He was the young guy stuck with trying to bridge the gap between NCAA sanctions and suspensions and a brighter future for one of the most celebrated football programs in the land.
Luke Fickell says he learned a lot from his painful year as the interim coach at Ohio State.
A year later, he's back in his old job as the Buckeyes' defensive coordinator. New coach Urban Meyer values his counsel and relies on his mastery of the defense.
But that doesn't mean the 2011 season - filling in after Jim Tressel was forced out for breaking NCAA rules that led to severe penalties - was all fun and games.
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