Luke Fickell: Hometown Hero

By Ramzy Nasrallah on December 10, 2016 at 11:44 am
Luke Fickell in Beaver Stadium, 2016

Luke Fickell was in junior high on the day Woody Hayes died.

It was a Thursday in Columbus, the coldest day of that year regardless of whatever the temperature happened to be. That winter his future college coach and boss was hired to replace Woody's successor.

Fickell was only 14 in 1987. Wrestling was the sport that dominated his runway - he would end up participating in 108 matches in high school, winning all 108 of them. Some of his wins came via forfeit from guys who weren't interested in spending even a few seconds on the mat with him.

You can watch Fickell destroy Ray Edmonds (34-1) in 54 seconds here. This was for the 1992 Ohio State heavyweight title.

That's the last time he wrestled competitively. Luke was not only also really good at football, he liked it more. It's what he wanted to do.

He started 50 straight games that coincided with Ohio State's renaissance under John Cooper. Fick played his final collegiate game in the Rose Bowl with one arm, keeping his torn pectoral muscle a secret until after the Buckeyes had beaten Arizona State.

You already know what he's done for Ohio State football since then. He's been at the top of the mountain and the very bottom of the bottom while in Columbus. He's won and lost big; managed both crisis and hubris. Fickell has worn the crown and the crown of thorns.

Ohio State's defensive coordinator has championed your favorite team for most of his life and the better part of the last quarter century, and the Buckeyes have been significantly upgraded on and off of the field because of him.

There's one guy in Ohio State football history that connects the past with its present, and that's Fickell. Urban Meyer may have been a graduate assistant, but he skipped the renaissance. Cooper created the foundation for the return. Jim Tressel cemented it.

Fickell was part of it all, both with a helmet and a headset.

Now he's taking his legacy and his ambition to go run another Ohio football program. His absence will be profound, but he's never going to be too far away.

That's because Fickell isn't just from Columbus, he is Columbus. And Columbus will miss him dearly.

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