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Cincinnatiโ€™s Luke Fickell Hired By Wisconsin to Replace Paul Chryst as Football HC

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured Columnist IVNovember 27, 2022

CINCINNATI, OH - NOVEMBER 25: Cincinnati Bearcats head coach Luke Fickell runs off of the field with his players at halftime of a college football game against the Tulane Green Wave on November 25, 2022 at Nippert Stadium in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Joe Robbins/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Wisconsin Badgers are making Luke Fickell their next head football coach, announcing his hiring on Sunday.

Wisconsin Football @BadgerFootball

๐€ ๐๐„๐– ๐„๐‘๐€ ๐šฐ๐ ๐Œ๐€๐ƒ๐šฐ๐’๐Ž๐<br><br>Welcome <a href="https://twitter.com/CoachFick?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@CoachFick</a> ! <a href="https://t.co/ybE9U3b3nu">pic.twitter.com/ybE9U3b3nu</a>

The news doesn't come as a major surprise. Earlier on Sunday, ESPN's Pete Thamel reported the Badgers had targeted the former Cincinnati head honcho to take over as head coach.

Former head coach Paul Chryst was fired midseason, with defensive coordinator Jim Leonhard taking over for him on an interim basis.

Thamel noted that "Fickell's attraction to the Badgers' brass, along with his record and roots in the league, is his ability to build a program."

Fickell, 49, has had great success with the Bearcats, going 57-18 in six seasons, including last year's 13-1 team that reached the College Football Playoff. Nine of his players from that team were selected in the 2022 NFL draft, including cornerback Sauce Gardener (No. 4 overall, New York Jets), safety Bryan Cook (No. 62 overall, Kansas City Chiefs) and quarterback Desmond Ridder (No. 74 overall, Atlanta Falcons).

Fickell also spent one season as Ohio State's interim head coach in 2011, going 6-7 after Jim Tressel was fired. He was on the Buckeyes' coaching staff between the 2002-16 seasons, including stints as the co-defensive coordinator and linebackers coach (2005-10, 2012-16).

Wisconsin went 67-26 in parts of eight seasons under Chryst and has gone 4-3 this year with Leonhard at the helm. Jeff Potrykus of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported this week that the Badgers were considering hiring him as the full-time head coach as early as Sunday.

"They want to get moving as soon as they can," a source told Potrykus.

Per that report, Baylor coach Dave Aranda and Kansas coach Lance Leipold were also evaluated by the school as potential replacements for Chryst. Leonhard, meanwhile, somewhat addressed the possibility of being named the full-time coach this week.

"I don't really want to get into much of that right now," he told reporters. "This week to me is about this season, this group of players... I don't want that attention for our guys. ... Going to have some conversations this week and hopefully it leads in the direction I want it to go."

But in the end, Wisconsin honed in on Fickell and got its man.