During the course of a rather impressive interview on the Dan Patrick Show in which he revealed the “interim” tag had been quietly lifted from his title — semantics, people; “At some point either during the season or after the season a decision will be made on who will be our coach going forward,” a school spokesperson told Marcus Hartman of the Buckeye Sports Bulletin— Ohio State head coach Luke Fickell also briefly addressed the reason behind a brief game of one-way “phone tag” with now-former OSU quarterback Terrelle Pryor.
And how he would fare in an MMA-style octagon against the other 11 coaches in the Big Ten.
As far as the former issue is concerned, Fickell noted during a press conference earlier this month — his first since taking over for Jim Tressel, who abruptly resigned on Memorial Day — that he had missed a call from Pryor shortly before the QB announced that he was leaving the school for the NFL’s supplemental draft. When asked about that “miscommunication”, Fickle, by way of Scout.com, gave Patrick a very simple and very honest answer, one that millions upon millions of strapping American males have already used over the past couple of years.
“I was at the Taylor Swift concert so I didn’t have a chance to speak with him,” Fickell said, referring to the multiplatinum country music star who played at Nationwide Arena in downtown Columbus on June 7.
Of course, this begs the question: why you gotta be so mean, coach? Those words, they’re like swords and knives and weapons that you use against him, although Fickell once again reiterated that “we wish [Pryor] the best of luck and that we’re going to encourage him when we do talk to him about getting back and finishing his education.”
After talking about his relationship with Tressel — the two have spoken since the resignation but not face-to-face — the next logical step when interviewing a Div. 1-A head coach was taken by the imitable Patrick.
When Patrick asked him who would emerge victorious if all 12 Big Ten football coaches were put in an octagon – the signature ring of the mixed-martial arts promotion Ultimate Fighting Championship – there was no hesitation in the Ohio State head coach.
“Me,” he said immediately.
Asked to clarify why, the former Ohio state champion wrestler at Columbus DeSales explained, “I just know my abilities and I’ve got confidence in what I do. Eighteen years of wrestling probably does help a little bit in my book, but, hey, you’ve got to have confidence in what you do, right?”
Of course, given Fickell’s background, he would and should have confidence in his abilities. However, would it be a false and shortsighted bravado?
Let’s take a look at Fickell’s Big Ten coaching competition, in ascending order, from “no chance in hell” to “give Fickell a run for his money” to “teach the lil’ whippersnapper some manners, capice?”:
11.) Ron Zook, Illinois — He’d land the best trainers, nutritionists and ring managers in the country ahead of the main event, then trip and break his nose, an arm and two ribs during the first 30 seconds of the fight.
10.) Mark Dantonio, Michigan State — A heart condition last year places the wily and savvy veteran farther down on the list than he probably should be.
9.) Kevin Wilson, Indiana — Screaming “Hoosier daddy!!!” as he entered the octagon would do nothing but push Fickell into a psychotic rage.
8.) Kirk Ferentz, Iowa — Fickell has nearly 20 years on the Hawkeyes coach. Back in the day, however, we get the feeling Ferentz would punch his opponent in the throat within nanoseconds of the bell ringing, gouge his eyes for a minute or two, then call it a day by two-fisted shooting Budweisers from atop the cage.
7.) Pat Fitzgerald, Northwestern — If this were a real list, Coach Fitzgerald would be much higher. Since it’s not, he’s stuck here.
6.) Brady Hoke, Michigan — He’s big, so this seemed to be a proper rough guesstimation of how he’d stack up against the other conference coaches.
5.) Danny Hope, Purdue — The mustache. Enough said.
4.) Jerry Kill, Minnesota — Forget the glasses and eighth-grade-phys-ed-teacher look; the man’s surname is a verb that means “to deprive of life in any manner”.
3.) Bret Bielema, Wisconsin — Realistically, this would be Fickell’s toughest challenger based on size and pedigree; however, the Badgers’ head coach recently became engaged, which means — based on my own personal experience — his testosterone levels are at all-time lows.
2.) Bo Pelini, Nebraska — You’ve seen him on the sidelines, right? Now, put him in a cage where only one person could walk out a winner.
1.) Joe Paterno, Penn State — Two words: he taught Chuck Norris and Jack Bauer — and ninjas — everything they know…