Cincinnati Bearcats

ANN ARBOR, MI - NOVEMBER 26:  Head coach Luke Fickell of the Ohio State Buckeyes looks on from the sideline while playing the Michigan Wolverines at Michigan Stadium on November 26, 2011 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Michigan won the game 40-34. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
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Luke Fickell’s focus on Cincinnati recruiting will be welcome change for high school coaches


Ohio State will always figure to dominate the in-state recruiting efforts within the state of Ohio, but former Buckeye assistant and new head coach of Cincinnati Luke Fickell will do all he can to recruit as well as possible from within the city of Cincinnati.

“We gotta do our best job there,” Fickell has said, according to The Cincinnati Enquirer. Fickell has called the city “The state of Cincinnati,” which is more of a way for a coach to build up its recruiting foundation more than anything else, but it is one key recruiting region that has remarkably seemingly been ignored by Fickell’s predecessor, Tommy Tuberville.

Tommy Tuberville never came to campus,’’ Elder High School coach Doug Ramsey said for a story by The Cincinnati Enquirer. “Twenty years I’ve been the head coach at Elder. In that time, 15 Elder guys either walked on or were on scholarship at UC. Butch Jones has been here, Brian Kelly has been here, Mark Dantonio has been here.'” Jones (Tennessee), Kelly (Notre Dame) and Dantonio (Michigan State) all thrived on that recruiting base and landed themselves more lucrative head coaching jobs as a result of their success at Cincinnati.

Tuberville instead used his experience and connections outside the state of Ohio to try and build his roster in as many ways as possible. Cincinnati’s Class of 2016 included just three players from the state of Ohio but pulled recruits from Michigan, Virginia, Georgia, Florida, Texas, Alabama, California, Indiana, Pennsylvania and even Canada. Just six players in the Class of 2015 hailed from Ohio, and seven Ohio recruits were a part of Cincinnati’s Class of 2014. Tuberville’s mission was to expand Cincinnati’s recruiting base, which in theory is not a bad concept if it means building a stronger team. It does, however, leave many local high school coaches a bit frustrated knowing some talented players right under the nose of Cincinnati may have been overlooked to some degree.

Fickell is a stark contrast from the southern-based Tuberville. Fickell is an Ohio native who played for Ohio State and has coached with the Buckeyes for the bulk of his coaching career with two years at Akron. If any coach understands the recruiting landscape in Ohio, it will be Fickell.

Ex-OSU WR Torrence Gibson following Luke Fickell to Cincinnati

CINCINNATI, OH - NOVEMBER 5: Zach Edwards #4 of the Cincinnati Bearcats leads his teammates on to the field prior to the start of the game against the BYU Cougars at Nippert Stadium on November 5, 2016 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)
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Torrance Gibson may have left Ohio State, but he’s not leaving the state of Ohio.

Back in August, it was announced that Gibson had been suspended for the entire 2016 season, a suspension with which Urban Meyer didn’t agree.  In December, even as Gibson signed with Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, the head coach left the door open for the wide receiver’s return.

That appears to have since been shut as Gibson tells that he has committed to Cincinnati and will play for new Bearcats head coach and former Buckeyes defensive coordinator Luke Fickell.  Instead of MGCCC, though, Gibson is enrolled at Cincinnati State in pursuit of an associate’s degree that would allow him to play for UC in 2017.

“I’m confident about what is happening in the Queen City,” Gibson told the website. “I’m just ready to roll.”

A four-star 2015 recruit, Gibson was rated by as the No. 12 player at any position in the state of Florida. Coming to OSU as a dual-threat quarterback, Gibson was moved to wide receiver.  At least at first, Fickell will move Gibson back to quarterback.

Joker Phillips, Jon Tenuta added to Luke Fickell’s first Cincinnati coaching staff

LEXINGTON, KY - NOVEMBER 17:  Joker Phillips the head coach of the Kentucky Wildcats is carried off of the field by Matt Smith #69 and Larry Warford #67 after the game against the Samford Bulldogs at Commonwealth Stadium on November 17, 2012 in Lexington, Kentucky. It was Phillips last home game as the Kentucky head coach.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
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Embarking on his first offseason as the head coach at Cincinnati, Luke Fickell has made a couple of veteran additions to his first UC coaching staff.

