Cincinnati football is at a crossroads. Will they aim for a bowl game with Hayden Moore? Or look towards 2019 and start a freshman?
Remembering the most miraculous team in Bearcat history
Breaking down the Bearcats’ 35–24 loss to the Owls on a frigid night at Nippert
The highs and lows from Cincinnati’s rain-shortened mess against the Knights
A quick history of the football series between the Bearcats and Thundering Herd
The highs and lows from the Bearcats’ 42–32 defeat in Annapolis
The highs and lows of Cincinnati’s hard-fought loss against the Wolverines
The highs and lows from Cincinnati’s 26–14 win over the Governors.
Here’s all the info you (don’t) need to know about the Cincinnati Bearcats’ 2017 class. By an idiot. For idiots.
To win in a football climate like Cincinnati, you must first know the area. Luke Fickell is finding the guys who do.
Luke Fickell’s introductory press conference turned this skeptic into a believer.
The positives and negatives of choosing Ohio State defensive coordinator Luke Fickell as the next leader of Cincinnati football.
Remembering Tommy Tuberville’s time at Cincinnati — where things went right before everything went wrong.
A reflection on the rocky Bearcat career of Gunner Kiel, an attempt to place him among the UC greats, and some numbers to back it all up.
(Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports)
The Bearcats lost 24–3 to fall to 4–6 on the season. They’ll need to get past two good teams if they want to make a bowl game this year. I think I’m just about officially broken. I watched every minute of the game today, and I’m not giving up, but holding onto hope and optimism has become essentially impossible. I just want these guys to finish well, whatever that may be.
- Dredrick Snelson. The guy who scored UCF’s first touchdown is named Dredrick Snelson, which is one of the best names I’ve heard in a while.
- The offense is downright anemic. The streak without a touchdown stretched to 10 quarters, which is legitimately impossible for me to imagine. I’ve always known the UC offense to be the type to rack up yards, if not points. How we’ve managed to fall so quickly, I don’t know. If my math is correct, that’s just about 154 minutes of game clock since the last touchdown. To make matters worse, the Bearcats have scored just six points total in that stretch.
- The Bearcats are the worst second half team in America. I’ll update this when I get complete stats for the rest of FBS play. After last week, UC was tied for dead last in second half scoring with Vanderbilt. Today, they threw up another goose egg, so it’s only going to get worse. In Cincinnati’s six losses this season, they’re being outscored 105–6 in the second half. That’s incomprehensible.
- The Bearcats keep getting blown out. During the Tuberville tenure, the Bearcats have lost to unranked opponents by at least 21 points on nine occasions. That matches the total that Rick Minter, Mark Dantonio, Brian Kelly, and Butch Jones shared from 2000 through 2012. The program is falling fast, and quickly getting lapped by weaker teams, as evidenced by UCF securing bowl eligibility against UC today after going winless in 2015.
- The national media is finally noticing. I suppose this could be a good or bad thing, but I generally would rather not have all media attention towards my alma mater centered around how quickly the football program went from relevance to turmoil. Between the loss last week, Tuberville’s blow up at a fan, and the shoddy effort today, it seems like just about all media outlets are calling for a coaching change in Clifton. I agree, but the negative publicity is still hard to watch.
- Attendance next week is going to be brutal. This is going to be the hardest part for me. There are a lot of seniors on this team who I’ll look back on fondly. Gunner Kiel, Tion Green, Nate Cole, Alex Pace, Zach Edwards, etc. These guys gave their blood, sweat, and tears to my alma mater, and I just know that they’ll be playing out their last game in front of an empty stadium after suffering through a pair of brutal seasons to close their careers. If you have a ticket, please show up or give it to somebody who will. These kids deserve one last effort from us as fans.
See you at Nippert. Go Bearcats. Beat Memphis.
