In recent weeks, Cincinnati Bearcat football has shaken the game on coaching, with five coaching changes since their Semifinals College Football Playoff appearance.
Former quarterbacks coach, Gino Guidugli, has been promoted to offensive coordinator (OC). The move comes after former Bearcat OC, Mike Denbrock, took the same title at Louisiana State University (LSU). Guidugli has been on the Cincinnati staff since 2017, having played for Red and Black from 2001-2004.
Guidugli’s playing career in Clifton was nothing short of success as he set the all-time touchdown record (78), a record only recently broken by his star player, Desmond Ridder.
Due to Guidigli’s move to OC, the passing game coordinator role was briefly left vacant until wide receivers coach Mike Brown was upgraded to the role. Brown will still coach wide receivers, but has expanded his responsibilities to include that of the passing game coordinator.
“I am very pleased to announce the promotion of Mike Brown as our passing game coordinator,” said Fickell. “Mike has done an amazing job for us since he got here, taking our wide reception area to the next level. As a former NFL player, Mike knows what it takes to be successful at the highest level. He is an excellent teacher of the game and an excellent recruiter. He has been a big part of our success over the past three seasons and he will continue to play an important role in our growth as a program.”
Brown was a full American twice in college before joining the National Football League (NFL), followed by a coaching career that began in 2016. Brown joined the Cincinnati staff in 2019 and has worked with wide receivers ever since. One of Brown’s top stars in Cincinnati, Alec Pierce, will likely hear his name called out during this year’s NFL Draft.
On the defensive side of the ball, safety coach Colin Hitschler has added the Co-Defensive Coordinator (DC) to his to-do list. Hitschler has been on the program for four seasons and entering his fifth, he will begin his third as an assistant coach for the Bearcats.
“[Hitschler] has done an excellent job as our safety coach for the past two seasons and has played an integral role on our defensive staff for the past four years,” said Fickell. “He is an excellent coach who really cares about his players, on and off the field. He deserved this opportunity and I think he will continue to do a great job for us.”
Hitschler has developed two safeties over the past two seasons with American Athletic Conference (AAC) first-team honors James Wiggins and Bryan Cook.
Former Bearcat football player, Walter Stewart, has been hired as the Bearcats’ new linebackers coach going into the 2022 season. Stewart played as a defensive lineman for the Bearcats from 2009-2012. He already has experience in AAC coaching as he has been with Temple since 2019 as a coach on the defensive line.
Further, in the backfield, former Ohio State DC, Kerry Coombs, has been hired to coach cornerbacks and special teams for the Bearcats. Coombs has a history with Fickell, who coached together at Ohio State from 2012-2016.
Coombs is a native of Colerain, Ohio, and had a stint as a defending coach for the Tennessee Titans from 2018-2019.
Coombs’ hiring comes after he was relieved of defensive play-calling duties for the Buckeyes during the 2021 season. The Buckeyes and Coombs agreed to part ways after the 2021 season, which paved the way for the veteran coach to join the Bearcats staff.
With as many moves as there have been for the Bearcats this off-season, it can be seen as a plus that they happen as early in the off-season as they are. All five coaching changes could bolster the recruiting going forward as the newly shuffled staff offers experience and recognizability as former Bearcat players.