Penn State Football: Ohio Coach Frank Solich Familiar With Nittany Lions
Ohio coach Frank Solich knows all about a big game in Beaver Stadium.
He knows all about playing against Penn State when their backs are against the wall, too.
In 2002, in his fifth year as head coach at Nebraska, Solich brought his seventh-ranked Cornhuskers into Beaver Stadium for a nighttime clash Penn State fans still talk about to this day.
Almost a decade removed, Penn State was itching for revenge having been shutout of a national title shot in 1994 in favor of Nebraska despite ending the season undefeated.
While Nebraska finished the 2001 campaign ranked eighth in the Associated Press Poll after a 11-2 year, Penn State was coming off back-to-back five-win seasons and a slim 27-24 victory in the season-opener against Central Florida.
But even so, 110,753 Nittany Lion faithful packed Beaver Stadium that September night, setting the single-game attendance record.
The 40-7 Nittany Lions' upset that followed sent each of those fans into a frenzy; many who were there called it the single-loudest game they have ever attended. A 42-yard interception return by Penn State’s Richard Gardner gave Penn State a 26-7 third-quarter lead that almost burst the eardrums of everyone in attendance.
“The noise vibrates the stadium,” Solich said Monday morning. “It makes it very difficult. You’ve got to do the best you can to prepare for it and try and do your best to get your guys on the same page for when the ball is snapped.
“There was nobody on campus last week, so we could jack it up as loud as we wanted, so we definitely got some of that work in. We’ll do more work on that this week. They fill up their stadium, over a 100,000, and you know it’s a loud stadium.”
While it has been eight years since Solich, a Johnstown native, has stepped foot in Beaver Stadium, he once again finds himself coaching against a Penn State team looking to bounce back. As the Penn State community looks to recover from the Jerry Sandusky scandal, Saturday’s game marks the start of a new era and a chance to begin the healing process. It’s something Solich is aware of but not what he’s focusing on.
“No. 1, it’s obvious the reason that we’re going to Penn State is to play a football game,” Solich said. “That’s what we’re focused on. We try not to let the other areas that can surround a football game, especially this one, enter into it.
“We’re just preparing to play a football game and we have to do as much as possible to get our guys ready to get lined up and go out."