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Wisconsin Head Coach Luke Fickell Slides in National Rankings

The Badgers’ head coach saw his stock drop slightly.



Wisconsin Badgers head football coach Luke Fickell
Oct 14, 2023; Madison, Wisconsin, USA; Wisconsin Badgers head coach Luke Fickell during the game against the Iowa Hawkeyes at Camp Randall Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

When Athletic Director Chris McIntosh shocked the fanbase and hired Luke Fickell to become the Wisconsin Badgers head football coach in November 2022, it sparked a sense of optimism among the fanbase, signaling a potential turning point for the program.

The Wisconsin Badgers managed to secure a consensus top-15 head coach with a track record of success in building programs. During his time at Cincinnati, Fickell notably led a Group of Five team to the playoffs.

The decision to bring Fickell aboard was a clear indication of Wisconsin’s desire for a fresh approach after parting ways with former head coach Paul Chryst. It felt as though the arrow was trending upward. 

However, the 2023 season proved challenging for Fickell and the Badgers, who struggled to adapt to their new offensive system under Phil Longo, finishing with a 7-6 record. Consequently, the national media has soured on Fickell, if only a little. 

Wisconsin Head Coach Luke Fickell Drops in The Athletics Top 25 Rankings 

In Bruce Feldman’s recent head coach rankings on The Athletic, Fickell’s position among the top 25 shifted, reflecting the challenges he faced during his first season with the Wisconsin football program.

In the latest standings, Luke Fickell is ranked 19th, down from his previous position of 11th. That said, his all-time record of 71-31 speaks to the success that’s followed him throughout his career. Despite a disappointing inaugural season, Fickell has recruited well and feels like a terrific hire poised to lead Wisconsin into a new era.

“Also down a few spots from last year, Fickell went 7-6 in his debut season in Madison,” Feldman wrote on March 5. “That followed a 57-18 run at Cincinnati, including a CFP berth.”

As Fickell enters his second season at Wisconsin, the pressure is on to return the program to its winning ways and restore confidence among the fanbase, the media, and, more importantly, the players in the locker room.

With the Big Ten conference expanding and a gauntlet of a schedule on the horizon, the upcoming 2024 season will undoubtedly provide insight into Fickell’s potential to steer Wisconsin football back on track amidst the evolving college athletics landscape.

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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.