Print and Go Back ESPN.com: NCF Nation [Print without images]

Tuesday, December 13, 2011
Fickell to call OSU defense; Withers in mix

By Adam Rittenberg

Luke Fickell will make Ohio State's defensive calls beginning in 2012 and have coordinator in his title as he joins Urban Meyer's staff.

"Luke Fickell will have the [coordinator] title," Meyer told WBNS radio in Columbus in a short interview Tuesday. "It might be co, it might not, but at the end of the day, he'll be calling the defense."

Meyer said at his introductory news conference that Fickell would have a significant title on his staff but didn't specify what it would be. Meyer has spoken with former Arizona head coach Mike Stoops about a position, but Tuesday's announcement likely means Stoops will end up elsewhere.

Fickell held the title of co-defensive coordinator at Ohio State until being moved into the interim head coach role following Jim Tressel's resignation on Memorial Day. He'll continue as Buckeyes head coach through the TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl on Jan. 2. The 2012 season will give Fickell a chance to showcase his play-calling ability, as Jim Heacock has served as Ohio State's primary defensive coordinator since 2005.

Why would Fickell's title be co-defensive coordinator? Because North Carolina interim coach Everett Withers could soon be joining Meyer's staff. Meyer told WBNS radio that Withers is "in the picture" at Ohio State but nothing is official yet. Withers, who will depart North Carolina after the Independence Bowl, has served as defensive coordinator at North Carolina, Minnesota and Louisville, among other stops. Don't be surprised if he joins Ohio State's staff in a co-defensive coordinator role.

The only two assistants officially named to Meyer's staff are Fickell and Tom Herman, who comes over from Iowa State to serve as offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach. Current assistants Stan Drayton and Taver Johnson are expected to remain on Meyer's staff.

Tuesday's news could be good for Nebraska and Iowa, two teams looking for defensive coordinators. Stoops is a good fit at both spots as he has a close relationship with Nebraska coach Bo Pelini and played safety at Iowa. Then again, Stoops is a very coveted coach who would like to lead a program again in the near future.