It’s been a while since I’ve posted about Cincinnati Football. The last post I talked about was December 7th and the hope that Tommy Tuberville would be released from the University of Cincinnati. Well, that dream has come a reality.
A couple weeks ago, head football coach Tommy Tuberville willingly stepped down as head coach for the bearcats. It was more surprising than expecting. Whatever conversation Tuberville had with Athletic Director, Mike Bohn, was probably interesting to say the least but I’m happy this man is gone from Cincinnati after not building a successful program after 4 years. He was not a great fit for the University or the city of Cincinnati. However, even though I do not like him as a coach, he was a great person. I’ve met him a few times and he was nice to take some time and talk. I’m truly sincere on what I say that I hope Tuberville finds a new team to lead and hope that he’ll find success there.
Now that Tuberville is gone, Mike Bohn and University of Cincinnati president, Beverly Davenport, wasted no time to find a new head coach. My immediate thoughts were to either bring former Texas coach Charlie Strong, WKU coach Jeff Brohm, or Western Michigan head coach PJ Fleck to the Queen City. All 3 head coaches have great passion, energy and desire to win…something we haven’t seen in a while in Nippert Stadium. However, Strong recently accepted the head coaching job at South Florida, Brohm to Purdue and Western Michigan is in talks of a new contract with Fleck. When UC officials contacted PJ Fleck, he seemed uninterested. Despite those candidates taking other jobs, UC found their new coach on December 10th, 2016 in the form of Luke Fickell, currently Ohio State’s defensive coordinator.
Just a brief history on Luke Fickell. Fickell has been an Ohio guy his entire life. From 1993-1996, he started as nose for the Ohio State Buckeyes. After graduation, he played for the New Orleans Saints until he tore his ACL, resulting him to go into coaching. He started out as a graduate assistant for Ohio State for a year then went to the University of Akron as the defensive line coach. After 2 season with Akron, he returned back to OSU in 2002 as Special Teams Coordinator under Jim Tressel. He quickly moved up the ranks as linebackers coach and co-defensive coordinator in a couple years. In 2011, when Jim Tressel was released from the University, Fickell took over as interm head coach for the Buckeyes. After a 6-7 season, Fickell’s stint as a head coach was short lived when OSU hired Urban Meyer as their new head coach. Meyer still retained Fickell as his co-defensive coordinator for the Buckeyes and has been part of 2 national championships with his team.
To me, this is a great hire by the University of Cincinnati. The last time UC hired an OSU assistant was back in 2004 when OSU’s then defensive coordinator, Mark Dantonio, came to lead the Bearcats prior to the Big East conference. There was something different about Fickell during his press conference than when Tuberville’s press conference when he was announced as Head Coach. When Tuberville arrived, the fan base just noticed his history and legacy and bringing that legacy to Cincinnati. Whereas Fickell’s presence showed determination, passion and full of energy. That’s what this Football program sorely needs right now. I was really impressed by Fickell’s statements. He promised no wins or championships but a quality product on and off the field the city of Cincinnati will be proud of. He stated his defensive unit will be aggressive and have a desire to be the best tacklers in the country. He states that it has been a dream quite some time to lead his own football team. Even his wife is a die hard fan of the Bearcats and to see that dream come into a reality for Fickell is very humbling for him. Fickell also stated that he will continue coaching the Buckeyes during the college playoffs. Current bearcat players respect that because Fickell said that when he starts something, he seeks to finish it as well and it’s all about the student-athletes.
What I’m most excited about is Fickell dominating the recruiting process here in Cincinnati. Tuberville has failed in recruiting local talent to play for their hometown. It’s disappointing to see local talent go to rival schools instead of playing for their home city. Fickell knows Ohio and how to get local talent. As of now, some high school kids are re-considering to play for UC now that Fickell is head coach. I don’t mind going to other states to recruit but we have the best football here in Ohio and it’s so important to get those players to play for their local college. P5 schools like Michigan, Alabama, and Ohio State have Cincinnati kids on their roster. There was a rumor that Fickell was bringing Kerry Coombs back to UC as his defensive coordinator. Coombs was a previous Cincinnati High School coach and on the Bearcats staff in 2008. However, Coombs put that to rest on Twitter stating he was a buckeye and was staying. Coach Meyer stated that Coombs will take on more defensive responsibilities in years to come. Coombs is a great recruiter bring Cincinnati talent to play for OSU. Either way, I believe that Fickell will bring a new energy to Nippert and something the fans will enjoy to see. I can sense he has great emotion, and desire to win and create a culture for the football program.
Another thing I’m curious about is if he’ll retain any of Tuberville’s staff. We received word that he met with Tuberville’s assistants but there was no decision yet. In my opinion, he needs to let go of Zac Taylor. The offensive coordinator did not impress me in his first year and I don’t see him fitting in with Fickell’s vision of running the bearcats offense. His vision is to dominate the time of possession/running the ball…something that the bearcats has failed to do this past season. Fickell has also noticed the number of missed tackles this year. After watching some of the games, the number of missed tackles resulted in gaining over 100 yards for the opposing team. It’ll have to go back to fundamentals on how to tackle. I believe that Fickell will whip the boys into shape and get back on the winning side soon.
I’m super happy that UC brought in an Ohio guy to run this football program. The lifeline for a college football program is recruiting and I can sense that Fickell can do that. He’s been under 2 great coaches and I believe he’s ready to mix those coaching philosophies and create his own for Cincinnati. Fickell signed a 6 year contract. Now, do I see him staying for the long haul? Probably not. He’s a young guy and if he does well, he could probably go onto more better, high paying jobs. However, he’s an Ohio guy and his family is here. Why not stay in a city you love and continue to coach for a great University like Cincinnati. I guess it all depends how the next 2-3 years go for Fickell. I have hopes and dreams for Cincinnati. I believe that Fickell is the man for the job. Can’t wait for next fall! Go Bearcats!