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3 Fearless Predictions for Wisconsin Football During the Luke Fickell Era



Wisconsin football: Badgers head coach Luke Fickell
Sep 3, 2022; Fayetteville, Arkansas, USA; Cincinnati Bearcats head coach Luke Fickell during the second quarter against the Arkansas Razorbacks at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

Ladies and gentlemen, prepare yourselves because the highly anticipated Luke Fickell era is upon us. Wisconsin football wanted a seat at the big boy table, and the prospects of that happening seem possible now that the Badgers have one of the top 10 head coaches in the country, full stop.

With the honeymoon phase coming to an end, now felt like a good time to unleash some bold-as-hell proclamations about where I see the future of the Badgers football team heading during Coach Fickell’s tenure.

So, grab a beer, take a deep breath, and feel free to join the discussion afterward because I’m about to channel my inner Believe with Rajeev and dive into three fearless predictions for the LFEra in Madison.

Let’s begin.

Luke Fickell Will Turn Wisconsin Football Into a “Progrum”

Luke Fickell provides the Wisconsin football team with instant credibility. This man took a non-Power 5 school to the college football playoffs, so on paper, it’s fair to assume he’ll be able to accomplish a lot now that he has access to additional resources. 

The Badgers haven’t even played a game under Fickell yet (not counting the bowl game), and Wisconsin was viewed as a legit destination for players in the transfer portal this offseason. We’ve also seen an uptick in recruiting athletes at positions where UW doesn’t traditionally prevail.  

Which leads me to my point: if Wisconsin comes out and produces out the gate, the Badgers will become a Progrum. Yes, I intentionally spelled that wrong. What I’m getting at is if UW can establish itself as a top-tier team in the Big Ten, consistently land top 20 or better recruiting classes, and combine that with the school’s rich tradition and fan support … there’s no reason the Badgers can’t begin to close the talent gap with the blue-bloods and take steps towards becoming the next powerhouse. 

That’s obviously what Chris McIntosh envisioned when he hired Fickell — and while it might seem like a longshot — I honestly believe Wisconsin football has the potential to become a contender capable of going toe-to-toe with the best in the country in a few years. 

In general, I’m a glass-half-full guy anyway — but Luke Fickell completely won me over this offseason — Wisconsin football will be a full-fledged Progrum within a couple of years. Nothing would make me happier. 

Wisconsin Football Will Land Its Highest Rated Recruiting Class EVER Under Luke Fickell

One of the reasons Wisconsin hasn’t been able to get over the proverbial hump is the substantial talent gap between them and the Ohio State’s of the world. But that hasn’t stopped the Badgers from giving them the occasional run for their money by recruiting and developing system fits.

It’s a small sample size, and this is all a projection, but I believe the Wisconsin Badgers will see a noticeable uptick in the caliber of recruiting classes they bring in under Luke Fickell.

What do I mean by that, and why is it important?

Since 2014, the teams that have won the college football playoff (Alabama, Georgia, LSU, and Ohio State) have consistently produced top-five recruiting classes — with Clemson being the only exception (top 15).

For comparison’s sake, Wisconsin football has only finished with one recruiting class in the top 20, topping out at No. 16. That said, I think the Badgers will net its first-ever top 15 recruiting class during the Luke Fickell era.

I understand that this prediction coming true will require the in-state talent pool to produce several high-end recruits while continuing to establish and land commitments from four-star prospects outside of America’s Dairyland. But I believe this coaching staff is UW’s best shot at making it happen.

The Badgers Will Crash the College Football Playoff Party

Now, let’s get to the juiciest prediction of them all. 

I understand that significant changes are coming in the college football world in the next few seasons. From conference realignment to the expansion of the playoffs, almost everything we’ve grown to know and love about the sport will look different in 2024 and beyond. So, projecting any future outcomes may be a fool’s errand. 

However, I think Luke Fickell will take the Wisconsin Badgers to the College Football Playoffs during his tenure. Dating back to 2014, UW has accumulated the most wins of any program that hasn’t made the College Football Playoffs — they just need one last push to break through. 

Now that 12 teams will have a chance to punch their ticket, that opens up a ton of possibilities. Even though the Big Ten will be stronger than ever with the additions of USC, UCLA, Oregon, and Washington, the Badgers have the infrastructure in place to hold their own. 

Good coaching matters. Developing your talent matters. Surrounding yourself with quality assistant coaches who can also recruit matters. And Luke Fickell has a history of doing all of these things well. 

Coach Fickell’s done more with less throughout his career — that’s why I think he can do more with more for the Wisconsin football program if given enough time to implement his vision. 

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Dillon Graff is a Substack newsletter best-selling author, publisher of AllBadgers, and the owner of, your go-to source for in-depth coverage of the Wisconsin Badgers. His work has been featured in top media publications like USA Today's BadgersWire, Athlon Sports, Bleacher Report, Verbal Commits, Bucky's 5th Quarter, and FanSided.