Updated: Nov 30, 2022
A major shakeup came in the college football world last Sunday, as the Wisconsin Badgers hired former Cincinnati Bearcats coach Luke Fickell as their new football coach. Fickell comes with an impressive resume, leading the Bearcats to a 57=18 record in his six years there. Including an undefeated 13-0 record in the 2021 season before losing to Alabama in the playoff semifinals as the first group of five teams to reach the College Football Playoffs (CFP).
Fickell has deep roots within the Big Ten, as he was an assistant coach and coordinator at the football powerhouse Ohio State, where he also played collegiately. As the Bearcats continued to rise in the rankings, Fickell was very selective about any other job offers that may have come his way until now.
Fickell said in a statement: "This is a destination job at a program that I have admired from afar for years, I am in total alignment with Chris McIntosh's vision for this program. There is a tremendous foundation here that I can't wait to build upon. 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."
McIntosh, the athletic director of Wisconsin, had high regard for Fickell when he stated: "Luke is one of the top football coaches in the country, he is a proven winner, recruiter, and developer of players. Equally as important, he shares our values. Coach Fickell is focused on giving our student-athletes the best opportunities possible and is attuned to the changing landscape of college athletics.”
"I have every confidence that he will respect and honor the foundation that has been set for our football program over the years while embracing the exciting opportunities ahead."
Fickell will be replacing Paul Chryst, who was fired midway through the season after going 67-26 throughout his eight seasons with the program. Jim Leonhard, the defensive coordinator, was the interim head coach in the meantime before ultimately selecting Fickell and went 4-3 in the process.
Fickell has proven to be a guy who can rebuild a program from the ground up, which he did at Cincinnati; he turned it into one of the best developmental programs in the country by taking overlooked recruits and helping them play as a collective unit and create a strong winning culture.
The Bearcats had nine players selected in the 2022 NFL Draft, which was third behind Georgia(15) and LSU (10). One of those nine players is the dazzling New York Jets cornerback Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner, who has looked the part of an elite defensive back and has been the main culprit of the Jets' elite defense this season.
The Badgers currently sit at 6-6 overall and 4-5 in conference play.