Given the success he’s had at Cincinnati, it’s no surprise Luke Fickell was one of the first names mentioned for the USC opening after Clay Helton was fired.
Beyond his 37-14 record with the Bearcats, Fickell has an obvious connection to USC. Mike Bohn, his former athletic director at UC, is now in the same position with Trojans.
One college football insider even went as far as to speculate that the USC job is Fickell’s to turn down. Still, the Cincinnati head coach downplayed the USC rumors during his media session on Tuesday.
“Look, I don’t talk to anybody. I barely ever talk to my own family during the season,” Fickell said, via WLWT’s Brandon Saho. “It’s nothing but distractions if people allow it to be. For us, it can’t be. But I also want to say that this is the greatest thing that can happen for us, because it’s a reflection of what these guys have done on the football field.”
Fickell went on to discuss what he has built at Cincinnati, which led to some comments that will make Bearcats fans happy, but ultimately might not mean much.
“Stability is great in this business. Grass is not always greener,” Fickell said. “If you’re going to spend any time thinking about it, it does make you realize what great fortunes you have to be building something and have some stability.”
Luke Fickell shuts down USC rumors. This answer should make Cincinnati fans happy. "Grass is not always greener… It makes you realize what great fortunes you have to be building something." @WLWT #Bearcats pic.twitter.com/ueG28o5qLf
— Brandon Saho (@BrandonSaho) September 14, 2021
In all honesty, Fickell played this pretty well. He didn’t give much credence to the whispers, but he didn’t flat out say he is staying at UC long-term. This gives him some wiggle room if he elects to pursue the opportunity at USC, should he be contacted.
It seems obvious that Fickell’s dream job would be a return to his alma mater, Ohio State. But with Ryan Day having success there, Fickell may have to strike while the iron is hot and take a bigger head coaching position elsewhere.
Whether or not he does, and whether or not that elsewhere would be Southern California, remains to be seen.