Cincinnati hires Louisville's Scott Satterfield to replace Luke Fickell

Cincinnati has made a surprise hire to replace Luke Fickell. The school announced Monday morning that it has hired Louisville's Scott Satterfield as its next head coach.

The Cardinals went 7-5 in 2022 and are set to play Cincinnati in the Fenway Bowl on Dec. 17. That bowl game just became a heck of a lot more intriguing.

The move to hire Satterfield comes as the Fenway Bowl is Cincy’s last game as a member of the American Athletic Conference. The Bearcats are heading to the Big 12 in 2023.

"Scott Satterfield is a proven winner, a relentless competitor and a culture builder," Cincinnati athletic director John Cunningham said. "He's an innovative offensive mind and a leader who develops men on and off the field. He's the perfect fit to grow this program and lead us into the Big 12 next season and beyond."

It may seem odd for a coach to head from a Power Five school to one that’s about to become one, but Satterfield’s move makes sense. He has been at Louisville for four seasons and his best season was an 8-5 campaign in 2019. It was a season that came after the disastrous end of the Bobby Petrino era at Louisville that culminated with a 2-10 record in 2018. However, the Cardinals finished below .500 in each of the past two seasons and Satterfield infamously interviewed for the South Carolina job after the 2020 season — a move that did not sit well in Louisville.

There were whispers that Louisville could be in the market for a coaching change after a 2-3 start in 2022. To Satterfield and the program’s credit, the Cardinals reeled off four consecutive wins over the middle of the season to get bowl eligible. Louisville’s last four wins of the season all came over teams that finished with winning records including Pitt, James Madison and NC State.

But it’s not like Satterfield, who previously had a 51-24 record in six seasons at Appalachian State, is leaving a program with a storied football history. The Cardinals have just six 10-win seasons in program history. Louisville’s last 10-win season came in 2013.

Louisville coach Scott Satterfield is reportedly set to be the next coach at Cincinnati. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Louisville coach Scott Satterfield is reportedly set to be the next coach at Cincinnati. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) (Andy Lyons via Getty Images)

Cincinnati, meanwhile, was 9-3 in 2022 and is just a year removed from a College Football Playoff appearance. With Oklahoma and Texas heading to the SEC in a couple of years, the Big 12 is set to be wide open. And there’s no reason that Cincinnati can’t be a regular contender. The Bearcats have won 11 or more games in three of the past five seasons and have eight 10-win seasons in the 2000s.

"I am honored to be the next head coach at the University of Cincinnati and am looking forward to building on the winning tradition this program has had over the last 20 years," Satterfield said. "My family and I have admired this university and athletic department from afar for many years. I'm excited to take Cincinnati into the Big 12 this fall and ready to compete for championships."

With Satterfield heading north, most Louisville fans’ eyes will also turn north toward Purdue head coach Jeff Brohm. The former Louisville quarterback has long been the dream coach for many Cardinal fans and said in May that it was a “tough call” to stay at Purdue in 2018 when Louisville was looking for a coach and ultimately hired Satterfield.

Brohm said that “it was just too early to leave” Purdue four years ago. Would it be too early to leave now? And would he still be interested?