Ohio State's Luke Fickell will be University of Cincinnati's next head football coach

Kerry Coombs staying at Ohio State
Posted at 10:39 AM, Dec 10, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-12 00:54:27-05

CINCINNATI -- Ohio State defensive coordinator Luke Fickell will be the next head football coach at the University of Cincinnati.

"Our team will play with great passion and a great amount of class," Fickell said at a Saturday afternoon news conference.

He agreed to a six-year deal, which UC's Board of Trustees is expected to approve Sunday afternoon. Fickell will stay on with Ohio State through its College Football Playoff run.

"This city, this school and my family are all Ohio. It’s a tough blue-collar state with hard-working, blue-collar people that respect an honest and complete effort. That’s what they will get from me personally and what they should expect from this football program," he said in a news release Saturday.

"This team belongs to this city, and we will make you proud."

JOHN FAY: Fickell needs to be more than a winning coach

OSU assistant Kerry Coombs will not come to Cincinnati with Fickell, as local high school coaches told WCPO earlier Saturday. Many expected he would be an associate head coach for the Bearcats, but OSU coach Urban Meyer tweeted Coombs would remain with the Buckeyes.

Fickell, 43, reached his deal with UC late Friday, sources told ESPN. The former Ohio State nose tackle has been on the Buckeyes staff for 15 years (10 as defensive coordinator) and was interim head coach for the 2011 season after Jim Tressel quit under an NCAA investigation.

Fickell's Buckeyes went 6-7 under trying circumstances, and he went back to overseeing the defense when Urban Meyer came to the rescue the next year. Under Meyer, Fickell has been part of a staff that has won a national title and two Big Ten championships.

"His extensive ties to the state of Ohio, experience at a championship-level program in Ohio State, ability to evaluate and develop talent, energy and leadership are all qualities which set him apart," Cincinnati athletic director Mike Bohn said of Fickell.

The hire comes less than a week after Tommy Tuberville stepped down as head coach. The Bearcats went 1-7 in their conference and 4-8 overall this year, missing a bowl game for the first time since 2010.

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Tuberville was 29-22 in four seasons with UC and coached the Bearcats to three bowl appearances and a share of the 2014 American Athletic Conference Championship.

More about Fickell's record, from UC Athletics:

Fickell is an excellent recruiter with strong Midwest and Florida relationships, and is a great evaluator of talent. He was named the American Football Coaches Association assistant coach of the year in 2010 and he was named a “top recruiter” in 2012 by both Rivals and ESPN.

His NFL Draft selections include first-round picks A.J. Hawk, Bobby Carpenter, Ryan Shazier and Darron Lee, NFL standout James Laurinaitis and Joshua Perry, Anthony Schlegel, Larry Grant, Marcus Freeman, Austin Spitler, Ross Homan and Brian Rolle.

The 2016 Buckeyes earned a spot in the College Football Playoff semifinal against Clemson after finishing the regular season 11-1 and ranked No. 3 in CFP poll. OSU won five consecutive games to close the season and boast the nation's No. 4 total defense (282.3 yards per game allowed), including the No. 1 pass efficiency defense and the No. 3 scoring defense (14.2).

Since 2005, Fickel-coached defenses at Ohio State have ranked among the NCAA FBS Top-40 in yards-per-play allowed, averaging a ranking of No. 17 and earning its highest rank of No. 3 in 2016. Cincinnati based ProFootballFocus ranks OSU's defense as its No. 3 overall unit in 2016.

WCPO will update this developing story.

---'s Greg Noble contributed to this report.