Like it or not, Luke Fickell is now the head football coach for the Cincinnati Bearcats. While we all were mostly pleased to see Tommy Tuberville step down a week ago, the reactions to this most recent development about the program’s future elicited some mixed feelings as well. Here’s what we as a collective (yes, Down the Drive is a collective) thought of the hiring.
Fickell brings to the table a winning attitude and high expectations. Coming from a very competitive Ohio State program, he knows how to get the most out of his players. Also, despite the lack of head coaching experience, Luke's role as the interim head coach in 2011 makes the transition process that much easier. As a former defensive coordinator, Fickell will without a doubt work to improve that side of the ball, something that we proved to be needing weekly.
Luckily for Fickell, it can only go up from here. I do however believe that he will be able to develop and bring out players potential far more than Tuberville could.
I am very surprised and happy with the hiring of Luke Fickell. I was not expecting Fickell to even be in the market for a head coaching job but he landed right in our lap and I truly believe that he can turn the program around in the right direction. Fickell has a National Championship win under his belt as defensive coordinator at Ohio State and can bring that championship culture to the Bearcats.
I think coach Fickell will have a huge impact on scouting in Cincinnati, which is widely known as being one of the best high school football areas in the country. There have already been a number of players in the city taking an interest in the new head coach. ickell can be the guy who changes the culture of football at the University of Cincinnati. I am a big fan of him becoming the new coach.
J. Scott Sewell
Luke Fickell said all the right things when he was announced as the head coach for the Bearcats on Saturday. Nearly every article written about him since has talked about his energy. He made a point during the press conference to say "There's nothing that we will do slow. There's nothing that we'll do in our program that is slow and methodical. We won't walk slow, probably won't eat slow and we won't move slow". Fickell's message was clear: players and fans should expect a change in the culture surrounding Cincinnati football.
While Fickell may turn out to be a great hire for the Bearcats, the coaching search process was humbling. Bearcats fans learned first-hand that being outside the Power 5 has far-reaching repercussions that include the quality of coaches that will consider your program. P.J. Fleck's flat-out refusal to even speak to the Bearcats about the opening shows that they'll either have to find a way into the Power 5, or get used to hiring unproven talent.
Personally, I'm excited for the Fickell era and think his loyalty and Ohio roots could indicate that the Bearcats found someone that might stick around instead of bolting for their first big pay day. That said, I don't think anyone can doubt that if he does find success in Cincinnati his name will be one of the first mentioned every time the Buckeyes have an opening. Regardless, that's a concern for the future. Right now, the Bearcats have a new leader and some hope for the future after a dismal 4-8 season.
Cincinnati decided to place itself firmly in the shadow of the state's top college football program with this hire. This table scraps selection sends a message to the country that Cincinnati accepts its second-rate status in the state's college football hierarchy. Rather than charting its own course with a candidate like Neal Brown, the Bearcats hired an Ohio State institution man. They hired a straight-out-of-central-casting defense first, tough guy coach at a time when Cincinnati needs to figure out how to score some points.
Much has been made of the pluck shown by interim coach Fickell and the Buckeyes during that post-Tressel 6-7 season. I realize that the Columbus Clippers were in a tough spot there, but I feel like any competent coach could have walked in and won enough games to get bowl eligible with all of that talent. I fear that by hiring Luke Fickell, the Bearcats have initiated a self-imposed exile to 6and7dom.
Is Luke Fickell a big, splashy hire? No. Is he P.J. Fleck or whoever you think is the new hotness in college football coaching? Not really. However, Fickell, especially based on his comments in his introductory press conference, is a coach who will bring energy and has a clear vision for Cincinnati football. That alone is a reassuring thing to hear after watching the Bearcats look lost with a coach that didn’t seem entirely engaged this past season. Fickell’s ties to Ohio State have made some cry wolf, but the Buckeyes are a consistently strong program and having someone with that DNA can only help UC as it resurrects its football presence.
Until we see who else fills out the staff, we still don’t know exactly what Fickell is going to do to address the anemic offense, although his consistent references to spread and uptempo the last few days are great to hear. The Bearcats have been at their best in the last 10 to 15 years when they’ve spread the field and pushed the pace. Who Fickell picks to fill the part of offensive coordinator will play a large role in how successful he can be, especially in year one.
Overall I think the Fickell hire is a safe one but not in a bad way necessarily. Fickell is passionate and appears to be hungry. That’s what the program needs to break out of the last couple years of malaise.
Let the #FickYou tour begin.