Ohio State defensive coordinator Luke Fickell

Ohio State defensive coordinator Luke Fickell, left, is FAU's top candidate for its vacant head coaching position. (Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports / November 5, 2013)

FAU Athletic Director Pat Chun is wasting no time in going after his top choice to replace Carl Pelini

Sources close to the situation tell the Sun Sentinel that Chun flew to Columbus, Ohio Tuesday to interview Ohio State defensive coordinator Luke Fickell for FAU’s vacant head coaching position. 

The 40-year-old Fickell is Chun’s top target for the FAU job, which is being held in the interim by Owls offensive coordinator Brian Wright. 

Chun's secretary confirmed that Chun was not at the school's facilities today. Chun said Saturday that he would not have any comment on the Owls’ coaching search until a hire has been made. That stance was reaffirmed by the FAU athletic department's spokeswoman Tuesday. 

Chun knows Fickell well, having spent 15 years in the Ohio State athletic department before accepting the FAU AD job in July 2012. 

Moments after announcing Pelini’s resignation last Wednesday, Chun said that he had many friends in the coaching profession from his time at Ohio State, and that he planned on aiming high with his hire. 

“I am a firm believer that this job is a different job from when Carl took over,” Chun said. “Conference USA, the stadium is the host of a bowl game, we’re trying to fix a couple of things over at the Oxley [FAU’s football facility]. I know the caliber of candidate that this job will attract, so I’m excited about what the next chapter will be. At the end of the day, it’s on me to go find someone who can take this program to another step.”

For Chun, Fickell is aiming high. Fickell's 2013 salary at Ohio State is $600,000, roughly $100,000 more than Carl Pelini made as FAU’s head coach, though Chun said earlier this year he believed it would be possible for FAU to raise its coaches’ compensation after the season.

Fickell was born in Columbus and was a standout defensive lineman for the Buckeyes from 1993-1996. After a short NFL stint, he returned to Ohio State in 1999 as a graduate assistant. He spent two years on the Akron staff before returning to Columbus in 2002. He’s remained on the Buckeyes staff since. 

After Jim Tressel resigned in May 2011, Fickell was named Ohio State’s interim head coach.

When current Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer was hired in November of that same year, Fickell was moved back to defensive coordinator. 

He interviewed for Pitt’s vacant head coaching job after Meyer was hired. Fickell’s Buckeyes finished 6-7 in his only season as head coach. 

dkurtenbach@tribune.com, @dkurtenbach