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Frank Solich, winningest coach in MAC history, steps down from Ohio

After 115 victories and the first five bowl wins in Ohio history, Solich steps down to focus on his health.

Frank Solich's Nebraska ties are still strong.
Frank Solich’s Nebraska ties are still strong.
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

One of the most accomplished coaching tenures of the 21st century reached its conclusion Friday morning. After 16 seasons as the Ohio Bobcats’ head coach, Frank Solich stepped down from the position. In a statement, Solich cited health issues as the driving reason to relinquish the role he has held since 2005.

“After fifty-five 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 statement. “I’ve appreciated the support of Bobcat fans over the years, and I know they will continue to support Coach (Tim) Albin.”

Albin, who served as Solich’s offensive coordinator in all 16 seasons at Ohio, will take over the head coaching reigns for the program, effective this season. Albin is the longest tenured offensive coordinator in the FBS and served as the associated head coach from 2019-21 after the retirement of longtime defensive coordinator Jimmy Burrow.

“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,” Solich said. “I am happy for Tim and his family.”

In stepping down, Solich, 76, renounces his status as the oldest head coach in college football. North Carolina head coach Mack Brown turns 70 next month and will take the mantle for oldest FBS head coach. Only two active coaches — Iowa’s Kirk Ferentz and TCU’s Gary Patterson — have led their respective programs longer than Solich did in Athens, OH.

Solich won’t be going far, as he is set to serve current athletic director Julie Cromer as a special advisor for Ohio University’s athletic department.

“We are so grateful for all that Coach Solich has given to Ohio University and, especially, to our football program,” Cromer said via press release. “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. I am excited that he has agreed to serve as a close advisor to me and as a resource to our students, coaches and staff. We look forward to opportunities in the coming year to show our appreciation for Coach Solich and to celebrate his legacy.”

The Johnstown, Pennsylvania native has been in the coaching business before some of his current players’ parents were even born. After serving as a fullback at Nebraska from 1963-65, Solich coached Nebraska high school football from 1966-78 before landing a job on the Cornhuskers’ staff in 1979. He worked nearly two decades as an assistant prior to his promotion to head coach in 1998. In six years at his alma mater, Solich posted three double-digit win seasons. The 1999 season was a special one for him, as he finished 12-1 with the No. 3 ranking in the country and took home National Coach of the Year honors.

Prior to his hiring in 2005, Ohio had zero bowl wins to its name.

Solich will leave the Bobcat program as the winningest head coach in both Ohio University and Mid-American Conference history, posting a 115-82 record with the Bobcats over 16 seasons. Solich, fired unceremoniously from Nebraska after a six-year tenure in 2003, finished his career as a revered figure in Athens, with 12 consecutive seasons hitting a .500 or better record, four MAC East division titles, 11 bowl game appearances, and five postseason bowl game wins.

Solich only got better with age, as from 2017-19, Ohio won three consecutive bowl games by an aggregate score of 98-27, solidifying the impact Solich had on a program which was once considered a doormat at the FBS level.

He will retire tied for the longest tenure by a MAC coach in one program with Central Michigan’s Herb Deromedi.

Solich’s legacy, both as a figurehead and as a person, will be celebrated in MAC circles as an integral part of bringing #MACtion to the forefront of the college football landscape, with his patented pistol offense, unparalleled ability to develop low-level prospects into respectable — even great — college football players in a football-heavy state such as Ohio, and his frank and honest personality earning massive respect and support from all around the country.

New head man Tim Albin is expected to be introduced to media on Friday afternoon.