Wisconsin to sign Cincinnati's Luke Fickell, Thank you Coach Fickell
Right around 12:00PM EST news broke via, Pete Thamel (@PeteThamel) on Twitter, that Wisconsin had zeroed in on Cincinnati's Luke Fickell to become the school's next head football coach. Around 2:00PM EST Pat Forde (@ByPatForde) posted on his Twitter that Fickell had informed his team that he would be leaving for Wisconsin.
While the Bearcats have turned their focus to their upcoming bowl game, yet to be determined, they will have to do so under new leadership and uncertainty. The interim head coach will be Special Teams Coordinator, and former Ohio State Defensive Coordinator, Kerry Coombs.
With a change at the top players are sure to follow, as of the writing of this article defensive back JQ Hardaway and wide receiver Jojo Bermudez, are the only players to announce they have entered the transfer portal.
Luke Fickell graduated from Ohio State in 1996 after starting 50 consecutive games at nose guard for the Buckeyes. After graduating he played just one season in the NFL before injuring himself and moving onto his coaching career as a graduate assistant with Ohio State. He moved to the defensive line coach at Akron from two seasons before heading back to Ohio State where he built his defensive prowess moving up the ranks with the Buckeyes. In 2017, Fickell was named the head coach at the University of Cincinnati taking over a distraught program left in flames by former coach Tommy Tuberville.
Fickell came in and made an immediate impact in the recruiting mindset and keeping good Southwest Ohio players in state. While changing the mentality in recruiting he also showed that Cincinnati was a destination for top players, signing the top recruiting classes the program had ever seen as well as bringing in Evan Prater, a Wyoming High School product, in as the schools highest rated recruit according to 247Sports.
On top of the top level recruiting, Fickell also showed he could develop players into top NFL talents. The most recent NFL Draft showed that as the Bearcats put nine players in the NFL via the draft, which is a school record. They also had their highest ever drafted player, Ahmad "Sauce" Gardner, selected with the third pick by the New York Jets; and he has received incredibly positive reviews on his rookie season performance.
Under Fickell's direction the Bearcats made college football history by being the first "group of five" school to make it into the College Football Playoff in 2021, where they lost to Alabama. In that season the Bearcats recorded their arguably biggest win in program history by beating number nine Notre Dame Fighting Irish in South Bend.
Needless to say, Fickell elevated this team to a level no Bearcat fan could have expected. Fickell picked up the pieces of a broken fan base and started working piece by piece to build something special in Clifton. You can directly point at the performance of the football team and how that ties into the upcoming conference movement into the Big XII, previously while attempting to move conference Cincinnati was overlooked for "more desirable programs". There has been no name as big, as adored, as appreciated since, former basketball coach, Bob Huggins left the university.
I write this as a fair-weather Bearcats supporter, being my proximity to the school, but I think I can piece things together from my numerous friends and connections that are fans and supporters of the program: Thank you Coach Fickell. Thank you for giving the program life, hope, and action. Thank you for showing what can be done in Cincinnati. Thank you for picking us up at our lowest and elevating us to feelings we have never felt. Best of luck in Wisconsin, you and your family will always be welcomed back and you will ALWAYS be Cincinnati Bearcats.
Jaron Ruth, @StrssdGamerDad
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