Over the coming weeks and months, the Maryland football program will search for a new head coach to replace the departed Randy Edsall. We know who the candidates are, but who should Maryland pick? We'll state every coach's case, whether he wants the job or not, in 500 words or fewer.
Luke Fickell, Ohio State defensive Coordinator and linebackers coach
Possibility scale: 2/10
Fickell started coaching in 1999 as a graduate assistant at Ohio State, his alma mater. He left the next year to become a defensive line coach at Akron. He returned to Columbus in 2002 and hasn't left since.
He was the special teams coordinator on the 2002 national championship team and was promoted to coach the linebackers the year after that. In 2005, he took on the role of co-defensive coordinator and held onto it until 2011, when he became head coach after Jim Tressel's exit. It didn't go well. The Buckeyes' defense fell apart down the stretch as the team lost its last four games in a row, finishing the season 6-7.
When Urban Meyer was hired in 2012, he kept Fickell on as defensive coordinator and linebackers coach. That ended up being a very smart choice. Ohio State has lost only three games since the pair started working together.
Fickell is a great defensive mind. He has spent more than a decade around two legends of college football, Tressel and Meyer. He has picked their brains and is much more prepared to be a head coach this time around than he was in 2011.
The Buckeyes' numbers speak for themselves. In 2005, 2007, 2009 and 2010, the Buckeyes had teams that ranked in the top five in total defense. Fickell is a serious recruiter and a great defensive coach. And since he isn't a proven head coach or a huge-name candidate, Fickell will be relatively affordable.
While it's true that Fickell's only stint as a head coach was not a successful one, that 2011 season doesn't preclude him from having future success elsewhere. For example, Gene Chizik went 3-9 and then 2-10 with Iowa State in 2007 and 2008. He was hired by Auburn after winning just two games the previous season. He led the Tigers to a national title two years later.
Fickell has only known Ohio State since he started coaching. He already has a great job, coaching and recruiting the best kids in the country for one of the best coaches in college football history. Would he want to leave his alma mater, a perennial title contender, for a program that needs at least a few years of rebuilding and has to play Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State and Penn State every year?
Another potential problem here is that Maryland is probably looking for an offensive-minded coach, at least if you parse athletic director Kevin Anderson's goal to have a wide-open offense. Fickell doesn't fit that bill.
In one sentence
Fickell is an outstanding recruiter and defensive coach who has spent virtually his entire coaching career in the Big Ten learning from the best.