Cincinnati HC Luke Fickell Reportedly on NFL Teams' Radar Following Undefeated Season

Tyler Conway@@jtylerconwayFeatured Columnist IVDecember 5, 2021

Cincinnati head coach Luke Fickell stands on the sidelines during the second half of the American Athletic Conference championship NCAA college football against Houstongame Saturday, Dec. 4, 2021, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Jeff Dean)
AP Photo/Jeff Dean

Cincinnati head coach Luke Fickell may wind up garnering interest in the NFL coaching carousel.

Tom Pelissero of NFL Network reported Fickell interviewed for the Detroit Lions' opening last offseason and will be "in the mix" for pro coaching positions after leading Cincinnati to a 13-0 regular season.

Fickell's Bearcats are expected to be the first Group of Five team to reach the College Football Playoff when the teams are announced Sunday.

The 48-year-old has spent nearly his entire life in the state of Ohio. He was born and raised in Columbus, Ohio, before attending Ohio State and then serving as an assistant coach at Akron and his alma mater prior to landing at Cincinnati. Fickell's brief NFL career with the New Orleans Saints was the only time he has not been based in Ohio during his adult life.

It's unlikely either of the two NFL jobs based in Ohio, the Cincinnati Bengals and Cleveland Browns, will be available this offseason. Zac Taylor coached his way off the hot seat with the 7-4 Bengals, while Kevin Stefanski likely has some leeway in Cleveland after leading the Browns to the playoffs in 2020.

If Fickell wants to stay in the Midwest, his best option may be with the Chicago Bears, who are a mortal lock to fire coach Matt Nagy. While their time periods at the university did not overlap, Fickell would have an Ohio State connection with quarterback Justin Fields.

This all assumes Fickell would want to leave the college game for the NFL, which is far from a guarantee. Colleges are handing out massive, long-term contracts to coaches that are regularly on par or even better than the ones being given to coaches in the NFL. 

It does not appear that Fickell is a candidate for any of the remaining Power Five coaching openings, but he stands to get a big raise from Cincinnati, which itself will be joining the Big 12 beginning in 2024. It's possible Fickell will choose to keep building right where he's at.