Badger football fans were shocked on Nov. 27 by the announcement that former Cincinnati Bearcats coach Luke Fickell will be the successor to Paul Chryst. Though most assumed the job would go to interim head coach Jim Leonhard, Fickell has been welcomed with open arms in exchange for taking advantage of his appetite.
In most places, being welcoming means friendly smiles and a wave. In Wisconsin, newcomers are stuffed with cheese curds, ButterBurgers and beer such that they are weighed down too heavily to leave. With the 2021 National Coach of the Year in the dairy state, the goal is to ensure that Fickell will have no choice but to stay long term or be airlifted to a healthier location.
The instant that Wisconsin and Fickell agreed to terms, he was met with gifts from the state’s top artery cloggers and liver destroyers. The initial wave included offerings from Carr Valley Cheese, New Glarus Brewing Co., Wollersheim Winery and Culver's. As anyone with functioning tastebuds knows, all of these companies’ products fall into the category of “consume on sight.”
Fickell clearly no longer identifies as a Bearcat — he ate more like an emaciated grizzly bear who totally forgot they were supposed to pack on the pounds before winter.
“I’m just really happy to be here,” said Fickell. “At the last place, their big thing was chili on spaghetti noodles — it was both basic enough to be boring and strange enough for me to be wary. But a five pound block of cheese in one hand and a beer in the other? I can work with that,” said the 2005-2016 Ohio State defensive coordinator.
Within an hour of getting the job, Fickell had already gained 50 pounds — the equivalent of roughly 350 ButterBurgers, 96 pounds of cheese or 1,167 bottles of Spotted Cow.
Wisconsinites will certainly be happy to hear (and see) his approval of the state’s gut-busting delicacies. However, for Fickell, it goes deeper — he believes that the unending Thanksgiving feast has already made him a better coach.
“A few hours ago, I didn’t know that I could handle so much booze and heavy food. At first, I just had to power through. My brain always wanted to keep eating, but my stomach was being pushed to grow more and more like the Grinch’s heart on Christmas day,” said Fickell. “But I pushed through it, and now I can stand before you today as a strong-willed, confident, future 600 pound man.”
The Badgers’ new head coach faces lofty expectations. After leading Cincinnati to a college playoff berth in 2021, he will be asked to do the same in Wisconsin.
The task won’t be a walk in the park. As is typical when a new coach is ushered in, some high school players who committed are likely to change course — even a few current players may enter the transfer portal. Luckily, Fickell already has a plan.
“They may not be appreciated enough, but linemen are the core of a reliable football team. If the good people of Wisconsin keep the meat and cheese train chugging to my front door, I’ll put on the pads myself,” said Fickell, who then clarified that he does intend to eventually be as wide as a regulation football field.
After a turbulent 2022 season full of dwindling hope and uncertainty, Badger fans will be able to rest easy knowing that the highly-touted hire is here to win. That being said, if a Rose Bowl berth isn’t in order, Fickell may be just as happy to make an appearance at the Cheez-It Bowl.
Mackenzie is the first ever editor of The Beet and actually made of over 62% beet.