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Luke Fickell  

Head Football Coach of Cincinnati Bearcats

The University of Cincinnati football team opened a new era in December 2016 with the hiring of Ohio native Luke Fickell, the Bearcats 42nd football head coach.

The 20-year veteran of the FBS coaching ranks took the reins of the UC program after spending 16 years at his alma mater, Ohio State. His impressive resume includes being on the staff of two national championship winning teams, seeing 14 of his players selected in the NFL Draft, and coordinating outstanding defenses over 12 seasons as a co-coordinator or defensive coordinator.

Fickell, starting his fourth season at UC in 2020, has led UC to back-to-back 11-win seasons, the 2019 American Athletic Conference East Division Championship along with consecutive bowl-game wins in the 2018 Military Bowl and 2019 TicketSmarter Birmingham Bowl.

Fickell led one of the more remarkable turnarounds in school history in 2018, rebounding from a 4-8 inaugural campaign with the third 11-win season in school history and a win in the Military Bowl. The 2018 American Athletic Conference Coach of the Year, Fickell was a semifinalist for the George Munger Award and was tabbed for the watch lists for the Dodd Trophy and Paul “Bear” Bryant Coach the Year awards.

Establishing his T.E.A.M. culture on the Clifton Hts. campus, standing for Together Everyone Achieves More, UC has emerged as one of the teams to watch in the American, especially on defense where the UC has led the AAC in scoring defense in both 2018 and 2019.

Fickell was hired on Dec. 10, 2016 and has been a tireless advocate for the UC program, speaking at numerous events and schools to continue to build the Bearcats brand inside the State of Cincinnati, the 50-mile radius surrounding campus.

An excellent recruiter with strong Ohio, Midwest and Florida relationships, a national presence and a discerning eye for talent, Fickell has put together back-to-back-to-back impactful recruiting classes at Cincinnati. 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.

The former standout football player, college graduate, NFL player, husband and father is most-noticed as a developer of talent.

His NFL Draft selections include first-round picks A.J. Hawk, Bobby Carpenter, Ryan Shazier and Darron Lee, NFL standout James Laurinaitis, along with Joshua Perry, Anthony Schlegel, Larry Grant, Marcus Freeman, Austin Spitler, Ross Homan and Brian Rolle and most recently UC players Cortez Broughton, Korey Cunningham and Josiah Deguara.

No stranger to championship-level football, Fickell was a part of nine Big Ten Conference titles (seven as a coach, two as a player), two national championship squads and 15 postseason games, including two College Football Playoff appearances.

From 2005-2016, Fickell-coached defenses at Ohio State 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. 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 of 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, 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 five seasons, coaching under UC alumnus Urban Meyer, Fickell’s defensive units were a big reason the Buckeyes went 61-5 and won the 2014 College Football Playoff National Championship.

Fickell was one of the founders of the 2nd & 7 Foundation in 1999 with teammates Ryan Miller and Mike Vrabel. The foundation promotes reading by providing free books and positive role models to kids in need while encouraging young athletes of the community to pay it forward.

A native of Columbus, Ohio, Fickell is a graduate of DeSales High School, where he was a three-time, undefeated state wrestling champion.

Fickell played for the Buckeyes from 1992-96, redshirting the first year and then starting the next four seasons at nose guard. He started a then 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, twin sons Aydon and Ashton, and twin sons Laykon and Lucian.

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