Luke Fickell completes Cincinnati coaching staff

Posted by: Chris Vannini on Monday February 27, 2017

Luke Fickell has completed his Cincinnati staff for a second time

With the addition of Gino Guidugli, Fickell has his nine full-time assistants and head strength coach. Fickell comes to Cincinnati after working at Ohio State from 2002-16. He takes over a Cincinnati program coming off a 4-8 season after reaching nine bowl games in 10 years.

It’s a staff full of coaches coming from Power 5 programs.

Fickell’s first hires were announced at his press conference, in defensive coordinator Marcus Freeman and tight ends coach / special teams coordinator Doug Phillips. Freeman was an Ohio State GA in 2010 and played under Fickell from 2004-08. Phillips spent one year at Ohio State and has a background as an Ohio high school coach.

Fickell brought others over with ties to Ohio State. Wide receivers coach Joker Phillips spent last year as a quality control assistant at OSU and is the former head coach of Kentucky, just down the road from Cincinnati. Head strength coach Brady Collins followed from OSU to direct the strength program.

To run the offense, Fickell hired Mike Denbrock, who spent the last seven years at Notre Dame. He was the offensive coordinator in 2014 and was heavily involved in the play-calling. Gerad Parker joined the staff as running backs coach, but resigned to take a job at ECU (a job that got pulled after Parker was arrested for DUI). Fickell turned to Central Michigan's Gino Guidugli to coach running backs. Guidugli was one of the best quarterbacks in Cincy history. He had been on the CMU staff since 2010 and was promoted to offensive coordinator this offseason, before Fickell came calling.

On defense, Al Washington comes to Cincinnati from Boston College, where the Eagles had one of the ACC’s top defenses. Safeties coach Jon Tenuta brings decades of defensive coordinator experience, and cornerbacks coach Willie Martinez spent the last four years in the SEC at Tennessee, and has also coached at Oklahoma and Georgia.

In a Group of Five league, this staff brings loads of Power 5 experience. Fickell’s first games as Cincinnati head coach will be against Austin Peay, at Michigan, at Miami (OH) and at Navy.

The potential addition of a 10th assistant coach in FBS could change things, but keep track of new FBS staffs here.

Chris Vannini is in his fifth year with and serves as its managing editor. He has previously written for the Detroit Free Press, The Oakland Press, The State News,, 247Sports and SB Nation.  A graduate of Michigan State University, Chris now lives in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.  Be sure to follow @coachingsearch and send emails to