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Wisconsin Football: The Benefits of Hiring Luke Fickell as Head Coach

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After the surprising dismissal of Paul Chryst on October 2nd, Wisconsin football immediately elevated Jim Leonhard, their long-time defensive coordinator, into the interim head coaching role.

Even getting the Badgers bowl eligible wasn’t enough to have Wisconsin remove his interim tag, as the university instead hired Cincinnati’s head coach, Luke Fickell.

There was some hope that he might keep Leonhard on the staff, similar to Urban Meyer keeping Fickell on when he was the interim head coach at Ohio State. Those hopes ended when Leonhard officially announced that after Wisconsin’s bowl game against Oklahoma State on December 28th, he is formally cutting ties with his beloved alma mater.

What does Luke Fickell bring to the Wisconsin football program?

Cincinnati Bearcats head coach Luke Fickell looks on in the third quarter of the NCAA Football game at Nippert Stadium in Cincinnati on Saturday, Oct. 8, 2022. Cincinnati Bearcats defeated South Florida Bulls 28-24.
South Florida Bulls At Cincinnati Bearcats 573

Proven Track Record 

Luke Fickell can flat-out coach. Think of Urban Meyer without all of the scandals. Fickell has been successful since he left Ohio State’s program to become Cincinnati’s head coach following Brian Kelly’s exit.

After a dismal 4-8 record in his inaugural season, he posted back-to-back double-digit win seasons and became the first non-Power 5 program to reach the College Football Playoffs in 2021.

In six seasons at Cincinnati, he produced a 57-18 record and a .760 winning percentage. One of his Cincinnati squads even beat Notre Dame on the road in South Bend.

Familiarity with the Big Ten

Luke Fickell knows the Big Ten landscape as well as any coach in the conference, having both coached and played at Ohio State. While at Ohio State as defensive coordinator, OSU’s recruiting classes were never below 7th in the country. While Wisconsin has been successful on the field, that has yet to consistently translate into recruiting wins. However, they did finish with the No. 16 ranked class in 2021.

Fickell should be able to add a new and exciting energy to the Wisconsin football program.

New offensive concepts 

During Paul Chryst’s tenure, Wisconsin football reverted back to its “smash-mouth” brand of ground-and-pound offense. His squads NEVER averaged more than 200 passing yards in a season, and only once did the aerial attack earn more pass yards per game than the run game.

Fickell’s offenses averaged 225 passing yards per game in six seasons at Cincinnati. Adding Phil Longo as the offensive coordinator should only help enhance Fickell’s proven offensive philosophy.

One potential area of concern

The biggest drawback that comes with Fickell is the potentially uncertain future. The more successful he is at Wisconsin, the more attention he’ll garner from programs that could offer more money.

Jim Leonhard turned down multiple offers from different programs and even the Green Bay Packers to stay at Wisconsin as their defensive coordinator.

Will Fickell use Wisconsin football as a stepping stone in the same fashion Nick Saban used Michigan State to land a job at LSU? Everyone still remembers Bret Bielema leaving our beloved Badger program to coach unsuccessfully at Arkansas.

Final Thoughts

While one era of Wisconsin football officially ended on Dec. 28th, a brand new epoch will begin under the watchful eye of Luke Fickell. While it may not be a very long ride, it should be an exciting aerial journey.

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Former Wisconsin Football RB Named to CFB Hall of Fame Ballot

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Sep 15, 2012; Madison, WI, USA; Wisconsin Badgers running back Montee Ball (28) during the game against the Utah State Aggies at Camp Randall Stadium. Wisconsin defeated Utah State 16-14. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Madison, Wis. –The 2024 College Football Hall of Fame ballot has been released, and a Wisconsin football legend is among the names on the list.

Montee Ball, who was with Wisconsin from 2010-2012, was among 78 players and nine coaches selected for the ballot.

Ball is among the most decorated players in Wisconsin history. The Badger legend received two first-team All-American nominations, along with winning the Doak Walker Award. He also received Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year honors in 2011.

Ball placed himself in the NCAA record books when he tied with Barry Sanders for the most single-season TDs in NCAA history with 39 during the 2011 season and secured the NCAA record for most single-season points with 236. The Badger legend is also the only player in history to rush for 100 yards in three straight Rose Bowl games.

Ball amassed 5,255 yards and 79 touchdowns throughout his three years at UW. His best statistical season came in 2011 when the Wisconsin legend rushed for 1,923 yards and 33 touchdowns. On top of that, Ball hauled in 24 receptions for 306 yards and six touchdowns in the same season.

Denver would select the former Badger in the second round of the 2013 NFL Draft, where he spent two years as a Bronco.

