Luke Fickell

Luke Joseph Fickell (born August 18, 1973) is an American football coach and former player. He is currently the head coach at Cincinnati. He started his career at Ohio State University, first as a player and then as an assistant coach. He was interim head coach at OSU for the entire 2011 season and accepted the head football coaching position with the University of Cincinnati in 2016.

Luke Fickell
Fickell in 2019
Current position
TitleHead coach
Annual salary$3.4 million[1]
Biographical details
Born (1973-08-18) August 18, 1973 (age 48)
Columbus, Ohio
Playing career
1993–1996Ohio State
1997New Orleans Saints
Position(s)Nose guard
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
1999Ohio State (GA)
2000–2001Akron (DL)
2002–2003Ohio State (ST)
2004Ohio State (LB)
2005–2010Ohio State (co-DC/LB)
2011Ohio State (Interim HC)
2012–2016Ohio State (co-DC/LB)
Head coaching record
Accomplishments and honors
Head coach:
1 AAC East Division (2019)
1 AAC (2020)
BCS National Championship (2002)
CFP National Championship (2014)
3x AAC Coach of the Year (2018, 2020–2021)
AFCA Assistant Coach of the Year (2010)

Playing careerEdit

Fickell started his playing career at St. Francis DeSales High School, where he was a two-time first team All-Ohio defensive tackle as well as a three-time state champion in wrestling. [2] After redshirting for the Buckeyes in 1992, Fickell was a standout defensive player, making a school-record 50 consecutive starts at the nose guard position from 1993 to 1996.[3] In his freshman year, he lined up next to Dan Wilkinson. Despite having a torn pectoral muscle, Fickell started the 1997 Rose Bowl, making two tackles in the Buckeyes victory over Arizona State.[4] After graduating from Ohio State in 1997, Fickell signed as an undrafted free agent with the New Orleans Saints of the National Football League (NFL).[5] After tearing the ACL in his knee, he spent the remainder of the season on the injured reserve list and was later released by the team.[5][6]

Coaching careerEdit


After a brief stint in the NFL and at Ohio State as a graduate assistant in 1999, in 2000 Fickell was hired by the University of Akron as the defensive line coach.[7]

Ohio StateEdit

After two seasons with the Zips, he returned to Ohio State in 2002 as the special teams coordinator under second-year head coach, Jim Tressel, helping guide the team to the 2002 BCS National Championship.[3] In 2004, Fickell took over as the linebackers coach, adding the title co-defensive coordinator to his responsibilities in 2005.[3] In 2010, he was named Assistant Coach of the Year by the AFCA, joining a list of Buckeyes coaches to be recognized by the association that also includes Carroll Widdoes, Woody Hayes, Earle Bruce, and Jim Tressel.[8]

In 2011, Fickell was originally named to serve as interim head coach in place of Jim Tressel, who was given a five-game suspension by the NCAA due to a recruiting scandal. However, in May of that year, Tressell resigned and Fickell was given a one-year contract to serve as interim coach, only for the 2011 season. [9]

After Ohio State posted a 6–6 regular season record, Fickell was passed up as the permanent head coach, and instead Ohio State hired Urban Meyer. Fickell guided the Buckeyes one last time in the 2012 Gator Bowl against Meyer's old team, the Florida Gators.[10] After Meyer took the helm, Fickell returned to his old job as co-defensive coordinator (helping guide the Buckeyes to the 2014 CFP National Championship), a job in which he served until he was named head coach at Cincinnati.[11]


On December 10, 2016, Fickell was named as the 39th head coach of the University of Cincinnati, taking the place of the resigning Tommy Tuberville.[12]

In his first season, Fickell led the Bearcats to a 4–8 record.

2018 would be a historic turnaround of the program, finishing with an 11–2 record and a victory in the Military Bowl. Fickell was named AAC Coach of the Year for the 2018 season, which was only the third 11-win season in UC history.

He led the team to another 11-win season in 2019. The Bearcats reeled off nine straight wins after falling to Ohio State in the second game of the year. The team won the East Division championship in the AAC for the first time, but fell two straight weeks to Memphis, in the final regular season game and in the conference championship. For the second straight year, Cincinnati won its bowl game over an Atlantic Coast Conference team, winning the Birmingham Bowl over Boston College by a score of 38–6.

Before the start of the 2020 season Fickell agreed to a contract extension which would keep him at Cincinnati through the 2026 season.[13] Fickell had previously received head coaching interest from other schools such as Michigan State,[14] Florida State,[15] West Virginia,[16] Louisville,[17] and Maryland.[18]

Fickell was one of thirteen coaches named to the watchlist for the Bobby Dodd Coach of the Year Award before the 2020 season.[19]

In 2020, Luke Fickell led the Cincinnati Bearcats to a 9–1 campaign including Cincinnati's second perfect regular season which included winning the 2020 AAC Championship Game against the Tulsa Golden Hurricane. Cincinnati was selected for the 2021 Peach Bowl against the #9 Georgia Bulldogs. Both teams went into the game down a number of key players due to injury, illness, or opt–outs, including Cincinnati's two All-Americans Ahmad Gardner and James Wiggins. After leading by a score of 21–10 entering the fourth quarter, Cincinnati ultimately fell to Georgia on a 53-yard field goal with 7 seconds left in the game, by final score of 24–21. Fickell was named AAC Coach of the Year for the second time in his career.


