Wisconsin finalizing deal to hire Luke Fickell

Wisconsin is finalizing a deal to make Luke Fickell the school’s next soccer coach, sources told ESPN.

While some steps remain to be taken – including a regents meeting on Sunday afternoon that has been officially announced – a deal is expected to be formalized to make Fickell the next Badgers coach within the next 24 hours.

Fickell has informed his Cincinnati Bearcats team that he is leaving for the job in Wisconsin, sources told ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg. Special teams coach Kerry Coombs will serve as the Bearcats’ interim head coach, sources told ESPN.

Sources told ESPN that all candidates for the Wisconsin position, including interim coach Jim Leonhard, have been notified they won’t get the job. That sets the stage for one of the most revealing moves on the college football carousel, Wisconsin attracting the nation’s top Group 5 coach, who brings extensive experience of the Big Ten’s presence in the Midwest.

Fickell led Cincinnati to the college football playoffs last season and has played 57-18 in his six years there. Fickell’s 2021 Bearcats team went 13-0 before losing to Alabama in the college football playoffs, becoming the first Group 5 team to reach the CFP.

Fickell has strong roots in the Big Ten, having been a longtime assistant coach and coordinator at Ohio State, where he played collegiately. He’d been picky about jobs and picky about his Midwest footprint over the years as Cincinnati rose to the top of the Group of Five.

Fickell would replace Paul Chryst, who was fired midseason after going 67-26 there in eight seasons. He had been replaced by Jim Leonhard, who had been defense coordinator and was a candidate for head coaching.

Fickell’s attraction to the Badgers brass, alongside his record and league roots, lies in his ability to build a program. By hiring humble recruits and consistently producing strong teams, Fickell transformed Cincinnati into one of the premier development programs in the country.

The Bearcats had selected nine players in the 2022 NFL Draft, finishing third behind only Georgia (15) and LSU (10).

Fickell spent a season as interim coach with the Big Ten, winning 6-7 at Ohio State in 2011 after Jim Tressel was fired. From there, he stayed patient, working as the Buckeyes’ defensive coordinator under Urban Meyer and winning a national championship during the 2014 season.

https://www.espn.com/college-football/story/_/id/35121689/sources-wisconsin-makes-push-hire-luke-fickell-coach Wisconsin finalizing deal to hire Luke Fickell

Emma Bowman

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