The football program announced in a press release the additions of Joker Phillips and Jon Tenuta to Fickell’s initial staff.  The former will serve as wide receivers coach, the latter as safeties coach.

“I’m proud and excited about how our staff is coming together,” Fickell said in a statement. “Brady[and] Joker… are all great coaches and family men. We asked our team to have blind faith as we started this journey, and that has been true of the coaches as well. It has been amazing to see how many guys have taken that leap of faith. The caliber of coaches and people we’ve been able to attract here has been unbelievable and we aren’t done yet.”

The former head coach at Kentucky, Phillips is coming home in a roundabout way as he was a position coach at UC in 1997 and 1998.  He has spent time as receivers coach at Minnesota (1999-2000), Notre Dame (2001), South Carolina (2002), Kentucky (2003-2009) and Florida (2013).  Additionally, he was the receivers coach of the Cleveland Browns in 2015.

Last season, he was a quality control assistant at Ohio State.

Tenuta was last in the collegiate game as the defensive coordinator at Virginia from 2013-15.  He’s also been a coordinator at Ohio State, Georgia Tech, North Carolina and Notre Dame.


Alabama opens as Bovada’s early 2017 title favorite

TAMPA, FL - JANUARY 09:  Quarterback Jalen Hurts #2 of the Alabama Crimson Tide celebrates after throwing a 68-yard touchdown pass during the third quarter against the Clemson Tigers in the 2017 College Football Playoff National Championship Game at Raymond James Stadium on January 9, 2017 in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
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Alabama may have seen their dynasty temporarily derailed Monday night in Florida, but at least one wagering establishment expects Nick Saban to get it back on track post-haste. released its opening set of 2017 national championship odds very early Tuesday afternoon, with the bookmaker installing Bama as a 4/1 favorite coming off the loss to Clemson.  Last year at this time, coming off their fourth title in seven years, the same book had the Crimson Tide as a 7/1 favorite.

The team ‘Bama beat, Clemson, is at 16/1, tied with ACC Atlantic rival Louisville and behind six other teams besides the one they beat on the field last night — Florida State (7/1), Ohio State (15/2), Michigan (9/1), Oklahoma (9/1), USC (9/1) and LSU (12/1).  The other 2016 playoff team, Washington, is at 40/1, the same as 4-8 Notre Dame and behind the likes of Texas (28/1) and Miami (33/1).

Boise State, at 75/1, was the highest favorite amongst Group of Five programs.

Below are the complete list of 2018 title odds for the championship following the 2017 season, again courtesy on


Report: Notre Dame assistant Mike Denbrock leaving for Cincinnati

CINCINNATI, OH - OCTOBER 1: Parker Ehinger #78 of the Cincinnati Bearcats celebrates after the game against the Miami Hurricanes at Nippert Stadium on October 1, 2015 in Cincinnati, Ohio. Cincinnati defeated Miami 34-23. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
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Notre Dame’s staff shakeup continues as Sports Illustrated‘s Pete Thamel reported Tuesday night that Mike Denbrock will leave the staff to take a similar post at Cincinnati.

Notre Dame has already hired Mike Elko to run its defense and watched Mike Sanford take the head coaching job at Western Kentucky. Denbrock’s departure cements a complete sea change at the leadership level on both sides of the ball coming off of this season’s 4-8 campaign.

Of course, how much an offensive coordinator truly coordinates the offense is up to interpretation under head coach Brian Kelly.

Still, Denbrock is a longtime Kelly lieutenant with an absence that will be felt moving forward. The pair’s relationship dates back 30 years, when both were graduate assistants at Grand Valley State in 1987. Denbrock later served as Grand Valley State’s offensive coordinator and defensive coordinator — not simultaneously, unfortunately — under head coach Kelly and, with a few stops in between, joined Kelly’s Notre Dame staff upon his hiring in 2010. Denbrock started as tight ends coach and worked his way up to offensive coordinator in 2014 before transitioning to associate head coach and wide receivers coach in 2015-16.

At Cincinnati, Denbrock will take over an offense that ranked 101st nationally in yards per play and 121st in scoring.