Life can change in a hurry in college football, and they were reminded of that in a big way in Cincinnati last week.
A week that began in celebration — Cincinnati completed one of the best classes in Group of 5 history on Wednesday, No. 41 in the country and 25 spots higher than the next-closest G5 team — ended in crisis. Mark Dantonio’s Tuesday decision to step down at Michigan State put Cincinnati’s momentum in serious peril as the Spartans engaged in a high-profile pursuit of Luke Fickell.
Reporters spotted the Michigan State plane in Cincinnati on Sunday, but that plane left with the same number of passengers as it arrived with, and Monday Fickell confirmed he will remain a Bearcat.
Looking forward to more of this in 2020!
— Luke Fickell (@CoachFick) February 10, 2020
Aside from the fact that one school is in the Big Ten and the other in the American, Cincinnati is absolutely a better job than Michigan State in this moment. Fickell has the Bearcats at 22-5 over the past two seasons, and they’ll enter 2020 as the odds-on favorite to win the American and appear in a New Year’s Six bowl game. Michigan State, no matter the coach, is looking at a long-term rebuild in a division with Ohio State, Penn State and Michigan all in various stages of success.
Add in the fact he and his wife Amy have five young children and the timing simply wasn’t right to leave all they’ve built at Cincinnati.
“Family and the relationships that you’ve built. At some point in time things always come to an end — they get rid of you, kids leave — but the bottom line, first and foremost, is family,” Fickell explained Monday. “Obviously, my family loves it here. I’ve got a unique situation with the age of my kids, but also the relationships we’ve built. To have this class coming in that’s very, very, very special, and to have that first class we recruited be at the very end of their college career — it was a unique time for me and the family. All in all, we had to take a step back and make a selfish decision.
“I told the guys, ‘I apologize, I had to make a selfish decision. But this selfish decision was to do what’s right for my family, and that’s to be here and be with you guys, to continue to do what it is we’ve done.'”
Fickell implied that his dalliance with Michigan State will lead to an increased commitment to himself and his program… and, sure enough, the program’s tweet was tagged with links for supporters to donate.
"I had to make a selfish decision, but this selfish decision was what was right for my family––and that is to be here, to be with you guys, and continue to do what it is we've done."
— Cincinnati Bearcats (@GoBEARCATS) February 10, 2020
“If anything, we’re going to make this better for our team, the guys in our program and everything for the future,” Fickell said.
As always, stay tuned to The Scoop for the latest.