The Wisconsin Badgers have found their next head football coach, and his name is NOT Jim Leonhard.
Tom Oates of the Wisconsin State Journal was the first to report that the Wisconsin Badgers are set to name Cincinnati's Luke Fickell as the program's next head coach.
After a board of regents meeting, Athletic Director Chris McIntosh officially announced the hire.
“I am incredibly excited to announce Luke Fickell as our new head football coach and to welcome his entire family to Madison,” McIntosh said. “Luke is one of the top football coaches in the country. He is a proven winner, recruiter and developer of players. Equally as important, he shares our values. Coach Fickell is focused on giving our student-athletes the best opportunities possible and is attuned to the changing landscape of college athletics.
“I have every confidence that he will respect and honor the foundation that has been set for our football program over the years while embracing the exciting opportunities ahead.”
Fickell, 49, has been the head coach at the University of Cincinnati for the past six seasons and has compiled a 57-18 record in that time. Cincinnati put up back-to-back 11 win seasons in 2018 and 2019 and also took the Bearcats to the College Football Playoff. Wisconsin has yet to make the CFP.
“My family and I are thrilled to join the Wisconsin family,” Fickell said. “This is a destination job at a program that I have admired from afar for years. I am in total alignment with Chris McIntosh’s vision for this program. There is a tremendous foundation here that I can’t wait to build upon. This world-class university, athletic department and passionately loyal fan base all have a strong commitment to success and I can’t wait to be a part of it.”
Fickell earned most of his coaching chops at Ohio State University, serving as co-defensive coordinator and Linebackers coach from 2005-2011, then was named interim head coach in 2011. Ohio State chose to hire Urban Meyer and he went back to being defensive coordinator from 2012-2016 until leaving for the head coaching job at Cincinnati.
Fickell has a reputation as an excellent recruiter and has taken a Group of 5 school in Cincinnati to one of the best programs in the country, including a trip to the College Football Playoff, which many thought was impossible for a non-Power Five school. He will now be back in the Big Ten as a head coach this time and get his chance to take Wisconsin to the CFP.