A new era of Wisconsin Football has begun. The Badgers fired Paul Chryst in October. They then named Jim Leonhard the interim head coach. While many thought this was his job to lose, Chris MacIntosh surprised many by bringing former Cincinnati head coach Luke Fickell to Wisconsin. So far, Fickell has had a ton of good qualities Wisconsin fans want to see while keeping the foundation the same. Here are three reasons Luke Fickell has been a great hire so far.
Luke Fickell Brings Wisconsin New Recruits & Keeps the Core Around
Just this week alone, Luke Fickell has brought Wisconsin four recruits. Three of them have been on the defensive side. Defense is Fickell’s strong suit, so it’s not surprising he’s hit on these recruits early. The Badgers have also lost defensive players to the draft and the transfer portal. It’s a side of the ball Fickell needed to address right away, and he did that.
Michael Furtney and Markus Allen were two players on the offensive side of the ball that declared they were going to the transfer portal. Allen then committed to Minnesota. Both players have recently decided they wanted to come back to Wisconsin. That doesn’t happen often in college football. Furtney has one year left, while Allen will only be a redshirt sophomore next season. Both expect to be big contributors. It’s impressive and important that Luke Fickell kept these players at Wisconsin.
Changes To The Coaching Staff
It became clear once Paul Chryst was fired that a majority of the offensive staff would follow suit at the end of the season. Once Luke Fickell was hired at Wisconsin, the question became if he would bring his guys from Cincinnati or look elsewhere. In the end, Fickell hired Phil Longo, the North Carolina offensive coordinator, as well as Jack Bicknell Jr, the North Carolina offensive line coach. While at UNC, Longo led a top-15 overall offense that generated players such as Sam Howell and Javonte Williams.
There are a number of other coaches Fickell has hired as well. With Jim Leonhard leaving at the end of the bowl game, Fickell has hired Mike Tressel, his defensive coordinator at Cincinnati, to the same position with the Badgers. Tressel helped develop Sauce Gardner, who the Jets drafted this past year. Gardner is having Pro Bowl season as a rookie corner.
The recruiting department also became an issue at the end of Chryst’s tenure. Luke Fickell has brought Wisconsin his guys, such as Pat Lambert and Max Steinecker to fill this void. With this, the Badgers have solidified a desperate need in their program.
Luke Fickell Staying To The Wisconsin Way
The Wisconsin way has been to develop players and have them become successful contributors by year three or four. Fickell mentioned in his weekly press conference that he believes in bringing in players as 18-year-old recruits and developing them. He also mentioned they would rely on recruiting more and use the transfer portal to fill the gaps.
Developing players has been a successful approach for Wisconsin over the last two-plus decades. Barry Alvarez, Bret Bielema, and Paul Chryst succeeded in this. It resulted in multiple Big Ten championships and multiple trips to the Rose Bowl. Fickell believes in this as well, and it should be relieving for Badger fans.
Luke Fickell has yet to coach a game for Wisconsin yet. However, he’s turning this program into his vision while believing in and respecting the Wisconsin way. I think this has the possibility of being a successful relationship and a successful tenure.
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