A newly completed Nippert Stadium, 1924. (UC Libraries)
Bearcats football was founded by Dr. Arch Carson in 1885. In 1895, plans for a stadium at the site of Nippert were conceived. The cost of the field would be $4,650 ($133k in 2016), and despite Cincinnati Mayor Julius Fleischmann contributing $2,000 ($57k in 2016), the fundraising effort took five years to complete. In 1901, work began on the facility, and UC won its first game at the site, beating Hanover 18–0. Wooden bleachers lined the playing field, along the sides of “conveniently located hills.”
A 1909 topographical map, showing why the location of Carson/Nippert was chosen. (uc.edu/Google Maps)
In 1910, the university officially named the field “Carson Field,” in honor of the father of Cincinnati football. It was then that they hatched a plan for a permanent, concrete stadium. In 1916, the first nine sections of the stadium were financed by a city bond. In 1920, two more sections were added with war reclamation funds. In 1921, another three sections were added thanks to student subscriptions. It was then, according to The Cincinnatian, that it appeared the well had dried up. The stadium wasn’t done and there was no feasible way to find the money to finish it.
In 1923, during a Thanksgiving game against “ancient enemy” Miami, center Jimmy Nippert was gashed by a cleat in the muddy conditions. His wound filled with mud, but he finished the game. He later developed an infection, fell ill, and found himself fighting for his life. On Christmas Day 1923, he died of blood poisining.
Six days later, Jimmy’s grandfather — James N. Gamble, son of the Procter & Gamble co-founder —wrote a letter to UC president Frederick Hicks, offering to pay for completion of the stadium, adding an additional 18 sections of seats to the 14 that had already been constructed. Original cost estimates were between $125,000 and $150,000, but the final sum paid by Gamble was $250,000 ($3.52M in 2016). The stadium included state-of-the-art training rooms (one for UC and another for visitors) that would allow for on-site medical care for injured players, essentially preventing other athletes from suffering the same fate Jimmy did.
Nippert under construction. (UC Libraries)
Nippert’s final words, “Five more yards to go — then drop!” were carved into his memorial at the south end of the stadium, just above a 10-foot etching of Jimmy himself.
A 1924 photo of the Jimmy Nippert memorial that overlooks the south end of Nippert Stadium. (UC Libraries)
The dedication ceremony took place on November 8, 1924, before the game against Oberlin. More than 10,000 fans were in attendance, according to the Enquirer. Among them were Jimmy’s parents, as well as representatives from colleges and universities in Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, and West Virginia.
James N. Gamble (left) and UC President Frederick Hicks, Nippert dedication ceremony, 11/8/24. (UC Libraries)
The Cincinnatian dared to dream that games would be played at Nippert Stadium “long after we, our sons, and perhaps our grandsons” passed through the halls of UC. At the ceremony, James N. Gamble delivered a similar message in his address to the crowd:
In presenting the completed stadium to the University of Cincinnati, I feel deeply that this structure includes far more than mere brick, stone, and mortar — but that, like the invisible iron rods and steel girders which bind these concrete walls into indestructible solidarity, there is here a certain invisible but ever-present spirit of a noble, loyal, democratic youth who played the game of life according to the rules of that game and in recognition of the rights of his fellow men.
I should be, indeed, very happy in the assurance that, in this vast structure, in these tons of iron, concrete, brick, and stone, erected here on Carson Field, if there might be embodied all that is fine and noble in our American youth, so that each successive generation of students might be mindful, at all times, that the primary object of this athletic field is to develop sound minds in sound bodies, so that at the conclusion of life’s race, each contestant may truly say:
“I have fought the good fight. I have finished the course. I have kept the faith!”
The walls of this stadium will now and in future years resound with the joyful shouts of victories fairly won, as, no doubt, they will also witness heartbreaking defeats and bitter disappointments; but, remember, that whatever may be the result to the contending teams on this field, may it always be said that either in victory or defeat, good, clean sportsmanship is the sine quo non on the campus of the University of Cincinnati.
