Tony DeMeo

Questions and Answers with Frank Solich

Whenever I think of the great Nebraska teams I always think of Frank Solich. Frank was the starting Fullback for the Cornhuskers in the 60s and in 1965 was named team captain and was the All Big Eight Fullback. He was inducted into the Husker Hall of Fame in 1992. He was the 1st Husker to ever rush for over 200 yards in a game.

Frank was a very successful HS coach before becoming an assistant for Tom Osborne where he help guide Nebraska to 3 National Titles and 11 Conference Championships. He took over for Osborne in 1998 and led the Cornhuskers to a 58-19 record. He had more wins in his first 6 seasons than either Tom Osborne or the legendary Bob Devaney.

After his run at UN Frank took over the Ohio University football team in 2005 & gave the Bobcats instant credibility and led them to a bowl game in only his second season. His overall record as a Head Coach stands at 81-45.

Frank Solich is probably the most underrated football coach in the history of college football. He was light years ahead of his time in running the ball from the shotgun. I know I borrowed many ideas from Frank that we use in our Triple Gun Offense. His offense at Nebraska combined elements from many styles of offense that he married together into a diverse offense that could attack a defense many ways. He was also an outstanding play caller with a knack of dialing up the right play at the right time.

Tony: Who were the biggest influences in your coaching career?

Frank: I had 2 high school coaches that were both big influences on me. The first was Jack Zebcar who was well ahead of his time as far as weight lifting is concerned. That became a big part of my philosophy. The 2nd coach was Carl Falavine who also had a positive influence. Bob Devaney was a great communicator and a great person. Tom Osborne had a completely different personality but was just as effective. I admired Tom for all he was and all he stood for. The biggest lesson this taught me was you could be effective regardless of your personality and to be yourself. The other person who really influenced me was Wally McNaught who was the head basketball coach at the 2nd high school coaching job I had. He really taught me about being a head coach. He was really dedicated to the kids and committed to the program.

Tony: That’s really interesting Jim Valvano was a big influence on my coaching career. What’s your offensive philosophy?

Frank: It starts with a toughness mindset. You have got to be able to line up and make the tough yards. The kids have to believe in it. I believe in being multiple with a strong running game and a complimentary play action passing attack. You have to also develop a drop- back passing game. A running Quarterback is a key ingredient to successful offense. He has to have mobility.

Tony: You were the first coach to really make The Shot Gun a running formation. And you had a very diverse attack at Nebraska that could attack you in many ways, how did you get it all practiced.

Frank: Reps, we had enough players to get two stations going at once and we just a tremendous amount of reps. We try to practice our whole offense every day. We also relied on banked reps from having the same system in place. You can always add things to the passing game; a new route or pattern, but you must master the run game. That really takes a lot of reps.

Tony: I always considered you a great play caller, I used to love watching your Huskers against Oklahoma and you’d come up with a naked or a reverse at a key point to get a big 1st down. What is your approach to calling plays?

Frank: The first thing is to study tendencies and try to find an opponent’s weakness or something you could exploit. Then pick out something from the playbook that will take advantage of that area. Then we decide if there’s a wrinkle we could add and if it fits our scheme we might add that. We try to install a big enough play list that we have answers available to us so we don’t have to keep adding things every week and we can get good at what we do. We try to always have wrinkles available to keep a drive alive. Against those Oklahoma teams you couldn’t just line up & run the ball down the field so you had to have some variety in your game plan to keep them off balance. But we always stressed a physical downhill running attack. You have got to be able to run the ball to control the clock.

Tony:What trends do you see in college football?

Frank: Coaches do a great job in developing new ideas so offense is always evolving. The shot gun option game has really emerged. The option game has really come back. Paul Johnson’s success at Georgia Tech has really opened some eyes and Cal Poly did some amazing things last season. Even non-option coaches are including some option into their package. There is a very multiple approach to offensive football in today’s game.

Tony: The only people that ever stopped the option was ESPN. Frank thanks for your time and good luck next season.

Frank: Thanks Tony