Luke Fickell will remain on the back burner for Wisconsin bowl

featured image

PARADISE VALLEY, Ariz. – New Wisconsin coach Luke Fickell will continue to be a presence around the Badgers during Tuesday night’s Guaranteed Rate Bowl at Chase Field in downtown Phoenix, but not as the man in charge. , he said on Monday.

Fickell plans to be on the sidelines, wearing a headset and coaching where he can help, but he will continue to let interim head coach Jim Leonhard handle his duties against Oklahoma State.

“I’m coaching in a way that really allows these guys to handle things the way they handled them,” Fickell said during the Badgers media day. “And they’ve been great. They’ve been really mature about it. Jim’s been amazing.

“I’m the type of guy that, you know, maybe a little more like a figurehead and we’ll communicate with these guys in situational situations, but we haven’t changed a thing – the way we practice, the way they act about a training session. Tuesday, a Wednesday practice, a Thursday practice, a Friday practice, how they’re going to do the day of the game.”

Fickell said his communication during the game on Tuesday night will be “a lot different” than it normally would be during a game. He will help convey Leonhard’s plan to the team while trying to keep “everything as similar as possible”.

“I think this is the only chance you have to succeed,” Fickell said.

Fickell, who was signed out of Cincinnati on Nov. 27, made a strategic decision not to take the reins away from Leonhard when he took over, but wanted to find a way to be close to his new team.

It was a balance he needed to discover.

“I didn’t want to be that guy who was on the Zoom call while the game was going on, and while the guys on your show and staff were sweating and working hard and stuff like that,” Fickell said. “And really, just with the new era of college football now, and how can you really care for your program and your team and your guys if you’re not around them? … I mean if you’re not talking to them these days someone else is, and I don’t think there’s any way to keep what you’re doing intact unless you’re constantly around them and communicating with them.

Fickell has deferred the current team to handle basically everything. He said he was asked who will be the starting quarterback on Tuesday night, but declined to answer.

“How arrogant would you have to be to go into three weeks and think you know best about what’s going on inside the show, what these guys did, whether it’s a five-year stint with Chase Wolf or even a year-long stint with Myles. [Burkett]to make that decision,” he said.

Fickell has been at bowl practices, a whistle in tow, said senior safety John Torchio, but has been more of an administrative role than any kind of coaching job.

Having him on the sidelines on Tuesday will be “different, obviously,” Torchio said.

“It’s our third head coach of the year,” he said. “I don’t know how many times this has happened in college football.

“You just have to keep moving forward. That’s how the season has been so far.”

Future Fickell players enjoyed having him around to get to know Fickell the person and Fickell the coach.

“It’s cool just having him around,” said sophomore running back Braelon Allen. “Just for him to be here with us and just build a relationship with him, see what his coaching style is like, although he hasn’t been with the running backs or the offense a lot, just kind of being more of a defensive guy.

“But just having him around, being able to build a relationship and a connection, has been cool. I’m excited for him to take it all on and make it his show.”

Being in the practice, but not truly training, hasn’t been easy, Fickell said.

He’s taken a lot of notes over the past few weeks, but added that watching how another manager handles his team can be helpful.

“All the practices have been really tough,” he said with a laugh. “It’s been hard during practice to just bite your lip a little bit and keep moving and then it’s hard too because you don’t [know the] jargon I know the defense, but I don’t know the defense. So it’s challenging because you don’t want to spend a lot of time studying and learning everything because obviously some things are going to change here in a few weeks.

“So all those things together, it’s been uncomfortable.”