In this spirit, President Hicks, I deem it a great privilege to offer this stadium to the university, with the fond hope that victories in untold number may crown its loyal teams, and bring fame, honor, and glory to the fair name of the university and the city of Cincinnati.
It’s remarkable to me that any of this happened.
One thing you’ll notice looking back through UC history is the number of times that the football program nearly folded. Finances were tight. Talent was thin. War debts piled up. Fan support disappeared. Facilities were crumbling or non-existent. Each time the Bearcats had their backs against the wall, something happened. In 1923, it was the unexpected passing of one of UC’s brightest stars, who just so happened to be from one of the city’s wealthiest families. A freak accident on Thanksgiving in 1923, and suddenly the University of Cincinnati was gifted a stadium that’s hosted students and fans for nearly a century.
There’s no way James Gamble could’ve anticipated this on the chilly afternoon of November 8, 1924, yet here we are. Gamble died at his home in Westwood in 1932, but I can’t help but wonder what he’d think if he could see crowd of better than 40,000 people pack a stadium bearing his grandson’s name — tucked beneath a spaceship-looking structure filled with fans and press — and win a game broadcast to millions on ESPN. He wished for it in his address that afternoon, but he couldn’t have possibly imagined it happening, right?
(The Enquirer/Sam Greene)
Happy 92nd Birthday, Nippert. I love you.
UC falls to Oberlin in the first game at completed Nippert Stadium, 11/8/24. (UC Libraries)
Carson Field before construction on Nippert Stadium began. (UC Libraries)
Architect’s illustration of Nippert Stadium, 1923. (UC Libraries)
Original proposed Nippert plan in 1922 called for a full oval. (UC Libraries)
Nippert in the snow, 1924–25. (UC Libraries)
Nippert seating chart, 1925. (Enquirer)
Pogue’s advertisement centered around the Nippert dedication ceremony, 1924. (Enquirer)
Nippert after completion in 1924 compared to after renovation in 2015. (UC Libraries/Spencer Tuckerman)
I’m running out of things to say, so I’ll keep this short and sweet.
The Bearcats got absolutely choked out by BYU yesterday, and now own a losing record in November for the first time since 2010 and the second time since 2005. Not only that, but based on what I’ve seen from this Bearcats team and what I’ve seen from the teams left on the schedule, I don’t see us winning another game. Left on the docket is a road game against a solid UCF team, a home finale (that could be an attendance catastrophe) against a pretty good Memphis team, and a trip to Tulsa to face a 7–2 Golden Hurricane team that will be trying to close the year at home with a win for their seniors.
I pray I’m wrong, but I don’t have enough evidence to call this a bowl team.
- Another respectable defensive performance. Despite BYU’s pedestrian record, they’re a pretty good team. The Bearcats held them to 20 points on 337 yards. QB Taysom Hill went 15-for-25 for 130 yards, no touchdowns, and an interception. When you’re looking for any positive, that’s good enough. I feel like this defense as a whole has outplayed themselves. We should probably be worse than we’ve been.
- Zach Edwards got his interception, joining the INT party the defense has had this season. In what has to have been an excruciang junior and senior year for Edwards, I’m happy for him each time he makes a play.
- Tion Green had a nice outing. Because UC trailed for most of the afternoon, he only got 16 carries, but he took those 82 yards for 5.1 yards per carry. He also had five catches for 22 yards.
- Devin Gray is still really good. Man, I love this kid. He had seven catches for 105 yards. If you can round up a couple yards in a few games, that’s his fifth 100-yard outing in his first nine games at the FBS level. Not many guys do that.
- 90% of what happened yesterday. Yeah:
[embed]https://twitter.com/KJMSingleton/status/795057563314384896[/embed] [embed]https://twitter.com/OhVarsity/status/795263317698875392[/embed] [embed]https://twitter.com/OhVarsity/status/795263961272881153[/embed] [embed]https://twitter.com/OhVarsity/status/795265221799661568[/embed] [embed]https://twitter.com/OhVarsity/status/795266521652150276[/embed] [embed]https://twitter.com/OhVarsity/status/795268627368988672[/embed]
The national media is finally noticing what’s happening in Cincinnati.
