Based on the word we’ve been receiving over the past few days, that hole could be filled very soon. And by an individual very familiar to members of the Buckeye Nation.
Two university sources have told CFT that, while it’s not a done deal, “there’s a very good chance” former Ohio State defensive lineman and current Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Mike Vrabel will fill the vacancy on the defensive side of the ball. One source stated that an announcement could be made as early as this coming Monday.
The move, were it to happen, wouldn’t come as a complete surprise as Vrabel and Fickell are longtime friends after being teammates — and roommates — at OSU in the mid-nineties.
The 14-year veteran has yet to retire from the NFL and has been actively involved in the ongoing labor saga, although he would be a free agent if/when a new collective bargaining agreement is reached; his deal with the Chiefs expired following the 2010 season. Should this OSU opportunity come to fruition, a retirement announcement, obviously, would be part of any announcement of his hiring by the Buckeyes.
Rumors connecting Vrabel to the OSU vacancy have been making the rounds for well over a month, and Vrabel addressed the speculation after being in attendance at Fickell’s first press conference as the OSU head coach. And strongly hinted he’d pick up the phone were it to ring.
“No, Luke hasn’t said he wants me on his staff,” said Vrabel back in June. “Luke knows I still have time to play, and I’m traveling to Chicago or New York for meetings with the owners. Luke knows I’ve got a bunch on my plate right now. …
“I think it’s certainly something I’d be interested in under the right situation. I’d have to look and see when my playing career comes to an end and my involvement with the players association and being on the executive committee and being in that role.”
Apparently, and barring a sudden and unexpected change of heart, Vrabel considers returning to his alma mater the right situation to begin what should be a very long and productive career as a football coach.