Luke Fickell on Michigan: 'Our guys will know about Nov. 26, I promise you that'
It didn’t pack the same panache as the comments his predecessor made on his first day on the job, but interim Ohio State football coach Luke Fickell did address his team’s rivalry with Michigan when he met with the media for the first time on Monday.
During the press conference, which was streamed live on OhioStateBuckeyes.com, Fickell was asked how he’ll approach the Ohio State-Michigan rivalry. Will he treat it like any other Big Ten Conference game, or will it have special meaning?
His reply was succinct: “Our guys will know about November 26th, I promise you that.”
Ohio State travels to Michigan Stadium on Nov. 26.
Fickell, previously the Buckeyes’ co-defensive coordinator, was named interim coach on May 30, the day of former coach Jim Tressel’s forced resignation.
Fickell’s Ohio State roots are deep. The 37-year-old was raised in Columbus and was introduced to The Game at an early age.
"I can remember back when I was 10 years old, I had a little league football coach, John Hicks, a former Outland Trophy winner here at Ohio State, and he took me to my first ever Ohio State-Michigan game," Fickell said.
Fickell started a school-record 50 straight games at nose guard for Ohio State coach John Cooper between 1993 and 1996 (going 1-3 against Michigan) and was hired to join Tressel’s staff in 2002.
Before Tressel’s resignation, Fickell had already been chosen to coach the Buckeyes while Tressel served a five-game suspension for not notifying the NCAA or Ohio State officials of players' improper benefits.
Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith has said the Buckeyes plan to conduct a national search for a coach at the end of the 2011-12 season. Fickell will be a candidate.
Some recruiting analysts believed that Michigan gaining a verbal commitment from Mentor (Ohio) High School defensive end Tom Strobel on Friday signaled the beginning of a recruiting fallout at Ohio State.
Fickell said Monday he hasn't seen a negative impact and that his staff will work hard to make sure it doesn't happen.
"We aren’t worried about it. We’ve always sold Ohio State, and that’s what we’re trying to sell these kids day in and day out," he said. "We truly believe that Ohio State will continue to attract the best student-athletes from around the country.
"It’s about something bigger than this situation. It’s about something bigger than a single coach."
Strobel was the first of seven Ohio prep players to commit to Michigan that also had a scholarship offer from Ohio State. He told ESPN.com that Ohio State’s off-the-field problems did not play a part in his decision.
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