Frank Solich enters his 15th season as the head coach of the Ohio football program in 2019.
Solich has turned the Bobcats into one of the Mid-American Conference's premier programs since his arrival in Athens in 2005.
Ohio is 106-75 during the Solich era. His 106 victories rank him third in program history behind Don Peden (121; 1924-46) and Bill Hess (108; 1958-77). With five more wins, Solich will pass Herb Deromedi (110, Central Michigan, 1978-93) for the most by a MAC head coach. Ohio has gone 70-42 in conference play since Solich's arrival in Athens. His 70 MAC wins rank second to Deromedi's 90.
Solich enters the 2019 season as the dean of MAC head coaches. He is tied with Oklahoma State's Mike Gundy for fouth among active NCAA FBS head coaches in terms of longest tenure with their current school. Only Iowa's Kirk Ferentz (21 years), TCU's Gary Patterson (20 years) and Utah's Kyle Whittingham (16 years) have served as head coach at their respective institutions longer. Prior to arriving in Athens, Solich spent six years as head coach at his alma mater, Nebraska. Solich's 21 years of experience tie him with Ferentz (21 years) for the third-most among active NCAA FBS head coaches, ranking behind North Carolina's Mack Brown (30 years) and Alabama's Nick Saban.
Solich owns a career coaching record of 164-94 heading into the 2019 season. His 164 wins rank as the fourth most among active NCAA FBS head coaches, trailing only North Carolina's Mack Brown (238), Alabama's Nick Saban (238) and TCU's Gary Patterson (167). He is well-respected by his peers, having been named the president of the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) in addition to receiving the Tom Osborne Legacy Award in January of 2019.
Prior to Solich's arrival in Athens, the Bobcats had enjoyed only two winning seasons in the previous 22 years. The tone was set for his tenure at Ohio in his first home game as head coach of the Bobcats on Sept. 9, 2005 -- a 16-10 upset of Pittsburgh in overtime on national television. The following year, Solich guided the Bobcats to a nine-win season, a MAC East Division title and the program's first bowl game appearance since 1968.
The 2009 season kicked off a run of 10-straight non-losing seasons that has included nine winning campaigns and six years with at least nine victories -- including a 10-win campaign in 2011. The 2012 season began with the Bobcats earning a signature win at Penn State, upsetting the Nittany Lions by a score of 24-14. Ohio captured division titles in 2009, '11 and '16. Solich has led the Bobcats to the first four bowl victories in program history, with back-to-back wins in the 2011 Famous Idaho Potato Bowl and '12 Independence Bowl and back-to-back victories in the 2017 Bahamas Bowl and '18 DXL Frisco Bowl.
Solich has coached four All-America honorees and nine NFL Draft Picks during his time at Ohio. The Bobcats have tallied 103 All-MAC selections over the last 15 years.
The 2018 season saw Ohio post a second-straight nine win season and capture its second-straight bowl victory by becoming the first MAC team to post a shutout in a bowl win -- a 27-0 blanking of San Diego State in the 2018 DXL Frisco Bowl.
The Bobcats captured nine wins in 2017 and concluded the season with a dominant 41-6 victory over UAB in the 2017 Bahamas Bowl, securing the program's third bowl win in school history.
In 2016, the Bobcats returned to the Marathon Mid-American Conference Championship game where they gave No. 17 Western Michigan a scare in a hard fought 29-23 loss at Ford Field before traveling to the 2016 Dollar General Bowl in Mobile, Ala., Ohio's eighth bowl appearance in 10 years. Ohio leads the MAC with eight straight years of bowl eligibility, appearing in seven bowl games during that time.
