Badger students react to Luke Fickell hiring, Leonhard snub

MADISON, Wis. – Luke Fickell was named the 31st Wisconsin Head Coach on Sunday.

The Badgers fanbase’s existential question has always been, how do we get to the next level, and compete for National Championships? Luke Fickell might just be that guy. 

It seemed like a done deal that Jim Leonhard would be UW’s next head coach. Enter Luke Fickell. One year removed from taking the only non-power 5 team ever to the College Football Playoff, UW broke tradition and went outside the family tree.

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“Well I think I was shocked,” UW Student Eric Dietze said. “I think a lot of people thought it was Leonhard’s job, so to see Fickell get it, shocking.” 

“I don’t think yesterday’s loss really had a play on that,” said Bjorn Johnson, a fellow UW Student. “but I honestly think that the recruiting stuff really played into most of this.”

Cincinnati’s 2023 recruiting class is markedly better than Wisconsin’s and Fickell saw nine of his players drafted to the NFL last year, including the likely rookie Defensive Player of the Year.

“To get a potential Sauce Gardner or someone like that in Badger red would be incredible,” Dietze said. 

Fickell played at Ohio State, coached at Ohio State, and served as the Buckeyes’ interim head coach in 2011. He’s even from Columbus. That undeniable link concerns Badger fans. 

“My only worry with the Cincinnati hire is if the Ohio State coach Ryan gets the boot somewhere down the road then maybe we lose this new guy from Cincinnati,” Johnson said.

But if Fickell can take Cincy to the CFP, fans wondered, what could he do at Wisconsin?

“Fickell turned around Cincinnati, so I’m excited to see what he can do with a lot more recruiting power,” Dietze said.