• Fri. Feb 3rd, 2023

By: Molly Schramm

CINCINNATI — UC Bearcats head coach Luke Fickell has finalized a deal to become Wisconsin’s new head coach.

John Cunningham, UC’s director of athletics, announced Sunday evening that a national search is underway to replace Fickell.

“A national search has already begun for the next head coach, and we will find the perfect fit for this program, this university, this incredible fanbase and this awesome community,” Cunningham said.

UC President Neville Pinto said he’s confident in Cunningham’s ability to find the team’s 43rd head coach of the Bearcats football program.

“The University of Cincinnati and this community have all the ingredients needed for success, and I’m confident we’ll find a candidate who can make Cincinnati proud,” Pinto said.

Wisconsin’s football program also announced Fickell’s arrival via Twitter.

Fickell is replacing former Wisconsin coach Paul Chryst. After eight seasons with the Badgers, Chryst was fired in the middle of the 2022 season. The former coach went 67-26 during his tenure with the program.

After Chryst’s termination, defensive coordinator Jim Leonhard replaced him and was considered for the head coaching position. Other candidates for the job were informed Sunday afternoon that they will not be the next Badgers head coach.

Cunningham said Kerry Coombs will be acting as the interim head coach for the Bearcats. A Cincinnati native, Coombs was the special teams coordinator and cornerbacks coach during the 2022 season. Prior to that, he served as an assistant coach at UC from 2007 to 2011.

Outside of the Bearcats, Coombs worked with Ohio State University and the Tennessee Titans.

During his press conference, Cunningham also thanked Fickell for all he has done for the Bearcats program over his six seasons as head coach.

“Make no mistake, we are set up for success at the University of Cincinnati,” Cunningham said. “Our goals — to compete for championships — don’t change.”

Fickell just ended his 2022 regular season with the Bearcats after a 27-24 loss to Tulane on Friday. He leaves the Bearcats right before they head into the Big 12 during the 2023 season. Fickell also leaves as the winningest head coach in program history with his 57-18 record.

He had two AAC championship wins and led the Bearcats to five bowl games in six seasons. In 2021, the Bearcats ended 13-1 after a loss to Alabama in the College Football Playoff.

After that monumental 2021 season for the Bearcats, nine players from the team were picked in the NFL draft, including cornerback Ahamad “Sauce” Gardner and quarterback Desmond Ridder.

Reposted with permission from WCPO 9 Cincinnati