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Posted on Sat, Nov 26, 2011 : 8:11 p.m.

Was this Luke Fickell's only Michigan-Ohio State game as head coach?

By Pete Cunningham


Luke Fickell paces teh sideline at Michigan Stadium on Saturday.

Jeff Sainlar I

Ohio State football coach Luke Fickell pounded his fist on the table at the post-game press conference following the Buckeyes' 40-34 loss to Michigan.

Moments earlier, he was almost brought to tears when asked if he would remain the Buckeyes' head coach. Now, Fickell was at the other end of the emotional spectrum.

"Like I said, it’s about the Ohio State-Michigan (game)," Fickell said, banging on the table, but not raising his voice. "It’s been about that since Sunday and it’s going to be about that always. And that’s the way it is."

But that's not really the way it is. Is it?

If it ever was just about the game, that changed when Fickell took over for Jim Tressel on an interim basis this spring following the tattoos-for-memorabilia scandal that brought about an NCAA investigation and multiple player suspensions.

It was only heightened this week amid reports that former Florida coach Urban Meyer would soon take over for Fickell, regardless of what transpired Saturday.

So, despite the fact that the Buckeyes' put up more yards on offense (372) against Michigan than they have all year against an opponent not named Akron or Indiana, Fickell was asked whether he's talked to the players about his future. He was asked whether he's spoken to them about staying at the university where he's spent the bulk of his adult life, either playing for or coaching.

"I’ve told (the players) I wouldn’t worry about (a coaching change). You know, if we spend our energy on that, then we would have problems. So, out of respect for the Ohio State-Michigan rivalry, I wasn’t going to think about it and wasn’t going to talk about it," Fickell said. "Out of respect for the Ohio State-Michigan rivalry, that’s all we’ve talked about.

"We try to focus ourselves, on the things that we can control."

With all the national attention swirling around Fickell -- or, rather, who will replace him and when -- it couldn't be ignored.

"In the social media world that we live in, it’s in our face," said senior wide receiver DeVier Posey, playing in just his second game of the season due to suspensions. "I think that our group this week did a great job of focusing."

The approach seemed to have worked. Ohio State and freshman quarterback Braxton Miller put up more points than any team has against a Michigan defense ranked eighth in the country in scoring defense.

Less than one year removed from his high school senior prom, Miller looked like Troy Smith 2.0, passing for 235 yards and two touchdowns while rushing for 100 yards and another score.

But when Miller continued to dazzle throughout the game, the prevailing thought wasn't how Fickell and his staff have helped him develop. It was 'wait until Meyer gets a hold of this kid.'

Some Ohio State players wrote the letters "LF" on their tape in support of Fickell, a sign of support for the coach that has led them through a season in which off-the-field issues eclipsed the attention of anything on.

Running back Daniel "Boom" Herron, who missed the first five games of the season, said he thought Fickell should stay on because of how he's handled everything.

"He’s done a lot for this team and he’s definitely kept the team together. For everything that we’ve been through this year I think he did a great job," Herron said.

Posey also spoke in support of his coach, but recognized the decision isn't really up to him.

"If I was on the board of trustees, I would give you that answer, but I don’t know, man," said Posey when asked if he thought Fickell should stay on as coach. "I can’t make that call. All I know is, I love playing for the man."

What Fickell could control was keeping his players focused on the rivalry and the task at hand on Saturday, and they played one of their best games of the year. If it ends up being the only Michigan-Ohio State game Fickell is a head coach in, it wouldn't be a surprise, nor would it be anything to be ashamed of.

"I’m hurt just like every one of those seniors in there," Fickell said.

Pete Cunningham covers sports for He can be reached at or by phone at 734-623-2561. Follow him on Twitter @petcunningham.



Sun, Nov 27, 2011 : 4:54 p.m.

Use Mozilla or Google chrome...they have instant spell check. If the Ficklle is out on the street....I bet Mattison would give this guy a good look. RM250, you better hope the Hairless Nutz don't count on Braxton Miller too carry the ball 30 plus times a game.....Remember this.....Meyer won't have the luxury of 2.0GPA like the SEC has in order play sports. Well, I gues we're talking about OSU, the buckeyes have made cheating an art form. UF style of foo'baa won't last in the Big 10,11,12.


