The 2011 Big Ten Media Days marks the coming out party for the conference's latest in a distinguished line of half-witted head football coaches. The conference that in the past decade has brought you coaching gold, the likes of Ron Zook, Bill Lynch and Tim Brewster, now welcomes to the fold Ohio State's visiting head coach, Luke Fickell.
A standout nose tackle at Ohio State in the 1990s, Fickell, to everyone and no one's amazement, amounting to less than zero in the pros having never sniffed the field (practice field that is) at football's highest level. This, predictably, hastened his return to the motherland of practically all aimless Buckeyes, the comfy confines of Columbus, a place Fickell was born, raised, educated and has worked almost exclusively, a place he's domiciled a staggering 35 of his 37 years on earth. Proving the man is nothing if not a poster boy for what William H. Whyte called in the early 1950s rationalized conformity, or groupthink. In a nutshell, by almost any standard and certainly by big time head coaching standards, Fickell has lived an exceptionally sheltered existence that's revolved exclusively around Ohio State football and provincial Columbus, Ohio. Columbus, among the most homogeneous, insulated urban capital cities in America, whose claim to fame these days is being the second manliest city in Ohio, a town where it's impossible to see the college football world as it really is through the required scarlet and grey colored, 3D glasses everyone in that town wears, and the place where Luke Fickell is Ohio State's latest McLuhanesque fish trying to discover water by the Olentangy River.
It's early in his tenure, but Elwood Gordan Gee willing, Luke Fickell will by hook or by crook (oops!) cling to life as Ohio State's head coach, secure a well earned invite to the Dallas Football Classic and then finally put the hurt locker on Florida, as in the University of Central Florida, which would in all liklihood remove that "visiting" tag, allowing the conference to enjoy many more years of quote-worthy gems like these:
On abruptly becoming the visiting head coach of Ohio State:
"I think that's what's been best for me, not to have the ability to sit down and think about the situation that's ahead."
[more after the jump]
On the future of the offense:
"We're going to play to our strengths, and we will find out our strengths in Fall Camp."
On the transgressions of Jim Tressel:
"I would hope you would support who we are. Not, who we are not. These six individuals have made a choice to work, a choice to sacrifice, to put themselves on the line 23 nights for the next 4 months, to represent you.*"
On his planned involvement with the offensive coaches:
"I just want to make sure that they understand, more so for the kids, that they know I care and understand, more than me calling a play or whatever."
On the statistical categories that are most important to his preferred style of play:
"We have a goal to lead the nation in three categories: effort,** turnovers and toughness.**"
On what makes him right for the job:
"Knowing the great state of Ohio is incredibly important, and Columbus as well."
You bet your bippy Luke Fickell knows Columbus! Welcome aboard Luke.
* This is actually a Norman Dale quote from the movie, "Hoosiers." But it was waaaay more decipherable than Fickell's actual answer, so in an effort to help make the guy look somewhat capable and credible, we used it instead.
** Sadly, but not unexpectedly, BHGP was unable to find any NCAA statistics for these categories, anywhere.