The Ohio football program announced today (Aug. 18) that the Ohio University Board of Trustees agreed to name the football field in Peden Stadium for former head coach Frank Solich.
“I’m honored by the recognition and give credit to all the players and coaches who have been with me along the way,” said Solich. “The support from Bobcats students, fans and donors has always been appreciated and I thank them as well for their part in our success.”
Solich started his Ohio legacy with a bang, securing his first home victory in his debut at Peden Stadium against Pitt. Dion Byrum returned two interceptions for touchdowns to win the game; the first tied the Bobcats and Panthers, 7-7, in the first quarter. With seconds left in the game, a Pitt field goal tied the game again, but Byrum’s 85-yard overtime interception return secured the 16-10 victory.
After serving as head coach from 2005-21, Solich earned the title of Winningest Coach in the Mid-American Conference with a 115-82 overall record. In the Ohio history books, his 115 wins make him second only to Don Peden, who coached the Bobcats to 121 wins (1924-46). Solich’s 77 conference wins rank him second to former Central Michigan head coach Herb Deromedi, who recorded 90 MAC wins, while his 16 years of service matches Deromedi’s (1978-93) for the most in MAC history.
Under Solich’s guidance, the Bobcats saw 12 consecutive non-losing seasons, including six years with at least nine victories and highlighted by a 10-win campaign in 2011. Solich led Ohio to division titles in 2006, 2009, 2011 and 2016, earning MAC Coach of the Year honors in 2016.
The 2012 Bobcats opened the season with a 24-14 victory at Penn State. After entering the third quarter trailing 14-3, two touchdowns in the third gave Ohio a three-point lead. They solidified their victory in the fourth with a 14-play, 93-yard drive, extending their lead over the Nittany Lions to 10 points.
Solich coached Ohio to 11 bowl appearances, securing the first five bowl victories in program history with back-to-back wins in the 2011 Famous Idaho Potato Bowl and ’12 Independence Bowl and back-to-back-to-back victories in the 2017 Bahamas Bowl, ’18 DXL Frisco Bowl and ’20 Famous Idaho Potato Bowl (2019 season).
“This is truly an honor well deserved. Frank has meant so much to so many players and coaches that have been on that field with him,” said former defensive coordinator Jimmy Burrow. “What better way to showcase what he’s done for the Ohio University football program and Ohio University than to name the field after him. We can all be very proud that the field will always be known as the Frank Solich Field.”
Many of Solich’s student-athletes continued their careers professionally. Nine Bobcats from the Solich era were drafted, with others entering the NFL as free agents. Notably, Tarell Basham was the Indianapolis Colt’s third round pick in the 2017 NFL Draft before he was claimed off waivers by the New York Jets in 2018. In 2021, Basham signed a two-year contract with the Dallas Cowboys.
Current free agent T.J. Carrie was drafted by the Oakland Raiders in 2014, where he played four seasons before signing a four-year contract with the Browns in 2018 and the Colts in 2020. 2018 seventh-round draft pick Quentin Poling signed with the USFL’s Birmingham Stallions in 2020; the Stallions won the inaugural USFL championship. Among the 2021 Bobcats, De’Montre Tuggle and Armani Rogers are on the Chicago Bears and Washington Commanders’ practice squads, respectively.
Five Solich Bobcats are currently active in the CFL. Nathan Rourke is the BC Lions’ starting quarterback, defensive tackle Casey Sayles is on the Winnipeg Blue Bombers’ roster, wide receiver Papi White plays for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats while running back Maleek Irons is on the Tiger-Cats’ practice squad and running back AJ Ouellette plays for the Toronto Argonauts. Rourke has been named the CFL’s top performer five times and is currently leading in passing yards (2,906), passing touchdowns (23) and completion percentage (80.1 percent).
Solich’s legacy extends past notable wins and successful athletes—he maintained strong and loyal coaching staffs from the beginning. Head Coach Tim Albin joined Solich’s Nebraska staff in 2000 as an offensive graduate assistant before being promoted to running backs coach and passing game coordinator in 2003. He came to Athens with Solich in 2005, staying on as the offensive coordinator until he was promoted to head coach in 2021 upon Solich’s retirement. Burrow was also a Nebraska graduate assistant from 2001-02 before he joined Solich’s inaugural Ohio staff, remaining the Bobcats’ defensive coordinator until his retirement in 2018. Pete Germano served as Ohio’s recruiting coordinator for four years prior to Solich and remained on his staff, filling a variety of coaching positions until 2011. After five seasons as Fresno State’s defensive line coach, Germano returned to Ohio, where he remained until retirement.
“Coach Solich is more than the winningest coach in Ohio and MAC history, he has been my mentor and friend for the better part of 25 years,” said Albin. “He changed the culture and perception of Ohio University Athletics for the better, pushing our department to the forefront of the conference, and helping us set the standard for what a successful program could look like at Ohio University. I owe Coach Solich and his wife Pam a great deal, as does our current staff. This honor couldn’t go to a more deserving man, and I am beyond excited for Coach and his family.”
Solich was an integral member of the Nebraska coaching staff for 25 years, capped off with six seasons as the Cornhuskers’ head coach. Under his guidance, the Huskers recorded at least nine wins in five of his six seasons at the head coach, highlighted by a 12-1 record, Big 12 Championship and No. 2 final ranking in 1999, earning him Home Depot National Coach of the Year honors. Prior to becoming the head coach, Solich was named the 1993 National Assistant Coach of the Year by Athlon Magazine.
With 173 career wins, Solich ranks as the fourth most active NCAA FBS head coach.
The field will carry the name Frank Solich Field starting at first home game of the 2022 season against Florida Atlantic (Sept. 3), with an official field dedication ceremony to take place on senior night against Northern Illinois (Oct. 22).