Coach Tim Albin and Ohio athletic director Julie Cromer addressed the media via Zoom call Thursday in Albin’s first press conference as Ohio’s coach.
The two discussed Albin’s plans for the 2021 season, the retirement of Frank Solich and how his transition to coach has gone so far.
Here are a few highlights from Albin’s first press conference as coach:
— Albin admitted that the announcement of Solich’s retirement on Wednesday was among the rougher days he’s had in some time. He choked up slightly while noting how the transition to coach has left a bittersweet taste in his mouth. Although he has returned to a head coaching position for the first time since he coached at Northwestern Oklahoma State from 1997-99, it comes at the price of Solich’s retirement.
“It was tough on me just to see (Solich),“ Albin said. “He's a big, strong, tough guy. He did great, and me not so much. But, he got through it. It's bittersweet, but I couldn't be more excited.”
— Aside from his abrupt promotion, Albin has been bustling with excitement on the thought of being among the Bobcats on game days again. For years he has sat up in the press box watching from above and removed from the energy on the sideline.
Albin loves the thrill of the game. Now he has the chance to be back in the middle of it.
“I think one of those things I'm looking forward to is getting back on the sideline and looking guys in the eye,“ he said. “I'm an excitable guy, I’m very passionate. I love the guys. I think that that my energy and looking them in the eye and getting a chance to work with the defense a little bit on some things, I think that's going to hopefully be able to give us a little bit of an edge.”
— For the first time in 22 years, Albin has all eyes looking to him for leadership. His first season leading the Bobcats comes with a mountain of expectations, and chief among them is the demand that they win a Mid-American Conference Championship.
Solich hadn’t been able to secure a MAC title in his 16 seasons. The succession of Solich by a coach who had been with him for almost 20 consecutive years might bode for more of the same.
More of the same means no MAC Championship title.
Albin, however, is focused on taking the season as it comes. The Bobcats are just a few weeks out from fall camp and less than two months from kickoff against Syracuse. A MAC Championship has always been the goal, and the last thing the Bobcats need is eyes away from what’s in front of them.
“Every game is important, and you’ve got to go on the road in our conference and from top to bottom, it is the strongest it has ever been,“ Albin said. “We're gonna take them one at a time when we get there.”
— The primary lesson Solich hammered into Albin over the course of their partnership was the importance of the relationship between the player and the coach. Albin wants to maintain that trust that Solich built with the Bobcats.
Albin’s first test is to retain the trust of transfer players. He needs to ensure that players who transferred to Ohio before Solich’s retirement are provided the experience they came to Athens for. New transfers like offensive lineman T.J. Jackson and Michigan State transfer Chris Mayfield have to trust that Albin continues the progress of the Solich era.
The continuity is there. Albin is sure of that.
“That's probably the main ingredient that we've got here with our culture,“ Albin said. “Coach-player relationship and the honesty. Once you have trust developed with the guys, that's when you get something special going.”
— Albin is aware of the rumors circulating that former Ohio quarterback Tyler Tettleton is expected to join the staff as a running backs coach and pass game coordinator; however, neither he nor Cromer said anything definite on the alleged appointment of Tettleton. According to Cromer, Tettleton’s supposed position has yet to be filled.
“I think we’re still in that process,“ Cromer said. “We have a lot of great former players in this program, and I know that that rumor is out there, but I don't think that additional position has been filled just yet.”