Will Luke Fickell or Jim Leonhard emerge as the next head football coach at Wisconsin?
ESPN reported Sunday that Wisconsin is making a “strong push” to lure Fickell away from Cincinnati, which he led to the College Football Playoff following the 2021 season.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, however, reported Sunday that sources close to the program “have not wavered in their view” that Leonhard will get the job on a permanent basis. Leonard has served as interim coach since Paul Chryst’s firing on Oct. 2. He guided the Badgers to a 4-3 mark after a 2-3 start under Chryst, who was 67-26 in eight seasons as head coach.
Wisconsin (6-6, 4-5 Big Ten) is bowl eligible. The regular season ended Saturday with a disappointing 23-16 home loss to Minnesota.
“I hope I’m given the opportunity to push this program forward in all areas here in the near future,” Leonhard told reporters Saturday after the game. “Big task, but I’m excited for the opportunity.”
The Journal Sentinel said Sunday that Wisconsin considered Fickell, Baylor head coach Dave Aranda and Kansas head coach Lance Leipold for the opening but moved on from all three. Leipold wasn’t offered the job, and the other two chose to stay at their respective schools, per the report.
ESPN, however, said the Badgers want to hire Fickell in the next few days. He has turned down chances to be considered by other schools in the past, deciding instead to stay at Cincinnati because of a preference for the Midwest.
Fickell, 49, coached one season in the Big Ten, serving as interim coach at Ohio State in 2011 after the firing of Jim Tressel. The Buckeyes were 6-7.
Hired at Cincinnati in 2017, Fickell has a 57-18 record with the Bearcats. With a 9-3 record this season, Cincinnati is headed to a fifth straight bowl game.
–Field Level Media