After serving as Urban Meyer’s right-hand man for five seasons, Luke Fickell believes he has what it takes to run a program – and that’s exactly what he intends to do at Cincinnati this fall.
But it won’t be easy. The Bearcats are 11-14 over the last two seasons and finished 4-8 a season ago. Fickell will need to present a unified message to his team – and fast. After a season-opening home game against Austin Peay on Aug. 31, UC will travel to Ann Arbor to take on Michigan on Sept. 9.
UC players and fans are excited about Fickell, who helped Ohio State to a national title in 2014, but they must be patient. Winning doesn’t happen overnight.
“You can’t do it by yourself,” Fickell said on CBS Sports Radio’s Gio and Jones. “I think you got to have the right people around you. It’s still about 18-to-22-year-olds. We want to push them and we want to drive them, but if they don’t trust us and they don’t believe that this is the right place – even though we’re working them hard – that’s when those guys don’t see a light at the end of the tunnel. That’s where you see all these guys transferring and leaving. Heck, they’ve been the best player probably since the time they were 7, 8, 9, 10 years old. Now they walk into a place where they’re being asked to do some things (by) some new people – that’s what’s tough here. They’ve had a bunch of different coaches in the last few years. (There must be) total alignment from the entire coaching staff. That’s what gives us an opportunity.”
Fickell, of course, knows how important recruiting is. He learned that from Meyer, Jim Tressel, and others. For him, recruiting is all about philosophy: What is it? And how do you present it?
“In the recruiting process, I tell them if they’re coming here to have a 42-year-old best friend, they’re coming to the wrong place,” Fickell said. “If they’re looking for a guy to push them, to drive them, to sometimes think that I’m completely out of my mind but know we care, then they’re in the right place. I think it has a lot to do with how you bring them in and what their expectations are.”