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Solich announces retirement as Ohio football coach

Albin promoted from offensive coordinator

Lonnie McMillan Photo
ATHENS – Frank Solich, The Mid-American Conference’s all-time leader in football coaching wins, announced his retirement Tuesday morning, citing a need to focus on his health.

Director of Athletics Julie Cromer announced associate head coach and offensive coordinator Tim Albin was promoted to head coach and agreed to a four-year contract.

"After 55 years in coaching, including 16 at Ohio University, it is time for me to step away to focus on a cardiovascular health issue," Solich said in a press release. "I've appreciated the support of Bobcat fans over the years, and I know they will continue to support Coach Albin. After working directly with Tim for 21 consecutive years, including six at the University of Nebraska, it's clear to me he is prepared to continue our work and move the program forward. I am happy for Tim and his family."

Under Solich, the Bobcats turned into perennial losers to one of the most consistent mid-major programs in Division I football. They are in the midst of 12 straight seasons with a record of .500 or better. He had a career record of 115-82 record while with the Bobcats to rank as the most in MAC history. He is second to Don Peden (121 wins from 1924-46) all-time at Ohio.

Ohio made 11 bowl appearances and won four MAC East championships during Solich’s tenure. The Bobcats were 77-46 in conference play. Solich was the MAC coach of the year in 2016 and the Home Depot National Coach of the Year in 1999.

"We are so grateful for all that Coach Solich has given to Ohio University and, especially, to our football program," Cromer said. "He has elevated our program to incredible heights, and his legacy rests not only in the on-the-field accomplishments, but also in the lives of hundreds of Bobcats who learned about football — and life — from Coach.”

Solich has agreed to remain a special adviser to Cromer in the athletic department.

His coaching tenure at Ohio began in 2005 when he replaced Brian Knorr. His Peden Stadium debut began with a memorable 16-10 overtime victory against Pittsburgh. A year later, he led the Bobcats to their first-ever division championship and a place in the MAC Championship Game.

The Bobcats went on to win division titles in 2009, 2011 and 2016. In 2012, Ohio opened its season with a 24-14 victory at Penn State and won its first seven games to earn a top 25 ranking. The Bobcats appeared in 11 bowl games under Solich, winning a postseason game for the first time in school history when it won the 2011 Famous Idaho Potato Bowl in dramatic fashion, 24-23 over Utah State.

Before Solich came to Athens, Ohio won just nine games in four seasons under Knorr, but those losing ways dated much further back. It had only two winning seasons in 23 years from 1983-2005, including 11 years with two wins or fewer. It had been to only two bowl games and none since 1968 when it lost in the Tangerine Bowl following the school’s last MAC championship.

Originally a native of Ohio, Solich played as a fullback at Nebraska, where he later spent nearly 30 years as a coach, including six as a head coach. His 173 combined wins with the Cornhuskers and the Bobcats ranked fourth among active coaches, of which he was the oldest at 76.

He led Nebraska to the national championship game in 2001. He held a 58-19 record with the Cornhuskers, who have gone 125-89 since they fired him in 2003.

As Cromer noted, his impact was even greater than the results on the field. Social media was filled with messages from former and former players and coaches about how important Solich was to them.

Lonnie McMillan Photo
“This man has been more than a coach to countless players, myself included,” former Ohio quarterback Boo Jackson said on Facebook. “Took a shot on a kid from a small town, ended up at a JUCO, and offered me a full ride scholarship. Even though the QB room was stacked with talent, he and the offensive coaching staff at the time believed in me. From day 1 Coach Solich was in my corner, as well as EVERY kid on the teams corner. Words cannot express the thankfulness I have for him.”

Current running back DeMontre Tuggle said, “Can’t describe how thankful I am for the opportunity to have played for such an amazing coach and program.”

Though overwhelmingly filled with accomplishments, Solich’s career included an early dark moment. Solich was convicted of drunk driving and put on probation by the university shortly after his first season with Ohio. And despite all of his success, he was unable to breakthrough in leading Ohio to its first MAC championship in more than 50 years.

His coaching career concluded with a challenging COVID-19 pandemic season in 2020 that did not start until November. The Bobcats had half of their six scheduled games canceled, finishing 2-1. Solich’s final game was a 52-10 Ohio blowout of Bowling Green.

Now, the program is Albin’s. He has served as offensive coordinator throughout Solich’s entire 16 years as coach, a continuity that was virtually unmatched by any other school.

"We are so fortunate to have someone with Tim's experience, character and vision already within our program," Cromer said. "There are few situations where a transition can be as seamless as this one. Tim has been an integral part of the sustained success of Ohio football and with his leadership we expect to maintain our competitive pursuit of MAC championships, even as he establishes his own imprint on the program. We are excited for Tim to lead our football program."

In the past 10 years, Ohio’s offenses have constantly rewritten the school record books, with seven of them ranking in the top eight in Bobcats history.

Albin came to Ohio after serving as offensive coordinator for North Dakota State in 2004 in its first season at the I-AA level. He had previously served under Solich at Nebraska, beginning in a graduate assisted role. Albin won an NAIA national championship as head coach of Northwestern Oklahoma State in 1999.

"It is truly an honor to lead the Ohio University football program and I want to express my gratitude to President Sherman and Director of Athletics Julie Cromer for their belief in me," Albin said. "I am forever indebted to Coach Solich for all that he has offered me and taught me through the years, and I know he will always be part of our program. Our team will provide an unmatched student-athlete experience both on and off the field and we will graduate young men prepared to succeed in life. With the help of our incredible staff, I know great things lie ahead, and our work continues."

Former Ohio quarterback Tyler Tettleton is reportedly expected to join the coaching staff as a running backs coach and passing game coordinator. Since graduating, he has been involved in football with Oklahoma, LSU and the Cleveland Browns.

The Bobcats open their 2021 season by hosting Syracuse at 7 p.m. Sept. 4 at Peden Stadium.

Additional Coverage:
Ohio's Frank Solich, 76, retires after 16 seasons as head coach  (Yahoo! Sports)
Ohio Bobcats' Frank Solich, winningest football coach in MAC history, steps down for health issues  (ESPN.com)
Frank Solich took long road through Ohio to record-breaking success  (Sporting News)
Frank Solich announces his retirement after 16 seasons with Ohio  (The Post)
Frank Solich rewrote his own story, from Nebraska to Ohio, retiring with a legacy of success  (The Athletic)

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