Mon, Nov 28, 2011 : 9:56 a.m.

You miss spelled Fickell........ But it dont matter i guess.


Sun, Nov 27, 2011 : 3:02 p.m.

Luke Fickell almost pulled off the upset win Saturday at Michigan Stadium. It took the Wolverines almost 59 1/2 minutes to put the game way. That was close. A great win for the Mighty Maize and Blue. The hiring of Urban Meyer does not impress me. Luke Fickell has more potential. Will Ohio be a better football team next year? Beware of transition. We can debate that come next September. In the mean time, Michigan had an awesome transition season at 10 and 2. Our new coach is off to great start. Kudos Brady Hoke and staff for REALLY coaching these players up. GO BLUE!!!


Sun, Nov 27, 2011 : 7:27 p.m.

If you really think highly of Fickell, go watch the Miami game near the end. That guy had no clue what he was doing. I'd chip in to keep him the head coach.....


Sun, Nov 27, 2011 : 5:01 p.m.

Say what one will about Luke Fickell, I have to give him props for stepping into a tough situation and keeping his head about him.


Sun, Nov 27, 2011 : 2:37 p.m.

Urban.... Luke... it doesn't really matter. Ohio is going to find a way to come back from this disaster of a season and put a football team together. Just like Michigan was going to recover from RRitis and get back to winning. Whether it's a year or two out, Ohio will be back, and Michigan will have to beat them. Who's steering doesn't really matter. We have Hoke.


Mon, Nov 28, 2011 : 12:08 a.m.

I knew there would have to be something written about RR in this guys must love him because he is always being brought up in these posts. Isn't it time to move on from the past and look to the future?


Sun, Nov 27, 2011 : 5 p.m.

"RRitis" -- LOL ... that's great. :-) Agree with the sentiment here ... OSU will come back. The thing that Meyer does for the program is provide it instant name recognition. That may serve in the near-term to draw talent. But ultimately whoever it is has to produce. I think Meyer is a good football mind and coach, but I don't think he's some kind of walk-on-water guy. He's not going to get a boatload of Florida talent. He'll get some, but the SEC schools will get the cream of that state. Meyer will adapt ... and what I think we'll see is an adaptation not unlike what we see Borges doing. Anyone who thinks that Borges longs for some "three yards and a cloud of dust" style is simply not paying attention. He's got nothing against speed, provided the speed comes with the ability to move the line of scrimmage and control the ball.

NC Wolverine 20

Sun, Nov 27, 2011 : 2:21 p.m.

Should we be scared? Perhaps, but the only fact we have to consider is that Urban is 0-1 against Michigan, even though he had a Heisman-winning QB and numerous future NFLers on his team for that game.


Sun, Nov 27, 2011 : 7:26 p.m.

0-2, also meyer is a liar......


Sun, Nov 27, 2011 : 1:49 p.m.

I would think Ohio would not want Urban Meyer because he is a coach who seems to be more about Urban Meyer than Ohio (or wherever he coaches). Tressel (the cheater) and Fickel (Adam Sandler), Bruce and Cooper--all of them embraced being at Ohio and never made the situation about them personally. Woody was bigger than life and I don't remember much about him except for hitting the Clemson player--but all that I read also had it that he was all about the program. If Meyer can be believed to do the same, which his record does not show, then Ohio is a bit safe, but he seems to be a bad fit for the program, other than his winning record (which can't be denied). But should Michigan fans be scared??? Absolutely not.


Sun, Nov 27, 2011 : 7:32 a.m.

And another thing, that guy with the initials of UM who might be ohio's next coach sure left Florida in bad shape, maybe that's what was giving him the stress that made him want to retire in the 1st place. For most of his career in Gainsville, he either had Zook's great recruits and/or Tebow. Look at last year, after Tebow left, 7-5 in the regular season and now this year they are 6-6. That's really intimidating to us Michigan Fans. I think that the other great programs in the SEC made Urban wanna quit and take his ball and go home. This should concern you ohio fans, no really, I mean it. Good luck with that though.

