According to Tim Albin, Wednesday was an emotional day for the Ohio football program, as 16-year head coach Frank Solich announced his retirement.
As for Thursday? It was business as usual for Albin and the ‘Cats as they embarked on a 3.1 mile hike as a team at Hocking Hills State Park.
“Five minutes in, it was just business as usual,” Albin said. “A lot of laughing and giggling. A lot of fist pumping. It’s business as usual today. (Friday) morning, we start at 6:15 with our next workout. It’s exciting.”
Albin will have no choice but to hit the ground running as the new head coach of the Ohio University football program, as fall camp quickly approaches.
Albin, who previously served as Ohio’s Associate Head Coach and was Solich’s offensive coordinator for 16 seasons, was named the head coach to replace Solich on Wednesday.
Ohio Director of Athletics Julie Cromer announced that Albin signed a four-year contract to immediately replace Solich as the program’s head coach.
Solich retired due to health reasons after winning 115 games at Ohio.
“I believe Tim has the vision, the character and the experience to sustain our success, and to even elevate our program in pursuit of our next MAC championship,” Cromer said. “I’m happy to say our student athletes have already rallied around coach Albin.”
Albin said it was a bittersweet experience. The veteran coach gets his shot at leading Ohio’s program, just not under the circumstances most would have envisioned due to Solich’s health concerns.
“Yesterday was a tough day,” Albin said. “I’ve been with coach (Solich) for a long time. He’s a mentor, as a friend. Hasn’t always been a bed of roses. There’s been moments, don’t get me wrong. We didn’t win every game, trust me, but it was tough on me just to see coach...he’s a big, strong, tough guy. He did great. Me, not so much, but we got through it. It’s bittersweet, but I couldn’t be more excited.”
Albin played a large role in the success Ohio had during the Solich era, rewriting the Bobcats’ offensive record book. In the 10 seasons prior to the COVID-shortened 2020 season, Albin’s offensive units ranked No. 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8 on Ohio’s all-time top-10 single season scoring list.
“He’s led our offense to record-setting heights,” Cromer said. “He’s been an instrumental part of our success as a program. He was a great recruiter for us. I imagine he will still continue to be.”
Coaching changes in the middle of July aren’t ideal situations, but the continuity and experience Albin has with the players and staff should ease the transition, according to Cromer.
“When people come in, it hits them all fast and everything is new,” Cromer said. “Tim is two laps around the track already, maybe three, versus what we see with other coaches.”
Albin and Solich’s connection goes even deeper than their time spent in Athens. Albin also coached on Solich’s staff at Nebraska from 2000 through 2003, including in 2001 when the Cornhuskers’ played Miami at the Rose Bowl in the BCS National Championship game.
“The No. 1 thing that coach has taught me over the years is the coach-player relationship,” Albin said. “That’s trust. He is all about that. I think today’s student-athletes respond so much better to old-school coaching. That’s the No. 1 thing. I firmly believe in it and so does this staff.”
Albin was previously a head coach at Northwestern Oklahoma State for three seasons, winning an NAIA national title by going 13-0 in 1999.
Albin said he’s looking forward to being back on the sidelines and in the middle of the action, as opposed to being in a booth as a coordinator.
“I’ve been in the press box for quite some time now,” he said. “I’m very excited about getting down there and being a part of that energy.”
Albin, 56 years old, is a graduate of Northwestern Oklahoma State, where he was a first-team All-Oklahoma Intercollegiate Conference pick as a receiver his final three seasons.
Albin and his wife Brooke have been a fixture in the Athens community. Their daughter, Tori, and son, Treyce, both graduated from Athens High School.
“I’m not an alum of Ohio University, but I’ve been here for 16 years,” he said. “An alum, they’re only here four years — I’m here 16. I’m a Bobcat through and through and just so proud.”
The Bobcats are currently in summer workouts before reconvening for fall camp. A difficult schedule awaits Ohio, as it opens the season on Sept. 4 at home against Syracuse.
The Bobcats host Duquesne on Sept. 11 before traveling to Louisiana on Sept. 16 and to Northwestern on Sept. 25.
“I think we’re close,” Albin said. “We’re there. This group of young men that are going through summer workouts right now, doing a fabulous job.”
The Bobcats open Mid-American Conference play on Oct. 2 at Akron, as they will being a quest for the program’s first conference title since 1968.
“Our guys are locked in,” Albin said. “They know what’s at stake. We’re going to take them as they come. We’ll be ready come game four when we start league play.”
Filling in for the big shoes of Solich — the winningest coach in MAC history — is a tall task. But it’s one that Albin is ready for, and his 16 seasons alongside Solich in Athens make him more than qualified for the job at hand.
“I couldn’t be more excited,” Albin said. “I’m truly humbled and honored to have the opportunity to lead this program. I’m looking forward to working with you (Cromer) and the vision for athletics here at Ohio University.”