Luke Fickell: He’s Turning Around Cincinnati’s Football Fortunes

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Luke Fickell is on a fast-track, helped by “The Cincy Stud Summit.” 


I’ve been a Cincinnati Bearcats fan all of my life. I’ve seen coaches come and coaches go on to better programs and achieve success. It happened with Brian Kelly and others before him.

It’s not discouraging. I embrace it.

Courtesy: Cincinnati Enquirer

So when Luke Fickell was hired, I immediately prepared for his departure. I thought he’d get UC into the Top 25, move the Bearcats into a Power 5 conference, and then steer the team to be a conference contender.

But I may have to rethink my perspective. For one thing, Fickell is turning UC into a top program way faster than I had imagined. The first thing he did was re-evaluate the entire staff and all of the committed recruits. He then took on a class of 23 high school seniors.

Players and alumni have said that he’s approaching the program in a way that they have never seen. He’s reaching out to past players for assistance and he’s also making sure to nail down support locally.

That point brings me to what has been called “The Cincy Stud Summit.” What’s that?

Cincinnati–the city, I mean–is a national epicenter in high school football.

Rivals.com and 247sports.com say Cincinnati is the best city in the country for high school football.

 The Queen City produces top-tier recruits each and every year. But those recruits have traditionally left the city for big programs like Ohio State, Michigan State, and Notre Dame.

During the UC Spring Game, some of the area’s best recruits were seen together and were reportedly discussing this idea of the #HometownHero (as Fickell has been labeling it on Twitter). It has been met with tweets from players and coaches about “No need to leave home” and “Defend your city.”

2018 ESPN Top 300 recruit, Malik Vann, tweeted: “Some of y’all gon be sick by the end of this class.”He committed the next morning, giving UC its first ESPN 300 recruit since 2014. He had offers from schools like Florida State, Lousiville, Notre Dame, Oregon, ALABAMA, and about a dozen others.

Hicks signs with Bearcasts (photo, Twitter)

Vann’s commitment was followed up with a commitment from Ja’von Hicks out of Cincinnati. Vann tweeted, “only gonna get better” and that was followed by Fickell’s tweet, “Another BIG one for the Bearcats-this is going to be very exciting! #HomeTownHeros #CinCintyPride No need to leave Home!”

Fickell is setting a precedent by going after these top-tier Cincinnati recruits … and he has an amazing base to choose from. If he can lock down these hometown recruits, it could catapult UC up the rankings.

As of today, his 2018 class–Fickell’s first real class–has 6 commits and sits (by a wide margin) at the top of the AAC. It’s also near the top of the ESPN Top 50 class list.

And there’s more to choose from: there are 7 players from Cincinnati in ESPN’s Top 300, 4 of which are still uncommitted.

This is starting to remind me a lot of what happened with Brian Kelly. There was a big hometown push and that resulted in UC jumping to No. 3 in the country. UC should have been in the national championship in 2009, but Kelly left a couple days before the bowl game against Florida. If he had stayed who knows how things would have turned out?

Kelly said before the season that he’d only leave if Notre Dame called. Well, they called and he left.

Fickell’s Notre Dame is Ohio State. But I don’t see Urban Meyer leaving Columbus any time soon. So we don’t have to worry about Fickell leaving in the middle of the night right before a big game. He’s here to win and that’s exactly what he’s going to do.

Go Bearcats!

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About Brady Grogan

Growing up in Cincinnati, Ohio, I played just about every sport–basketball, baseball, soccer, and lacrosse, mainly. Now, as a student at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, I mostly stick to the sidelines. I have coached basketball at all age levels for over nine seasons and that is my main area of expertise. I’m full of hot takes. If you think I’m wrong, tell me about it. I’ll tell you why I’m not! I’m a fan of all things Ohio: Reds, Bengals, Buckeyes, Cavaliers, Jackets, and Crew. Some of my favorite players are Chad Johnson, Sean Kilpatrick, Allen Iverson, Vontez Burfict, and every Cavalier ever.



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