Cincinnati coach Jones weighing options
Coach Butch Jones was weighing his options Tuesday after
returning to Cincinnati’s campus after two days of interviews at
Purdue and Colorado.
Jones attended a news conference about the Bearcats’ appearance
in the Belk Bowl on Dec. 27 against Duke. Cincinnati (9-3) finished
with a share of the Big East title for the fourth time in the last
He declined to talk about his interviews or his future.
”I’m still the coach here, that’s all that matters,” Jones
said. ”This is about the Belk Bowl. I have every intention (of
coaching in the bowl). You have to understand why we’re here. If
you don’t, we can end it right now.”
School officials were meeting with him to see what it would take
to keep him at Cincinnati, where he’s finishing his third season.
He signed a contract extension following last season that stretches
through 2017 with a $1.4 million buyout if he leaves before Jan.
Keeping football coaches has been a challenge for Cincinnati.
The last two used the job as a stepping stone to a bigger program,
leaving after three-year stints.
Mark Dantonio oversaw the Bearcats’ move into the Big East, but
was discouraged with their inability to draw much of a crowd at
35,000-seat Nippert Stadium – a sticking point for years. Dantonio
landed at Michigan State.
Brian Kelly took over after the 2006 season and led the program
to its greatest heights, including appearances in the Orange Bowl
and the Sugar Bowl. He also left after three seasons to coach at
Notre Dame, his dream job. Kelly went to South Bend as the unbeaten
Bearcats were preparing for their first Sugar Bowl appearance,
leaving the team in disarray. They got drubbed by Florida, 51-24,
while Kelly was settling in at Notre Dame.
Jones, who succeeded Kelly at Central Michigan, also replaced
him at Cincinnati. The Bearcats have gone 23-14 in three seasons
under Jones, including a win over Vanderbilt at the Liberty Bowl
During Jones’ tenure, the university has expanded its practice
facilities, adding a football field with a protective bubble for
bad weather. The school also has been trying to figure out a way to
upgrade Nippert, which is the second-oldest playing site in the
nation for a college team behind Penn’s Franklin Field. Nippert has
been in use since 1901.
Despite their Big East success, the Bearcats have played in
front of less-than-capacity crowds at Nippert much of the time.
They drew only 21,171 fans on senior night – their smallest crowd
of the season – for a 27-10 win over South Florida.
The university also has been trying to find a place during the
Big East’s massive exodus. Last month, Louisville was accepted into
the Atlantic Coast Conference, which also considered Cincinnati but
chose one of its biggest rivals instead.
Jones interviewed at Purdue on Sunday and at Colorado a day
later. Bearcats players have off this week before resuming practice
for the Charlotte bowl. The players talked among themselves about
Jones’ future and were awaiting his decision.
Players were trying not to get caught up in the uncertainty.
”It’s not a big deal for us,” junior defensive lineman Jordan