[embed]https://twitter.com/RealNRB/status/795032213335187456[/embed] [embed]https://twitter.com/edsbs/status/795064719514173440[/embed] [embed]https://twitter.com/PaulMyerberg/status/795074787978657792[/embed] [embed]https://twitter.com/BruceFeldmanCFB/status/795065195752255489[/embed] [embed]https://twitter.com/slmandel/status/795065836025221120[/embed] [embed]https://twitter.com/DustinFox37/status/795067885404176388[/embed]
I think I speak for everyone when I say that I just want this season to be over, one way or another. The Bearcats are 11–11 since the start of last year, and I think we’re all over it. I’ll be at Nippert to see the Bearcats play Memphis in two weeks, but that’s more out of love and loyalty than excitement. Get me to December so we can wipe the slate clean.
Go Bearcats. Beat UCF.
(Robert T. Barrett painting, OhVarsity illustration)
I’ve been putting this off, but I think it’s time to look at some of the coaching candidates available to UC come D-Day in December. Unfortunately, I can’t say for sure that UC will be in the market for a coach, but it’s starting to feel like a safer bet each week.
I took the time to assemble a list of names I like that have a decent chance of being lured to Clifton. You’ll notice this doesn’t include Les Miles, Charlie Strong, or Brian Kelly, three candidates that Bearcat fans would gladly welcome to UC but are more than a long-shot.
The names on this list are in a general order of preference, but it’s not hard-and-fast. Think of it as a spectrum. I like the guys at the top more than guys at the bottom, but it’s not necessarily in a strict order.
Feel free to let me know which ones you love, which ones you hate, and which ones I missed. Here goes nothing:
P.J. Fleck — Head Coach, Western Michigan
Fleck has put together an incredible run at WMU. Through the 2004 season, the Broncos made just two bowl appearances, winning neither. In 2005, Bill Cubit took over and made three bowl appearances (once losing to Cincinnati) until he was fired after the 2012 season. Fleck took over in 2013, at the same time Tuberville did. His team won just a single game, and it was a one-point victory over UMass. Flash forward two years later, and WMU wins their first ever bowl game. As of this writing, his Broncos are 9–0 and ranked 17th an America. Behold, the Power of P.J.
Despite starting with a 1–11 team that lost an FCS game, Fleck’s record at Western Michigan is 25–21 (17–11), neck-and-neck with Tuberville’s 29–18 (18–11).
He’s wonderful, and I’d keel over if he somehow wound up at UC.
Pros: He’s a rebuilding wizard, if WMU is any indication. Fans in Cincinnati would love him and his style. He’s extremely passionate, and very young. He was hired as head coach at WMU just after his 32nd birthday. He’s led the MAC in recruiting in all four seasons. His leadership style and recruiting prowess remind me of Houston’s Tom Herman. He has a pretty quirky way of running things (Row the boat!), and would want to go somewhere that would allow him free reign to run his unique brand of football. A place like Texas or Notre Dame would seem like a bad fit. He strikes me as the kind of guy that would like to go somewhere and work outside the box rather than work within one that past coaches have created.
Bonus: Fans may remember Western Michigan wearing helmet stickers following the tragic passing of Bearcat Ben Flick, thanks to P.J.
Cons: There aren’t many. He’s very young and has just three years of big program experience, so there’s a certain degree of uncertainty. However, the AAC is not the SEC. His MAC resume is more than enough for me to back up a dump truck of money if I had access to one.
The bottom line: If Mike Bohn can lure Fleck to Clifton, I might cry.
