Cincinnati coach Luke Fickell on Notre Dame vacancy: 'There is no speculation'

Asia's Tech News Daily

Luke Fickell isn’t focused on the head coaching vacancy at Notre Dame. Not yet at least.

The University of Cincinnati football coach, who has been linked to the Fighting Irish job since Brian Kelly left South Bend to take over the LSU program, said Tuesday his only focus is on Saturday’s American Athletic Conference championship game against Houston at Nippert Stadium.

“There is no speculation,” Fickell said. “Is the job open? I guess it is. But I wouldn’t know if somebody didn’t tell me. It’s the same way I am with rankings. It’s the same way I am with unfortunately a lot of other things, with the exception of recruiting, I don’t pay a whole lot of attention.”

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The 48-year-old coach, who is 47-14 in five seasons at Cincinnati, has the Bearcats (12-0, 8-0 AAC) one win from likely being the first non-Power Five school to earn a spot in the College Football Playoff. Cincinnati, which is No. 4 in the latest CFP rankings, looks to capture its second straight AAC championship with a win Saturday against the Cougars (11-1, 8-0).

Cincinnati coach Luke Fickell on Notre Dame vacancy: 'There is no speculation'
© Kareem Elgazzar Cincinnati Bearcats head coach Luke Fickell turns to walk back to the sideline after talking to an official during a college football game between the Navy Midshipmen and the Cincinnati Bearcats, Saturday, Nov. 3, 2018, at Nippert Stadium in Cincinnati.

Last August, he signed a contract extension making him Cincinnati’s head coach through 2026. His $3.4 million salary is the second-highest paid non-Power Five coach behind Houston’s Dana Holgorsen ($4 million) and ranks him among the top 40 coaches in college football. 

Cincinnati senior quarterback Desmond Ridder, who was named the Most Outstanding Player in last season’s AAC title game, all but echoed Fickell’s words when asked about his head coach.

“We’re just focused on the game on Saturday,” Ridder said. “That’s all his attention’s on, so that’s all our attention’s on. … We all know Coach Fick loves us at the end of the day. His decision is his decision. But like I said, we’re focused on Saturday.”

Cincinnati coach Luke Fickell on Notre Dame vacancy: 'There is no speculation'
© Sam Greene, The Enquirer Injured Cincinnati Bearcats starting quarterback Desmond Ridder (9) hugs head coach Luke Fickell after the fourth quarter of the Military Bowl at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium

Fickell has led Cincinnati to a No. 3 ranking in the AP poll and a No. 4 ranking in the USA TODAY Sports AFCA coaches poll. The Bearcats were ranked No. 2 in both polls earlier this season.

Fickell guided the Bearcats to a 24-13 win at Notre Dame on Oct. 2. It remains the only double-digit road victory over a CFP top-10 team this season. The Irish are ranked No. 6 in the latest CFP rankings.

Marcus Freeman, Fickell’s longtime defensive coordinator at Cincinnati, left Fickell to take over Kelly’s defense at Notre Dame last offseason. 

Cincinnati is 21-1 since the start of the 2020 season, with the Bearcats’ only loss being a 24-21 defeat to Georgia in the 2020 Peach Bowl.

Fickell, a Columbus native, became the 42nd head coach in Cincinnati history in December 2016 after serving as an assistant for 15-plus years at his alma mater, Ohio State.

Fickell and his wife, Amy, have six kids. Their oldest son, Landon, is a freshman offensive lineman on the Cincinnati football team.

