Former Buckeye Luke Fickell talks new job at Wisconsin, recruiting, facing OSU
Luke Fickell, dressed in yet another shade of red, was back in Ohio Friday.
He was speaking to a convention room full of high school coaches about the start of his tenure at Wisconsin.
The lessons he learned from his time at Ohio State as interim head coach in 2011 and at Cincinnati, where he served as head coach from 2017-22, helped him with his goal of "winning the first month and a half" with the Badgers, he said.
Even with a new staff in place, he has lost just six players to the transfer portal. By comparison, Oklahoma State, the team Wisconsin played and beat 24-17 in the Guaranteed Rate Bowl, has had Mike Gundy at the helm since 2005, and the Cowboys lost 14 players via transfer – including wide receiver Bryson Green, who is joining Fickell in Madison.
Luke Fickell:'Thank you for believing in me': Fickell pens letter of gratitude to Cincinnati
That's partly the result of Fickell actually coaching the Badgers in that bowl game, despite just taking over the team on Nov. 27. He said that was important to show the players he valued them and that he was humble enough to learn from what the program was already doing before he arrived.
Although Fickell's resume is undoubtedly impressive – he took Cincinnati to the College Football Playoff semifinal in 2021 – he still felt he had to earn the players' trust. He recalled his introductory press conference, where much of the room was in "hype mode," while off to his side he could tell from his players' body language there was a wariness.
He dove in as quickly as possible, even though it meant leaving his wife, Amy, and six kids behind in Cincinnati for the time being. They'll make the move after the school year. When they do join him in Madison, Fickell is fairly certain it will feel familiar to them. He says he sees a lot of similarities between his new home and his former ones.
Fickell hopes to convince others to make the move as well, but he admitted there will be challenges to recruiting the state of Ohio for the first time as a non-resident.
"They've been nice so far, though," he said with a laugh when mentioning the recruits he's met with.
He'll definitely have some visitors from Columbus on Oct. 28 when Ohio State plays Wisconsin at Camp Randall Stadium. He's not giving much thought to that now, and closer to the game he'll be all business.
"Maybe a bit this summer," Fickell said after he was asked if there's ever a time he'll have a chance to appreciate the opportunity to face his alma mater.
Borland a Badger
Wisconsin's website lists former Ohio State player Tuf Borland as a defensive graduate assistant for the Badgers.
Borland was an Ohio State captain for three seasons (2018-20) and was a linebacker for the Buckeyes.
Get more Ohio State football news by listening to our podcasts
This article originally appeared on The Columbus Dispatch: Wisconsin coach, ex-OSU player Luke Fickell speaks at Columbus event