Fickell and his wife, Amy (Goecke), who has a physical therapy degree from Ohio State, have six children—five sons and one daughter—including two sets of twin boys.[20][21] They started dating when Amy was a sophomore at Ohio State; they were married in 2000.[22] Fickell and his family are Catholic, which played a factor in Fickell's interest in coming to Cincinnati.[23]

Fickell's eldest son, Landon, committed to Cincinnati as an offensive guard out of Moeller High School as part of the 2021 recruitment class.[24]

Head coaching recordEdit

Year Team Overall Conference Standing Bowl/playoffs Coaches# AP°
Ohio State Buckeyes (Big Ten Conference) (2011)
2011 Ohio State 6–7 3–5 4th (Leaders) L Gator
Ohio State: 6–7 3–5
Cincinnati Bearcats (American Athletic Conference) (2017–present)
2017 Cincinnati 4–8 2–6 T–4th (East)
2018 Cincinnati 11–2 6–2 3rd (East) W Military 23 24
2019 Cincinnati 11–3 7–1 1st (East) W Birmingham 21 21
2020 Cincinnati 9–1 6–0 1st L Peach 8 8
2021 Cincinnati 12–0 8–0 T–1st
Cincinnati: 47–14 29–9
Total: 53–21
      National championship         Conference title         Conference division title or championship game berth


  1. ^ Rittenberg, Adam (August 25, 2020). "Cincinnati football coach Luke Fickell finalizes contract extension through 2026". ESPN. Retrieved August 26, 2020.
  2. ^ Galbincea, Pat (September 1, 2011). "Luke Fickell could have been Ohio's best ... wrestler". The Plain Dealer. Retrieved April 6, 2018.
  3. ^ a b c[permanent dead link]
  4. ^[permanent dead link]
  5. ^ a b "Injuries are name of game at NFL camps". Albany Times Union. via HighBeam Research (subscription required). Associated Press. July 24, 1997. Archived from the original on February 16, 2013. Retrieved January 17, 2013.
  6. ^ " - Year of uncertainty begins for Fickell". August 1, 2011.
  7. ^ "Luke Fickell's athletic career - Fanbase". Archived from the original on January 22, 2013.
  8. ^ "Ohio State Football".
  9. ^ Miller, Rusty (October 11, 2011). "Fickell to get paid $775,000: Ohio State University football". The Freemont News-Messenger. Retrieved January 15, 2020.
  10. ^ "Gator Bowl 2012: Ohio State Vs. Florida In Urban Meyer Bowl". December 4, 2011.
  11. ^ Rittenberg, Adam (November 29, 2011). "Meyer makes right call in retaining Fickell". ESPN. Retrieved May 3, 2018.
  12. ^ Rittenberg, Adam (December 10, 2016). "Cincinnati hires Luke Fickell as head coach". ESPN. Retrieved May 3, 2018.
  13. ^ Rittenberg, Adam (August 25, 2020). "Cincinnati football coach Luke Fickell finalizes contract extension through 2026". ESPN. Retrieved August 26, 2020.
  14. ^ Charboneau, Matt (February 10, 2020). "Luke Fickell says no to Michigan State; 'family' keeps him at Cincinnati". Retrieved August 26, 2020.
  15. ^ Henry, Jim (November 30, 2019). "'Renaissance of FSU football' on the clock as coaching search continues". Retrieved August 26, 2020.
  16. ^ Daugherty, Paul (January 4, 2019). "Doc: WVU was UC coach Luke Fickell's first suitor, but he's not Brian Kelly or Butch Jones". Retrieved August 26, 2020.
  17. ^ Sayers, Justin (November 29, 2018). "Meet Cincinnati's Luke Fickell, possible Louisville coaching candidate". Retrieved August 26, 2020.
  18. ^ Lyons, Dan (November 27, 2018). "Luke Fickell Drawing Interest From Major School". Retrieved August 26, 2020.
  19. ^ "The Dodd Trophy Announces 2020 Preseason Watch List". September 3, 2020. Retrieved September 3, 2020.
  20. ^ "UC has hired Luke Fickell as coach".
  21. ^ " Luke Fickell Bio :: The Ohio State University Official Athletic Site The Ohio State University Official Athletic Site :: Football". Archived from the original on December 16, 2016. Retrieved December 11, 2016.
  22. ^ "Its a Way of Life.HTML".
  23. ^ O'Rourke, Tanya (August 30, 2017). "Luke Fickell isn't fickle about anything, and certainly not family, faith or his football team". Retrieved August 26, 2020. 2. Was your Catholic faith a factor in choosing where you wanted to be a head coach? LF: “I’m not sure it was one of those things where you say, ‘I’ve got to go to a place that has a high Catholic influence or community,' but my family, like I said, is the number one most important thing to me. And for my family to go to a place where they felt like they could thrive and truly set roots and say, 'We can live here for 10, 12, 15 years' or whatever … to be in a community like this where there are a lot of options for schools, youth sports. There were a lot of factors, and obviously faith was a big part of that thought.”
  24. ^ Walker, Mick (April 24, 2020). "Landon Fickell Joins The Family With Cincinnati Commitment". Retrieved August 26, 2020.

External linksEdit