Luke Fickell is still learning this head coach thing. Ohio State’s young boss stopped the media in its tracks on Tuesday when asked if he was curious about what the outcome of the blockbuster Wisconsin-Nebraska showdown on Saturday night will be. “I didn’t know they were playing,” Fickell said about the game with huge Big Ten implications. Either it was a Pinocchio moment, or Fickell is so consumed by the job that he is also unaware of the uprising in Libya, the debt crisis in Greece, or Lady Gaga’s meat dress. You figure even the clueless replay official at Syracuse, or the guy now living in Bin Laden’s cave would know.
Fickell also knit a few brows when he announced that junior Jordan Hall would be a game captain for the Buckeyes this week. Hall is fresh off the NCAA suspension list, serving two games in the principal’s office for accepting cash at a charity event. Naming him a captain is heavy on symbolism, like welcoming the Prodigal Son home by slaughtering the fatted calf.
Fickell knows blocking and tackling, but the psychology part of the coaching role is learned on the fly. He’ll have to carefully bring four more suspended Buckeyes back into the fold next week, and dance a delicate line again. Their actions harmed the team significantly, but they remain family. In dealing with their return, Fickell has to settle in somewhere between Father Flanagan and Mommie Dearest just to keep the peace.
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