ATHENS, Ohio (WCMH) — For the first time in 56 years, Frank Solich will not coach a football team this fall.
The Ohio University football head coach announced Wednesday he’s retiring from coaching to attend to a “rare cardiovascular health issue.”
“Simply put: He put us on the map,” former Ohio defensive lineman Corey Hasting said. “Nobody ever knew about OU really before Frank Solich.”
Prior to Solich, the Bobcats only had two winning seasons in 22 years. But he leaves the program with 115 wins, the winningest coach in Mid-American Conference history, along with 12-straight non-losing seasons.
“I feel like he always put himself in a learning environment to say, ‘No matter how old I am, I’m still learning and I’m still growing’ and I think that really attributed to his success,” former Bobcat and Indianapolis Colts cornerback T.J. Carrie said.
That success began at Nebraska where he led the Cornhuskers to five winning seasons in six years, including an appearance in the 2002 National Championship game. He was fired in 2003 despite a 9-3 record — a move that changed OU football forever.
“He had brought the culture he learned at Nebraska with his own ideas to establish at Ohio University and then just got everybody to believe,” said former Ohio defensive coordinator Jimmy Burrow.
Burrow coached under Solich for two years in Lincoln and his first two sons, Jamie and Dan, played for him there. Burrow then followed Solich to Athens where he stayed for 14 years while his youngest son, Joe, grew up to be a future Heisman winner and 1st overall pick.
“If Ohio State would not have offered, and Joe had multiple Power 5 schools [offer], he probably would have played for Frank Solich and the Ohio Bobcats,” Burrow said.
That loyalty to the Burrow family extended to the Bobcats and attracted recruits like Nathan Rourke who now plays for the BC Lions in the Canadian Football League.
“He believed in the program, he believed in the community and he was loyal enough and he was confident enough in the program that he was going to stay. That meant a lot,” Rourke said.
That commitment to the players and community also meant a lot of wins, memories and a change in culture for OU football. Longtime assistant coach Tim Albin was announced as the Bobcats next head coach. Albin coached under Solich for 16 years at OU along with four years at Nebraska.