COLUMBUS — Luke Fickell lost a lot of sleep as he searched for answers that never came last season.
But there was one thing Ohio State’s defensive coordinator never lay awake worrying about: His job.
Speaking Thursday night for the first time since the Orange Bowl, Fickell addressed the biting criticism he endured after OSU’s defense destructed down the stretch. The Buckeyes allowed 1,717 yards and 115 points in their final three football games, including two losses to end the season.
Did Fickell fear he would be fired?
"If it happens, it happens," he said. "If it doesn't happen, it doesn’t. What are you going to do? Live your life worried about everything? How would that be? What would that do for you? You're confident in what you do, you believe in what you do. If [losing his job] is the plan, that's what the plan is. I want what's best for this place."
In the same nearly two-minute response, he added: "You can't worry. There was a bombing at the World Trade Center a few years ago. You never want to fly again? What are you going to do? I know that’s comparing two different things, but the reality is you’ve got to have confidence in what you do, believe in what you do, and whatever happens happens."
Fickell suggested criticism of the Buckeyes’ schemes last season were ill-informed but said he is embracing a changed approach — and the addition of another influential voice. He will share coordinator duties with safeties coach Chris Ash, who is charged with fixing a pass defense that ranked 110th nationally.
Fickell said all are on board with a more simplified, aggressive defense.
"The idea of bending but not breaking is not exactly the mentality that coach [Urban] Meyer likes," he said.
EXTRA POINTS: Starting safety Vonn Bell will miss the rest of spring drills after undergoing surgery for a sprained MCL. He is expected to be fine by May. ... Senior tight end Jeff Heuerman missed the first two practices after breaking his nose in an offseason workout.