College football: Fickell reportedly leaving Cincinnati for Wisconsin

Reports emerged Sunday that Fickell, Cincinnati's head coach, was Wisconsin's choice and that the two sides were working to finalize a contract.

NCAA Football: Tulane at Cincinnati
Cincinnati Bearcats head coach Luke Fickell and his team waits to take the field before a Friday, Nov. 22, 2022 game against the Tulane Green Wave at Nippert Stadium in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Kareem Elgazzar/The Enquirer/USA TODAY Sports
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MADISON, Wis. — Wisconsin will hire Luke Fickell as its head football coach, multiple outlets reported Sunday.

Late last week, it looked as if interim coach Jim Leonhard would be named the permanent coach. But reports emerged early Sunday that Fickell, Cincinnati's head coach, was Wisconsin's choice and that the two sides were working to finalize a contract.

Fickell led Cincinnati to the College Football Playoff following the 2021 season, and the program won back-to-back American Athletic Conference titles in 2020 and '21. He is a three-time conference coach of the year.

Fickell, 49, coached one season in the Big Ten, serving as interim coach at Ohio State in 2011 after the firing of Jim Tressel. The Buckeyes, his alma mater, were 6-7.

Hired at Cincinnati in 2017, Fickell has a 57-18 record with the Bearcats. With a 9-3 record this season, Cincinnati is headed to a fifth straight bowl game.


ESPN reported that Kerry Coombs will take over as interim coach in Cincinnati. Coombs, 61, coached at high schools in his native Ohio from 1983-2007 before becoming defensive backs coach at Cincinnati. He later coached at Ohio State and with the Tennessee Titans before returning to the Bearcats program as cornerbacks/special teams coach this season.

Back at Wisconsin, Leonhard had served as interim coach since Paul Chryst's firing on Oct. 2. He guided the Badgers to a 4-3 mark after a 2-3 start under Chryst, who was 67-26 in eight seasons as head coach.

Wisconsin (6-6, 4-5 Big Ten) is bowl eligible. The regular season ended Saturday with a disappointing 23-16 home loss to Minnesota.

Fickell would be the second big-name coach to join a Big Ten program in the past two days. Nebraska announced the hiring of former Baylor and Carolina Panthers head coach Matt Rhule on Saturday.

Field Level Media is a partner news agency for Forum Communications Company.
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