Ohio's MAC East title was the third under Solich and 10 Bobcats earned All-MAC honors following the season including senior defensive end Tarell Basham being named MAC Defensive Player of the Year and redshirt freshman safety Javon Hagan earning Freshman of the Year. Basham was selected with the 80th pick in the 2017 NFL Draft by the Indianapolis Colts while senior linebacker Blair Brown was chosen with the 148th by the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Ohio's defense ranked fifth nationally and led the MAC in rushing defense while also setting the team sack record with 44. Basham set single-season and career records in individual sacks finishing his career at Ohio with 29.5 career sacks and 11.5 sacks in 2017.
In 2015, Solich led the Bobcats to their seventh-straight season of bowl eligibility, finishing 8-5 overall and 5-3 in the MAC. The Bobcats beat Marshall in the Battle for the Bell for the fourth time in five years. Ohio also defeated Miami for the ninth time in ten years in the annual Battle of the Bricks.
At the end of the season, five Bobcats earned spots on the All-MAC team, including defensive back Ian Wells, offensive linemen Lucas Powell and Mike McQueen, wide receiver Sebastian Smith, and inside linebacker Quentin Poling.
The 2015 season also saw Dorian Brown, Nate Carpenter, Cody Grilliot, Kurt Laseak, Quentin Poling, Blake Scipio, Mike Terpin, and Josiah Yazdani earn spots on the Academic All-MAC team.
In 2014, Solich led the Bobcats to their sixth-straight season of bowl eligibility, finishing 6-6 overall and 4-4 in the MAC. The Bobcats also earned their second-straight battle of the Bricks victory, scoring 24 unanswered points to down the RedHawks as time expired.
The 2014 season saw A.J. Ouellette, a walk-on freshman, step up and earn a starting spot at the runningback position. Ouellette rushed for 785 yards and scored seven touchdowns on the ground. He also recorded 133 receiving yards and scored three touchdowns from the air.
At the end of the season, four Bobcats earned spots on the All-MAC team, including Punt return specialist Daz Patterson, offensive lineman Lucas Powell, outside linebacker Jovon Johnson and down lineman Tarell Basham.
The 2014 season also saw Mitch Bonnstetter, Aaron Bradley, Dorian Brown, Chase Cochran, Cody Grilliot, Davon Henry, Josh Kristoff, Kurt Laseak, Troy Mangen, Quentin Poling, Kendric Smith, Mike Terpin and Josiah Yazdani earn spots on the Academic All-MAC team.
In 2013, Solich guided the Bobcats to their fifth-consecutive bowl appearance. In addition, Ohio picked up its third straight win in its Battle of the Bell rivalry over Marshall, which would go on to play in the 2013 Conference USA Championship game.
Under Solich's leadership in 2013, the Bobcats scored 336 points, which currently ranks eighth on Ohio's all-time Top 10 list. Defensively, Ohio held five of its opponents to fewer than 300 yards of total offense. The Bobcat defensive unit also tallied 34 sacks, which is currently tied for second all-time in a single season.
Following the year, Ohio earned six slots on the 2013 MAC All-Conference with Devin Bass (kick returner) and Travis Carrie (punt returner) both earning spots on the All-MAC First Team.
In 2012, Solich directed Ohio to its best start to a season since the 1968 campaign as the Bobcats opened the year 7-0. The Bobcats' 7-0 start included a thrilling 24-14 victory over Penn State in front of a nationally-televised audience.
After opening the year 7-0, Ohio earned a spot in all three major college football polls for the first time in school history - Associated Press, USA Today and the Bowl Championship Series standings.
Following the 2012 campaign, Ohio placed six individuals on the 2012 MAC All-Conference teams and earned a bid to the 2012 Advocare V100 Independence Bowl to punch its ticket to a fourth-consecutive bowl trip.
In the Independence Bowl, Ohio did not disappoint as it defeated Louisiana-Monroe 45-14 to pick up its second-straight bowl victory. The Bobcats also set or tied 11 bowl records in the win, including the mark for total yards as they finished with 556.
The 2012 season also saw the emergence of running back Beau Blankenship. In his first season as a starter, Blankenship set the single season rushing record of 1,604 yards under Solich's watch. He also rushed for 15 touchdowns as he averaged just over five yards per carry.
