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Memories on and off the field

Frank Solich remembers some of his 99 wins as a head coach

better than others.

Win No. 34, for example, was a nationally televised 2001 game between his Nebraska Cornhuskers and the mighty Notre Dame Fighting Irish. His 35th victory, a 48-3 Thursday-night rout of the Rice Owls, seems comparatively insignificant.

But Solich recalls the Rice game instantly. He remembers the

military personnel, firefighters and police officers honored before the game and throughout the season. He remembers preparing for the game in the film room at Memorial Stadium in Lincoln, Neb., on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001.

“Our director of football operations came into the room and said that a plane had run into one of the twin towers,” Solich said.

“Obviously, we all got up, came out of the room and came to an area where we could tune in to the TV.

“We really didn’t think about anything football-related, like how it might affect football. We just kind of zeroed in on what was happening.”

Quarterback Tyler Tettleton was a fifth grader back then. He did not find out about the attacks until he got home from school that Tuesday. Tettleton’s stepbrother is currently deployed in Iraq.

“I remember sitting in my class, and we didn’t hear anything about it until after school,” he said. “I knew some of my friends were getting checked out. I knew they weren’t sick or anything, so I was wondering what was going on.”

The ripples of 9/11 still affect military-family members, such as defensive lineman Corey Hasting. His brother Scotty joined the Army and was serving in Afghanistan when he was shot seven times on April 21 — 10 days before Osama bin Laden was killed.

“He was point man for his platoon, and they were going in and out of the city, checking for bombs in cars and huts,” Hasting said. “This guy 10 feet away started firing at him with an automatic weapon.”

The lineman learned that his brother had been shot — and survived — hours before the final practice of spring football camp. He decided to suit up anyway

because football is his escape from life’s tragedies.

“Obviously, I wasn’t going to forget about it,” he said. “Football has always been something that I can enjoy doing.”

The brothers were reunited two days later at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Bethesda, Md. Scotty Hasting has not yet regained feeling in his right hand.

Corey Hasting said 9/11 was part of the reason Scotty joined the Army.

“He’s always had a lot of pride for America and his country,” he added.

Scotty Hasting is undergoing therapy. Tettleton has lived half his life since 9/11. Solich now stands on the brink of win No. 100.

“It means a lot to me,” Solich said. “A lot of wins haven’t come all that easy.”

Next up for Ohio is Gardner-Webb, a Football Championship Subdivision team. The Runnin’ Bulldogs’ only Football Bowl Subdivision win came against Akron last year.

But with win No. 100 within smelling distance, Solich is not counting on this dog to roll over.

“This is a business you kind of want to hang on,” he said. “Once you’ve been in it for a while and once you’ve got something established to where it’s something truly special, then you can maybe start looking at the numbers a little bit. But I don’t see that being the case for me at any time in my career.”

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