Newly appointed interim Ohio State head coach Luke Fickell has received an opportunity at his dream job, albeit in a way and fashion he never wanted. Ascending to the head coaching job at Ohio State is one of the top positions in college football, and Luke Fickell now has a chance to make his mark with the Buckeye faithful.
To remove the interim tag associated with his current title, I suggest Coach Fickell dial up two men who have dealt with being quickly promoted, in less than ideal circumstances. In 1995, Michigan promoted Lloyd Carr to take over from Gary Moeller, and in 2006, Northwestern promoted Pat Fitzgerald to take over from Randy Walker.
In the spring of 1995, Michigan accepted the resignation of head coach Gary Moeller, after Moeller had a drunken outburst that led to his arrest. Defensive coordinator Lloyd Carr was named interim head coach, with no promises of becoming the full-time head coach.
In a painful memory for all Ohio State fans, Carr's 1995 Michigan team defeated Ohio State 31-23 behind the running of Tim Biakabutuka. Carr later led Michigan to a share of the 1997 national championship, and was recently named as an inductee into The College Football Hall Of Fame.
If looking to That School Up North is too painful for inspiration, perhaps Coach Fickell can look to one of his contemporaries. Pat Fitzgerald was a star linebacker for Northwestern in 1995 and 1996, when Luke Fickell was a defensive lineman for Ohio State. Fitzgerald was the linebackers coach for Northwestern, who became head coach upon the sudden death of Randy Walker.
Pat Fitzgerald has rebounded nicely from two subpar seasons in 2006 and 2007 by leading Northwestern to three straight bowl appearances. While Fitzgerald's record is a modest 34-29, it is worth noting that Michigan was interested in hiring Fitzgerald as head coach, before selecting Brady Hoke.
Make no mistake about it, Ohio State fans - the 2011 season is going to be one long, hopefully successful job interview for Luke Fickell. To ensure Fickell aces the interview, it would not hurt to consult with some people like Lloyd Carr and Pat Fitzgerald who have been in comparable situations and came out fine.
Originally posted on Along The Olentangy, 05/30/2011