In his seven previous seasons as Ohio's head coach, Solich guided the Bobcats to an impressive 50-40 record. In 2011, Solich led the Bobcats to their first-ever bowl win as Ohio defeated Utah State 24-23 in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl to finish the year 10-4.
Ohio's win over the Aggies gave the Bobcats their first 10-win season since 1968. The Bobcats' 10 wins were also the most among Division I-A teams from the state of Ohio. The Bobcats four losses came by a combined total of just 19 points (4.75 points per game).
Solich's 2011 Bobcat squad set 47 school records, won six of the team's last seven games and had a league-best 11 players on the MAC All-Conference teams. In addition, Solich picked up his 100th career victory following a convincing 30-3 victory over Gardner-Webb on Sept. 10.
Among the 11 players selected All-MAC, place kicker Matt Weller was named Special Teams Player of the Year, offensive lineman Joe Flading was named First Team and quarterback Tyler Tettleton became the first Ohio signal-caller to be named all-league since 1985. Under Solich's watchful eye, Tettleton re-wrote Ohio's single season record book as he set 12 records and became the first quarterback in school history to pass for 3,000 yards in one year, while in the process throwing a program-best 28 touchdowns.
The 2011 campaign also saw Ohio defeat arch-rival Miami for the sixth-consecutive season - the program's longest winning streak since it won six straight from 1937-1942. Since Solich took over in 2005, Ohio has only suffered two losses to Miami.
In 2010, the Bobcats went to the New Orleans Bowl, making the program's fifth bowl appearance and third in the past five seasons.
Following the season, seven student-athletes were named All-MAC and quarterback Boo Jackson finished his career as Ohio's career leader in completion percentage (.604), pass efficiency (136.3), total offense per play (6.18), passing yards per attempt (7.7) and touchdown passes (38). He also finished the season with 26 total touchdowns, 48 in his career, which is fourth all-time. He also accumulated 18 passing touchdowns in 2010 (fourth all-time on the single-season list).
The 2009 season was equally successful as the senior class compiled 28 victories during its four years on campus. In addition, Ohio boasted a school-record 12 All-MAC selections with four capturing All-America honors en route to a second MAC East title in the squad's last four years. Solich was named the conference coach of the year by Phil Steele.
Following back-to-back seasons of bowl eligibility, the Bobcats followed it up with an offensive outburst that rewrote many of Ohio's all-time team and individual records in Frank Solich's fourth year at the helm. In 2008, the Bobcats' aerial attack set three school single-season passing records, including passing yards, passing yards per game and touchdown passes all of which stood until the conclusion of the 2011 season.
Overall, Ohio also totaled 4,337 yards of total offense, which at the time was the third-highest total in school history. Following the year, six players garnered All-MAC recognition, while in the classroom, five picked up Academic All-MAC awards.
Perhaps the best individual honor under Solich came with safety Mike Mitchell being drafted by the Oakland Raiders in the second round of the NFL Draft (47th overall), becoming the highest drafted Bobcat since 1948 and the highest under Solich.
With Solich as coach in 2007, Kalvin McRae became the first Ohio player in history to rush for 1,000 yards in three consecutive seasons. Other players achieved success for the offense as well, with tight end Andrew Mooney setting the single-season Bobcat touchdown reception record and quarterback Brad Bower tying the career record for most yards per pass.
In 2006, Solich guided Ohio to its first MAC East Division championship, the program's first MAC title of any kind since 1968, earning the Bobcats a spot in the GMAC Bowl, which marked the Bobcats' first bowl game since that same 1968 season.
Following the year, Solich was rewarded with MAC Coach of the Year honors, marking the third time in eight seasons in which he had won his league's coach of the year award. Ohio's five-win improvement from 2005 (4-7) to 2006 (9-5) tied for the sixth-best turnaround in the nation.
