It's been over 15 years since Nebraska controversially fired then-head coach Frank Solich. Now the head coach of MAC power Ohio, he still garners tremendous respect across the NCAA. One head coach in particular is still bitter that Solich was fired.
Speaking to the media on Monday, Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi, a friend of Solich, was unexpectedly critical of the long-ago decision by Nebraska to fire him. Ahead of his team's game against Solich's Bobcats, Narduzzi went so far as to call the move "one of the biggest mistakes in Nebraska history" and made it clear that he was still upset about it.
Via the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review:
“The guy never should have been let go there... Probably one of the biggest mistakes in Nebraska history. He was a legend there. I’m still (ticked) about it.”
Solich was fired after a 9-3 regular season in 2003. Their loss to Kansas State on November 15 cost them a spot in the Big 12 Championship Game that year. Despite winning the season-finale against Colorado, he was fired before getting a chance to coach in the Alamo Bowl.
Narduzzi took umbrage at the idea that Nebraska could have been that much better in the first place.
“Like they expected to win 12,” he said.
Frank Solich's tenure at Nebraska was a success by all metrics. His overall record at the time of his firing was 58-19. He never had a losing season, won a Big 12 title in 1999 and had three finishes in the top ten. The Huskers have not won a conference title or had a top ten finish since.
While Ohio is obviously not Nebraska, he's still turned the Bobcats into one of the most consistent Group of Five schools in the country. In the last ten years, Solich has led them to nine bowl games and four bowl wins.
Did the Huskers get it wrong by firing Solich in 2003?