What makes a college football coach stand out? Is it his success on or off the field?...
This is exactly what Ohio University’s Head Football Coach has done. Frank Solich hasn’t been successful with just the football program alone, he has made a great impact on the Athens community and Southeast Ohio as a whole.
“He really has brought more awareness to Athens and the surrounding areas,” Chris Rodgers, assistant athletic director for football operations said. “Prior to Coach Solich there was no brand recognition.”
Taking over the program in 2005, Solich has led his team in several community service and charity events. They have served at local food banks, visited sick kids in the hospital, have held food drives which is donated to the Southeastern Ohio Food Bank, and have read to local elementary schools.
“He has had our football program initiate more service opportunities since he has been head coach,” Ryan Bainbridge, director of player personnel and high school relations said. “It is important to us to have our staff and players interact with the community.”
One of the biggest events Solich has participated in is Bobcat Caravans. Representatives of Bobcat athletics travel across Ohio, especially to surrounding communities. Their goal is to engage with fans and alumni, and bring support to OHIO athletics by giving away free prizes.
“Especially the outlying communities, like Federal Hocking or Trimble, a lot of those people aren’t able to get to the university,” Jeff Powell, Athens resident and lifelong Bobcat fan said. “He brings light to those communities in smaller areas who don’t get to see him as much as people in Athens do.”
Solich, who was just named the 2019 President of the American Football College Association, has also given the opportunity to play college football to several young men who are from Southeast Ohio. Naylan Yates from Vinton County, Hunter Edwards from Nelsonville-York, and Ryan and Adam Luehrman from Athens are just a few of the many local kids Solich has placed on his roster in his 14-year tenure.
“When they are playing or at least on the team, it gives fans from those communities a chance to come watch their hometown player play,” Powell said.
Solich, a hard-worker who played and coached at Nebraska University, has always had a family mentality within his football program. During his time with OHIO football, he has had very few assistant coaches leave, has kept the same offensive and defensive coordinator all 14 years, and has always brought alumni or past players back to work for him.
“Having him be able to trust me at only 25 years old to run his recruiting department and having my back on decisions I’ve made has meant a great deal to my career,” Bainbridge said.
Solich is 74-years-old, and it is unsure how long he will continue coaching Bobcat football. But his legacy in Athens and the surrounding communities will continue.
“He has meant so much,” Powell said. “We never dreamed of beating some of the teams he has defeated, and that has allowed him to do more with the communities because everyone knows who Coach Solich is and the impact he has had.”
To take a quiz about Coach Solich, click here.