1st Down

Sun, Nov 27, 2011 : 7:25 a.m.

Of course it was his last game as HC for the Buckeyes. That is what Buckeyes do. They turn on their own and throw them under the bus. Fickell will end up as a smaller school's HC.


Mon, Nov 28, 2011 : 9:53 a.m.

Did you just start following michigan football this year? Because weve ran our last 2 coaches out on a rail. RR got cut short, and good guy Carr was given the same "Quit or be Fired" that those people down south gave to their last coach....... Just sayen


Mon, Nov 28, 2011 : 12:05 a.m.

They turn on their own and throw them under the bus? I'm glad the Michigan fans don't do that to their coaches.


Sun, Nov 27, 2011 : 9:05 a.m.

Or be kept on as Def Coord


Sun, Nov 27, 2011 : 7:21 a.m.

Hey Mr. 250, the word is "doubt" not "dought". Did you spell it that badly on purpose, or are you that lacking in spelling and grammar in general? I've seen you make numerous mistakes in your comments, all you have to do is proofread what you type after you're done, that's what I do (hopefully well anyways), when I type something every time I comment. Just a suggestion to get your mind right(see what I did there? that's called a play on words). Learning is fun, Go Blue!!!


Sun, Nov 27, 2011 : 3 a.m.

Is there any doubt after he had his QB spike the ball on 3rd down throwing away a play? Stupid!


Sun, Nov 27, 2011 : 1:40 a.m.

Unfortunately for the UM program there is a new sheriff in town. The seniors may be sad and somewhat disappointed in the situation they put the buckeyes in, but I dought any of the younger guys are shedding tears. Denard played a good game, he deserves a lot of credit for carrying Hoke, Mattison and the rest of this team on his back. Borges, you better come up with an offense that doesn't count on Denard to carry this team 30 plus times a game. Mattison, you better come up with a defense who's only method of pass defense is blitz a cornerback or safety. Kovacs, you better learn to play pass defense because you, countiss wolfolk and others looked totally inept. Good game wolverines. See you in Columbus.


Sun, Nov 27, 2011 : 2:43 a.m.

Going 10-2 and beating OSU will do that to me. :-)


Sun, Nov 27, 2011 : 2:29 a.m.

Don, that last comment is just too funny!


Sun, Nov 27, 2011 : 2:09 a.m.

No, no, no ... rolling of eyes is a GOOD thing. I dare not look upon the holiness of Urban Meyer. I must cast my eyes elsewhere!!


Sun, Nov 27, 2011 : 2:08 a.m.

I'm guessing you're a 15 year old kid that is just learning grammar. Either way, you haven't done any research and you sound like the typical back woods Ohio fan. Did you honestly feel like you had insight that was helpful, or at least a little factual? I can't name any coaches on your staff, yet I see you know all of ours. "There is a new sheriff in town." Just quit posting, you're embarrassing the Ohio program...


Sun, Nov 27, 2011 : 2:05 a.m.

Don't worry, 250. UM's just getting warmed up. There's a new sheriff in Ann Arbor, too, and he just kicked your bucknuts to the curb and went 10-2 with RR's players. Bring on your new sheriff, and Hoke will whip up on him just like Carr did. UM's only going to get better with better recruits and time in the systems. Can't wait to see you in CBus, RR proved that O Meyer runs doesn't work well in the B10. But for now, we'll celebrate ZERO days since ohio's last win over UM...and 365 days since ohio's last win over Michigan. Go Blue!!! P.S. - In regards to whether Fickell will ever coach in this rivalry again, my guess is soon as the pressure gets to Meyer and he quits again.


Sun, Nov 27, 2011 : 2:02 a.m.

LOL, you need to have those eyes checked Don. That's not a good thing.


Sun, Nov 27, 2011 : 1:58 a.m.

You're right ... it's hopeless ... with Urban Meyer coming to OSU then all is lost. OSU will go 12-0 every season. They'll go on to the BCS year after year and win every time. College presidents will meet and decide there's no point in having football programs when such an unstoppable force is present. There will be MUCH wailing and gnashing of teeth! Woe are we! Ohhhh ... woe are we!! *rolls eyes*