With another successful season in the books Cincinnati fans can now do what they do best, worry incessantly about if their coach will be poached by another school. It seems like a 3-year ritual that UC fans must agonize over the possibility of the Bearcats football being obliterated back to the Dark Ages with the departure of another successful coach. But as evidenced yesterday the one thing UC football has proven is the resiliency to survive any major shake-up of the program.
As of now I’m not sure if Butch Jones leaves. He’s a young, ambitious coach who is an athletic director’s dream. He not only wins but he does so running a clean program where his players go to class, get good grades, and represent the university on and off the field. So there’s no surprise after consecutive winning seasons at Cincinnati that he has drawn interest from a half-dozen or more universities.
The good news is that Cincinnati football is at its highest point than it has ever been. One could argue 2009 was the apex of UC football but from an overall stability standpoint, 2012 is where it’s at. Let’s evaluate some factors that Butch Jones might consider when deciding whether or not he wants to stay at Cincinnati:
Factors Keeping Him At Cincinnati
- Strong relationship with Whit Babcock
- Top-notch training and practice facilities
- Familiarity with the city of Cincinnati
- Established program with his players and system
Factors Pushing/Pulling Him Out The Door
- Strength of Big East conference
- Out-of-date Nippert Stadium
- Inconsistent fan support
- Higher pay elsewhere
Potential Landing Spots
Butch Jones is interviewing for the vacant Boilermakers football job today. And if this photo says anything it looks like he’s already on-site. Two weeks ago before Louisville and Rutgers bolted, Cincinnati looked like the clear better job compared to Purdue. With the Big East to be diluted by the likes of Tulane and ECU in a couple of years, Purdue now has the clear edge.
While the Boilermakers don’t make waves in the Big Ten, they are a very solid football program with a history of success, a large stadium and fan support, as well as the money to pay Butch and his assistants if they wanted to. They also have a history of being very patient with their coaches which would give him the time to get his players and establish his system in the program. It’s also right in the heart of the Midwest which he is extremely familiar with. But Purdue plays in a difficult division in the Big Ten fighting to climb over the likes of Ohio State, Penn State, and Wisconsin ever year. It’s clearly a difficult path to the conference championship and a BCS bowl facing that gauntlet.
This program has been a mess since Dan Hawkins took over in 2006 and things didn’t get better under Jon Embree. But Butch Jones apparently sees something in the Buffaloes to warrant an interview, probably Monday. What he might be seeing is a large, flagship school with a sizeable stadium and a history of success on the football field despite running into hard times over the past decade. They also boast PAC-12 money which can make a lot of problems go away if the right man is in place to run the show.
But this job seems odd for Butch Jones whose recruiting ties are almost exclusively East of the Mississippi River. He would not only be rebuilding a football program in the difficult PAC-12 but will probably have to spend extra time on the recruiting trail finding his type of players. That wouldn’t be easy and it’s unclear just how long of a leash he would be given. Colorado boasts a lot of youth on the roster but is probably a good 3 – 4 years away from competing in the PAC-12.
Butch has yet to officially interview with the Volunteers but there hasn’t been any indication that he hasn’t been contacted by them. Heck, NC State hired Northern Illinois’ Dave Doeren right under almost everyone’s nose. Obviously the Vols boast a raucous, loyal fanbase and some of the best football facilities in the country with enough money to pay Butch and his assistants anything they could possibly ask for. Plus UT is located in the heart of Jones’ recruiting ties to Memphis, Atlanta, and Florida. While little-to-no chatter has been leaked between Tennessee and the UC head coach, I wouldn’t be surprised if they expressed interest at some point this offseason.