For the second straight offseason, Urban Meyer could be losing a defensive coordinator to a head-coaching job.
Last year it was Chris Ash moving from Ohio State to become the head coach at Rutgers. Now, Luke Fickell looks like he might be leaving for the head-coaching job at Cincinnati.
BearcatReport.com, a Rivals site, reported Friday that Fickell is in negotiations to become the next head coach at Cincinnati, right down the street from the place he's spent almost the entirety of his career.
ESPN's Adam Rittenberg followed up, reporting that while Fickell and Cincinnati have talked about the opening, things might not be as imminent as the first report suggested.
Ohio State defensive coordinator Luke Fickell and Cincinnati have spoken but no contract negotiations are under way, sources tell ESPN.— Adam Rittenberg (@ESPNRittenberg) December 9, 2016
While Fickell — if he were to leave — would technically become a part of the Meyer coaching tree, he's been a mainstay in Columbus since before the Buckeyes' current head coach arrived.
Fickell played at Ohio State from 1992 to 1996 and got a graduate assistant job under John Cooper in 1999. After two seasons as an assistant at Akron, Fickell returned as the Buckeyes' special teams coordinator under Jim Tressel and spent the next nine seasons as a Tressel assistant. He moved from special teams coordinator to linebackers coach in 2004 and got the title of co-defensive coordinator in 2005.
After Tressel's tenure came to a tumultuous end amid what became known as "Tattoogate," Fickell assumed the one-season role of interim head coach, leading the Buckeyes to a 6-7 record before Meyer showed up. Fickell has been a defensive coordinator under Meyer for the past five seasons, helping Ohio State to a jaw-dropping 61-5 record — including a national championship in 2014 — and coaching one of the best defenses in the country over the past several seasons.
Fickell would seem like a perfect fit at Cincinnati, which has a vacancy after the departure of Tommy Tuberville, who posted just a 4-8 record this past season. Fickell is a longtime assistant who most definitely deserves his chance, bringing that one season of head-coaching experience and a knowledge of the recruiting area.
If Fickell takes the job, he wouldn't have to wait too long to go up against his former employer and new in-state foe. The Bearcats and Buckeyes play in 2019, though that comes after Cincinnati's already-scheduled game against Michigan next season.