Luke Fickell might just be in the process of putting Ohio State in a difficult position.
What if the Buckeyes' interim coach wins out and the Buckeyes finish the regular season 9-3? What if Ohio State finishes a respectable 8-4 after all the turmoil that has engulfed the program since last year's bowl season?
Will eight or nine victories be enough for Ohio State remove the "interim" tag and offer Fickell the Buckeyes' coaching job officially?
A month ago, in the wake of back-to-back ugly losses to Michigan State and Nebraska, a nine-win season was almost unfathomable. So was Fickell keeping the job.
Now, after three straight victories, Ohio State is 6-3 overall and 3-2 in the Big Ten Conference with Purdue, Penn State and Michigan remaining on the schedule.
It is conceivable the Buckeyes could win all three games. The Boilermakers are, well, the Boilermakers (4-5, 2-3). The Nittany Lions (8-1, 5-0) have their own problems to deal with, chief among them a scandal that makes Ohio State's Tattoo-gate seem like a church picnic. The Wolverines (7-2, 3-2) haven't beaten the Buckeyes since 2003. Michigan has lost two of its last three games after a 6-0 start under first-year coach Brady Hoke.
Mere weeks ago, the notion that Fickell had a shot to keep the Ohio State job beyond this season was mere folly. But if the Buckeyes play well and win out - or win two of their final three games - maybe that changes.
Such a scenario could leave Ohio State with a difficult choice:
Take a long-term chance on Fickell, who replaced Jim Tressel and guided the Buckeyes through the aftermath of a scandal that cost his mentor his job. Or thank Fickell for his contributions, cut him loose and pursue a big-name coach like Urban Meyer, whose name has most often been associated with the Ohio State job moving forward.
Or - if you're a conspiracy theorist - maybe there has been a tacit agreement in place with a guy like Meyer or Jon Gruden since the summer, regardless of what Fickell accomplished or didn't accomplish in his 12-game tryout.
There also is the possibility that some potential candidates are waiting to learn the extent of the NCAA sanctions Ohio State will face. That announcement could come at any time this month.
Once that happens and the season draws to a close, Ohio State will want to move fast. The Buckeyes' next full-time hire - whether it is Fickell, Meyer, Gruden or someone yet to surface as a candidate - must get started quickly on the recruiting trail in order to try to offset the damage the sanctions might bring.