Luke Fickell will need time to make his mark on the Wisconsin program
The Wisconsin Badgers will play their final game Tuesday night before the keys are really handed over to newly named head coach Luke Fickell. Fickell has been recruiting and helping with bowl prep this past month. However, Jim Leonhard and the previous staff have been leading bowl practices and will make decisions during the Guaranteed Rate Bowl against Oklahoma State.
Other than recruiting, Fickell has been watching bowl practices and figuring out what the current Badgers roster will have for next season. Since Fickell has been Cincinnati’s head coach from the 2017 season, he wasn’t too familiar with many of the players at Wisconsin.
Jesse Temple with the Athletic recently wrote about how Luke Fickell is using the Badgers bowl month as a way to get to know the Badgers roster. Fickell opened up on how the first two years can be challenging for a new head coach:
“That’s the hardest part for me when I went to Cincinnati, the hardest thing was the first two years,” Fickell said. “Just for the sheer fact that I didn’t really know the guys. I had never been in their home. I didn’t know their families. And I just feel like it’s hard.
“It’s hard sometimes when you don’t know where a guy’s from and how he’s grown up and the dynamics of some of those things because you’ve never had a chance to sit in their homes. There’s other ways of doing it. But you’ve got to really kind of peel back some of those layers and try to find some things out.”
The article by Temple is worth the read. He has quotes from numerous Badgers players who are impressed with Fickell’s ability to break the ice and get to know the players. Luke Fickell isn’t just interested in knowing these players as athletes; many of his conversations are about things not related to football. That should help the team trust in him when the hard work and adversity begin next season.