Congratulations to new Cincinnati Bearcats head coach Luke Fickell. After a lengthy and productive career as a player and assistant coach at Ohio State that spanned over twenty years, Fickell now has the opportunity to lead his own program, within the great state of Ohio.
While the accolades from former players and coaches were primarily positive about the hiring of Fickell by Cincinnati, there are a decent amount of Ohio State fans, and I would surmise college football fans, who have never truly given Fickell too much credit for the Ohio State defense. In 2014, Chris Ash came on board as co-defensive coordinator, and when the Buckeye defense improved, Ash was given the credit. This past season, Greg Schiano came on board to replace Chris Ash, after Ash had taken the head coaching job at Rutgers, and again, Schiano was given the credit.
And let's just put this out there ~ so many Ohio State fans have never forgiven Luke Fickell for the 2011 season, when the Buckeyes finished 6-7 during the dreadful "Tattoogate" era. Fickell was thrown into a difficult situation, and was the convenient scapegoat for fans wanting to vent about the transgressions of the players and program that had lost its way.
For my line of thinking, I am grateful to Luke Fickell for all that he has done for Ohio State since 1992. Yes, 1992 - the year Luke Fickell signed his letter of intent with Ohio State, despite scholarship offers from many of the top programs around the nation.
1992, a year when Ohio State football was not the prized commodity then as it is now. Fickell started fifty consecutive games at nose guard, concluding his career against Arizona State in The 1997 Rose Bowl with a torn pectoral muscle.
Fickell began his ascension up the coaching ladder in 1999 under John Cooper, coached at Akron under former Ohio State assistant Lee Owens in 2000 and 2001, and has been a Buckeye assistant from 2002 until 2016 under Jim Tressel and Urban Meyer. Ohio State fans seem to have forgotten that Fickell had opportunities to leave, most notably at Notre Dame, but Fickell declined the opportunity to stay in Columbus. Loyalty counts.
I wish I knew how Luke Fickell's career at Cincinnati will go. Many an Ohio State assistant coach has departed Columbus, and have seen their coaching careers progress positively, as well as others who have seen their careers decline. I do believe that Fickell's strong reputation as a recruiter will serve him well, in a talent-laden area of the state. The Ohio high school players are very familiar with Fickell's name and previous Ohio State ties, so Fickell will be able to get his foot in the door, and possibly persuade those players to become Bearcats.
Congratulations, Coach Fickell. You have earned this opportunity, and I wish you nothing but the best going forward...except on September 7, 2019, when you bring your Bearcats up to Ohio Stadium to face the Buckeyes.