Sports Talk: Greater Cincinnati Sportsperson of the Year
We have named a Greater Cincinnati Sportsperson of the Year each year since 2014. The criteria is based on on-field performance, off-field actions, community impact and involvement of individuals, players, coaches, managers, administrators, at the high school, college and pro level.
Each year I accept nominations from listeners. A committee, made up of longtime Cincinnati residents involved on many different levels of Cincinnati sports over the years, makes the final decision.
The committee selection for 2021 Greater Cincinnati Sportsperson of the Year:
Luke Fickell, UC football coach
"Luke Fickell and his program rang in the New Year by going toe-to-toe with Georgia in the Peach Bowl. That performance proved to be a precursor for bigger things to come during the course of 2021 as his team now closes out the year making history as the first Group of 5 team to play in the College Football Playoffs.
Fickell's team was perfect (13-0) in an imperfect year, finishing as the countries only unbeaten team out of 130 FBS programs. He offered a steadying touch and guidance for a team that had to deal with off-the-charts expectations from jump. His team cleared each hurdle and challenge along the way and continued raising the bar.
He navigated expectations, outside noise, job opening rumors, recruiting and a move to the Big 12 announcement by doing what he's preached from Day 1 on the job......being who he is......And asking his team to be who they are.
The Bearcats began the season at No. 8 in the AP Top 25 preseason poll and cleared their first big hurdle when they rallied from an early 14 deficit to beat a then No. 17 ranked Indiana team. Two weeks later they won a Top 10 showdown in South Bend, thoroughly beating Notre Dame 24-13.
UC entered the CFB Playoff Rankings at No. 6. While the 'style points' discussion and pressure mounted during challenges from Navy, Tulane and Tulsa, Fickell maintained a calm and focus that his team fed off of and displayed on the field.
His team dominated the American Athletic Conference player honors and his QB wound up 8th in Heisman voting. Fickell's impact was recognized nationally as the Home Depot Coach of the Year.
He's built a foundation, brick by brick, towards his goal to make UC football a Top 10 program, not just a team. His team has won 23 of the last 24 games, with one loss since December 7, 2019.
On New Year's Eve his team gets a shot at an ultimate college football blueblood in Alabama.
The husband, father and coach 'gets it'. And this year he wins it.
Luke Fickell is our 2021 Greater Cincinnati Sportsperson of the Year."
2014: Teddy Kremer
2015: Lauren Hill
2016: Jeff Berding
2017: Super Bubz and Joey Votto
2018: FC Cincinnati
2019: Rose Lavelle
2020: Joe Burrow
2021: Luke Fickell