Cincinnati coach Luke Fickell on Notre Dame vacancy: 'There is no speculation'
Cincinnati coach Luke Fickell on Notre Dame vacancy: 'There is no speculation'
Cincinnati coach Luke Fickell on Notre Dame vacancy: 'There is no speculation'
Cincinnati coach Luke Fickell on Notre Dame vacancy: 'There is no speculation'
Cincinnati coach Luke Fickell on Notre Dame vacancy: 'There is no speculation'
Cincinnati coach Luke Fickell on Notre Dame vacancy: 'There is no speculation'
Cincinnati coach Luke Fickell on Notre Dame vacancy: 'There is no speculation'
Cincinnati coach Luke Fickell on Notre Dame vacancy: 'There is no speculation'
Cincinnati coach Luke Fickell on Notre Dame vacancy: 'There is no speculation'
Cincinnati coach Luke Fickell on Notre Dame vacancy: 'There is no speculation'
Cincinnati coach Luke Fickell on Notre Dame vacancy: 'There is no speculation'
Cincinnati coach Luke Fickell on Notre Dame vacancy: 'There is no speculation'
Cincinnati coach Luke Fickell on Notre Dame vacancy: 'There is no speculation'
Cincinnati coach Luke Fickell on Notre Dame vacancy: 'There is no speculation'
Cincinnati coach Luke Fickell on Notre Dame vacancy: 'There is no speculation'
Cincinnati coach Luke Fickell on Notre Dame vacancy: 'There is no speculation'
Cincinnati coach Luke Fickell on Notre Dame vacancy: 'There is no speculation'
Cincinnati coach Luke Fickell on Notre Dame vacancy: 'There is no speculation'
Cincinnati coach Luke Fickell on Notre Dame vacancy: 'There is no speculation'
Cincinnati coach Luke Fickell on Notre Dame vacancy: 'There is no speculation'
Cincinnati coach Luke Fickell on Notre Dame vacancy: 'There is no speculation'
Cincinnati coach Luke Fickell on Notre Dame vacancy: 'There is no speculation'
Cincinnati coach Luke Fickell on Notre Dame vacancy: 'There is no speculation'
Cincinnati coach Luke Fickell on Notre Dame vacancy: 'There is no speculation'
Cincinnati coach Luke Fickell on Notre Dame vacancy: 'There is no speculation'
Cincinnati coach Luke Fickell on Notre Dame vacancy: 'There is no speculation'
Cincinnati coach Luke Fickell on Notre Dame vacancy: 'There is no speculation'
Cincinnati coach Luke Fickell on Notre Dame vacancy: 'There is no speculation'
Cincinnati coach Luke Fickell on Notre Dame vacancy: 'There is no speculation'
Cincinnati coach Luke Fickell on Notre Dame vacancy: 'There is no speculation'
Cincinnati coach Luke Fickell on Notre Dame vacancy: 'There is no speculation'
Cincinnati coach Luke Fickell on Notre Dame vacancy: 'There is no speculation'
Cincinnati coach Luke Fickell on Notre Dame vacancy: 'There is no speculation'
Cincinnati coach Luke Fickell on Notre Dame vacancy: 'There is no speculation'
Cincinnati coach Luke Fickell on Notre Dame vacancy: 'There is no speculation'
Cincinnati coach Luke Fickell on Notre Dame vacancy: 'There is no speculation'
Cincinnati coach Luke Fickell on Notre Dame vacancy: 'There is no speculation'
Cincinnati coach Luke Fickell on Notre Dame vacancy: 'There is no speculation'
Cincinnati coach Luke Fickell on Notre Dame vacancy: 'There is no speculation'
Cincinnati coach Luke Fickell on Notre Dame vacancy: 'There is no speculation'
Cincinnati coach Luke Fickell on Notre Dame vacancy: 'There is no speculation'
Cincinnati coach Luke Fickell on Notre Dame vacancy: 'There is no speculation'
Cincinnati coach Luke Fickell on Notre Dame vacancy: 'There is no speculation'
Cincinnati coach Luke Fickell on Notre Dame vacancy: 'There is no speculation'
Cincinnati coach Luke Fickell on Notre Dame vacancy: 'There is no speculation'
Cincinnati coach Luke Fickell on Notre Dame vacancy: 'There is no speculation'
Cincinnati coach Luke Fickell on Notre Dame vacancy: 'There is no speculation'
Cincinnati coach Luke Fickell on Notre Dame vacancy: 'There is no speculation'
Cincinnati coach Luke Fickell on Notre Dame vacancy: 'There is no speculation'
Cincinnati coach Luke Fickell on Notre Dame vacancy: 'There is no speculation'
Cincinnati coach Luke Fickell on Notre Dame vacancy: 'There is no speculation'
Cincinnati coach Luke Fickell on Notre Dame vacancy: 'There is no speculation'
Cincinnati coach Luke Fickell on Notre Dame vacancy: 'There is no speculation'
Cincinnati coach Luke Fickell on Notre Dame vacancy: 'There is no speculation'
Cincinnati coach Luke Fickell on Notre Dame vacancy: 'There is no speculation'
Cincinnati coach Luke Fickell on Notre Dame vacancy: 'There is no speculation'
