Thursday, February 20, 2020

Luke Fickell turns down Michigan State position, remains at Cincinnati

MSU will have to double down on its coaching search

February 10, 2020
Spartan football team members celebrate during the game on Nov. 30, 2019 at Spartan Stadium. The Spartans beat the Terrapins 19-16.
Spartan football team members celebrate during the game on Nov. 30, 2019 at Spartan Stadium. The Spartans beat the Terrapins 19-16. —
Photo by Sylvia Jarrus | The State News

Luke Fickell will not be the 17th Michigan State football head coach.

According to The Detroit Free Press, Fickell, 46, turned down MSU's offer after an interview with athletic director Bill Beekman on Sunday and will remain with Cincinnati for his fourth year with the program. Whether or not he received an official offer from MSU is unclear.

After Mark Dantonio's surprising retirement on Feb. 4th, Fickell was immediately considered the frontrunner for the job. His 26-13 record with the Cincinnati Bearcats, Big Ten background and friendship with Mark Dantonio were cited as key factors in his connection to the job.

Fickell had recently landed the best recruiting class in Cincinnati football history, ranked 40th overall by 247sports.com on National Signing Day. Michigan State was ranked 43rd on the same list.

In an interview with ESPNU Radio on Wednesday, Fickell said he had not talked to anybody at Michigan State regarding the position.  

“I have talked to nobody,” he said. “Obviously, I’m very good friends with Mark Dantonio ... But I have not communicated or talked to anybody besides Mark Dantonio in the last three or four weeks from Michigan State.”

On Monday morning, Fickell tweeted "Looking forward to more of this in 2020!" with a video of the him and his team celebrating following a game.

Fickell joined the ranks of Iowa State Head Coach Matt Campbell, University of Colorado Head Coach Mel Tucker and University of Pittsburgh Head Coach Pat Narduzzi as coaches who turned down the MSU job to remain with their current programs.

Dearborn native and San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh was also considered for the job, but turned the offer down, according to NFL Network.

Fickell's decision puts a significant amount of pressure on MSU's Board of Trustees as they search for a coach. With their next meeting on Feb. 14th, the Board only has until Friday to decide whether to promote acting coach Mike Tressel or land an entirely new coach altogether.

MSU hired global sports practice leader for DHR International Glenn Sugiyama to assist the board in their search. According to the Chicago Tribune, Sugiyama is a "headhunter" for schools looking to hire new head coaches.

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