It’s that time of the year again, when success by a Cincinnati Bearcats athletic program is met with disdain and more often than not Chicken Little syndrome from parts of the local media. I devoted a full post to this in early February but wanted to elaborate on it here because, a month later, those same people are still singing the same tune; that Mick Cronin is unhappy and looking for a way out. Paul Daugherty mentioned it several times in the above linked post, he did so a month before that, and this past weekend Ken Broo asserted it like it was fact on his radio show.
It never ends, I tell you!
Their reasoning is that because Cincinnati is undergoing success not experienced for over a decade and Mick Cronin is supposedly outperforming his available resources, he’s unhappy. He doesn’t have a brand new palace in which his team can play and the budget the Rick Pitino’s and John Calipari’s have to work with and thus he’s looking for greener pastures.
But no real evidence over the last few years suggests that Mick Cronin is truly miserable here. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that the UC head coach is happy right where he’s at and doesn’t have eyes for another school. It’s a wild concept, I know, and may take a few minutes of adjusting your thought process after the idea of him leaving has been beaten into you by the Debbie Downers of the world. So please feel free to step away and take a quick break before diving into the rest of this post.
You OK? Need a beverage? Maybe a water? Good to go? Outstanding!
Let’s look at five reasons why Mick Cronin isn’t going anywhere, the naysayers be damned.
1) Mick Cronin ’bout to get paid
While it’s not official yet and probably won’t be so until after the end of the season, several reports are suggesting that the Cincinnati head coach is going to be presented with a truckload of cash from the university. Early indications suggest something in the range of $2.2 million per year in a rejiggered contract that will run through the 2021 season. That would be roughly a $1 million raise and place Mick among the top 10-15 highest paid coaches in college basketball. You don’t get shown the love from your school more than in the wallet and UC will do it with this extension.
2) He just spent 6-7-8 years rebuilding Cincinnati basketball, why go elsewhere?
Mick just spent the better half of the last decade rebuilding UC basketball from the ground up. He literally turned a program filled with walk-ons, JUCO’s, and a football player into a perennial conference title contender and NCAA Tournament participant. It wasn’t easy. He constantly worked in the shadow of Bob Huggins and is only now emerging from underneath it. Not only has UC basketball been rebuilt, it’s flat out rolling. Mick has set the Bearcats up to earn a preseason top-25 ranking on an annual basis. He has his system in place, it’s been proven to work, and his players have more than bought into it. Why would he leave all of that to embark on an arduous rebuilding project elsewhere? It just doesn’t make sense.
3) Bearcats basketball is in a nice rhythm recruiting wise
Winning breeds future success and UC has felt that on the recruiting trail of late. The 2013 class was spearheaded by high 4-star recruit Jermaine Lawrence and future stud Troy Caupain. Mick followed that up by signing a talented trio of front court players Quadri Moore (4-star), Gary Clark (a double-double machine), and Coreontae DeBerry in the most recent class. Overall, he and his coaches have gotten Cincinnati to the point where high school players know the program not just the coach. It’s allowed them to walk into the living room of those prospects and not have to sell UC to them. Their hard work over the last several years has done that for them. In essence, the conversation has shifted more from “why should you come to Cincinnati?” to “where do you fit at Cincinnati?” and that is huge for this staff.
4) His friends, family, and most importantly his daughter is in Cincinnati
I know in the current environment of bloated salaries and even more bloated egos, seemingly less important aspects of a coach’s life like friends and family fall by the wayside. Not so with Mick Cronin. His father and brother attend almost every single Bearcats basketball game. He has leaned on them for support over the years and continues to do so. Even more importantly, he has shared custody rights over his daughter Sammie. I’m no lawyer but I’d have to believe his legally binding ability to see her on a regular basis would be minimized if he were to leave the city of Cincinnati or state of Ohio.
5) Mick Cronin can win national titles at Cincinnati
It’s been done before and can be done again. With a budget on par with the best in college basketball (see #1) and a proven strategy of success (see #2), there’s no reason why the Bearcats couldn’t put some National Championship hardware in the Lindner Center trophy case. All it takes is the right system, which UC has, the right players, which Mick Cronin is bringing on board, and the right amount of luck to make a deep run in March Madness. To say it can’t be done at Cincinnati is ludicrous.