The Cincinnati Bearcats are experiencing a run they have not seen in nearly 15 years. This success is attributed to head coach Luke Fickell’s willingness to reshape the program.
When Fickell accepted the head coach job at Cincinnati in 2016, he had a long road of work ahead of him. He inherited a football program in disarray from the Tommy Tuberville era. Fickell needed to prove to college football that he deserved to be the head coach of a Division I football school.
In 2011, Fickell was named the interim head coach at Ohio State when Jim Tressel resigned as the head coach before the season. That was a tryout season for Fickell as a potential permanent head coach candidate and the Buckeyes registered a 6-6 record, which hurt his chances of being the team’s next head coach.
Fickell stayed with the program for the next five seasons as the defensive coordinator and linebackers coach. When the head coach vacancy opened up in 2016, it was a perfect match between Fickell and Cincinnati.
The Bearcats needed to turn the page and usher in a winning attitude within the program. Fickell was the right man for the job and the team’s relatively quick turnaround showed that. In 2017, which was Fickell’s first season with Cincinnati, the Bearcats posted their second consecutive 4-8 season. The losing shortly ended when the Bearcats went 11-2 in 2018, 11-3 in 2019, and 9-1 in 2020.
— Cincinnati Football (@GoBearcatsFB) November 9, 2021
The team is experiencing national success that they have not had since 2009 when Brian Kelly was the head coach. Heading into week 11 of the 2021 season, the Bearcats were ranked No. 5 in the College Football Playoff’s latest rankings. The Bearcats are on the cusp of making the College Football Playoff for the first time.
Despite being undefeated, the Bearcats remain on the outside of the playoff looking in because they are a Group of Five school. Regardless of their conference, Fickell’s squad is one of the top teams in the entire country.
In just five seasons, Fickell turned this program around completely. They went from being at the bottom of the American Athletic Conference to potentially be the first Group of Five school to play in the College Football Playoff.
His 44 wins with the Bearcats rank second behind Rick Minter on the school’s all-time wins list. When people will look back on Fickell’s time as the Bearcats’ head coach, he will be remembered as the greatest head coach in program history.