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Wisconsin Football Announces Cincinnati’s Luke Fickell As Next Coach

Sports Illustrated 11/27/2022 Daniel Chavkin
© Provided by Sports Illustrated

The Badgers fired Paul Chryst in October during his eighth season with the program.

Wisconsin has tabbed former Cincinnati head coach Luke Fickell to fill its head coaching vacancy, the program announced Sunday.

News of Wisconsin narrowing its search down to Fickell was first reported by ESPN’s Pete Thamel on Thursday morning. Sports Illustrated’s Ross Dellenger later confirmed the report and added that the two sides were closing in on a deal.

Prior to Wisconsin’s announcement, SI’s Pat Forde reported Fickell had already informed the Bearcats of his intention to take the Wisconsin job, according to sources. Cincinnati cornerbacks coach and special teams coordinator Kerry Coombs will serve as the Bearcats’ interim head coach, and a search for Fickell’s replacement will begin immediately, according to Forde.

Former Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez confirmed the hire to Jim Polzin of the Wisconsin State Journal, calling the move “a home run hire.” Tom Oates of the Wisconsin State Journal, citing sources in the Badgers athletic department, reports that an official announcement is likely to come sometime Sunday.

Fickell was a longtime assistant at Ohio State, spending 15 years on the Buckeyes’ defensive coaching staff. In 2017, he left Columbus to take the Bearcats’ head coach position, where he has been for the past six seasons.

At Cincinnati, Fickell has helped turn the Bearcats into one of the top programs in the country. He has led the team to five consecutive seasons with at least nine wins, including three double-digit win seasons and American Athletic Conference titles in 2020 and ’21. Last year, the Bearcats went 13-0 in the regular season and became the first non-Power Five school to reach the College Football Playoff.

Wisconsin, meanwhile, fired head coach Paul Chryst in October during his eighth season with the team. Under Chryst, the Badgers went 67-26, making a bowl game in each of the previous seven seasons, including three New Year’s bowl games.

Defensive coordinator Jim Leonhard finished the season as interim head coach, leading the team to a 4-3 record to clinch another bowl appearance. However, while it appeared as if the program might give Leonhard a chance at the full-time job, the opportunity to hire Fickell apparently was too good to pass up.

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