SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Luke Fickell is not leaving Cincinnati for South Bend, according to several media reports.
Instead, the Associated Press reported Notre Dame is working on a deal to elevate defensive coordinator Marcus Freeman to head coach. Freeman served as defensive coordinator and linebackers coach for the Bearcats from 2017 to 2020. The move was first reported by YOKE Team cofounder Mick Assaf.
While there was speculation Fickell would be on the Irish's shortlist and there is still a major coaching job open that Fickell would be a qualified candidate for in the form of Oklahoma's vacancy, he said during a press conference Tuesday nothing has changed.
"Is the job open? I guess it is, but I wouldn't know if someone didn't tell me," Fickell said. "It's the same way I am with rankings, and unfortunately a lot of other things, with the exception of recruiting."
Despite dismissing rumors, Cincinnati fans expressed concerns after former coach Brian Kelly took the Notre Dame head coaching job one day after telling players he would not be leaving before the 2009 season ended. Still, former UC quarterback Tony Pike told James Rapien of All Bearcats/Fan Nation he does not see Fickell leaving just yet.
"With what Luke Fickell is building at the University of Cincinnati, the recruiting classes that are coming in, I don't think and feel like this is the right time for Luke Fickell to move on," Pike said.
Freeman played under Fickell while at Ohio State University and joined Fickell's coaching staff at UC after a stint at Purdue. An Ohio native, Freeman was a four-year starter at Wayne High School in Huber Heights.
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