Frank Solich was named Tom Osborne's successor on Dec. 10, 1997. Solich was a part of the NU coaching staff for 25 years. He guided NU to a 12-1 record, Big 12 Championship and No. 2 final ranking in the coaches poll in 1999. In 2001, Solich led the Huskers to an 11-2 record and an appearance in the BCS title game in the Rose Bowl.
In 2003, Solich coached Nebraska to a 9-3 regular-season record, but did not coach NU in the Alamo Bowl, as defensive coordinator Bo Pelini served as interim head coach. Originally from Cleveland, Ohio, Solich was a member of Bob Devaney's first recruiting class in 1962. As a fullback, Solich earned All-Big Eight honors in 1965 and was the first Husker to rush for 200 yards in a game.
In six seasons, Solich led the Huskers to a 58-19 record (.753 winning percentage), including the 1999 Big 12 Conference championship. NU added a co-Big 12 North Division title in 2001, when the Huskers met Miami in the Rose Bowl for the national championship. The Huskers finished No. 3 in the AP Poll in 1999 after beating Tennessee in the Fiesta Bowl and rolling to a 22-6 win over Texas in the Big 12 Championship Game in San Antonio.
Nebraska added a final No. 8 national ranking by the Associated Press in both 2000 and 2001.
The 2001 Huskers featured the nation's top college player-Heisman Trophy winner Eric Crouch. A four-year starter, Crouch added Walter Camp National Player-of-the-Year and Davey O'Brien awards while becoming Nebraska's career leader in total offense.
While Crouch captured a Heisman Trophy on the field in 2001, Kyle Vanden Bosch earned the nation's highest academic honor in 2000, capturing the Vincent dePaul Draddy Award. Considered college football's "Academic Heisman," the Draddy Award is presented by the National Football Foundation and College Football Hall of Fame. Vanden Bosch was also named the Woody Hayes Division I Male Scholar-Athlete of the Year and earned a prestigious NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship along with earning his second academic All-America award.
A product of the Nebraska football program first as a player, then as an assistant coach, Solich's career at Nebraska spanned 41 seasons since first arriving in Lincoln in 1962 to play fullback in Coach Devaney's first season.
Although Solich was not with Nebraska during all 42 of those seasons, spending 13 years as a high school head coach in Nebraska before joining the Husker coaching staff as an assistant in 1979, all 29 Nebraska teams was associated with played in a bowl game.
In his final game as NU's assistant head coach and running backs coach, Solich helped the Huskers to a third national championship in four years with a resounding 42-17 win over Tennessee in the Orange Bowl, helping Osborne go out as a reigning national champion, the only Division I-A coach to do so.
Solich's name can also be found in the Husker record book. As part of Devaney's first recruiting class at Nebraska, Solich became a standout fullback for the Huskers in the mid-1960s, lettering in 1963, 1964 and 1965. His playing career earned him induction into the Nebraska Football Hall of Fame in 1992.
Nebraska running backs succeeded by developing the same work ethic that made Solich a standout fullback. Solich was an All-Big Eight fullback and co-captain of the Huskers' 1965 team and still holds the NU single-game rushing record for fullbacks with a 204-yard outing against Air Force in 1965.
In fact, that performance stood as the Husker game record by any player for 10 years. He rushed for 444 yards as a junior in 1964 and was second on the team in 1965 with 580 yards.
The teams Solich played on started the winning tradition Nebraska has enjoyed for the last four decades. The Huskers posted records of 9-2, 10-1, 9-2 and 10-1 while Solich was on the roster, won three conference titles and played in four straight bowl games. The 1965 Husker team completed the regular season unbeaten and in position for a national championship, but lost 39-28 to Bear Bryant's Alabama team in the Orange Bowl.
While some remember Solich for his playing days, most Husker followers are more familiar with his work on Osborne's staff. Noted as one of the nation's top assistant coaches, Solich was tabbed Athlon Magazine's Assistant Coach of the Year before the start of the 1993 season.
Solich has been one of the primary factors in making Nebraska the model for the running game in college football. In nine of Solich's 15 seasons as running backs coach, Nebraska led the nation in rushing, and finished in the top four every year. In the same period, the Huskers led the conference in rushing 13 times, including each of the last 10 seasons, and finished second in 1986 and 1987. In fact, NU churned out more than 350 yards per game while Solich guided the running backs.
Solich, who recruited and coached 1983 Heisman Trophy winner Mike Rozier, produced at least one all-conference running back in 13 of the 15 seasons he tutored that position.
In Solich's 19 years as an assistant, the Huskers captured three national championships, all with Solich as assistant head coach. Nebraska also won 11 league championships, earned 19 postseason bowl bids and had 15 teams finish the season ranked in the nation's top 10.
A native of Cleveland, Solich prepped at Holy Name High School where he earned all-state, All-America and all-scholastic honors. He received his bachelor's (1966) and master's (1972) degrees from Nebraska.
After his playing days, Solich began his coaching career in the Nebraska prep ranks. He was the head coach at Holy Name High School in Omaha, in 1966 and 1967. His Holy Name teams were 8-8 in two years and the 1967 team was state runner-up. After two seasons in Omaha, Solich moved to one of the state's top high school programs at Lincoln Southeast. With Solich at Southeast, the Knights compiled a 66-33-5 record in 11 years while capturing back-to-back Class A state titles in 1976 and 1977. For his efforts, Solich was named the Lincoln Journal Star Nebraska Boys Prep Coach of the Year in 1978.
Solich's first year with the Huskers came before the 1979 season. His first assignment on Osborne's staff was head freshman coach. In 1979, the young Huskers were 4-1, losing only at Missouri. Solich's 1979 team won its final game, beginning a 24-game winning streak for the freshmen that stretched to 1984. Solich finished his four years as freshman coach with a 19-1 record, before taking over as coach of the running backs in 1983.