If Ohio State’s football program wasn’t aware of the rumors and reports linking former Florida coach Urban Meyer to OSU’s head coaching position before Saturday’s 20-14 loss to No. 21 Penn State, it surely was after the game.
Members of the OSU coaching staff and Buckeye players were peppered with questions regarding what is an uncertain future for current Buckeyes’ coach Luke Fickell, whose contract expires after the 2011 season.
A former Michigan Heisman Trophy winner came to OSU’s campus Sunday night and said Meyer was likely to be the Buckeyes’ head coach next season.
Meyer, currently a college football analyst for ESPN, is in talks with the university about the Buckeyes’ head coaching position, according to media reports.
The Ohio Union Activities Board hosted “The Greatest Rivalry in Sports featuring Eddie George, Desmond Howard and Todd McShay,” Sunday where Howard, a former Michigan wide receiver, said Fickell is not a man that OSU wants.
“(Fickell is) just keeping the seat warm,” Howard said. “He won’t be here next year.”
During his post-game press conference, Fickell said he was unaware of the news and remains undistracted as OSU prepares for its season finale against Michigan.
“We’re not going to use any excuses. If you don’t turn the TV on (and) you don’t listen, you don’t pay attention to those things,” Fickell said. “You stay focused on your players (and) you give them everything you’ve got.”
During ESPN’s broadcast of the Michigan versus Nebraska game Saturday, Meyer said he hadn’t been offered a job or accepted one from any school. Should Meyer be offered the coaching job at OSU and accept, it is possible that Fickell, along with every coach on the OSU staff, would be out of a job at Ohio Stadium.
OSU defensive coordinator Jim Heacock agreed with Fickell, saying he was not distracted ahead of Saturday’s game against the Nittany Lions.
“I don’t think that has anything to do with this game,” Heacock said. “From our stand point, we prepared as hard as we always have. We thought we had a good game plan. There’s just no excuses.”
Several OSU players echoed the sentiments expressed by Fickell and Heacock.
Senior left tackle Mike Adams said the rumors and reports regarding Meyer did not permeate the OSU locker room.
“We’re not really too worried about that,” Adams said. “Whatever happens, happens. We really don’t care. It’s more about this season.”
This season holds just one more game for the Buckeyes — a Saturday trip to Michigan Stadium to play the Wolverines. Should Fickell be replaced by Meyer, Saturday’s loss to the Nittany Lions may have been his last game at the helm of OSU football in the ‘Shoe.
Senior running back Daniel “Boom” Herron” had words of support for Fickell after Saturday’s game. Herron also said he “felt bad” for Fickell.
“(Fickell) definitely supports us. He’s a great coach,” Herron said. “We always want good things to go for our coach. I wish him the best in the future.”
Kickoff for Saturday game against the Wolverines in Ann Arbor, Mich., is set for noon.