Ohio State defensive coordinator Luke Fickell is reportedly in talks with Cincinnati to replace Tommy Tuberville, who resigned Monday, as the program’s head coach.
Cincinnati didn’t have to look far for its next head coach if reports are correct.
According to BearcatReport.com, the Cincinnati Bearcats are in contract negotiations with Ohio State defensive coordinator Luke Fickell to become the team’s next head coach. Fickell would replace Tommy Tuberville, who resigned Monday after going 29-22 in four seasons, including 4-8, with a 1-7 mark in American Athletic Conference play, this past season.
There are conflicting reports about whether the two parties have discussed contract details – ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg refutes claims that negotiations have taken place – though Fickell and Cincinnati have definitely spoken.
Fickell has spent 15 of his 17 years in coaching at Ohio State, moving up the ranks from graduate assistant. He coached special teams, defensive line and linebackers before being named co-defensive coordinator with Chris Ash, who left to become Rutgers’ head coach prior to this season. Fickell also has experience guiding a program through a difficult transition.
Former Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel was initially suspended for the first five games of the 2011 season, and Fickell was to serve as the interim coach. Tressel, though, resigned before the season started amid allegations that he knew his players were receiving impermissible benefits, and Fickell was named head coach for the entire season.
Fickell guided the Buckeyes to a 6-6 regular season before they lost in the Gator Bowl to Florida. Shortly after, Urban Meyer accepted the head coaching job at Ohio State and kept Fickell on his staff.
Many in the coaching circle believe the 43-year-old is ready to become a permanent head coach. The Buckeyes finished fourth in the nation in total defense allowing an average of 281.6 yards per game. They returned seven of their 19 interceptions for touchdowns on their way to finishing No. 3 in the College Football Playoff rankings, earning a date with No. 2 Clemson in Fiesta Bowl in a national semifinal.
It’s likely Fickell would remain on Ohio State’s staff for the Playoff should he accept the Cincinnati job. But the Buckeyes also could be losing another assistant after the season. According to Tom Groeschen of the Cincinnati Enquirer, Fickell would bring Ohio State’s cornerbacks coach and special teams coordinator Kerry Coombs with him to be Cincinnati’s defensive coordinator.
Coombs coached high school football in Cincinnati and has strong ties to the area, which would be strong advantage in recruiting.