Luke Fickell won more games at the University of Cincinnati than any other head football coach in the program’s 135-season history.
Now Cincinnati Director of Athletics John Cunningham must find someone to replace him.
Luke Fickell introduced to Wisconsin:Luke Fickell came to Wisconsin, Cincinnati, to look for the next coach nationally
Fickell, who flirted with Michigan State in 2020 and whose name was associated with job openings at USC, LSU, Notre Dame and even Oklahoma last season, informed Cunningham Sunday morning and the Cincinnati players Sunday afternoon that he would be leaving to fill the vacancy. to take. Wisconsin. The badgers announced the lease about 15 minutes before Cunningham took the stage on Sunday night.
“I want to thank coach Fickell,” said Cunningham. “I want to thank Amy (Fickell’s wife). I want to thank all his family. I think I speak for all the Bearcats when I say we wish him nothing but the best. What he has done for this program in his time here “It was remarkable. It has made us extremely strong going forward in all aspects of our program. And of course, with the Big 12 right around the corner, this is a very desirable track with a lot of things going for us. A lot of it has to do with his leadership and his guidance.”
With Cincinnati slated to leave the American Athletic Conference and join the Big 12 Conference on July 1, 2023, Cunningham knows he needs a new signing who will lead the Bearcats into a new era.
Cunningham said he and a search committee will “move fast” as they conduct a “nationwide search” that will include both external and internal candidates.
“We need someone who can recruit at a very high level,” Cunningham said. “We need someone who understands and fully understands the NIL (name, image and likeness) space. That’s going to be very, very important. We need someone who can build a great staff and someone who understands the level of play and the dynamic attacks and defenses you’re going to see in the Big 12.”
Here is our list of top candidates to replace Fickell, the three-time AAC Coach of the Year and the 2021 consensus National Coach of the Year:
Kerry Koombs, CIncinnati cornerbacks coach/special teams coordinator
Coombs will carry the interim tag while Cunningham searches for Fickell’s replacement. But the 61-year-old Coombs could be the answer for the Bearcats. The former Ohio State defensive coordinator and Tennessee Titans assistant is more than familiar with the Cincinnati program and has a deep understanding of the recruiting path in and around Cincinnati, having been a successful head coach at his alma mater, Colerain High School . If Cunningham wants to stay close to home, there’s no one closer than Coombs.
Mike Tressel, Cincinnati defensive coordinator
Tressel would be another familiar option for Cunningham. Tressel, who was handpicked by Fickell of Michigan State to replace Marcus Freeman when Freeman moved to Notre Dame after the 2020 season, knows the recruiting paths in the Midwest well. He also experienced the transformation of the Cincinnati program firsthand, having served as a Bearcats assistant under then-head coach Mark Dantonio from 2004-2006.
Jesse Minter, Michigan defense coordinator
Minter is one of the hottest names in college football. He inherited a Michigan defense that led the Wolverines to the College Football Playoff last season and restored it to a unit that will likely lead Michigan to a second consecutive playoff berth this year. The 39-year-old also knows the area and the program well. He is the son of former Cincinnati head coach Rick Minter (1994-2003), who was the winningest coach in the history of the Bearcats program before Fickell replaced him this season.
Deon Sanders, Jackson State head coach
While the 55-year-old Sanders would be a far cry from home for Cunningham, it would be a hit and miss for the program’s recruiting efforts. Recent reports have linked the Pro Football Hall of Famer and Jackson’s current head coach to the Colorado vacancy, but Cunningham could try to lure Sanders to Queen City, where he played for the Cincinnati Reds in the 1990s and 2000s, with the promise of updated facilities and an influx of resources with the impending move of the Big 12.
Kevin Wilson, Ohio State Offense Coordinator
Former Cincinnati athletic director MIke Bohn, who is now at USC, picked Fickell from Ohio State after the 2016 season. Cunningham could also dive into Columbus by bringing in Wilson. The 61-year-old coach spent several years as an assistant at the University of Miami before working his way up the ladder.
Urban Meyer, former Ohio State and Jacksonville Jaguars head coach and Cincinnati alumnus
This may be a chore, but it could be worth it for Cunningham. Meyer’s son, Nate, played for Fickell in Cincinnati, while Meyer’s sister is a vice-provost at the university. Meyer’s resume on the field is as good as it gets, with three national championships to his credit at Ohio State and Florida. But the 58-year-old’s resume off the field leaves a lot to be desired, to say the least. Meyer may be a non-starter for many college executives, but if Cunningham and Cincinnati president Neville G. Pinto wants a coach who wins and has ties to the Bearcats, Meyer is it.
There is no better leader than John Cunningham to lead the search for our next head football coach,” said Pinto. momentum of our institution. The University of Cincinnati and this community have all the ingredients necessary for success, and I am confident that I will find a candidate who can make Cincinnati proud.
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