Did you know that Luke Fickell played at Ohio State?
Did you know that Luke Fickell coached at Ohio State?
Most importantly, did you know that a pizza man was once fired because he told Luke Fickell’s wife that the defense needed to tackle better?
Fickell might have the most Ohio State résumé of anyone ever. He was born in Columbus, and met his wife in Columbus. He played four years as a nose guard for John Cooper, and finished his college career by playing the whole 1997 Rose Bowl with a whole damn torn pec. After a season in the NFL, he spent 16 of the next 18 coaching at Ohio State in different capacities, including his unenviable year as Interim Head Coach in 2011. No one’s been more loyal to Ohio State Football than Luke Fickell.
Now he’s making history against the school he gave so much to. Tomorrow Fickell will be the first ever former Ohio State Head Coach to take on the Buckeyes as Head Coach of another school. Who would have ever guessed that?
It’s all gonna be weird. Seeing Fickell in Ohio Stadium on the opposite sideline...Taking a trip —OK, MULTIPLE TRIPS— down memory lane on the broadcast about his history in Columbus...Having to re-live the 2011 season....Oh, shit, Cincinnati’s also really good and this is about to be a great test for Ryan Day and the current Buckeyes!
Here are five things I’m thinking about as the Buckeyes take on Cincinnati:
If you want to drink
I couldn’t do this week’s column without a Luke Fickell drinking game, so here are the rules. (You’re gonna want light beer for this, cause it might get ugly):
TAKE ONE SIP WHEN/IF
-The broadcasters wonder if Fickell got lost going to the visitors locker room/any visiting locker room content, including speeches
-You hear the phrases ‘trial by fire,’ or ‘great learning experience’
-You hear the phrase ‘dream job’
-Footage of Fickell as an Ohio State player is shown
-Footage of him as an Ohio State coach is shown
-Every time they show a Fickell/Day splitscreen on the broadcast
-Any mention of Jim Tressel
-They mention that Cincinnati Defensive Coordinator Marcus Freeman was also a Buckeye
TAKE TWO SIPS
-For any Mike Vrabel content
-An Urban Meyer/Jim Tressel video message is shown
-A video message from any former Ohio State players who played under Fickell is shown
-The broadcast talks about Meyer wanting to possibly fire him after 2013
-You hear “hometown boy” (“bleeds scarlet and gray” or “Buckeye through and through” also apply)
-Any mention of the link between Ryan Day and Chip Kelly, and how Fickell’s defenses did against Oregon in 2009/14, plus what he did against UCLA last week
FINISH YOUR DRINK
-If the broadcast tells the pizza story
-If they show even a single play of the 2011 Michigan game
-If Ohio State somehow loses this game (You’ll need multiple drinks for this one)
Fickell’s greatest moment as Ohio State Head Coach is winning a game with a single completed pass:
(Random story: I didn’t watch that game live because I was in Fort Collins watching Colorado State get absolutely murdered by peak-Boise State in person. I should have known there was a long night ahead when the highlight of the tailgate party was a police horse straight up
shi relieving himself right in the middle of the parking lot. Mountain West Football: IT JUST MEANS MORE.)
Tackling The Truck
It’s only fitting that Fickell has a running back that’s just as Ohio as he is. Michael Warren II is a former Ohio Mr. Football winner —Ohio State didn’t offer him, if you were wondering— and is such a pain in the ass to tackle that they call him, “The Truck:”
When Cincinnati’s offense is running smooth, The Truck is rolling. They love to ground and pound, and slowing Warren down has to be priority number one for the Ohio State defense.
Speaking of running backs, Ohio State might have another pretty good one emerging.
Despite Ryan Day saying the backup spot behind J.K. Dobbins is still “In flux,” Master Teague looks like he’s going to be a dude. I loved the way he ran against Florida Atlantic, and another strong performance might solidify his spot in the rotation. Here’s what stood out to me:
On his first carry of the year, he takes what should be a two yard gain and turns it into five:
Later in the drive, he converts a 3rd and 3 by not doing too much, and just diving forward:
Again, taking what’s there and turning it into a first down:
Finally, breaking free. He gets to the second level, says GTFO me to the linebacker, and finishes with power:
Teague doesn’t mess around. He gets upfield quick, and that’s a perfect complement to Dobbins’ more elusive style. Cincinnati has a tough run defense, and I’d like to see him get another 8-10 carries, showcase his strengths, and lock down this spot for good.
There was a lot of hand-wringing about Ohio State’s performance against FAU. We’ll have to wait and see just how good —or not— the Owls are to truly judge it. We won’t with Cincinnati.
The Bearcats won 11 games last year, had a top-40 defense, just beat a Power Five team —one I admittedly think is very bad, but still— for the second year in a row, and have a head coach who’s going to get looks from bigger programs pretty soon. This is a great measuring stick for Ohio State in week two.
I wouldn’t be surprised if the game is similar to the 2014 Cincinnati game where they just won’t go away, just with a bit less scoring.
I also wouldn’t be surprised if Ohio State corrects the minor issues they had last week, blows the doors off them, and the hype train for what we think this team is capable of begins to roll.
Ultimately, the is the type of test Ohio State needs. Cincinnati’s more than good enough to steal a win, and has one major strength (defense) that’s going to tell us a lot about where this offense truly stands. It just so happens that they also have a coach who has a lot of history for the other team, and it’s going to be a bit weird to see him not on our side.