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Reports: Cincinnati’s Fickell says no to Michigan State

Cincinnati’s Luke Fickell turned down the head coaching position at Michigan State, multiple outlets reported Monday.

Fickell interviewed for the opening created by Mark Dantonio’s sudden departure last week, but he reportedly has opted to remain with the Bearcats after discussions with his family.

Fickell, 46, met with Spartans athletic director Bill Beekman in Cincinnati on Sunday.

Fickell has compiled a 26-13 record with two bowl appearances in three seasons with the Bearcats, including consecutive 11-win seasons in 2018 and 2019. Prior to that, he had extensive experience in the Big Ten as a former Ohio State defensive tackle and longtime Buckeyes assistant coach.

He also was Ohio State’s interim coach in 2011 after Jim Tressel’s resignation amid NCAA violations. The Buckeyes finished 6-7.

Dantonio, 63, stepped down down after 13 seasons in East Lansing as the winningest coach in Michigan State history. The two-time Big Ten Coach of the Year led the Spartans to a 114-57 record with 11 bowl appearances. The Spartans also played in a College Football Playoff semifinal in 2015 — a 38-0 loss to eventual champion Alabama.

Michigan State finished 7-6 in each of the past two seasons.

With Fickell pulling out of consideration, the Spartans’ search continues. Pittsburgh coach and former Michigan State defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi and Colorado coach Mel Tucker said they were staying with their programs, and San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh reportedly declined interest.

Along with interim head coach and defensive coordinator Mike Tressel, the Detroit News said Michigan State could reach out to Eastern Michigan coach Chris Creighton, Central Michigan coach Jim McElwain, Penn State defensive coordinator Brent Pry, Alabama analyst Butch Jones and Denver Broncos offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur.