When Luke Fickell was hired as the Wisconsin football coach, there was a bit of skepticism. Fans loved the Fickell move but were concerned it basically meant turning its back on former legend Jim Leonhard.
However, much of that subsided with excitement as commits poured in. With the ‘bat signal’ for incoming recruits on social media and seemingly receiving a commitment or transfer daily was something so foreign to Wisconsin football that people were amped. It was a welcomed difference from the Paul Chryst era.
Fickell brings recruiting blitz to Wisconsin football
Bringing in Fickell and his recruiting team is a huge coup for Wisconsin. At Cincinnati, Fickell recruited better regularly than every Big Ten School not named Michigan and Ohio State. With the Badgers’ resources and Madison as one of the best college towns in America, Wisconsin should be next in line behind Michigan and Ohio State with Fickell at the helm.
Not only is Fickell proven to be able to recruit, but he’s also known for developing talent at an elite level. Badger fans are salivating over the potential now with higher recruits coupled with the program’s ability to develop players. Better recruits with great development have fans dreaming of the program elevated to a potential CFB Playoff team in the near future.
Many things are true about the #Badgers
Chryst needed to be fired.
We over value what Leonhard did here, *one point from not being bowl eligible.
Fickell was the right hire to move this program in the right direction.
Fickell’s program needs to be much better, quickly.
— Jim Rutledge (@JimRutledge) November 12, 2023
Wisconsin football needs hybrid offense
Much of that excitement has now dissipated in a disappointing stretch for Wisconsin football. The Badgers started strong with a 5-2 record. Wisconsin’s recent three-game losing streak put the Badgers at 5-5 until an overtime win over Nebraska last Saturday made Wisconsin bowl eligible.
Not only have the losses piled up, but it’s been brutal football to watch with low entertainment factor. The experiment with Phil Longo and the ‘Air Raid’ offense has been grounded. The lack of seemingly an offensive identity has fans clamoring for the traditional power running attack Wisconsin fans have grown accustomed to seeing. Braelon Allen just isn’t a fit for this offense with the Air Raid typically having scatback types who are weapons to catch the ball out of the backfield.
Bad losses reasons to be concerned for Wisconsin football, Fickell?
Overall, I wouldn’t be extremely concerned long-term as I think the Fickell hire was a good move. That being said, I think the Longo, Air Raid experiment needs to go. The move seemed a bit radical, but many fans were optimistic with the talent coming in with Fickell. It’s becoming clear, though, the offense needs to be scaled to more of a hybrid offense, combining the traditional run game with explosive passing plays.
The confidence for many seems dinged a bit with Fickell. Before the season, on paper, this seemed to be one of the most talented teams in Badger history, particularly offensively. The season hasn’t shown that to be the case and there is a bit of questioning with this much talent how is Wisconsin losing to Indiana and then Northwestern at home. Not just losing to Northwestern but really getting dominated and fans weren’t happy.
Will give all credit to Northwestern for the season they’re putting together under difficult circumstances but Wisconsin…my God. Luke Fickell was probably the right hire long term but underwhelming doesn’t even begin to describe his first year
— Dan Wolken (@DanWolken) November 11, 2023
Fickell said after the Badgers’ 24-10 loss to Northwestern:
Regardless of what we thought and what people thought we could or should be able to do at the beginning of the season, the reality is is where you are, and it takes leaders. It takes guys to be able to step up. It takes coaches to be able to continue to push through based on the situations we’re in, and we’ve got to do a better job.
Does Wisconsin’s win over Nebraska change things?
The Badgers earned a much-needed win Saturday in overtime over Nebraska. It was a welcomed sight, seeing the passion and enthusiasm on the field and Badgers’ sideline. That is something that was important to see, playing hard for a head coach in a by-and-large lost season. However, the offense still wasn’t very good.
Nothing cures Wisconsin football like Nebraska football.
— Más Tequila (@JoRy_MaMa) November 19, 2023
Belief still there in Fickell
Has the year been disappointing? Yes. However, Fickell has shown he can build a program. He turned Cincinatti into a College Football Playoff program and perennial winner in his time there. When you do a complete overhaul, things will be dicey to start. I do think the Fickell move was the right one, however, I think the Air Raid needs to be changed to a more hybrid offense, one that marries the strong running game with more explosiveness in the passing attack.
Fickell is a proven winner and I still believe he will prove he was the right hire at Wisconsin.