Offensive or defensive background? Offense (wide receivers)
Big program experience? Ohio State (one season, graduate assistant), Rutgers (two seasons, wide receivers)
Pro experience? Tampa Bay Buccaneers (one season, wide receivers)
Head coach experience? Western Michigan (four seasons)
Bryan Harsin — Head Coach, Boise State
I don’t get the sense that Harsin wants to rush out of Boise. They held a Top 15 ranking this season, he makes decent money ($1.25M), he’s practically got a machine running that guarantees nine wins per season, and Boise is home. Harsin was born there, played QB at the school, coached there from 2001–2010, and then returned as head coach in 2014. He left Boise once — for a co-coordinator gig at Texas and then a head job at Arkansas State. Now that he’s successfully running the show at his alma mater, I’ll bet he’s content to sit tight for a bit. Regardless, he’s someone UC would be wise to consider and try to lure away.
[Side-note: Harsin’s contract at Boise has my favorite clause ever. Each time he wins eight games in a season, the contract automatically extends itself another year. This is genius, because it establishes a concrete baseline for success that automatically rewards Harsin each time he meets it. It’s perfect for a place like Boise (or UC) where competition is low enough that winning eight games should be expected each year. I’d love if UC’s next coach had that.]
Pros: The guy wins, and only wins. Since he joined Boise as a graduate assistant in 2001, the only seven-win season he experienced was in his lone year at Arkansas State, when he went 7–5 and won the Sun Belt before the Broncos called him home prior to the Red Wolves winning their bowl game. He’s contributed to nine double-digit win seasons in 16 years with another one in the works. His team has played in a bowl game every year since 2002. There isn’t a coach on this list that’s more accustomed to winning. He’s served under seasoned veterans (Mack Brown) and fiery upstarts (Chris Petersen). He’s still young (41), but he started coaching at a high level so early that he has tons of relevant experience on the offensive side of the ball, which is what UC fans want to see.
Another upside is his bowl record. As head coach at Boise, his team is 2–0 so far, and his Arkansas State team won their bowl right after he left for Idaho.
Cons: Not a whole lot of experience outside the friendly, forgiving, winning confines of Boise, Idaho. He’s been great at sustaining success and racking up victories, but how would he react to what’s likely to be a rocky first year at a UC program that needs a bit of re-tooling? And would he be able to withstand heat from a fan base that’s shown it can be a bit testy? From what I can tell, he’s only spent one year of his life east of the Mississippi. Would he know how to tackle recruiting UC mainstays like Ohio and Florida?
The bottom line: For your average coach, Cincinnati is a step up from Boise State. For a local boy like Harsin, that may not be the case. I’d love him in Cincinnati, and I think he could be successful here, but I think it’s ultimately unlikely that he leaves home this year, especially for another G5 job.
Offensive or defensive background? Offense (tight ends and quarterbacks)
Big program experience? Texas (two seasons, co-offensive coordinator/quarterbacks)
Pro experience? N/A
Head coach experience? Arkansas State (one season), Boise State (three seasons)
Lincoln Riley — Offensive Coordinator, Oklahoma
The Bearcats didn’t get into the Big 12, but maybe they can lure some of the Big 12 to Cincinnati. If you’re looking for the quick-rising coordinator who will catch everyone off guard as head coach, Riley may be your guy. He’s flying under the radar right now, so he’ll have the general football-watching public saying “Where did he come from?” when he finally finds the right head coaching gig. He just turned 33. He could be lightning in a bottle. He played at Texas Tech, where he also coached (mostly wide receivers) through the 2009 season. He spent three seasons at East Carolina as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach before being promoted to associate head coach for the Pirates in 2014 (remember the shootout with UC at Paul Brown?). In 2015, Bob Stoops hired him as OC, which is where he is now.
Pros: In his first year in Norman, the Sooners offense was ranked 7th nationally, helping earn a playoff berth. Riley won the Broyles Award for the nation’s top assistant coach. If you’re looking for an immediate impact, he has some experience against AAC teams from his stint at ECU, and he was recruiting the same types of players UC would be hunting. Between Texas Tech, ECU, and Oklahoma, he knows how to rack up yards and put points on the board. He did just get a raise at Oklahoma (to $900k), but it feels like his time has come.
