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Ex-wrestler Fickell leaves Ohio State football for Cincinnati

Luke Fickell is going from the Buckeyes to the Bearcats.

Tom Ryan, Luke Fickell and Gene Smith (Photo/Jim Davidson)
Fickell, long-time member of the Ohio State football coaching staff who was a three-time Ohio high school state wrestling champion, has been named head football coach at the University of Cincinnati, his new employer announced Saturday afternoon.

Fickell and UC reached agreement on a six-year deal late Friday night to replace Bearcats head coach Tommy Tuberville, who resigned last Sunday after four seasons. Fickell's contract is pending approval from Cincinnati's board of trustees during a special meeting Sunday, ESPN.com reported.

A former Ohio State defensive lineman, Fickell, 43, has coached at his alma mater since 2002, serving as Buckeyes defensive coordinator in some capacity in all but one season since 2005.

In the early 1990s, the Columbus native went to high school at St. Francis DeSales, where he played football and wrestled. Fickell was a three-time Ohio state champ, winning the 189-pound title at the 1990 OHSAA (Ohio High School Athletic Association) wrestling championships. The next two years, Fickell won the heavyweight crown at the state tournament as a 6'4", 230-pound grappler, according to his bio at the St. Francis DeSales Athletic Hall of Fame where he was inducted in 2014.

Fickell compiled a perfect 106-0 record as a wrestler at St. Francis DeSales. In his junior year, Fickell pinned 29 of his 31 wrestling opponents. He won his third state title by fall in just less than one minute.

Pat Galbincea, long-time wrestling writer for the Cleveland Plain Dealer, described Fickell as "the best heavyweight high school wrestling champion Ohio has ever produced. Period."

After graduating from St. Francis DeSales, Fickell hung up the headgear, focusing solely on football at Ohio State as player and coach ... and, now as head coach 100 miles southwest of his hometown, but remaining in his native Ohio.

"It's with much pride and humility that I accept the awesome honor of becoming the head coach at the University of Cincinnati," Fickell said in a statement. "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."

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