Ohio U. to hire Solich

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 17, 2004

The Associated Press

Former Nebraska coach Frank Solich has been hired as football coach of Ohio University, The Associated Press learned Wednesday night.

The Athens, Ohio, school has a news conference scheduled for Thursday. Solich will be introduced as the Bobcats' new coach, a university source told the AP on the condition of anonymity.

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Solich, who turned down the head coaching job at Army after last season, said Wednesday night that he could not comment on the report.

Solich was fired by Nebraska after the 2003 season despite a 58-19 record as the successor to Tom Osborne, who retired in 1997 after winning three national championships in his last four seasons.

Osborne, now a U.S. congressman, was 49-2 in those final four seasons, leaving Solich with an almost impossible task of maintaining that success.

Solich, an assistant under Osborne from 1979-97, led the Cornhuskers to the national championship game in the 2002 Rose Bowl, where they lost 37-14 to Miami.

Nebraska was only 7-7 the next year, the school's first non-winning season since 1961. Solich was dismissed the next season despite going 9-3. Assistant Bo Pelini then coached the Cornhuskers to a 17-3 win over Michigan State in the Alamo Bowl.

Under new coach Bill Callahan this season, the Cornhuskers went 5-6 and failed to qualify for a bowl for the first time in 35 years.

Solich, a Cleveland native, brings instant credibility to a program that has languished at the bottom of the Mid-American Conference the last four years under Brian Knorr, who was fired Nov. 18.

Knorr's teams were only 11-35, including a 4-7 mark this year. The Bobcats opened this past season with a promising 3-2 start, including a win at Kentucky, but then dropped five of their last six games.

Ohio has only two winning seasons since 1982. The Bobcats went 7-4 in 2000 under Jim Grobe, who left after that season to coach Wake Forest.

The Bobcats have a .492 all-time winning percentage, compared to .753 for Solich, and haven't played in the postseason since a 49-42 loss to Richmond in the 1968 Tangerine Bowl.

Ohio has played in only one other bowl game, losing the 1962 Sun Bowl to West Texas State, 15-14.