1. Luke Fickell is underpaid at $5 million a year.
Farrell’s take: FICTION. When you look at the new deal and annual salary for Cincinnati head coach Luke Fickell you may think he got cheaped out. After all, we see what Jimbo Fisher is making at Texas A&M and the deals for Brian Kelly and Lincoln Riley moving to new homes or what Mel Tucker got for staying home, and think $5 million isn’t enough.
And yes, Fickell would make more had he jumped at another huge job, but this is a big deal for a program heading into Power Five and not there yet. If the Bearcats were in the Big 12 already, Fickell would be third only to Brent Venables and Steve Sarkisian at Oklahoma and Texas, two programs that are headed off to the SEC soon. Fickell’s salary makes him the highest-paid Group of Five coach in the country and puts Cincinnati in line to be competitive in the head coaching market for years to come. Fickell could have grabbed more, but this is a great deal.
2. Al Golden is the right hire for Notre Dame.
Farrell’s take: FACT. People remember Al Golden mainly for his time at Miami, where he went 32-25 and failed as the ‘Canes coach, although the inherited NCAA penalties didn’t help him much. But this defensive coordinator position at ND is a great fit for Golden, who most recently was a Cincinnati Bengals LBs coach and had previous stops as an assistant coach at Boston College, Penn State and Virginia, where he became known as a very good defensive mind and one of the top recruiters in the nation.
Not only will Golden help recruiting in his home state of New Jersey but he will be a closer across the nation – and especially in the Midwest – for Marcus Freeman. Don’t let his loyalty to former assistants unnamed here make you think otherwise; on his own he’s a terrific defensive coach and recruiter.
3. AAC commish Mike Aresco is right to push for playoff expansion.
Farrell’s take: FACT. There’s no point waiting. That is essentially what AAC commissioner Mike Aresco said in an open letter to college football. He’s talking about the expanded playoff. The ACC and others appear to want to kick this can down the road a bit. But for a conference that is losing Cincinnati, UCF and Houston to the Power Five, Aresco knows that the longer this draws out the worse it gets for the AAC.
So I applaud him for the effort, and he’s simply doing his job. Expansion will happen – we all know this – and the sooner the better for all involved.