As we continue to roll in January, Luke Fickell continues to roll as the Cincinnati Bearcats’ new head football coach. He’s luring big names to the coaching ranks, bringing in local recruits and sending out letters that touch the hearts of all.
Today, he added some more to his staff, officially bringing in Joker Phillips as wide receivers, Brady Collins as director of football sports performance and Jon Tenuta as safeties coach.
Reports had already surfaced that Phillips would be taking over the wide receiver group. A veteran coach, Phillips is more than just an awesome name. He has coached for nearly 30 years, first starting as a graduate assistant at Kentucky, his Alma mater. Originally from Franklin, Kentucky, Phillips actually coached UC’s wide receivers before (1997) and was also on the staff in 1998 when he coached the defensive backs. He has gone on to coach wide receiving units at Minnesota, Notre Dame, South Carolina, Florida and the NFL’s Cleveland Browns.
Of course his biggest gig came from 2010 to 2012 when he was the head coach of Kentucky. The Wildcats went 6-7 and played in the BBVA Compass Bowl during his first year, but they went just 13-24 overall before Phillips was let go for Mark Stoops.
Phillips also has ties to Ohio State, however brief they may be. This past season he was an offensive quality control coach at Ohio State.
Tenuta has even more coaching experience than Phillips, as he has been in the game for 35 years. He did not coach in 2016 but before that served as the associate head coach and defensive coordinator for the Virginia Cavaliers, where he played safety from 1978 to 1981. He has been a defensive coordinator for a host of other schools including Marshall, Kansas State, SMU, Ohio State, North Carolina, Georgia Tech and Notre Dame, and has coached positional groups at Oklahoma and NC State.
Collins comes to UC after working with Fickell at Ohio State the last two years. He was the Buckeyes strength and conditioning coach and played Division III football at Otterbein College.
These new additions certainly give even more insight into how the program will run in the near future, but we are still waiting on the official announcement that Mike Denbrock will take over as offensive coordinator. In the announcement for these hires, UC said “additional coaching and staff appointments will be announced as they are finalized.” I guess we’ll just have to keep waiting on the one for Denbrock, even if that won’t stop speculation about what his offense will look like.