Luke Fickell decides to stay with Cincinnati, will not become next coach at MSU

Cincinnati head coach decides to stay with Bearcats, Pete Thamel of Yahoo Sports reports.

Joe Dandron, Football writer

Correction: This article originally stated that Luke Fickell received a head coaching job offer from MSU. However, it is unclear if he was ever formally offered the job, per reports.

EAST LANSING — As fans, media, students and MSU alumni waited all weekend for the Michigan State Athletic Department to make an announcement, Luke Fickell has decided to not become the next head football coach at Michigan State, reports say. 

It is not immediately clear if Fickell was even offered the job, but regardless Fickell is staying put for the 2020 season.

The news comes after a surprising decision by former MSU coach Mark Dantonio to step down after 13 seasons at Michigan State on Feb. 4.

Pete Thamel of Yahoo Sports was first to report the news that the former Ohio State assistant and 2011 interim head coach has decided not to leave Cincinnati – unlike Mark Dantonio once did – for East Lansing.

The 46-year old was the front-runner to replace Dantonio. MSU will continue to search for a head coach as Mike Tressel continues to serve as interim head coach.

The Detroit Free Press reported that after conversations with Cincinnati athletic director John Cunningham, Fickell decided to stay put.

MSU athletic director Bill Beekman and others flew to Cincinnati this past weekend to interview Fickell, multiple outlets reported

And after Fickell’s interview, Beekman and others returned without a new head coach. Reports say San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh and Colorado head coach Mel Tucker also declined offers to take the helm at MSU. The Des Moines Register reported that Iowa State head coach Matt Campbell also declined an interview.

Former MSU defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi was also a candidate, but has committed to staying at Pitt for the 2020 season via Twitter.

Fickell tweeted early on Monday morning “Looking forward to more of this in 2020!”

The former assistant under Dantonio at Ohio State has led the Bearcats to back-to-back 11 win seasons, a pair of bowl game wins and a No. 21 ranking in the final AP poll rankings of the 2019 season. Cincinnati has a 32-20 overall record in Fickell’s four years as head coach.

MSU’s Board of Trustees has the final say in who is hired as head coach for the football program, any candidate recommended by the Athletic Department must be approved by the Board. MSU trustee Brian Mosallam tweeted late on Sunday “Spartan Nation, I know how passionate you are and I love you for it. Let’s pause and take a collective deep breath. Good night and Go Green!”

Dantonio won a school record 114 games in his 13 seasons, which included an appearance in the 2015 College Football Playoff and a Rose Bowl victory in 2014.

This is a developing story. Follow @JosephDandronMI and @WDBMSports on Twitter for continued coverage of MSU football’s coaching search. Contact Joe at [email protected].