Oregon State Beavers tight end Luke Musgrave (88) scores a touchdown against Oregon Ducks cornerback Dontae Manning (8) during the second half at Autzen Stadium. Oklahoma State Cowboys quarterback Spencer Sanders (3) poses for pictures with fans on the field after defeating the Oklahoma Sooners 37-33. Penn State Nittany Lions wide receiver KeAndre Lambert-Smith (13) runs after a catch during the second quarter against the Michigan State Spartans at Spartan Stadium. Vanderbilt Commodores offensive lineman Jason Brooks Jr. (68) blocks Tennessee Volunteers linebacker Byron Young (6) during the first half at Neyland Stadium. Arizona State Sun Devils quarterback Jayden Daniels (5) runs the ball against the Arizona Wildcats \s1h\ at Sun Devil Stadium. Michigan wide receiver A.J. Henning (3) scores a touchdown against Ohio State during the first half at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor on Saturday, Nov. 27, 2021. Auburn Tigers running back Tank Bigsby (4) is tackled by Alabama Crimson Tide linebacker Henry To’oTo’o (10) and other defenders during the first quarter at Jordan-Hare Stadium. Michigan defensive back Vincent Gray (4) argues with Ohio State wide receiver Garrett Wilson (5) during the first half at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor on Saturday, Nov. 27, 2021. Purdue Boilermakers running back Zander Horvath (40) runs the ball down field in front of Indiana Hoosiers linebacker Micah McFadden (47) during the first quarter at Ross-Ade Stadium. The Baylor Bears Line prepares to run onto the field before the game between the Baylor Bears and the Texas Tech Red Raiders at McLane Stadium. Michigan Wolverines running back Blake Corum (2) rushes chased by Ohio State Buckeyes safety Ronnie Hickman (14) and ornerback Denzel Burke (29) at Michigan Stadium. Michigan running back Hassan Haskins (25) scores a touchdown against Ohio State during the first half at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor on Saturday, Nov. 27, 2021. Georgia Bulldogs running back Kenny McIntosh (6) runs past Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets defensive back Miles Brooks (20) to score a touchdown during the second half at Bobby Dodd Stadium. Maryland Terrapins tight end Corey Dyches (84) celebrates his touchdown with offensive lineman Spencer Anderson (54) and offensive lineman Delmar Glaze (74) and tight end Chigoziem Okonkwo (9) during the second half against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights at SHI Stadium. Maryland Terrapins quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa (3) celebrates with Maryland Terrapins defensive lineman Sam Okuayinonu (97) after a defensive stop against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights during the second half at SHI Stadium. Michigan Wolverines wide receiver A.J. Henning (3) rush the ball passed Ohio State Buckeyes linebacker Steele Chambers (22) in the first half at Michigan Stadium. Boston College Eagles defensive back Elijah Jones (20) pushes Wake Forest Demon Deacons wide receiver A.T. Perry (9) out of bounds during the second half at Alumni Stadium. Houston Cougars wide receiver Nathaniel Dell (1) makes the catch and runs the ball against Connecticut Huskies defensive back Malik Dixon (31) in the second quarter at Rentschler Field at Pratt & Whitney Stadium. Rutgers Scarlet Knights wide receiver Shameen Jones (7) catches the ball against the Maryland Terrapins during the first half at SHI Stadium. Florida State Seminoles linebacker Kalen DeLoach (20) intercepts the ball over Florida Gators wide receiver Jacob Copeland (1) during the second quarter at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Maryland Terrapins running back Tayon Fleet-Davis (8) leaps for extra yards as Rutgers Scarlet Knights defensive back Kessawn Abraham (5) tackles during the first half at SHI Stadium. Connecticut Huskies wide receiver Kevens Clercius (86) makes the touchdown catch against the Houston Cougars in the second quarter at Rentschler Field at Pratt & Whitney Stadium. Texas Tech Red Raiders running back Tahj Brooks (28) goes airborne as he is tackled by Baylor Bears cornerback Mark Milton (37) and the Baylor Bears defense during the first half at McLane Stadium. Texas Tech Red Raiders quarterback Donovan Smith (7) and Baylor Bears linebacker Terrel Bernard (2) dive for the ball on a muffed punt by Smith during the first half at McLane Stadium. Georgia Bulldogs tight end