Sep 3, 2022; Fayetteville, Arkansas, USA; Cincinnati Bearcats head coach Luke Fickell during the second quarter against the Arkansas Razorbacks at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

Take 5: Nebraska coaching candidates to replace Scott Frost

How desirable the Nebraska football job is will be a point of debate following the firing of Scott Frost on Sunday.

The answer may well be determined by who the Cornhuskers are able to lure to Lincoln, Neb.

Frost was let go after a 1-2 start to the season, including a home loss to Georgia Southern on Saturday. That dropped Frost’s record to 16-31 at his alma mater.

Athletic director Trev Alberts said the search for Frost’s replacement will begin “immediately,” and Nebraska gets a head start on that process.

Five early candidates:

Luke Fickell, Cincinnati head coach
Fickell’s name has surfaced with most every coaching vacancy at a Power 5 program over the past few years. He has turned down every overture thus far but Nebraska could be a compelling option for the Columbus, Ohio native who played for Ohio State.

However, Fickell has already turned down Michigan State and may not be interested in a Big Ten job other than the Buckeyes. He also said no to Notre Dame.

Matt Campbell, Iowa State head coach
Campbell has turned the Cyclones into a consistent contender in the Big 12 and, like Fickell, has turned down several opportunities to interview with larger Power 5 programs.

Nebraska has the tradition and the deep pocketbooks that may pique Campbell’s interest level, and leaving Ames now might be more appealing with the future makeup of the Big 12 a major question mark. He has strung together five consecutive winning seasons with the Cyclones.

Mark Stoops, Kentucky head coach
Stoops is fresh off a big victory over Florida and has the Wildcats ranked in the top 20 despite being without his leading rusher to start the season. He has built a very respectable program in the SEC East that has posted a pair of 10-win campaigns in the past six years, but Stoops might see an easier path to sustained success in the Big Ten West.

Stoops, who is 12-3 since the start of last season, did sign an extension through 2028.

Dave Aranda, Baylor head coach
Aranda served as Wisconsin’s defensive coordinator from 2013-15 before moving on to the same role with LSU from 2016-19. He led the Bears to the Big 12 championship in only his second season and signed an extension through 2029.

Matt Rhule, Carolina Panthers head coach
Rhule entered the NFL season on the hot seat after compiling a 10-23 record through his first two years. He is a proven program builder at the college level, taking a Temple team that won only two games in his first year to consecutive 10-win seasons just two years later.

Rhule then did the same at Baylor, leading the Bears to an 11-3 record in 2019 and recording 47 total victories as a college head coach. The Bears earned a spot in the Sugar Bowl before Rhule left for the NFL.

Other notable names: Mickey Joseph, Nebraska interim coach; Lance Leipold, Kansas head coach; Jim Leonhard, Wisconsin DC; Urban Meyer, FOX Sports analyst; Bill O’Brien, Alabama OC

–Field Level Media

Dec 4, 2021; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Michigan Wolverines head coach Jim Harbaugh against the Iowa Hawkeyes in the Big Ten Conference championship game at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh named AP Coach of the Year

Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh was named Associated Press Coach of the Year on Friday, beating out Cincinnati’s Luke Fickell for the honor.

Harbaugh received 22 of 53 first-place votes and earned 103 points in the balloting. Fickell received 16 first-place votes and 88 total points.

Baylor’s Dave Aranda (five first-place votes, 47 points) was a distant third. Michigan State’s Mel Tucker (4, 22) and Georgia’s Kirby Smart (1, 13) round out the top five.

No. 2 Michigan (12-1) will face No. 3 Georgia (12-1) in the College Football semifinals on Dec. 31. No. 4 Cincinnati (13-0) will meet No. 1 Alabama (12-1) in the day’s other semi.

It is the first appearance for both Michigan and Cincinnati in the CFP.

–Field Level Media

Nov 29, 2019; Memphis, TN, USA; Cincinnati Bearcats head coach Luke Fickell during the first half against the Memphis Tigers at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

Reports: Cincinnati extends Fickell’s deal through 2026

Cincinnati coach Luke Fickell has agreed to a contract extension through the 2026 season, according to multiple reports.

Fox19 in Cincinnati reported that university trustees approved the extension on Tuesday.

The Athletic and ESPN both reported that Fickell’s salary will rise to $3.4 annually. He was previously signed through 2022.

Fickell made $2.3 million in 2019, according to the USA Today football coaches salary list.

ESPN reported that Fickell will receive a $250,000 bonus if Cincinnati reaches a New Year’s Six bowl or the College Football Playoff.

Fickell, 47, is 26-13 in three seasons with the Bearcats, including back-to-back 11-win campaigns.

Cincinnati is ranked 20th in the Associated Press preseason poll.

Fickell served as Ohio State’s interim coach in 2011 after Jim Tressel resigned under pressure. The Buckeyes went 6-7 and Fickell was passed over during the coaching search in favor of Urban Meyer.

–Field Level Media