Other Wisconsin Football HOF Representatives 

The Wisconsin football program currently has four players and one coach in the CFB Hall of Fame. Barry Alvarez was the first Badger to enter the HOF when he was selected in 2010. Ron Dayne (2013), Tim Krumrie (2016), Joe Thomas (2019), and Troy Vincent (2023) round out the rest of the list.

Ball stands out in the 2024 class due to the sheer volume of his accolades. When voting wraps up, I expect the Wisconsin legend to be among those inducted.


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Wisconsin Football Lands 2024 Three-Star Interior Offensive Lineman

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Madison, Wis. – The Wisconsin football program has picked up its fourth commit in the last three days, with three-star offensive lineman Ryan Cory coming on board.

The news comes just an hour after four-star OT Kevin Heywood announced his commitment to Wisconsin. 

Cory took to Twitter to announce his commitment.

Wisconsin beat out offers from Pitt, Vanderbilt, Cincinnati, Oregon, Rutgers, and many more. Cory was set to visit Pittsburgh and Vanderbilt in the coming weeks. 

According to the industry-generated 247Sports Composite, Cory is the No. 778 player in the nation, the No. 50 interior offensive lineman, and the No. 24 player in Pennsylvania.

What Ryan Cory brings to the Wisconsin football program

Cory is coming off a remarkable junior season. The 6-foot-4, 290-pound lineman received First-Team All-Conference honors and earned a state championship win.

Looking at his film, there’s a lot to like about his upside. Cory is fearless in creating contact against defenders at the second level while putting out some key blocks for his tailback. His hand speed and placement also stand out.

In pass-blocking reps, the 6-foot-4, 290-pound lineman is a brick wall. Cory can easily contain power moves from opposing linemen with his strength. He rarely gets off balance and consistently creates leverage against defenders. 

Cory will be an excellent depth piece for the offensive line while he works on his craft. If the Pennsylvania native can refine his technique a bit more, he could be an impactful lineman for Wisconsin.

Cory joins Kevin Heywood and Derek Jensen as linemen to commit to UW. The Wisconsin football program now holds 12 commitments in the 2024 cycle.


Contact/Follow us @Badger_Notes on Twitter, Subscribe to the BadgerNotes Newsletter here, and like our page on Facebook to follow ongoing coverage of Wisconsin Badgers news, notes, opinion, and analysis. You can also follow Jake Maier on Twitter @JakeJMaier.

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Wisconsin Football Lands 2024 Four-Star Offensive Lineman Commit

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Wisconsin football stadium: Camp Randall
Sep 10, 2022; Madison, Wisconsin, USA; Wisconsin Badgers mascot Bucky Badger prior to the game against the Washington State Cougars at Camp Randall Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Madison, Wis. – The Wisconsin football program has picked up a commitment from one of the nation’s premier offensive linemen.

Four-star OT Kevin Heywood took to Twitter to announce his commitment to Wisconsin.

UW beat out offers from some juggernaut programs, including Alabama, Georgia, Penn State, Michigan, USC, and many more.

According to the 247Sports Composite, Heywood is the No. 266 player in the nation, the No. 25 OT, and the No. 5 player in Pennsylvania.

The four-star prospect began his official visit to Wisconsin on June 2nd. He was slated to take officials to Kentucky, Auburn, and USC in the coming weeks. Instead, Heywood decided to commit to the Wisconsin football program on the same weekend.

The Badgers missed out on multiple in-state offensive linemen to Penn State early in the 2024 cycle. Because of that, securing multiple offensive linemen quickly became a priority for UW, and they were able to poach a top player out of Pennsylvania.

What Kevin Heywood brings to the Wisconsin football program

The first thing that jumps out for Heywood is his frame. Standing at 6-foot-7, 280-pound, Heywood stands out in his class, and he uses his size well. He consistently gets his hands at pad level and is able to drive defenders off of the line of scrimmage.

The Pennsylvania native thrives in pass pro. With his size, he’s a brick wall on the offensive front who can easily stop rushers in their tracks.

Heywood is a prototypical Wisconsin offensive lineman. His skill set could make him an immediate difference-maker on UW’s offensive front.

With the commitment, the Wisconsin football program holds 11 commits in the 2024 cycle. Heywood joins in-state OT Derek Jensen as the sole offensive line commits in the 2024 cycle.


Contact/Follow us @Badger_Notes on Twitter. Also, Subscribe to the BadgerNotes Newsletter here. Additionally, like our page on Facebook to follow ongoing coverage of Wisconsin Badgers news, notes, opinion, and analysis. Also, you can follow Jake Maier on Twitter @JakeJMaier.

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