May 30, 2011

One-time Saint UDFA Fickell now interim head coach at Ohio State

In 1997, Ohio State DT Luke Fickell was signed to Mike Ditka's first training camp roster.

Today, on Memorial Day, Fickell was named interim head coach for the entire 2011 season, after the sudden but unsurprising resignation of head coach Jim Tressel, who is embroiled in a number of off-field scandals involving improper benefits for football players.

Fickell barely got to training camp at University of Wisconsin-La Crosse before a knee injury. The 6'4, 267 defensive lineman was placed on injured reserve in late July and later waived. A typical Ditka player - Fickell was undersized, a productive college player and a smart player with great intangibles.  Fickell started a then-record 50 games for the Buckeyes, and was a high school wrestling champ.

Fickell moved on and by 1999 was a graduate assistant for the Buckeyes.  He ascended the Ohio State football coaching ranks, aided by a stop at the University of Akron, and became linebackers coach and co-defensive coordinator in 2005.

Fickell was already prepared to coach the team during Tressel's five-game suspension that would start the season.

Tressel lied on an NCAA form, indicating that he did know about players trading their football gear for money and tattoos.  Emails revealed Tressel did know, and used ineligible players anyway.  Despite the suspensions, doled out before their bowl game, Tressel and five players were ruled eligible to play in the Sugar Bowl, where the Buckeyes defeated Arkansas Razorbacks.

The Saints have drafted three defensive prospects from the Buckeyes during Fickell's tenure, including S Malcolm Jenkins, DE Will Smith, LB Cie Grant.

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