Fullback. Freshman coach. Varsity assistant coach. Head coach. Frank Solich wore many hats at Nebraska and served with distinction.
Solich, who grew up in Cleveland, was a member of Bob Devaney’s first Husker recruiting class in 1962. Solich blossomed as a junior in 1964, and was an All-Big Eight fullback in 1965 — when he had a 204-yard outing against Air Force. He played much bigger than his 5-feet-8 and 160 pounds.
The teams Solich played on started the winning tradition Nebraska has enjoyed for most of a half-century. The 1965 team completed the regular season unbeaten and in position for a national championship, but lost 39-28 to Bear Bryant’s Alabama team in the Orange Bowl.
After a successful stint as a high school coach — two years at Omaha Holy Name and 11 at Lincoln Southeast — Solich joined Tom Osborne’s Nebraska staff. Solich coached the freshman team to a 19-1 record over four years before taking over as running backs coach in 1983.
Solich, who recruited 1983 Heisman Trophy winner Mike Rozier, produced at least one all-conference running back in 13 of the 15 seasons he tutored that position. In 19 years as an assistant, the Huskers captured three national championships, all with Solich as assistant head coach. NU also won 11 league championships, earned 19 postseason bowl bids and had 15 teams finish the season ranked in the nation’s top 10.
Solich was named Osborne’s successor on Dec. 10, 1997. Solich guided NU to a 12-1 record, Big 12 championship and No. 2 final ranking in the coaches poll in 1999. In 2001, Solich led the Huskers to an 11-2 record and an appearance in the BCS title game in the Rose Bowl.
In 2003, Solich coached Nebraska to a 9-3 regular-season record, then was fired. He did not coach NU in the Alamo Bowl, as defensive coordinator Bo Pelini served as interim head coach.
Solich has served as head coach at Ohio University since 2005.
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