CINCINNATI — Ohio native Luke Fickell was named the 42nd head coach at the University of Cincinnati, Director of Athletics Mike Bohn announced Saturday.
The 43-year-old Fickell takes the reins of the Bearcats program after spending 15 years at his alma mater, Ohio State. He is an experienced 18-year coaching veteran at the Football Bowl Subdivision level. His impressive résumé includes being on the staff of two national-championship-winning teams, seeing 12 of his players selected in the NFL draft and coordinating outstanding defenses over the last 12 seasons as a co-coordinator or defensive coordinator.Fickell has agreed to a six-year deal, which is pending approval by the UC Board of Trustees. The contract will be released to the public following that approval. Fickell will continue to serve as Ohio State’s defensive coordinator through the Buckeyes’ College Football Playoff run.
“It’s with much pride and humility that I accept the awesome honor of becoming the head coach at the University of Cincinnati,” Fickell said. "This city, this school and my family are all Ohio. It’s a tough blue-collar state with hard-working, blue-collar people that respect an honest and complete effort. That’s what they will get from me personally and what they should expect from this football program. This team belongs to this city and we will make you proud.”
“We are excited to welcome Luke, his wife Amy and their family to Cincinnati," Bohn said. "We targeted a number of criteria we wanted in our head football coach and we were looking for the coach who was the best fit for our program, our University and our community and we have found that leader in Luke Fickell. His extensive ties to the state of Ohio, experience at a championship-level program in Ohio State, ability to evaluate and develop talent, energy and leadership are all qualities which set him apart. Above all else, he's a model of integrity and a great family man and we look forward to partnering with him to continue to build upon our winning tradition."
“I am proud to welcome Luke Fickell, a proud Ohio native, to the Bearcats community," UC President Dr. Beverly J. Davenport said. "His 18-year career in coaching and his impressive record make him a great choice to build on our winning tradition.”
Fickell is an excellent recruiter with strong Midwest and Florida relationships and is a great evaluator of talent. He was named the American Football Coaches Association assistant coach of the year in 2010 and he was named a “top recruiter” in 2012 by both Rivals and ESPN.
His NFL draft selections include first-round picks A.J. Hawk, Bobby Carpenter, Ryan Shazier and Darron Lee, NFL standout James Laurinaitis and Joshua Perry, Anthony Schlegel, Larry Grant, Marcus Freeman, Austin Spitler, Ross Homan and Brian Rolle.
Cincinnati is getting a phenomenal, detailed coach, who is a great leader and builder of men! Congrats coach! So deserving! https://t.co/vetAXR0nAV— James Laurinaitis (@JLaurinaitis55) December 10, 2016
The 2016 Buckeyes earned a spot in the College Football Playoff semifinal against Clemson after finishing the regular season 11-1 and ranked No. 3 in CFP poll. OSU won five consecutive games to close the season and boast the nation's No. 4 total defense (282.3 yards per game allowed), including the No. 1 pass efficiency defense and the No. 3 scoring defense (14.2).
Since 2005, Fickell-coached defenses at Ohio State have ranked among the NCAA FBS top 40 in yards-per-play allowed, averaging a ranking of No. 17 and earning its highest rank of No. 3 in 2016. Cincinnati based ProFootballFocus ranks OSU's defense as its No. 3 overall unit in 2016.
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.
Fickell's first full-time coaching position came in 2000 under Lee Owens at Akron, spending two years as defensive line coach. Jim Tressel brought him to Ohio State as special teams coordinator in 2002 and he also worked with the defensive front on the BCA National Championship squad. He was named linebackers coach in 2004, and added co-defensive coordinator duties to his resume in 2005.
In May 2011 he was asked to take over an Ohio State program staggered by the loss of its head coach, the unexpected departure of a star quarterback and on the cusp of NCAA penalties, and against stacked odds, he led the Buckeyes to a bowl game. Prior to his appointment to serve as head coach in 2011, he had been promoted to assistant head coach in March 2011.
He returned to his role as defensive coordinator and linebackers coach in 2012. Over the past five seasons, coaching under UC alumnus Urban Meyer, Fickell’s defensive units have been a big reason the Buckeyes have gone 61-5 and won the 2014 College Football Playoff National Championship.
A native of Columbus, Ohio, Fickell is a graduate of DeSales High School, where he was a three-time, undefeated state wrestling champion, and he is a 1997 graduate of Ohio State. He played for the Buckeyes from 1992-1996, redshirting the first year and then starting the next four seasons at nose guard. He started a school-record 50 consecutive games between 1993 and 1996.
Fickell graduated from Ohio State in 1997 with a degree in exercise science. Luke and his wife Amy have six children: Landon, Luca, twin sons Aydon and Ashton, and twin sons Laykon and Lucian.