Frank Solich returns to Nebraska Wednesday night to receive the Tom Osborne Legacy Award at the Outland Trophy Dinner. With this honor, Nebraska fans owe him thanks and respect for his contributions to the program. This isn’t yet another attempt to relitigate his 2003 dismissal from Nebraska; there’s absolutely no value in doing that yet again.
You can’t undo that decision, and besides that, there still are sizable factions of Nebraska fans on both sides of the issue. So let’s not go there; we’re not changing anybody’s mind on that.
Whether or not you agreed with his firing, can we all agree that Solich deserves respect for his entire body of work at Nebraska and Ohio? A Big XII championship and berth in the National Championship game. Ten straight bowl games at Ohio University, a school that hadn’t been to a bowl game since 1968.
Yes, he got boat raced by Miami in the Rose Bowl. Guess what? That Miami team was pretty darn good, but more importantly, blowouts happen to everybody in college football. Tom Osborne got blown out. Urban Meyer got blown out. Monday night, even Nick Saban got blown out. It happens.
When Scott Frost was hired at Nebraska a year ago, a popular T-shirt slogan featured “Devaney, Osborne, Some Other Guys, Frost”. I get (and share) the excitement over Frost, but let’s also be clear: lumping Frank Solich in with Bill Callahan and Mike Riley isn’t fair to Solich. This isn’t a binary choice between either a Hall of Fame legend or garbage coach. There should be a scale with room in the middle for a Frank Solich, who didn’t quite meet the standards of Bob Devaney and Tom Osborne, and the Bumbling Bills (Jennings and Callahan).
If you feel that Frank Solich wasn’t good enough to coach at Nebraska (which is fair), it’s finally time to at least admit that Solich is a good coach. Heck, you probably could even get some Solich defenders to accept that he wasn’t working out at Nebraska. I don’t think anybody would argue that he was a perfect coach, but he was better than some of the guys that followed him.
Whether you agreed or disagreed with his firing 16 years ago is past history. It’s long time to come together and give Frank Solich his rightful due as a good football coach.