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Wisconsin Football Head Coach Luke Fickell Linked to Michigan Coaching Job

The Badgers head coach has had his name linked to the Michigan job by a few media outlets.



Wisconsin football; Badgers head coach Luke Fickell
Sep 2, 2023; Madison, Wisconsin, USA; Wisconsin Badgers head coach Luke Fickell runs onto the field prior to the game against the Buffalo Bulls at Camp Randall Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

The offseason coaching carousel is stirring up rumors about Wisconsin football head coach Luke Fickell potentially being a candidate for the Michigan coaching job following Jim Harbaugh’s departure to the NFL. 

However, Wisconsin Badgers fans can breathe a sigh of relief, as this seems to be more of a distant possibility than an imminent reality.

Wisconsin Football Head Coach Floated as an Option at Michigan

Recent reports from Pete Thamel of ESPN and Chris Vannini from The Athletic have linked the Wisconsin football program’s head coach, Luke Fickell, to the opening at Michigan. 

Despite the speculation, both outlets emphasize that it’s a long shot for Fickell to make the leap to the Big Ten rival. The vacancy at Michigan arose when Harbaugh, who led the Wolverines to three consecutive Big Ten championships and a College Football Playoff national championship, left for the NFL’s Los Angeles Chargers. 

The top contender for Harbaugh’s successor is believed to be Wolverines offensive coordinator Sherrone Moore.

ESPN’s Pete Thamel noted that Fickell had been considered by Michigan in the past, especially when Harbaugh contemplated an NFL return. However, The Athletic’s Chris Vannini suggests that Fickell’s relatively new tenure with the Wisconsin Badgers and an underwhelming debut season might make this coaching move unlikely from both perspectives.

Why Luke Fickell Coaching at Michigan Seems Rather Unlikely

Having taken the helm at the University of Wisconsin in November 2022, Luke Fickell would face an $8 million buyout if he decides to leave before March 31, 2027. 

Additionally, Fickell’s deep Ohio roots, having played and coached at Ohio State for a combined two decades, further diminish the likelihood of him switching allegiance to the maize and blue. Although, watching Fickell take down his alma mater would be objectively hilarious. 

If Michigan opts against Moore, ESPN and The Athletic also propose Wisconsin native and former Wisconsin-Whitewater coach Lance Leipold as a potential candidate. Currently coaching at Kansas, Leipold boasts a successful coaching track record, including a turnaround of the Jayhawks program and six NCAA Division III championships at Whitewater.

Wisconsin football could indirectly benefit from Harbaugh’s departure as the coaching drama unfolds. If players recruited by Harbaugh decide to enter the transfer portal during the 30-day window, the Badgers might seize the opportunity and start shopping.

There are also several 2024 Michigan commits that UW was in deep with worth monitoring. 

The next move in this coaching chess game will undoubtedly impact Wisconsin football and the entire Big Ten landscape altogether but rest assured; Coach Fickell is highly unlikely to leave the Badgers after one season.

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Dillon Graff is a Substack Newsletter Best Selling Author 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, Bleacher Report, Verbal Commits, B5Q, Saturday Blitz, and Fansided.