Friday, January 28, 2022

Fickell: No. 3 Cincinnati AAC looking no further than title game | NWN News

Cincinnati (NWN) — Cincinnati coach Luke Fikel will not get into the debate about whether the Bearcats deserve to be in the college football playoffs if they win the AAC title on Saturday.

“I haven’t answered those questions. I don’t know how things went, regardless,” Fikel said Monday during a media gathering previewing the conference championship game.

Fikel typically pivots to a one-playing-at-a-time-focus message that he emphasizes amid constant extraneous noise to distract his players.

The No. 3 Bearcats (12–0, 8–0 AAC, No. 4 CFP) face No. 16 Houston (11–1, 8–0, No. 24 CFP) in the most important AAC championship in eight seasons. History of the game.

If Cincinnati wins, it will be well on its way to becoming the first team from outside the Power 5 to make the playoffs.

In that respect, Cincinnati is also playing for the honors of the AAC and other second-tier teams in the so-called Group of Five.

Fikel, who is 47–14 in five seasons at Cincinnati, has the senior-fought Bearcats in the conference title game for the third consecutive season and the pinnacle of history.

He wants him to isolate his players in the football building, turn off the TV and turn off the internet. Keep them away from all outside noise.

“We’re not ignorant to think they’re going to be like me and bury their heads in the sand and don’t talk or talk to anyone outside where you spend 90% of your time,” Fikel he said. , “Hey, we want to enjoy what these seniors in particular have created, on our campus, in our stadium, but we can’t allow that to change us. And I’m not saying it’s easy.”

It’s also that time of year when Fikel, 48, has to put aside questions about coaching vacancies, especially the big one in Oklahoma after Lincoln Riley took a USC job. “We don’t talk about personal things,” is his standard line.

Dana Holgorson came to Houston in 2019 as coach after eight seasons in West Virginia, which was converted to the Big 12 during her tenure.

Cincinnati, he said, is the real deal.

“They deserve where they are ranked in CFP,” said Holgorsen.

Amidst all the discussion about whether the G5 team is worthy, there is some irony. Cincinnati and Houston are among the teams set to move into the Power 5 conference — the Big 12 — over the next few seasons.

AAC Commissioner Mike Aresco is philosophical about schools using the convention as a stepping stone and continues to work against the notion that it is inferior. The success of Cincinnati certainly helped.

“We just accept the fact that they are doing all this at our conference,” Aresco said. “We are very proud of Cincinnati, we are very proud of Houston. One thing I would say is we hate losing them on the road and we are not sure it will happen, but it is a celebration of what this convention has done in nine years. have achieved.


Follow Mitch Stacey at


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