September 8, 1944|
|Coaching career (HC unless noted)|
Omaha (NE) Holy Name HS|
Lincoln (NE) Southeast HS
|Head coaching record|
|Accomplishments and honors|
Frank Solich (born September 8, 1944) is an American football coach and former player. He is currently the head coach at Ohio University, a position he has held since the 2005 season. From 1998 to 2003, Solich served as the head coach at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, where he also played fullback under Bob Devaney in the mid-1960s.
Early life and playing career
Solich grew up in Cleveland, Ohio, and graduated from Holy Name High School in 1962, where he earned all-state, All-America, and all-scholastic honors. He was a part of Bob Devaney’s first recruiting class at Nebraska, and became a standout for the Huskers in the mid-1960s, where he earned the nickname "Fearless Frankie". An All-Big Eight fullback and co-captain of the Huskers’ 1965 team, his playing career earned him induction into the Nebraska Football Hall of Fame in 1992. In NU's 27–17 win over Air Force in 1965, he ran for 204 yards on 17 carries, becoming the first Husker to run for 200 yards in a game, and subsequently the first Husker to be featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated.
He began his career in the Nebraska prep ranks, as head coach at Holy Name High School Omaha, Nebraska in 1966 and 1967. His 1967 team was state runner-up. Solich then moved to Lincoln Southeast for 11 years, where he compiled a record of 66–33–5 while capturing consecutive Class A state titles in 1976 and 1977.
Solich returned to college football at his alma mater in 1979, spending 19 seasons at Nebraska as an assistant coach under Tom Osborne, four as the freshman team coach, and 15 seasons as running backs coach. In Solich’s 19 years as an assistant, the Huskers captured three national championships and 11 conference titles. He was the position coach for many of Nebraska's standout running backs of the 1980s and 1990s, including Tom Rathman, Calvin Jones, Ahman Green, and Lawrence Phillips.
Osborne retired after the 1997 national championship season and named Solich as his successor. Solich directed the Huskers to six consecutive bowl games, including his 2001 squad, which started 11–0 but was blown out by Colorado 62–36 in the last regular season game. Despite that loss and failing to qualify for the Big 12 championship game, the Huskers still made it into the national championship game (ahead of #3 Colorado and #2 Oregon) in the Rose Bowl against Miami. Nebraska was embarrassed 37–14, and Miami was noticeably better than the Cornhuskers on both sides of the ball. Solich did win at least nine games in five of those six seasons, and finished among the top 10 teams in the nation three times. Solich compiled a 58–19 record (.753) at Nebraska.
Solich's 1999 Huskers defeated the Texas Longhorns for the Big 12 championship. Solich was named the Big 12 Coach of the Year in 1999 and 2001, and was one of seven finalists for the Paul "Bear" Bryant Award in 2001, despite his Nebraska team suffering a then-Nebraska record for worst loss in the final game of the season, a 62-36 drubbing against Colorado.
For the first five years as head coach, Solich served as his own offensive coordinator, as Osborne had for most of his tenure. His offenses centered on the option. He also utilized such plays as the Black 41 Flash Reverse Pass which became a highlight of Eric Crouch's Heisman Trophy-winning season in 2001.
The Huskers slumped to 7–7 in 2002 and Solich shook up his staff. He gave up offensive play-calling duties to newly hired offensive coordinator Barney Cotton and brought in Bo Pelini, the linebackers coach for the Green Bay Packers, as defensive coordinator. 2003 began with Nebraska starting out 5–0, but suffered three key losses later in the year: 41–24 to Missouri, 31–7 to Texas and 38–9 to Kansas State. After winning the final game of the regular season, Solich was fired by new athletic director Steve Pederson.
Solich's 58 wins during his first six seasons as Nebraska's head coach exceeded those of his predecessors, Bob Devaney (53 wins) and Osborne (55 wins), both of whom are in the College Football Hall of Fame. But Solich won only one Big 12 North title and conference championship in six seasons and had a 1–9 record on the road against ranked teams (0–9 in conference play), and the team had a drop-off in offensive production.
After taking the 2004 season off, Solich was hired at Ohio University in Athens, and his impact on the football program was immediate. The renovation plans for the Ohio football facilities, which had begun eight years earlier and nearly complete (prior to 2004, the program was furnished with new coaches office, practice fields, a new 10,000 square-foot strength and conditioning center, enhancement to the team locker room, revitalization of Peden Stadium including installation of a state-of-the-art FieldTurf playing surface, improved and expanded seating complete with a popular concert-style berm at the south end zone) was finished off with the last two projects; new team meeting rooms and athletic training room. Fan interest in the program was revitalized and reached its highest since the 2001 season. Also, Ohio was selected to appear on national television 6 times for the 2005 football season, a record for the program. Frank Solich's first home game as coach of the Bobcats was a memorable one, as Peden Stadium brought in its largest crowd ever. On September 9, 2005, 24,545 fans were in attendance to watch the Bobcats defeat the Pittsburgh Panthers, 16–10. The Pitt-Ohio game was among the top 15 most viewed regular season college football games ever on ESPN2.
The Bobcats' 2005 record under Solich (4–7) was the same as the team's record in the previous year under Brian Knorr. However in 2006, Solich led the Bobcats to a 9–5 record including a MAC East Division Title and a GMAC Bowl invitation. The bowl game (which Ohio lost to Southern Miss, 28–7) was the program's first bowl appearance since 1968.
In the 2007 season, the Bobcats took a step backward and finished with a record of 6–6. Two of those losses were by less than three points, and a third was a 28–7 loss to nationally ranked Virginia Tech. The Bobcats were one of 6 bowl eligible teams that missed the post-season.
On July 18, 2008, Solich was given an extension of his contract through the 2013 season.
In 2009, Solich led the Bobcats to a 9–5 overall mark with another MAC East Championship appearance and an appearance in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl. That 2009 senior class amassed more wins (28) than any other Ohio football class in more than 40 years.
In 2011, Solich coached the Bobcats to a 10–4 record, another MAC East Division title, and their first ever bowl win. The Bobcats defeated the Utah State University Aggies 24–23 in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl. It was Ohio's first ten win season since 1968.
During the 2012 season, Solich coached the Bobcats to a 7–0 start, which saw their first Associated Press Top 25 weekly ranking since 1968, as well as a spot in the weekly coaches poll.
Solich married Pamela Wieck of Beatrice, Nebraska. They have two children, Cindy and Jeff.
Head coaching record
- Nebraska Yearly Totals on cfbdatawarehouse.com
- "Ohio Game Scores Well In ESPN2 Ratings Game". Mid-American Conference. September 15, 2005. Retrieved November 12, 2013.
- "Ohio scores in waning seconds to upend Utah State, earn 1st bowl victory". ESPN.com. December 17, 2011. Retrieved November 12, 2013.