Ohio Athletics announced Wednesday morning that head coach Frank Solich will be retiring. The decision was made primarily to focus on a cardiovascular health concern, Solich said in the announcement.
Solich’s decision to retire comes less than two months before the Bobcats were slated to start their season on Sept. 4 against Syracuse. No matter when he retired, though, losing Solich creates a shock wave within the team.
It’s hard to understate what Solich did for Ohio since his arrival from Nebraska in 2005. Before Solich, the Bobcats had never won a bowl game in their history and had only appeared in two. In his 16 years with the team, Ohio now earned five bowl wins in 11 appearances. The most recent was 30-21 win over Nevada in the 2019 Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, from which a famous photo of Solich having fries dumped on him was taken.
Four Mid-American Conference East titles, most recently in 2016, came during Solich’s tenure. In 2016, he was also the Mid-American Conference Coach of the Year.
He’s been the mastermind of some of the greatest upsets college football has ever seen, one of which was his first win ever with the Bobcats when they beat Pitt 16-10 in overtime in Peden Stadium. When cornerback Dion Byrum returned an interception for a touchdown in front of 24,535 fans in primetime, Ohio fans knew they had a special era awaiting them with Solich.
No one will forget when Solich took Ohio into Beaver Stadium and took down Penn State 24-14. By scoring three touchdowns after an 11-point halftime deficit, Solich led the team to arguably the biggest win in program history. The Bobcats have had some great names as coach before Solich, but it rarely saw wins of such magnitude before him.
Winning seasons were consistent under Solich. From 2009-2020, the Bobcats have not had a season below .500. Including his time at Nebraska from 1998 until his firing in 2004, Solich has a career coaching record of 173-101, and a 115-82 record with Ohio. Those 115 wins make Solich the winningest coach in Mid-American Conference history. He passed former Central Michigan coach Herb Deromedi in a 2019 win over Bowling Green. His 16-season tenure in the MAC is only matched by Deromedi. The Bobcats went 77-46 in MAC games under Solich. He has the second most conference wins in history behind Deromedi’s 90.
Under Solich, some of the greatest names in the Bobcats’ history played. Solich’s retirement isn’t far removed from the career of quarterback Nathan Rourke, one of Ohio’s all-time leaders in touchdowns. Tyler Tettleton, T.J. Carrie, Mike Mitchell, A.J. Ouellette and Tarell Basham are just a few former Bobcats synonymous with greatness who played under Solich.
The appreciation for Solich from both former and current players is obvious from the reactions on social media. Many tweeted out their salutations, gratitude and kudos after the announcement.
Replacing Solich will be associate head coach and offensive coordinator Tim Albin, who agreed to a four-year contract, according to Ohio Athletics. Solich and Albin have worked with each other since 2000 during their time in Nebraska when Albin joined as a graduate assistant. The two have served as the head coach and offensive coordinator duo for Ohio since 2005.
Now, the student replaces the teacher.
Albin will have big shoes to fill. It won’t be easy to replicate or even replace a coach like Solich, but if anyone can try, someone who’s worked with him for two decades isn’t a bad choice. Fortunately, Solich’s time at Ohio isn’t coming completely to an end just yet, as he will remain with the athletic department to serve as an advisor for at least the next year.
Even if he has to step down from coaching, Solich still wants to make an impact at Ohio. After 16 seasons, he’s done almost everything Ohio could’ve wished for.