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Wisconsin grabs Cincinnati’s Luke Fickell as next head coach

The Bearcats head man has won plenty at the G5 level.

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Cincinnati Bearcats head coach Luke Fickell waits to take the field with players before the first quarter of a college football game against the Tulane Green Wave, Friday, Nov. 25, 2022, at Nippert Stadium in Cincinnati. Kareem Elgazzar/The Enquirer / USA TODAY NETWORK

Update 6:00 p.m. Luke Fickell is the new head coach of the Wisconsin Badgers. A good blow-by-blow of how it happened is here from The Athletic.

Update 1:40 p.m. They move quickly in Madison apparently. The Board of Regents will meet behind closed doors to approve the contract for Luke Fickell this afternoon.

Update 12:48 p.m. It appears Fickell is moving on, as a team meeting has been called for 1 p.m.

The Wisconsin Badgers are after Cincinnati Bearcats head coach Luke Fickell, according to a report from ESPN’s Pete Thamel. And that would make sense, as Fickell has had plenty of success at UC during his six-year tenure in the Queen City.

Wisconsin was thought to be actively pursuing Kansas head coach Lance Leipold, who won multiple national championships at Division III Wisconsin-Whitewater and is a native of the state. But Leipold just signed an extension to stay in Lawrence, and in the newly-flush Big Ten, the need to keep up with the competition means ‘Sconny AD Chris McIntosh will have the resources he needs to get a splashy name with a track record of success.

Fickell is 57-18 at Cinci, and was the head man of the first Group of 5 team to play for the national championship in the College Football Playoff era in 2021. The Ohio State grad and former OSU interim head coach was one of the hottest names in the job market last offseason, but decided to run it back after signing a lucrative extension that pays him about $5 million a year, by far the best deal in the G5.

But Wisconsin can dwarf those dollars if they choose, and apparently they’re going to make Fickell say no.