Ohio’s Frank Solich on pace to become MAC’s winningest coach

DETROIT (AP) — Ohio coach Frank Solich is approaching his 75th birthday, looking and sounding as if he has no plans to slow down anytime soon.

“Ive got great energy and I wouldnt trade what Im doing for anything,” Solich said. “There will be a day when it doesnt make sense for me to coach, but I dont feel like that day is coming yet.”

Solich is expected to become the Mid-American Conferences all-time winning coach this season and his Bobcats are the leagues preseason favorites. He has won 106 games at Ohio and he is five victories away from breaking the record set by Herb Deromedi set at Central Michigan from 1978-1993.

With 164 wins at the highest level of college football, Solich trails three active coaches in career victories: North Carolinas Mack Brown, Alabamas Nick Saban and TCUs Gary Patterson. And like few coaches in college football, he has been in the same place for 15 years. Just three active coaches — Iowas Kirk Ferentz, Patterson and Utahs Kyle Whittingham — have been at the same school longer than Solich.

“Hes a legend and we all feel fortunate to play for him,” standout safety Javon Hagan said. “Hes always so positive and doesnt speak negatively about anybody or anything.”

Only one example is how Solich reflects on the abrupt end of his coaching career at Nebraska, his alma mater. A nine-win season in 2003 and a 58-19 record over six seasons, following in the footsteps of national-championship winning coach Tom Osborne, wasnt enough for Solich to keep his dream job of leading the Cornhuskers.

“I dont dwell on what happened because if I did, I wouldnt be the guy I am,” he said. “Im able to move on. If you dont have that ability, this business can get you. Nebraska has struggled, no question, but I think Scott Frost will get that ship turned around.”

Solichs challenge this season is to take a team that has won 34 times, including its last two bowl games, over the last four seasons and lead it to the schools first MAC title since 1968.

Nathan Rourke, a dual-threat quarterback with two years of starting experience at Ohio, gives the program a great shot at ending the drought.

“They dont give rings out in preseason,” said Rourke, who combined for nearly 3,300 yards passing and rushing last years while throwing for 23 touchdowns and running for 15 scores. “Weve been picked to win it three years in a row and its time to put the work in to do it.”


Toledo was picked to win the West Division with 14 starters back. The Rockets received 15 first-place votes, trailing only the 24 cast for Ohio in the East Division. Miami and defending champion Buffalo are also expected to contend for at least a division title.


In a sign of the MACs parity, six teams have played in the previous three championship games. Northern Illinois rallied from a 19-point, second-half deficit to beat Buffalo 30-29 for the title last year.


Western Michigan senior LeVante Bellamy may be among the fastest running backs in the nation, running the 40-yard dash in 4.28 seconds this summer. The first-team, all-MAC player ran for 1,228 yards and six touchdowns last season also scored on one of his 30 receptions.

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