‘This is the top tier’: Badger nation has mixed emotions about Luke Fickell joining the team

MADISON (WKOW) — Badger nation had a shock Sunday. Jim Leonhard will not be Wisconsin’s head coach next year. Instead, Luke Fickell has left the Cincinnati Bearcats to fill the role.

Fickell’s hiring comes as a shock to many people who thought Leonhard, who had been serving as the interim head coach, would get the job, and current and former Badgers have mixed reactions.

“The guys had to embrace somebody else [after Chryst], and they embraced Jim Leonhard. Obviously, he’s connected well with the guys,” Travis Beckum, a UW-Madison alum and former tight end for the New York Giants, said.

Beckum was just as shocked as the rest of Badger nation as the official announcement rolled in.

Beckum has a history with Fickell because the coach recruited him to play at Ohio State before Beckum ultimately chose Wisconsin. Though they weren’t on the same team, Beckum says he built a really good relationship with Coach Fickell.

“You look at his previous year at Cincinnati, at Ohio State, he’s done tremendous things,” Beckum said. “So yes, it was all thrown at me at once, but I’m all in favor of the decision.”

Though Fickell’s track record with the Cincinnati Bearcats speaks for itself, the news is bittersweet for some. Leonhard has built a close relationship with the team, and many players hoped he’d be the one moving forward.

“Obviously Coach Leonhard is, I think he’s the greatest Badger of all time,” Nick Herbig, outside linebacker for the Badgers, said at a press conference Saturda