MADISON, Wis. – Wisconsin athletic director Chris McIntosh announced the hiring of Luc Fickel as UW’s head football coach on Sunday. The consensus 2021 National Coach of the Year becomes the 31st head coach in program history.
“I am incredibly happy to announce Luc Fickel as the new head football coach and to welcome his entire family to Madison,” McIntosh said. “Luke is one of the best football managers in the country. He is a proven winner, scout and player developer. Equally important, it shares our values. Coach Fickell is committed to providing our student-athletes with the best possible opportunities and is attuned to the changing landscape of college athletics.
“I am confident he will respect and honor the foundations that have been established for our football program over the years while seizing the exciting opportunities ahead.”
Fickell ushers in a new era of Badger football after lifting the University of Cincinnati football program to unprecedented success during his six seasons as head coach. Hired by the Bearcats on Dec. 10, 2016, he led Cincinnati to back-to-back 11-win campaigns in 2018 and 2019 and an undefeated regular season that culminated in a Peach Bowl berth in 2020. Then in 2021, Fickell guided the Bearcats to the greatest season in school history, leading them to a college football playoff semifinal appearance at the Cotton Bowl and the first-ever 13-0 regular season record in Bearcat history .
“I am delighted with our rental of Luc Fickel as the head football coach of the Badgers,” UW-Madison Chancellor Jennifer L. Mnookin said. “He’s a transformative recruit to our program.
“In addition to the success he’s already had as National Coach of the Year in 2021 and leading a team to the college football playoffs, he shares our values and appreciates the importance of the college experience to our student-athletes.
“I’m thrilled to see him help us build from our already solid foundations to reach even greater heights.”
In just six years, Fickell became one of the nation’s top coaches and positioned Cincinnati football as an elite program capable of consistently vying for championships. Fickell went 57-18 (.760) in his six seasons with UC. Prior to the Bearcats’ three 11-win campaigns under Fickell, the program had only accomplished the feat twice (2008 and 2009). Fickell earned his 54th victory in 2022, cementing himself as the winningest coach in Cincinnati history. After going 4-8 the first year at Cincinnati, Fickell has led the program to a 53-10 record the past five years. Over the past three seasons, only Alabama (36) and Georgia (34) have more wins than Cincinnati (31).
“My family and I are thrilled to join the Wisconsin family,” Fickell said. “This is a destination job in a program that I have admired from afar for years. I am in total agreement with Chris McIntosh’s vision for this program. I look forward to building. This world-class university, athletics department and passionately loyal fan base all have a strong commitment to success and I look forward to being a part of it.”
Leading Cincinnati to new heights and its first-ever college football playoff appearance in 2021, Fickell earned eight national coaching accolades in 2021, including The Home Depot National Coach of the Year, Coach of the Year Paul “Bear” Bryant, the Stallings Award, the Eddie Robinson Award and the Dodd Trophy, as well as honors from the AFCA, Walter Camp Foundation and Sporting News.
Fickell’s UC team also earned an early fall No. 2 ranking in the Associated Press poll—its highest ranking in school history. Cincinnati beat No. 9 Notre Dame, 24-13, in South Bend, Indiana, for its first-ever road win over a Top 10 team. The Bearcats capped off the season by defeating No. 16 Houston, 35- 20, for their second straight AAC championship.
Since beginning his stint in Cincinnati in 2017, Fickell has seen 16 Bearcats earn an NFL Draft pick, including a school-record nine draft picks in 2022, and earned coaching honors from the NFL. AAC year three times (2018, 2020, 2021).
Off the court, since arriving in Cincinnati, the Bearcats’ four-year-old student-athletes have posted a 100% graduation rate under Fickell.
With his arrival in Madison, Fickell returns to the Big Ten after an illustrious playing and coaching career at Ohio State. No stranger to championship-level football, Fickell was part of nine Big Ten Conference titles (seven as a coach, two as a player), two national championship teams and 15 postseason games at Ohio. State, including two college football playoff appearances. He was co-defensive coordinator and linebackers coach from 2005 to 2016.
Fickell gained head coaching experience in 2011, taking the reins at Columbus for a season under tumultuous circumstances across the program. He led the Buckeyes to a 6-6 regular season record and a berth in the Gator Bowl.
He returned to his role as defensive coordinator and linebacker coach in 2012. Over the next five seasons, Fickell’s defensive units were a big reason the Buckeyes went 61-5 and won. the 2014 College Football Playoff National Championship.
Fickell’s coaching career began at Ohio State. After spending a year on the injured reserve list with the New Orleans Saints, he was hired in 1999 as a graduate assistant at OSU by his college coach, John Cooper.
A native of Columbus, Ohio, Fickell played for the Buckeyes from 1992 to 1996, wearing a redshirt the first year and then starting the next four seasons at the nose guard. He started a school record 50 consecutive games between 1993 and 1996.
He graduated from Ohio State in 1997 with a degree in exercise science. Fickell and his wife Amy have six children: Landon, Luca, twins Aydon and Ashton, and twins Laykon and Lucian.
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