Don’t forget Fickell

By Frank Lewis -



I have been waiting for some big time Ohio State football beat writer to write this column, but all of them write the same stories about the same people every week, so I have taken it upon myself to write a column about a man who gets no credit, but has been a constant in the winning years of OSU football.

It is no secret that the OSU defense has been splendid this season reminding those of us who watch the game every Saturday of the 2014 National Championship team.

Luke Fickell is the thread that runs through a successful defense made up of underclassmen and guys without much playing time last year.

I am amazed that every year someone is brought in to “coach the defense.” However, while that name changes, one name stays the same, Luke Fickell.

Every time I bring him up, everyone wants to talk about the year the team was in complete turmoil and he was made interim head coach. What it brings to mind is the Peter Principle – In an organizational structure, assessing an employee’s potential for a promotion is often based on their performance in the current job. This eventually results in their being promoted to their highest level of competence and potentially then to a role in which they are not competent, referred to as their “level of incompetence.” The employee has no chance of further promotion, thus reaching their career’s ceiling in an organization.

What is wrong with being the best defensive coordinator, offensive coordinator or special teams coordinator? Why is it when a coach gets good at coaching a unit or a position, we want to make him move up or move out?

Could Luke Fickell coach a Mid American Conference team or similar conference team? Sure, but he is great at what he is doing and he is coaching at the university at the top of his dream.

His impressive resume includes being on the staff of two national championship winning teams, seeing 12 of his players selected in the NFL Draft, and coordinating outstanding defenses over the last 12 seasons as a co-coordinator or defensive coordinator. According to his resume’ – Fickell is a graduate of DeSales High School, where he was a three-time, undefeated state wrestling champion, and he is a 1997 graduate of Ohio State. He played for the Buckeyes from 1992-96, redshirting the first year and then starting the next four seasons at nose guard. He started a school-record 50 consecutive games between 1993 and 1996.

He has credentials and a string of successes. I just want people to give him his props. He deserves our accolades and support. He is an integral part of one of the most successful football programs in the country. Go back and look at the film of the 2014 Big Ten Championship. Who did head coach Urban Meyer run over and wrap his arms around as the clock ran down? Luke Fickell. That’s who. By the way, he didn’t reciprocate the hug – he was busy coaching a shutout.


By Frank Lewis

Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.

Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.