems on Fickell without knowing.  I also know there were talent / depth problems in the secondary as well as the LB position.  No matter which of the co-DC's was calling the shots, the reality is neither had a load of firepower and depth to work with.

Ferio.  Tego.

CowCat's picture

IMO much of our problem the last 2 years was a lack of identity on defense, not so much Fickell himself.

Our offense has had a clear identity:   Power spread option.   Run first.   

You can't say the same about the defense.   Was it a cover 2 team?  A cover 4 team?  When / why do they blitz?  What is their attitude?  Where do they hang their hats?  DL?  LBs?   It all seemed cobbled together between Fickell, Vrabel, Coombs and Withers ... and other teams took advantage of the confusion.

I think we'll see a big turnaround this year.   It will be primarily Chris Ash's scheme with Larry Johnson coaching his DLs to beat their blocks.   Fickell can spend more time coaching up the LBs to perform within the (single) scheme.    The LBs and DBs will have one unified system for pass coverage.

Chris Ash seems like a very smart, very intense, no-nonsense dude.   I think his defense will reflect that.

 

 

 

 

 

"We get paid to score touchdowns, not kick field goals"
-- Urban Meyer