Luke Fickell shares admiration for Iowa wrestling ahead of Heartland Trophy clash
Luke Fickell is excited for his first Heartland Trophy game as Wisconsin’s head coach, but he hasn’t always viewed Iowa with hostility.
During a recent media opportunity, Fickell revealed that he admired Iowa’s decorated wrestling program as a young athlete.
“I know a lot about Iowa. I’m not gonna say I grew up an Iowa fan, but in some ways, it was one of my spots because of wrestling,” Fickell said. “I knew a lot more about the University of Iowa and their wrestling program than their football program. I always kind of admired (the wrestling program), and it was probably one of my first visits – not as a player – to go to the university and watch an NCAA Wrestling Tournament when I was in like in 7th or 8th grade.
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“I’ve known a lot about the university. I’ve studied their football program, in particular their defense, when I was a young coach for the first 4, 5, 6 years. So I know more about the University of Iowa than to say, do I know the history of the rivalry? I’ve studied that, but only for 8 months now, and the other things I’ve studied for quite a while.”
Fun fact: Young Luke Fickell was a big admirer of @Hawks_Wrestling.
— Big Ten Football (@B1Gfootball) October 10, 2023
Fickell calls himself a traditionalist who takes rivalries like the Heartland Trophy seriously.
“It was really important because I truly believe to respect the rival you’ve got to do a lot of work. You’ve got to understand when you’re walking into something the history behind it and the meaning behind it and what’s going to be a little different in those games,” Fickell said Monday. “I’m excited, obviously I’ve played Iowa a lot and coached against Iowa a lot. I think every game I’ve ever coached in (against Iowa) they ended up being a complete battle.”
Fickell’s squad is a double-digit favorite at home against the Hawkeyes. Kickoff from Camp Randall is set for 4 p.m. ET, airing on FOX.