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Who could Ohio State target to replace Luke Fickell?

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The Buckeyes will have a tough task replacing their longest-tenured assistant coach.

NCAA Football: Iowa State at Kansas State Scott Sewell-USA TODAY Sports

The Buckeyes will need at least one new assistant coach, as Luke Fickell has taken the new head coaching gig at Cincinnati.

Replacing Fickell will be a tough job, as nobody will know Columbus and Ohio State quite like he did, given how long his Buckeye tenure was. In a replacement, Ohio State will likely look for a coach with ties to the midwest or Ohio State, experience recruiting at a high level, or producing quality defenses, especially at linebacker.

With that in mind, here’s a look at some names that Ohio State could potentially consider.

Paul Rhoads- Arkansas DB coach, former Iowa State head coach

Things didn’t work out at Iowa State like Rhoads had planned, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t know defense. A former graduate assistant at Ohio State back in 1991, Rhoads led quality defensive units at Iowa State, Pittsburgh and Auburn, before coaching the Cyclones from 2009-2015. His background is more with the secondary than with linebackers, but he has ties all over the midwest and could step into a more senior role, especially with Schiano not likely to stay at Ohio State longterm. Plus, hiring defensive assistants at Arkansas has worked out okay for the Buckeyes before.

Billy Davis-Former Eagles DC

Davis hasn’t been in the college game for long time, not since a graduate assistant job with Michigan State back in 1991. But he did have a long career coaching defense in the NFL, including a three year stint as the Eagles defensive coordinator. He’s a former college teammate of Urban Meyer, and the two remain friends. He’s also already at Ohio State, as he’s been working as a Quality Control Analyst.

Charlie Strong-former Texas HC

Is this one particularly likely? Probably not, as Strong is the favorite to get the head coaching job at USF. If for some reason that falls through, Strong probably won’t be without a head coaching gig for long, but as Greg Schiano has proven, there are worse temporary gigs than working defense for Urban Meyer.

Strong was Meyer’s defensive coordinator and linebackers coach at Florida, can recruit at a very high level, and even has some experience near the region while at Louisville, along with deep ties to Florida. This isn’t likely, but it would be a huge home run.

Dean Hood-Former EKU HC

Hood, who currently coaches tight ends at Charlotte, has coached on the defensive side of the ball for most of his life. An Ohioan and former OWU defensive back, Hood has coached at Ohio, EKU, and Wake Forest. He’s also a longtime friend of Urban Meyer.

Marcus Freeman-Purdue LB Coach

You probably remember Freeman from his playing days at Ohio State, and in the NFL. After a standout career at Ohio State and a short stint as a pro, he took a graduate assistant gig at Kent State, and has been coaching linebackers at Purdue for the last few seasons. Freeman is younger, but shows some potential as a coach.

EDIT: So much for this one, as Freeman will be joining Fickell at Cincinnati, per Fickell’s presser.

Matt Pawlowski-Miami (OH) LB Coach/DC

This might be a bit of an outside the box hire, as Pawlowski doesn’t have Ohio State or Urban Meyer ties. But he has been coaching in the Buckeye State for a long time, with stints at Ohio, Ashland, Marietta and others. A Cleveland native, Pawlowski’s Miami defense improved dramatically over the year, cracking the top 30 in total defense.