Fickell Helps Sell Madison

You may not have noticed this as it has received scant coverage in the Madison media, but the UW has a new football coach.

No, really, it does. You thought Paul Chryst had the job for life? Where were you in October? Okay then, surely the beloved Jim Leonhard was hired to replace him? No, that turned out to be limited term employment.

The new guy is a fellow named Jim Fickell from Cincinnati where he coached the Bearcats to a college football playoff birth a few years ago. If you don’t know what the college football playoffs are, you could be excused since it’s not something that is anywhere near the realm of possibility in these parts.

If Luke Fickell really chose Madison for its quality of life that’s a pretty strong selling point for our city.

But here’s the thing. Fickell was highly sought after. He could have gone to programs like Notre Dame, which is a lot more prestigious, or USC, where the weather is somewhat better than Cincinnati, South Bend or even Madison. He’s going to make a ton of money — an average of $7.8 million a year not counting the free cars, country club membership or the parking spot. But a lot of schools would have paid him even more. Nebraska is paying their new coach considerably more and for a longer contract. Also, Fickell has no strong ties to his new boss, Chris McIntosh, or to anybody else in the front office. It’s not reported that he has any relatives or close friends in the area.

You may be asking yourself what I’m getting at here. Well, here’s what I’m getting at here: Fickell may have meant it when he said that he wanted to raise his family here. He’s got five kids, four of which still have lots of school years in front of them. There really just aren’t a lot of other plausible explanations. Yes, this is a step up into the Big Ten, but he had other even better steps available to him. Yes, this is a lot of money, but he could have gotten at least as good a deal someplace else.

What if Fickell really didn’t choose the UW football program so much as he and his family chose Madison? A guy who could write his own ticket wrote it to land here. That’s better than any free advertising in any magazine’s top ten list.


Published by dave cieslewicz

Madison/Upper Peninsula based writer. Mayor of Madison, WI from 2003 to 2011.

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