Nov. 27, 2006
CLEVELAND, Ohio - Ohio Head Coach Frank Solich has been named the 2006 Mid-American Conference Coach of the Year by the MAC News Media Association. In addition, the league announced the 2006 All-MAC Football Teams as selected by the conference's head coaches. Ohio placed four players on the first team and three players on the second team.
Senior offensive tackle Matt Coppage (Walton, Ky.), junior running back Kalvin McRae (Decatur, Ga.), senior linebacker Matt Muncy (Miamisburg, Ohio) and senior cornerback T.J. Wright (Beaumont, Texas) were each named first-team All-MAC. The Bobcats' three second-team selections included senior linebacker Tyler Russ (Stetsonville, Wis.), junior defensive lineman Landon Cohen (Spartanburg, S.C.) and sophomore defensive end Jameson Hartke (Centerville, Ohio).
Solich is the third Ohio mentor to be named MAC Coach of the Year, and the first since Jim Grobe in 1996. Bill Hess was also honored in 1968. The second-year head coach of the Bobcats guided his squad to a 9-3 overall record during the regular season, a school-record seven MAC wins and the program's first-ever MAC East Division championship. The Bobcats have won nine games for the first time since 1968 and are riding a seven-game winning streak into the MAC title game versus Central Michigan on Nov. 30. Ohio will likely appear in its first bowl game since the 1968 Tangerine Bowl. Solich garnered 21 of the 39 votes cast for the award.
Solich is 13-10 overall and 10-8 in MAC play in his two seasons on the Bobcat sideline. It is the third time he has been named his conference's coach of the year in his eight seasons as a head coach. Solich was the Big 12 Coach of the Year in 1999 and 2001 while at Nebraska.
Ohio's seven All-MAC selections are the most since the 1996 squad had seven players earn first-team, second-team or honorable mention honors. The four first-team selections represent the most for the Bobcats since 1998.
McRae was a first-team selection for the second straight season. The junior ranks second in the MAC with 1,139 rushing yards and an average of 94.9 yards per game. He has run for at least 100 yards in a school-record seven straight contests. McRae is only the second Ohio player to rush for more than 1,000 yards in consecutive seasons (Arnold Welcher, 1975-76). McRae's 14 rushing touchdowns is tied for the first on the Ohio single-season list, while his rushing total is the fourth-highest output in a season at Ohio. McRae is the first Bobcat running back since Tim Curtis in 1991 and 1993 to earn first-team All-MAC honors twice in their career.
Muncy is also a first-team honoree for the second straight season. In 12 games in 2006, Muncy has totaled 78 tackles, including a team-best and career-high 14.5 tackles for loss. Muncy has etched his name in the Bobcat record book this season, moving into second place on Ohio's solo tackles list (200), fourth place on the career tackles for loss ledger (37.0) and seventh place on the career sacks chart (11.5). Muncy and McRae are the first Ohio offensive or defensive players to be named first-team All-MAC in consecutive seasons since Kevin Babcock in 1978 and 1979. Punter Dave Zastudil was a four-time first-team all-league pick from 1998-2001.
Coppage earned All-MAC status for the first time in his career, helping pave the way for the MAC's third-ranked rushing offense. Ohio is also tied for the MAC lead and ranks tied for 15th in the nation with only 1.25 sacks allowed per game. The senior owns the highest grade among Bobcat offensive linemen this season at 87 percent (533 positives on 610 snaps). He has registered 44.5 pancake blocks and 31 "decleaters" this season. Coppage is the first Bobcat offensive lineman since 1993 to earn first-team All-MAC honors.
Wright was named All-MAC for the first time in his four seasons. The most experienced member of the Ohio secondary with 46 games played and 37 starts, Wright leads the MAC and ranks fifth in the nation with 1.58 passes defended per game. His 16 pass break-ups is tied for the most ever by a Bobcat in a single season. Wright has also intercepted three passes to move into a tie for fourth place on the Ohio career list. His 19 total passes defended in 2006 is also a school record and has helped the Bobcats become the nation's fourth-ranked pass efficiency defense. Wright is the Bobcats' all-time leader in pass break-ups (42) and passes defended (54).
Russ garnered second-team accolades, his first-ever All-MAC selection. The senior linebacker leads the Bobcats with 82 tackles and is tied for the team lead with three interceptions. He has also amassed 4.0 tackles for loss, a fumble recovery and a forced fumble. Russ has recorded at least 10 tackles in a game a team-leading three times this season.
Cohen's second-team selection also marked his first appearance on an All-MAC team. Cohen leads the Bobcat defensive line with 12.0 tackles for loss and is second on the front four with 36 total tackles. Cohen has recorded at least a share of stop behind the line of scrimmage in eight of 12 games this season.
Hartke is the youngest of the Bobcats' All-MAC picks. The sophomore leads the team with 5.5 sacks and has racked up 8.0 tackles for loss. Hartke, an honorable mention Freshman All-America pick in 2005 by The Sporting News, leads the Ohio defensive line with 37 total tackles. He also registered his first career interception in the Bobcats' win at Miami in the regular-season finale.
The Bobcats' five defensive All-MAC players are the most in school history. Ohio leads the Mid-American Conference, and ranks 19th in the nation, allowing 16.17 points per game. The Bobcats are ranked in the top three of the Mid-American Conference in nearly every statistical category. In addition to scoring defense, Ohio is third in pass defense (161.5), third in rushing defense (130.1), second in total defense (291.6), first in pass efficiency defense (98.6), third in opponent first downs (194), second in opponent third-down conversions (32.5) and first in opponent fourth-down conversions (27.8).
In addition to Solich's honor, the MAC News Media Association announced its other specialty awards. Northern Illinois running back Garrett Wolfe was named the league's Offensive Player of the Year, while Western Michigan's Ameer Ismail took Defensive Player of the Year honors. Central Michigan quarterback Jeff LeFevour was the Freshman of the Year, and Ball State's Brian Jackson was chosen as Special Teams Player of the Year. Wolfe also earned the Vern Smith Leadership Award which is voted on by a panel comprised of the league's head coaches and a select group of media representatives.
The Bobcats will face Central Michigan (8-4, 7-1 MAC) on Thursday, Nov. 30 in the Marathon MAC Championship Game at Ford Field in Detroit. For ticket information, call the Ohio Athletics Ticket Office at 1-800-575-CATS.