COLUMBUS, Ohio – Luke Fickell has been promoted to assistant head coach for Ohio State football, Gene Smith, associate vice president and director of athletics, announced today. In that role, he will serve as interim head coach for the first five games of the Buckeyes’ 2011 season. He will also retain his role as linebackers coach and co-defensive coordinator.

“Luke Fickell is a Buckeye to the core. He has earned this promotion to assistant head coach through his hard work, dedication and performance,” said Smith. “ We have great trust and belief in Luke’s ability to work with our entire coaching staff to lead our young men through the first five games this fall. I have confidence our entire football family will work together to maintain our standard of excellence.”

Fickell is in his 10th year on the Ohio State coaching staff. He coaches the Buckeyes linebackers and is co-defensive coordinator, a role he assumed in April, 2005. In 2010, he was selected as the AFCA’s Assistant Coach of the Year for FBS schools, and was also named Linebacker Coach of the Year by Football Scoop.

“I am honored to be able to grow at a place and in a program that I know, love and respect. It is extremely humbling,” said Fickell.

A Columbus native and graduate of DeSales High School, where he was a state wrestling champion, Fickell is a 1997 graduate of Ohio State, where he was a four-year starter at nose guard. Post-graduation, Fickell spent a year on the injured reserve list with the New Orleans Saints before beginning his coaching career.

During his first two years at Ohio State, Fickell was in charge of the special teams and assisted with the defensive front. In his role as special teams coordinator, Fickell had specific responsibility for the punting team. Under his tutelage, that unit excelled, leading the Big Ten in net punting in three of the past six years.

Fickell played for the Buckeyes from 1992-96, redshirting the first year and then starting the next four seasons at nose guard. He started a school-record 50 consecutive games between 1993 and 1996.

Fickell concluded his Ohio State career with 212 total tackles, including 26 tackles-for-loss and six sacks. During his four years in the starting lineup, the Buckeyes posted a combined record of 41-8-1 overall and were 26-5-1 in Big Ten play with a pair of Big Ten co-championships to their credit. With the win over Arizona State in the Rose Bowl, the Buckeyes finished the 1996 season with a sparkling 11-1 record and were second in both major polls in the final rankings.

Luke and his wife, Amy (an Ohio State graduate), have four children: Landon, Luca, and twins Aydon and Ashton.

A final version of Fickell’s updated contract has not been completed.