[Bryan Kurp | WOUB]

Frank Solich To Step Down After 16 Years As Ohio’s Head Football Coach

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ATHENS, Ohio (WOUB) — Ohio University’s football team will have a new head coach for the first time in 16 years when it starts the 2021 season in Sept.

Solich Bobcats Football
Frank Solich [File Photo]
Frank Solich announced at a press conference Wednesday he will step down, citing health reasons for his retirement.

“It is a rare cardiovascular situation that I’ve got,” Solich said. “I tried to kid myself earlier on and I first thought of denial and told myself ‘Hey you’re feeling pretty good’ despite what [doctors] are saying. However, I came into my right senses on that very quickly and knew our players deserved more than what I was going to give to them coming down the stretch.”

The 76-year-old first joined the program in 2005, after leading the Nebraska Cornhuskers from 1998 to 2003.

Ohio went through one of the toughest stretches in program history before Solich arrived.

From 1983-2004, the Bobcats managed just two winning seasons in 1997 and 2000. In 2004, the year before Solich arrived, Ohio had its best season under former Head Coach Brian Knorr’s with a 4-7 record.

College football experts at the time considered Solich a steal for Ohio University, given his work leading the Cornhuskers to a Big XII title in 1993.

“Obviously it was a major rebuilding job,” Solich said of his hiring. “The administration wanted to make sure the football program moved forward and so I got a lot of support early on to make that work.”

Much-needed upgrades were ordered for the team’s training facility and weight room, the first of many upgrades during Solich’s tenure.

“Walter Fieldhouse and the Academic Center are the two main facilities we’ve put up since I’ve been here,” he said. “We also have got a great weight room right now. It wasn’t all that great when we first got there. There was a lot of work to do, but I had a lot of support from people outside of Ohio, people with Nebraska connections who followed me here and really helped with donations. Helping with getting the training room fixed up so there was a lot of support from both Ohio and Nebraska. That made it easier to get some things started here.”

The hire made a splash nationally, as Ohio was scheduled for six nationally televised games in 2005. One of which was the Bobcats’ 16-10 overtime upset of Pittsburgh in the home opener.

“One of my player’s that season came up to me after a game and said, ‘Coach, I want to thank you for helping us feel like we’re part of Division I football,’ Solich said. “You probably can’t understand how much that meant to me … I was very fulfilled in this job.”

It took only two seasons for Solich’s Bobcats to earn a winning record, going 9-5 in 2006 with a MAC East Championship. The division championship was the first championship of any kind for the program since 1968.

Winning became the norm for Ohio Football. Solich became the winningest coach in MAC history with a record of 115-82, to go along with 11 bowl games and four MAC East titles in 16 seasons.

Part of the reason for Solich and Ohio’s success was the ability to adapt with the changes in college football.

In 2011, the Bobcats switched to a “pro-style” offense that featured a fullback to the spread formation for a mobile quarterback to disrupt opposing defense with the read-option.

It became one of the most efficient offenses in the country year-in and year-out. And Ohio used it that first year to win the program’s first bowl game, 24-23, over Utah State in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl.

Bobcats Head Coach Frank Solich lifts the Potato Bowl trophy following Ohio's 30-21 win over Nevada on January 3, 2020.
Bobcats Head Coach Frank Solich lifts the Potato Bowl trophy following Ohio’s 30-21 win over Nevada on January 3, 2020. [Taylor Jedrzejek | WOUB]
Solich won’t be too far from the Ohio Football program, however.

“I’m very grateful he’s accepted my invitation to stay on as a special advisor to our program,” Athletic Director Julie Cromer said. “He will assist with our football program and with our department moving forward. He’s an integral part to who we are and an invaluable presence to all of us.”

“It’s hard to fully capture what Coach Solich has meant to our football program, athletic department and our university. He’s been a vast and steady influence for many years. His true legacy is really in the men and players who he coached, who went on to get their degrees from Ohio and Nebraska and did so with lessons of hard work and integrity that they learned from coach.”

Solich wants to keep elevating Ohio Football to one of the top mid-major programs in the country in his new role.

“It’s not just about winning MAC Championships,” he said. “It’s also wanting to be in the top 25 with regularity, making a bowl game. And so those are all things that we look ahead to each season.

We’ve done an outstanding job with recruiting, and I feel it’s gotten even better here. There’s a chance to have a team that Ohio University is proud to see represent them, the fans and the community, so we want to do that.”

Moving forward, Assistant Head Coach and Offensive Coordinator Tim Albin will lead the Bobcats on to the field as the new head coach when they take on the ACC’s Syracuse Sept. 4 at Peden Stadium. Albin agreed to a four-year contract starting this season, according to Cromer.

Solich said Albin is a great coach, a great person and has a great work ethic. He also stands out as one of the best recruiters he’s been around.

“Not as good as me in my earlier days,” he said laughing. “But he’s really good. We’re ready to transition into that and move the program forward.”

Reflecting on his time with the Bobcats, Solich thanked the fans for all their support.

“It’s been amazing from the first time I stepped on campus, from the student body to the community, the alumni and former players. They have all been great. I appreciate everything that they have meant to this program and to me.”