At the start of this offseason, Bearcats fans were run amok, as former head coach Luke Fickell stepped away from the program to become the head coach of the Wisconsin Badgers. Just a year after signing an extension into 2028, Fickell left the program just months before their move to the Big 12.
Fickell’s departure was felt from the jump. Handfuls of transfers and de-commitments, headlined by football and baseball prospect Amare Snowden, made the future of the program look bleak. Many players followed Fickell, and while the coaching spot stayed open for longer than expected, Cincinnati decided that Louisville head coach Scott Satterfield was fit to lead the charge going forward.
The Bearcats lost 30 players this off-season, with 16 transfers and 14 bound for the NFL draft; JQ Hardaway and Jadon Thompson, big parts of Cincinnati’s future, left for other schools, while Tre Tucker and Tyler Scott, who were major parts of the recent offensive success, departed for the NFL draft. Naturally, questions arose about how well the Bearcats would be able to rebuild the roster under new leadership. Those questions have been quickly answered, and the results are exciting.
Offseason grade: B+
UC’s offseason opened with making sure current recruits were still interested in the program. Just two weeks after taking the job, Satterfield’s first task was convincing 11 of Fickell’s recruits to stay in Cincinnati to play for him. Following that, four transfers also signed onto the team. These signees involved two quarterbacks, both of which are looking to win over the starting job.
Quarterback was the biggest question throughout the entirety of last season. Ben Bryant and Evan Prater are both still with the program, and Fickell recruit Brady Drogosh elected to stay in Cincinnati. Arizona State transfer Emory Jones also joined the Bearcats. Not only was the QB spot covered, but they also brought in two new faces to compete with two familiar ones. Having four quarterbacks of that caliber in one room is impressive and will lead to more competition as all four have a chance to be the week one starter.
Following signing day, the Bearcats brought in 12 other transfers. None were more impressive than that of Jordan Young, a defensive back from Florida. Young, a former four-star, still has three years of eligibility left and looks to show why he was such a highly-coveted player in his recruitment class.
There were surely questions surrounding the Scott Satterfield signing. But what he has done these past few months since taking over has been a pleasant surprise for Bearcats fans. Not only has he recruited well, but he has also put together a coaching staff full of talent and fan favorites. Getting Kerry Coombs to return was big for the locker room culture, and bringing in Tom Manning, the former Iowa State offensive coordinator who worked with Jets running back Breece Hall and 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy, was big for offensive player development –especially in a conference like the Big 12 where high-powered offenses thrive.
Overall, Scott Satterfield has done a great job under very high expectations. While the process hasn’t been perfect, Cincinnati has done some very good damage control from the hiring of Satterfield to the plethora of new players. Satterfield still has plenty of time to bring in a few more transfers to complete his ideal roster, too.
However, there are still serious questions looming. Why did the hiring process take so long? Is Satterfield capable of winning in the Big 12? How will the quarterback situation play out? How will the loss of many top recruits impact the future of the program? There’s still so much UC fans don’t know, but they know a lot more than originally expected.