Fickell just wants to move forward

Published 1:52 am Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Associated Press

COLUMBUS — Ohio State football coach Luke Fickell has stressed, time and again, since the resignation of Jim Tressel, that the Buckeyes have to move forward.

Four weeks after Tressel left the program, it seems Fickell’s players have done just that.

Email newsletter signup

“Losing Coach Tress is absolutely huge for us, but you have to move on,” junior defensive lineman John Simon said. “We’ve been doing that pretty well so far, and Coach Fick is leading the way and doing an awesome job.”

Simon, along with some teammates, addressed the media Tuesday on campus, as the program continues to pick up the pieces with camp on the horizon.

Fickell, a former Ohio State player and defensive assistant the past 10 years, has the attention of his players early on, even the ones who worked on the opposite side of the ball from him last season.

“I love Coach Fick,” senior center Mike Brewster said. “He definitely deserves to be here. He’s the man. He’ll prove himself this year. He’s got the opportunity now. He’s not going to lose it. I have so much confidence in him. We’ll all be playing for Coach Fickell.

“I’m definitely playing for Coach Fick, but I’ve put Coach Tress in the back of my mind for everything he did for me. But from a coaching standpoint, Coach Fick is my coach.”

For how long, though, remains to be seen.

Despite the fact that Fickell said Tuesday on “The Dan Patrick Show,” that the interim tag was recently removed by athletic director Gene Smith, the university said that does not mean he will be the permanent coach.

In fact, a university statement made sure of it on Tuesday: “Luke is our head coach this year. At some point either during or after the season a decision will be made on who will be our coach going forward.”

After the radio appearance, Fickell met with the media at Ohio State. He said one of his biggest challenges is getting to know the offensive players and vice versa.

“I’ve been studying them,” he said. “That’s the one thing I think I’ve always done here: observe. I want to make sure they understand who I am, and where I’m coming (from), and I’m not any different person. But they may not exactly understand how I communicate when they’re on the offensive side of the ball.”

He also added that the quarterback position is up for grabs after rising senior Terrelle Pryor decided to leave school. Fifth-year senior Joe Bauserman has the most experience of the candidates, but time will tell.

In 15 appearances, Bauserman has thrown for 320 yards, and two touchdowns with just one interception.

“It’s completely wide open,” Fickell said. “Joe and I understand that. He understands that, and we’re going to have the opportunity when the fall comes for everybody to understand what is expected on a daily basis.”

The Buckeyes open the season on Sept. 3 at home vs. Akron.