Skip to main content

Look: JJ Watt Makes His Opinion On Luke Fickell Very Clear

Luke Fickell, head coach at Wisconsin

Luke Fickell

Wisconsin's football program on Sunday announced a new hire for its coaching vacancy: Luke Fickell. 

The news was largely received well. Fickell had a successful tenure with the Cincinnati Bearcats and was viewed to have earned this opportunity with experience over Wisconsin's interim coach Jim Leonhard.

Still, Wisconsin athletic director Chris McIntosh made a difficult decision in cutting Leonhard's first head coaching experience short. No one expressed that conflict better than Wisconsin Badgers legend J.J. Watt. 

In a tweet Monday, the five-time Pro Bowler expressed empathy for Leonhard, while congratulating the incoming coach Fickell. 

"Jim Leonhard is one of the greatest & most beloved Badgers of all time," Watt wrote. "Really feel for him in this process. He represents everything great about Wisconsin. At the same time, incredibly excited about the Luke Fickell hire and the message it sends about our goals & expectations."

Watt's ringing endorsement is a shot in the arm for Fickell's burgeoning Wisconsin career. It may be a difficult road ahead for veteran coach of four programs, as the Badgers concluded a .500 season featuring a revolving door of leadership. 

It's often difficult for an incoming collegiate coach to set a tone and instill their desired culture within the first year, so it may take years for Fickell to experience the same success at Wisconsin as he did in Cincinnati. 

Watt's pair of seasons as a Badger were successful ones, as the program went 10-3 and 11-2 in 2009 and 2010, respectively. His head coach was Bret Bielema, who's currently coaching the Illinois Fighting Illini.