Michigan State was stunned at the unexpected acquiescence of Mark Dantonio as their head coach. Defensive coordinator Mike Tressel serves as the interim head coach while the university spreads out their plans for a last-minute coaching change.
Current Cincinnati head coach Luke Fickell is reputed to be a candidate. The 46-year-old has led the Bearcats since the 2017 season, playing in the AAC.
Fickell joined ESPNU Radio and discussed National Signing Day and tended to the bits of gossip that connected him to the job in East Lansing.
“I have talked to nobody, and that’s the truth,” Fickell said. “I am very good friends with Mark Dantonio. I’ve stayed in contact with him. I have not communicated with anybody except Mark Dantonio in the last three to four weeks from Michigan State. I haven’t been thinking about it, haven’t been focused on it. We have five guys signed for us today. I was thankful I didn’t have to answer any questions because I didn’t talk to anyone.”
A follow-up question broached the subject of Fickell’s players considering the hurricane of coaching changes and how they influence recruiting classes.
“Well I had a couple of guys call last night,” Fickell said. “You get texts from you guys now. I said ‘hey we’re going to finish this thing up. What we discussed in recruiting hasn’t changed one bit.’ I’ve talked to nobody. I don’t know what’s going on and all I can tell you is what I know. Every one of our guys that have called, I’ve talked with. I think they trust and believe in what it is I’m telling and what it is what we’re doing.”
It appeared everybody was dazed at the Dantonio resignation and Fickell was no different when he heard the news on the long-term Michigan State coach’s retirement.
“I was (surprised),” Fickell said. “I didn’t see it coming. It’s not like I talk to him every week. Every time I have something going on, there’s one guy who I bounce things off of, it’s him. It was a bit of a shock and how it all happened and as quick as it did.”
Cincinnati players would be staggered if Fickell left now, much the same as the Michigan State players and staff when they heard the news.
“One Michigan State assistant tells me the staff and team found out about Dantonio’s departure in a meeting this afternoon,” ESPN’s Dan Murphy tweeted. “They were surprised by the news. When asked how the room reacted, he said ‘about how you’d expect.’”
The timing of the decision found some off guard, as Dantonio departs on the eve of National Signing Day. Yahoo! Sports reporter Dan Wetzel considers Dantonio’s retirement the finish of a decay that injured a football program that is a little more than four years expelled from a College Football Playoff appearance.
“If he wanted to set the program up for the future, he should have announced last October or November he was stepping down at season’s end,” Wetzel wrote. “Then State would have had plenty of time and a fair shot to attract the very best replacement possible. The new guy could have salvaged the recruiting class and started trying to re-establish momentum that doesn’t come easily in East Lansing.”
Mark Ronald is an award-winning freelance writer, and a journalist, with a passion for creating news about national and international issues. Mark has worked imitational with marketing. He works seasonally on heraldquest.com website and is also a regular contributor.
Disclaimer: The views, suggestions, and opinions expressed here are the sole responsibility of the experts. No Herald Quest journalist was involved in the writing and production of this article.