His players have also gained national recognition. At the conclusion of the 2011 season, Joe Flading earned SI.com All-America honors. In 2009, LaVon Brazill and Noah Keller were named to various All-America teams, while Matt Weller and Gerald Moore were tabbed as Freshman All-Americans. In 2005, Dion Byrum became Ohio's first non-special teams All-American since 1968, and three rookies have been honored on The Sporting News Freshman All-America squads.
Ohio has also seen an increase of national television exposure since Solich's arrival in 2005 and has also seen an increased level of exposure in the media as it was featured in Sports Illustrated, USA Today, The New York Times and Boston Globe.
Since Solich arrived in Athens, Bobcat players have been named to watch lists for such prestigious honors as the Maxwell Award, the Butkus Award, the Lombardi Trophy, the Lott Trophy, the Davey O'Brien Award, Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, Manning Award, the Biletnikoff Award and the Nagurski Trophy. Byrum was a semifinalist for the Jim Thorpe Award, presented to the nation's top defensive back, in 2005.
Solich was named the Bobcats' head coach on Dec. 17, 2004. In short order he assembled a talented and tested coaching staff, coordinated recruiting efforts to assure a steady stream of outstanding student-athletes to the program, supervised a highly productive off-season weight program producing dozens of personal bests and concluded all-business spring drills introducing his players to tried and true offensive and defensive schemes.
The momentum carried over into Solich's first season on the sidelines at Peden Stadium. Solich's first win at Ohio came against defending Big East champion Pittsburgh in his home debut. Dion Byrum's two interception returns for touchdown on national television in an overtime victory put the Bobcats on the national stage. The win was one of only two victories for MAC teams against BCS-conference opponents during that season.
Solich arrived in Athens after six seasons as the head coach at the University of Nebraska. Solich spent nearly 30 years as part of the Nebraska program as a player, assistant coach and head coach. A Big 12 Coach of the Year in 1999 and 2001, Solich produced nine-win seasons in five of his six years as head coach of the Huskers. In 1999, 2000 and 2001, he generated 12, 10 and 11 win seasons, respectively. He also generated six-consecutive bowl appearances including a 2001 run at the national championship against Miami in the Rose Bowl.
Under Solich's leadership, Nebraska spent 54 consecutive weeks in the Associated Press Top 10. In his first five seasons as Husker head coach, Solich won 49 games, more than both his storied predecessors, Bob Devaney and Dr. Tom Osborne, in their first five years at Nebraska.
Moving on from Nebraska following a 2003 season in which his Huskers went 10-3, Solich was nevertheless determined to stay as close as possible to the college game until just the right opportunity came along. In a unique professional development opportunity all too often ignored by colleagues, Solich chose to travel the college and professional ranks to update his knowledge of the game, broaden his perspectives on its nuances and challenges and ready himself for the next great challenge.
Stepping back from the sideline included wide-ranging visits to some of Division I-A's top programs as well and the schedule included much more than a courtesy call. His ambitious fact-finding odyssey included stops at Oklahoma, Texas, Wisconsin, Miami and Southern California.
Coming from his native Cleveland to Lincoln back in 1962, he was recruited to play fullback for the Cornhuskers as a part of Bob Devaney's first class of freshmen. During his time in the Husker program, Nebraska went 9-2, 10-1, 9-2 and 10-1. He earned All-Big Eight honors in 1965 and was the first Husker to rush for 200 yards in a game. His place in the Nebraska tradition was formalized with his induction into the Nebraska Football Hall of Fame in 1992.
While his accomplishments as a player were impressive, his work as a gifted teacher and assistant coach perhaps had as much to do with his arrival in the shrine as anything. Nine of the 15 seasons he served as running backs coach, Nebraska led the nation in rushing. He recruited and coached 1983 Heisman winner Mike Rozier and produced at least one all-conference running back in thirteen of the fifteen years he mentored that position. As a head coach, Solich mentored Eric Crouch to the 2001 Heisman Trophy.