After 15 consecutive seasons coaching in Columbus, Luke Fickell is finally flying the coop.
Per ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg, Fickell will be Cincinnati’s next head coach. Rittenberg reports that sources have told the network that UC and Fickell reached an agreement on Friday night, and that an official announcement is forthcoming.
Cincinnati announced the hire early Saturday afternoon:
A new era in #Bearcats football begins today! Welcome @CoachFick! pic.twitter.com/vtH07r4Vch— Cincinnati Football (@GoBearcatsFB) December 10, 2016
According to the Cincinnati Enquirer’s Tom Groeschen, Fickell will remain with the Buckeyes throughout their upcoming playoff run.
Fickell, 43, has been an Ohio State assistant since 2002. The Columbus native has spent the past five seasons as co-defensive coordinator/linebackers coach under Urban Meyer, a duty he also fulfilled for Jim Tressel from 2005-11. Following Tressel’s resignation in May 2011, Fickell was named the Buckeyes interim coach and directed the Scarlet and Gray to a 6-7 record in his lone season at the helm.
On Wednesday, multiple reports indicated that Fickell had become a serious candidate to replace Tommy Tuberville at Cincinnati. (Late last month, Fickell had reportedly become an object of Florida Atlantic’s desire.) Tuberville went 29-22 in his four seasons heading the Bearcats, but he stepped down on Sunday following a 4-8 record this fall, the first time the program had failed to qualify for a bowl game since 2010.
Fickell, a four-year starter at nose tackle for Ohio State from 1992-96, was a graduate assistant for John Cooper in 1999 before leaving to be Akron’s defensive line coach for two seasons. In 2002, Fickell returned to Columbus to be the program’s special teams coordinator, a position he held for two years before being moved to linebackers coach in 2004.
Kerry Coombs, Ohio State’s cornerbacks coach and special teams coordinator, had also been floated as a possibility for the Cincinnati job. Coombs, formerly an extremely successful high school coach in his native Cincinnati, was a Bearcats assistant from 2007-11. Some have speculated that Coombs could possibly accompany Fickell to Cincinnati and serve as defensive coordinator. Coombs’ son, Brayden, is a Bengals assistant, and he has other family in the area.
Coombs issued a statement Saturday night clarifying that he was staying at Ohio State. The Urban Meyer Twitter account followed suit adding that Coombs will have expanded defensive coordinating responsibilities in light of Fickell’s departure.
Congrats to Coach Fickell on his promotion!