Brock Bowers (19) breaks tackles running for a touchdown after a catch against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets during the first half at Bobby Dodd Stadium. Connecticut Huskies quarterback Steven Krajewski (8) throws a pass against the Houston Cougars in the first quarter at Rentschler Field at Pratt & Whitney Stadium. Florida Gators tight end Kemore Gamble (2) catches the ball over Florida State Seminoles defensive back Jammie Robinson (10) as he runs the ball in for a touchdown during the first quarter at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Houston Cougars quarterback Clayton Tune (3) with his teammates before the start of the game against the Connecticut Huskies at Rentschler Field at Pratt & Whitney Stadium. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets quarterback Jordan Yates (13) throws an errant pass as he is hit by Georgia Bulldogs linebacker Nakobe Dean (17) during the first quarter at Bobby Dodd Stadium. Washington State running back Deon McIntosh celebrates with mascot Butch T. Cougar after scoring during the second half against Washington. Cincinnati quarterback Desmond Ridder (9) eludes East Carolina linebacker Jeremy Lewis (11) on a first-half carry. N.C. State running back Zonovan Knight cuts upfield during the first half against North Carolina. Central Florida receiver Brandon Johnson (3) celebrates his first half touchdown with quarterback Mikey Keene (16) against South Florida. Cincinnati running back Jerome Ford (24) rushes past East Carolina linebacker Aaron Ramseur (51) during the first half. Air Force fullback Emmanuel Michel (28) runs away from the UNLV defense on a second-half carry. Utah Utes tight end Brant Kuithe (80) celebrates his first-half touchdown catch with Cole Fotheringham (89). Washington running back Kamari Pleasant reaches for the end zone to score during the first half against Washington State. Arkansas quarterback KJ Jefferson runs with the ball during the second half against Missouri. San Diego defensive lineman Cameron Thomas (99) brings down Boise State quarterback Jack Sears (16) for a second-half sack. Arkansas running back Trelon Smith (22) dives into the end zone to score past Missouri defensive back Allie Green IV (24) during the second half. Central Florida quarterback Parker Navarro (14) dives into the end zone to score past South Florida safety Vincent Davis (3) during the first half. Cincinnati quarterback Desmond Ridder drops back to pass during the second half against East Carolina. Cincinnati tight end Josh Whyle (81) dives for the end zone after a catch against East Carolina. East Carolina wide receiver Jsi Hatfield celebrates a touchdown catch against Cincinnati during the second half. UNLV returner Nohl Williams (2) recovers a fumble between Air Force defenders Brandon Gooding (45), Zion Kelly (17) and James Jones IV (4) during the first half. Iowa State running back Breece Hall (28) tries to break away from TCU defender Nook Bradford (28) during the first half. Utah running back Tavion Thomas (9) tries to jump over Colorado defender Christian Gonzalez (3) on a first-half carry. Nebraska Cornhuskers quarterback Logan Smothers (8) celebrates after scoring against the Iowa Hawkeyes. TCU receiver TJ Steele (19) carries the ball behind center Steve Avila (79) during the second half against Iowa State. Texas Longhorns wide receiver Xavier Worthy (8) gets tackled by Kansas State Wildcats defensive back Chris Adimora (1). Iowa Hawkeyes running back Tyler Goodson (15) is stopped short of the goal line by Nebraska Cornhuskers defenders during the first quarter at Memorial Stadium. San Diego State Aztecs wide receiver Elijah Kothe (96) is defended by Boise State Broncos cornerback Kaonohi Kaniho (14). Texas Longhorns running back Roschon Johnson (2) acknowledges the fans after scoring a touchdown against the Kansas State Wildcats. Ole Miss quarterback Matt Corral hoists the Egg Bowl trophy after defeating rival Mississippi State in Starkville. Ole Miss running back Snoop Conner (24) dives into the end zone to score during the first half against Mississippi State. Ole Miss quarterback Matt Corral (2) breaks away from Mississippi State defender Fred Peters (38) on a fourth-quarter carry.

This article originally appeared on Cincinnati Enquirer: Cincinnati coach Luke Fickell on Notre Dame vacancy: ‘There is no speculation’

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