Cons: Given his background, you can’t help but figure he’ll need to hit a home run on a defensive coordinator to be truly successful early in his head coaching career. Also, because he’s so young and climbing the ranks so rapidly, a potential move to UC feels like it would be in a stepping stone fashion. He’s poised for something big and his knack for high flying offensive may land him the head job at a place like Oklahoma or Texas soon. He’s spent the majority of his career in the Big 12, and I’m betting his ultimate goal is to run a program there. Not to mention, his current job at OU is good enough that he may decide to hang tight with the Sooners until a Power Five program comes knocking.
The bottom line: Riley would be a fun one, and I think he’d strongly consider a Cincinnati offer. But would he want to leave the Big 12? Also, would another Big 12 coach be a tough sell to the Bearcats fan base? He could fire up the offense like the Brian Kelly days, so I’d be pretty happy if UC made Riley the country’s youngest FBS coach.
Offensive or defensive background? Offense (wide receivers and quarterbacks)
Big program experience? Texas Tech (seven seasons, wide receivers), Oklahoma (two seasons, offensive coordinator/quarterbacks)
Pro experience? None
Head coach experience? None
(USA Today Sports Images)
Jeff Brohm — Head Coach, Western Kentucky
This is a name I can say for certain is on UC’s radar. Athletic departments keep a contingency plan in case their coach finds a new job, retires, or needs to be fired. These lists contain lots of the usual suspects, such as trendy MAC coaches and top coordinators. They also usually contain some “Hey, worth a try” candidates. That’s how Tuberville ended up in Clifton, especially so quickly after Butch Jones left for Knoxville. Brohm, per a source, was on Cincinnati’s list as of last November, along with several other coaches who landed new jobs last offseason. Given that Brohm is still at WKU, and therefore still eligible for poaching, I think it’s safe to assume he’s somewhere on UC’s map if they decide to move away from Tuberville next month.
Pros: Brohm played quarterback at Louisville before serving as an assistant coach from 2003–2008. He spent two years at Illinois and eventually returned to WKU in 2013 to serve as offensive coordinator under Bobby Petrino. He took over as coach of the Hilltoppers in 2014. What I’m saying is that Brohm understands the area very well. He’s a midwest coach and that certainly can’t hurt when it comes to recruiting. He’s also successful. He’s lost just one conference game since the start of 2015, and his 12–2 mark last season would’ve looked even better if it weren’t for a regular season game at #5 LSU. His 26–10 career mark looks good, but not unbelievable. Look closer and you’ll see the Hilltoppers have faced a lot of tough non-conference teams. He’s also 2–0 in bowl games after easily handling a USF team that rocked the Bearcats in 2015. Brohm’s resume is very solid.
Cons: There aren’t any major red flags, but there also isn’t much that makes you jump up and down. Brohm isn’t super young (he’s 45). He’s not super trendy. He’s never coached at a program bigger than Cincinnati. He’s been a very mediocre recruiter at WKU. He’s also in the midst of a season that isn’t phenomenal. The Hilltoppers are currently 6–3 with losses to #1 Alabama (forgivable), Vanderbilt in overtime (meh), and Louisiana Tech (ehh). I’m not saying those are red flags, but they’re there. If I’m being super picky, I want a coach who wins every winnable game. Brohm has lost a couple this year. Regardless, he’s a very fine candidate. Perhaps the biggest positive and negative when it come to Brohm is that he’s a very safe choice.
The bottom line: If I were handicapping the candidates, Brohm might be the favorite. It just seems like the most likely hire for a variety of reasons. Given that there is at least one A+ candidate on this list, it would be a slight letdown to end up with a B+, although I’d still happily give Brohm my stamp of approval.
