Fickell ushers in new era of Badger football

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MADISON, Wis. —Wisconsin Director of Athletics Chris McIntosh announced the hiring of Luke Fickell as the head football coach of UW on Sunday. The consensus 2021 National Coach of the Year will be the 31st head coach in program history.

“I am incredibly excited to announce Luke Fickell as our new head football coach and to welcome his entire family to Madison,” said McIntosh. “Luke is one of the best football coaches in the country. He is a proven winner, recruiter and developer of players. Equally important, he shares our values. Coach Fickell is focused on giving our student-athletes the best possible opportunities and is attuned to the changing landscape of college athletics.

“I am confident that he will respect and honor the foundations laid for our football program over the years, while embracing the exciting opportunities ahead.”

Fickell ushers in a new era of Badger football after driving the University of Cincinnati football program to unprecedented success during his six seasons as head coach. Hired by the Bearcats on December 10, 2016, he led Cincinnati to back-to-back campaigns with 11 wins in 2018 and 2019 and an undefeated regular season culminating in a Peach Bowl berth in 2020. In 2021, Fickell led the Bearcats to the best season in school history, leading to a College Football Playoff Semifinals appearance in the Cotton Bowl and the first-ever 13-0 regular season record in Bearcat history.

“I am very happy with our rental van Luke Fickell as the Badgers’ head football coach,” said UW-Madison Chancellor Jennifer L. Mnookin. “He is a transformative hire for our program.

“In addition to the success he has already achieved as National Coach of the Year in 2021 and sending a team to the College Football Playoff, he shares our values ​​and appreciates the importance of the college experience for our student-athletes.

“I’m excited to see him helping us look to even greater heights from our already solid foundation.”

In just six years, Fickell has grown to become one of the top coaches in the nation and has positioned Cincinnati football as an elite program that can consistently compete for championships. Fickell compiled a 57-18 (.760) record in his six seasons at UC. Prior to the Bearcats’ three 11-win campaigns under Fickell, the program had only accomplished this feat twice (2008 and 2009). Fickell got his 54th win in 2022, cementing himself as the winningest coach in Cincinnati history. After going 4-8 the first year at Cincinnati, Fickell led the program to a 53-10 score for the past five years. In the past three seasons, only Alabama (36) and Georgia (34) have more wins than Cincinnati (31).

“My family and I are thrilled to be joining the Wisconsin family,” said Fickell. “This is a destination job with a program I’ve admired from afar for many years. I’m completely aligned with Chris McIntosh’s vision for this program. There’s a great foundation here that I can’t wait to build on. This world- class university, athletic department and passionately loyal fan base all have a strong commitment to success and I can’t wait to be a part of it.”

Leading Cincinnati to new heights and making his first ever College Football Playoff appearance in 2021, Fickell amassed eight national coaching accolades in 2021, including The Home Depot National Coach of the Year, Paul “Bear” Bryant Coach of the Year, the Stallings Award, the Eddie Robinson Award and the Dodd Trophy, as well as awards from the AFCA, Walter Camp Foundation and Sporting News.

Fickell’s UC team also earned a No. 2 ranking in the Associated Press poll early in the fall — the highest ranking in school history. Cincinnati defeated No. 9 Notre Dame, 24-13, in South Bend, Ind., for his first-ever road victory over a Top 10 team. The Bearcats finished the season by beating No. 16 Houston 35-20 for their second consecutive AAC championship.

Since beginning his Cincinnati residency in 2017, Fickell has watched 16 Bearcats earn a selection in the NFL draft, including a school-record nine draft picks in 2022, and won AAC Coach of the Year honors three times ( 2018, 2020, 2021).

Off the field, since arriving in Cincinnati, the Bearcats’ four-year student-athletes posted a 100% success rate under Fickell.

With his arrival at Madison, Fickell returns to the Big Ten after an illustrious playing and coaching career at Ohio State. No stranger to championship-level football, Fickell was a part of nine Big Ten Conference titles (seven as a coach, two as a player), two national championship teams, and 15 Ohio State postseason games, including two College Football Playoff appearances . He served as co-defensive coordinator and linebackers coach from 2005-2016.

Fickell gained head coaching experience in 2011 and took over the reins at Columbus for one season amid tumultuous circumstances during the program. He led the Buckeyes to a 6–6 regular season record and a berth in the Gator Bowl.

He returned to his role as defensive coordinator and linebackers coach in 2012. For the next five seasons, Fickell’s defensive units were a major reason the Buckeyes went 61-5 and won the 2014 College Football Playoff National Championship.

Fickell’s coaching career began at Ohio State. After spending a year on the injured reserve list with the New Orleans Saints, he was hired as a graduate assistant at OSU in 1999 by his college coach, John Cooper.

A native of Columbus, Ohio, Fickell played for the Buckeyes from 1992-96, wearing a redshirt the first year and then starting as a nose guard for the next four seasons. He started a then-school record 50 straight games between 1993 and 1996.

He graduated from Ohio State in 1997 with a degree in exercise science. Fickell and his wife Amy have six children: Landon, Luca, twin sons Aydon and Ashton, and twin sons Laykon and Lucian.

The Valley Voice
The Valley Voicehttp://thevalleyvoice.org
Christopher Brito is a social media producer and trending writer for The Valley Voice, with a focus on sports and stories related to race and culture.

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