ATHENS, Ohio -- Former Nebraska coach Frank Solich was
introduced as Ohio University's new football coach Thursday, returning to the
state where he grew up and promising to rebuild a program that has
gone 11-35 over the past four seasons.
"It's great to be back in the game, and it's great to be back
in the game at Ohio University,'' said Solich, who has been out of
football since being fired at Nebraska a year ago after going 58-19
over six seasons.
Solich signed a multiyear deal with a base salary of $240,000.
Solich had replaced Tom Osborne, who retired from Nebraska in
1997 after winning three national championships in 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.
Solich's name has been mentioned for openings at more well-known
schools, but he cited the enthusiasm by university officials, his
familiarity with Ohio and the success of the Mid-American
Conference as reasons why he accepted the job.
"It's obvious to me ... that the MAC conference produces some
great football teams and great football players,'' he said.
Solich takes over a program that went including 4-7 this year
under coach Brian Knorr, who was fired Nov. 18. The Bobcats have
had only two winning seasons since 1982.
Osborne said he spoke with Ohio athletic officials this week and
gave Solich a strong recommendation.
"He's pretty well known among high school coaches back there,
and that will be an advantage for him,'' Osborne said.