“I’m not the only guy with things rolling around in their head. We’ve got plenty of guys that have opportunities to go to the NFL. We’ve got plenty of guys that have opportunities to make decisions about coming back. We’ve got seniors. There’s this Covid year hanging over everybody’s head, and they’ve got decisions to make. We’ve all got things, and what these guys have done a phenomenal job all year of is finding ways to not let that affect how we handle our business, and I mean that. Together, we haven’t always been perfect. We rely a lot on the trust, respect and love we have for one another.”
The Bearcats go into Saturday’s game 12-0 for the second time in program history and ranked third in the Associated Press Top 25 poll and fourth in the College Football Playoff rankings, leaving them eligible for the final post-season berth. Houston is ranked 16th by the AP and 21st in the CFP standings. College football’s Final Four is due to be announced on Sunday.
The AAC Championship Game appearance is Cincinnati’s third in a row. They are seeking their second consecutive title.
Fickell’s blinders-on approach has filtered down to his players, according to fifth-year senior quarterback Desmond Ridder.
“Oh yeah, Coach Fick does a great job of keeping the outside world and outside media, outside of this building and outside of this team,” Ridder said on Tuesday. “Once all of us step foot into (the Richard E. Lindner Center), it’s all about business, and it’s all about ball. Nothing really else matters. I think he does a great job of handling himself, and that kind of just filters down throughout the program, throughout the players and throughout the coaches. We’re just focused on the game on Saturday, and that’s all his attention is on, so that’s all our attention is on.”
Houston at Cincinnati, 4 p.m., ABC, 700