Luke Fickell has a long, storied history at Ohio State.
The Cincinnati head coach played for the Buckeyes from 1993 to 1996 as part of the original “Silver Bullets” and then went on to become a graduate assistant at Ohio State during the 1999 season.
After a two-year stint at Akron as a defensive line coach, Fickell returned to Columbus as a special teams coordinator under the Jim Tressel regime and helped the Buckeyes win an historic national championship in the 2002 season.
Fickell would remain as a coach at Ohio State for 15 years as he made his way up the coaching ranks to linebackers coach, then defensive coordinator and even served as interim head coach in the 2011 season following the resignation of Jim Tressel.
When Urban Meyer took over the program for the 2012 season, Fickell stayed on Meyer’s staff as a defensive coordinator. The two coaches would work together and brought another national title to Columbus in the 2014 season.
Fickell would finally leave Ohio State following the 2016 season after helping lead the Buckeye defense to the 2016 College Football Playoff and become the head football coach of the Cincinnati Bearcats.
You would think that a history as long and illustrious as Fickell had at Ohio State would certainly draw some emotion out of the current Bearcats head coach, but that’s not the case as Cincinnati prepares to travel to Columbus to take on the Buckeyes this weekend.
Fickell said on Monday during the AAC weekly teleconference that he is trying to stay “very unemotional” heading into his return to the sidelines at Ohio Stadium.
“I can’t allow myself to get involved in any emotional type of things,” Fickell said. “I don’t want to talk about who’s going to be there, tickets, different things like that. I’ve avoided that for a long time, and we’ll continue to avoid it for five or so more days.”
While Fickell is remaining laser-focused ahead of his return to Ohio State, the Cincinnati head coach did say that he still tries to keep in touch with his former players who are still on the Buckeyes and he tries to keep up with what they’re doing.
“Like 18-22 year olds as well, they got a lot of things going on. So I don’t stay in contact with a whole lot of them. I don’t stay in contact with a whole lot of my own family sometimes, especially during the season,” Fickell laughingly said. “So that’s not abnormal, but I do follow them, for sure.”
Fickell has no connection to current Ohio State head coach Ryan Day, as Day joined the Buckeye coaching staff the season after Fickell departed. However, Fickell actually does have a few former Buckeyes on his roster and his coaching staff down at Cincinnati.
Former Ohio State linebackers coach Marcus Freeman is Fickell’s defensive coordinator on staff while former Buckeye players WR L’Christian “Blue” Smith, WR Garyn Prater and former OSU walk-on DL Joe Schroer are all members of the Bearcats roster now.
It will certainly be interesting to see how Buckeye fans will react this weekend when Luke Fickell enters Ohio Stadium for the first time in nearly three years, but I think it’s safe to say that they will probably give a big cheer for the Buckeye legend.
No. 5 Ohio State takes on Cincinnati this Saturday, September 7th at Ohio Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for Noon ET and the game will be televised on ABC.
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