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Report: Luke Fickell is staying at UC

Amid the wildest coaching carousel in recent memory, will the hottest coach on the market stay put?
Cincinnati head coach Luke Fickell stands on the sidelines during the first half of an NCAA...
Cincinnati head coach Luke Fickell stands on the sidelines during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Tulsa Saturday, Nov. 6, 2021, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Jeff Dean)(Jeff Dean | AP)
Published: Nov. 25, 2021 at 8:52 AM EST
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CINCINNATI (WXIX) - One of college football’s top insiders says University of Cincinnati Head Football Coach Luke Fickell could be staying with the Bearcats.

Dennis Dodd of CBS Sports said on Wednesday he’d heard Fickell will remain in Cincinnati and that UC’s recruits have been told as such.

Fickell has been a rumored candidate for nearly every significant head coaching job going back 18 months, due in large part to his success in Clifton.

He would have his pick of options this year. More jobs are open than at any time in recent memory, including USC, Florida, LSU, Virginia Tech, TCU, Washington and Washington State.

Also consider the programs where vacancies could feasibly arise with the right combination of spiraling results and trigger-happy boosters: Auburn, Texas, Miami, etc.

It’s just as likely a slew of jobs open once the dominos start to fall elsewhere. Kentucky’s Mark Stoops, Iowa State’s Matt Campbell and Boston College’s Jeff Hafley could each be coaching elsewhere next year.

Cal’s Justin Wilcox, Duke’s David Cutcliffe, Arizona State’s Herm Edwards and South Carolina’s Shane Beamer could as well, albeit for different reasons.

Then there’s Fickell. Was the Penn State job his to turn down? Maybe. Same with Nebraska. Same with about 100 other programs.

But there’s good reason for him to stay in Cincinnati. His 2020 contract extension places him in the mid-tier of Power Five head coaches, and he figures to get a pay bump when UC goes to the Big12.

The university is spending, too, being already a quarter of the way to a $100 million fundraising goal announced last week for facility improvements including an indoor practice field (located... somewhere.)

The question on nearly everyone’s mind is: What about USC?

Southern Cal’s athletic director, Mike Bohn, had the same role at UC when Fickell arrived in 2016. It might follow that Fickell, if he were to go anywhere, would be predisposed to join Bohn to LA. But that logic isn’t exactly airtight—or evidentiary. There’s been no report either side is seriously interested in the other.

UC’s playoff run further complicates the situation. Precedent suggests Fickell is locked down until the Bearcats lose a game, and if that doesn’t happen until New Year’s Eve—or at all—it would put his (at this point hypothetical) suitors in a pinch.

Make that a vice, in USC’s case. The talent gap between the program and its rivals is growing—and not to the Trojans’ benefit. One five-star wide receiver per recruiting cycle doesn’t make up for last year’s trundling tumbleweed of an offensive line class. Losing out on this early signing period could well sink the program for years.

Just another reason Fickell might not look fondly upon USC, as it’s a strip-to-the-studs sort of rebuilding job.

And just another reason he’s in demand. Fickell stripped UC to the studs four years ago; now it’s headed to a Power Five conference—and the playoffs.

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