Thomas Bradley / Campus editor
When former coach Jim Tressel was facing a five game suspension for failing to report NCAA violations, then assistant coach Luke Fickell was chosen to fill his shoes.
Many believed Fickell would merely be Tressel’s puppet.
Following Tressel’s resignation on May 30, athletic director Gene Smith removed the “interim” title from now head coach Luke Fickell’s name.
Now coach Fickell is pulling his own strings.
Following his appointment the question remained: How will the team transition from the vested up, graying senator to his younger, more ‘fiery’ replacement, as junior defensive lineman John Simon described Fickell?
The players however, unanimously agree that Fickell is the man for the job.
“The only thing that’s different really is coach Tressel leaving,” senior defensive back Nate Oliver said. “Every year you have guys that leave.”
Oliver said there were tears from some players when Tressel spoke about leaving once during a workout session. Senior offensive lineman Mike Brewster said Tressel is always in the back of his mind.
But at the same time players said the team is focused on the season ahead and have no worries about being led by Fickell.
“I love coach Fick, he definitely deserves to be here,” Brewster said. “You move on, Fick’s our head coach now and I have all the confidence in the world in him.”
Fickell played for the Buckeyes defense in the mid ‘90s at nose tackle and has been with the Ohio State coaching staff for the last nine seasons, including the past six as co-defensive coordinator.
Fickell said the players know him and what he is about.
“He’s very enthusiastic, very passionate about what he does,” Oliver said. “Whenever he speaks, guys listen and guys get into him. So anything coach Fick wants us to do, tells us to do, then guys do it.”
And Oliver might be understating how the team feels.
“He’s got a lot of heart, I think that’s why I have so much respect for him because I know how much he cares,” Brewster said. “He’s one of those guys that just pours his heart and soul into this program.”
Whether or not the players support Fickell or believe things will be radically different under him, things have changed.
They will be without once-star quarterback Terrelle Pryor who left for the NFL, and for the first five games without three key players on the offensive side, senior receiver DeVier Posey, running back Dan Herron and offensive lineman Mike Adams.
There has been some thought that Fickell will take a more liberal approach with the offense.
Fickell must figure out who will replace Pryor as the starting quarterback for the team, a competition he said is completely wide open and features senior Joe Bauserman, redshirt sophomore Kenny Guiton, redshirt freshmen Taylor Graham and true freshman Braxton Miller.
Bauserman believes no matter who starts, Fickell will make the strides to get familiar with the offense and help them succeed.
“I just think his presence coming over to the offense is going to give us more of a no nonsense mentality, like a toughness,” Bauserman said.
Brewster said offensive coordinator Jim Bollman would continue to run the offense.
“We still got coach Bolls, coach Tress didn’t take the playbook I don’t think, I hope not,” Brewster joked.
Brewster also said the expectations for the team have not changed and their goal is to go undefeated and win the Big Ten championship just like every other season.
“I think people think we’re just sitting around here crying after everything goes down, if anything we’re more pissed off and we’re more ready to go than ever,” Brewster said. “Maybe it came at a good time to get punched in the stomach and say let’s go.”