Steven M. Sipple: Solich's Nebraska Hall induction shows time indeed heals

2012-09-20T23:45:00Z 2012-09-21T00:24:04Z Steven M. Sipple: Solich's Nebraska Hall induction shows time indeed heals

Perhaps it's a juxtaposition that shows time does help heal.

Frank Solich endured an awful period of his life in late 2003 after he was fired as Nebraska's football coach. He was bitter. A little lost. What next? He ultimately took a year off from coaching.

Saturday, Solich will be among the 2012 Nebraska Football Hall of Fame inductees honored during the NU-Idaho State game at Memorial Stadium. His job as Ohio University's head coach precludes his presence at the weekend festivities.

He was 58-19 (.753) in six seasons as Nebraska's head coach, including 9-3 during the 2003 regular season. From a distance, 58-19 looks excellent. But his work wasn't enough in the eyes of many. Solich's firing divided the Husker fan base. It was an awful time for the program.

Heisman watch
Athlete School
QB Geno Smith West Virginia
QB Braxton Miller Ohio St.
RB De'Anthony Thomas Oregon
RB Johnathan Franklin UCLA
QB Matt Barkley USC

No use revisiting it.

Solich moved forward.

"It's a huge honor," the 68-year-old said this week of his Nebraska Football Hall induction. "It is great to be thought of in that way."

That is about as much as you will get from Frank talking about Frank, one of Solich's least favorite discussion topics.

But he will talk your ear off about Ohio University football. He gradually has built the program into what appears to be one of this season's best non-BCS conference teams. It's a story worth following.

Solich obviously isn't being inducted into the Nebraska Football Hall for what he's doing at Ohio. Yet the two phases of his head coaching career in college are inextricably linked.

"After Nebraska, I figured if I could take a program and really build it — I mean, really build it — then I'd feel pretty good about my coaching career and be able to look back and feel comfortable with it," he said last November.

Solich sounded comfortable — and extremely upbeat — earlier this week as he discussed his 3-0 Ohio squad, which faces Norfolk State (2-1) on Saturday in Athens, Ohio.

"We have a great group of guys, man," said the eighth-year Bobcats coach.

The Ohio campus received a shot of energy Sept. 1 with the Bobcats' 24-14 triumph at Penn State. A crowd of 25,893 materialized the next week for Ohio's 51-24 victory against New Mexico State. The crowd included 8,000 students, "which for us is huge, one of the biggest turnouts ever," Solich said.

"We're now starting to basically fill up our stadium," he said.

Not bad for a program that last season won its first-ever bowl game, 24-23 over Utah State in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl.

Solich is optimistic about the future. You can hear it in his voice — a stark contrast to the winter of 2003. Don't try to tell Frank it is easy replacing a legend.

Ah, but Solich tops Tom Osborne in at least one regard: Frank becomes the first person to join the Nebraska Football Hall as both a coach and player.

Yeah, life's pretty good again.

Thumbs up, down

Thumbs up to Jon Hays. Everybody loves a comeback story, and his is a good one. The Utah senior quarterback won the starting job last week, then led the Utes to victory over heated rival BYU. Hays landed at Utah after Nebraska-Omaha cut its program in 2011.

Thumbs down to second-year Colorado coach Jon Embree. He replaced Dan Hawkins, who became the first CU coach to have five straight losing seasons. Hawkins seems like Bear Bryant compared with Embree, whose Buffs last week trailed Fresno State 55-7 at halftime and lost 69-14.

Crunching numbers: 81.3

Nebraska junior quarterback Taylor Martinez's completion percentage in two home games this season (39-for-48).

Reach Steven M. Sipple at 402-473-7440 or

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