Offensive or defensive background? Offense (quarterbacks)
Big program experience? None, but had extended time in UC’s conference when he was with Louisville (six seasons)
Pro experience? None
Head coach experience? Western Kentucky (three seasons)
(Joey Meredith/Troy University)
Neal Brown — Head Coach, Troy
Brown was on my original list when I started work on this piece, but he was much lower. Now that several people have mentioned him to me and he’s starting to gain some buzz around the country, I figured he should move up. Brown is only in his second season at the helm of the Trojans, and America is just now starting to see his prowess. He’s 10–9 overall, with a 7–5 conference mark in the Sun Belt. He’s flying silently under the radar, but we’re starting to see signs of something special.
Pros: He inherited a 3–9 Sun Belt team and went 4–8 in his first season — a good start, but nothing special. This season, the Trojans are off to a 6–1 start, and their only loss is a one-possession game on the road against #2 Clemson. Wait until this time next year and Brown may be the country’s hottest coach. If UC could pounce now, they might get a diamond in the rough before many people notice him. He’s only 36 years old and on a relatively meager salary ($700k), so he’s affordable and hasn’t even approached his peak as a head coach. He’s also worked a little magic in recruiting, turning a 3–9 team in 2014 into the #4 Sun Belt class in 2016.
Cons: A really small sample size is worrisome. If Brown can put the cap on this season and finish with 11 or more wins, would that be enough to cut a check and offer a long-term contract? With less than 20 games under his belt as a head coach, half of them losses, is there even enough tape to find a red flag? I think Brown would be a smart hire, but it would still be a bit of an adventure into the unknown. Oh, by the way, he was Tuberville right hand man for three years at Texas Tech. I don’t think that makes a huge difference, but it does kind of give me pause.
The bottom line: I’d be more than happy with Brown. Taking risks is kind of fun, and Brown isn’t a huge one. Besides, who wouldn’t want to see a guy bring an offense to Clifton that has been nicknamed the “NASCAR spread”?
Offensive or defensive background? Offense (quarterbacks and wide receivers)
Big program experience? Texas Tech (three seasons, offensive coordinator)
Pro experience? None
Head coach experience? Troy (two seasons)
(Ohio State Athletics)
Ed Warinner — Offensive Coordinator, Ohio State
The last time Cincinnati nabbed an Ohio State coordinator, it worked out pretty well. Mark Dantonio made the trek from Columbus to Clifton in 2004 and was the first step in the revitalization of Bearcats football. Now that the program seems to need a second rejuvenation, maybe UC should go back to the Ohio State well.
Pros: Warinner was co-offensive coordinator for a team that won the conference championship, the semifinal, and the national championship with a third-string quarterback. He was named the sole OC for the 2015 season, and the Buckeyes are 19–2 since. Urban Meyer obviously saw something in Warinner when he picked him for his staff after getting hired at OSU, and the offense in Columbus is now a well-oiled machine. If you’re like me and prefer some local flavor, you could do a lot worse than Warinner. He was born and raised in Ohio, played football at Mount Union, and returned home for his current stint with the Buckeyes. He knows the area, and his recruiting proves it.
Cons: Warinner has 33 years of coaching experience, but has never been a head coach. While that resume is impressive, you have to wonder why he hasn’t made the leap yet. (I should also point out that if this is the biggest red flag against a guy, he’s a pretty solid candidate.)
The bottom line: I’d be very happy with Warinner, and I think lots of Bearcat fans jealous of what Ohio State has been doing the last few years would be giddy to have one of the major cogs in their operation move to Clifton.
Offensive or defensive background? Offense (offensive line, quarterbacks, tight ends)
Big program experience? Ohio State (five seasons, offensive coordinator and offensive line), Michigan State (two seasons, linebackers and secondary)
Pro experience? None
Head coach experience? None
(Greg Bartram/USA Today Sports Images)
Kerry Coombs — Cornerbacks & Special Teams Coordinator, Ohio State
Here we go. Despite my history of being outspoken against the idea of hiring Coombs, I don’t think he’d be the worst hire of all time. I understand the reason some fans are completely sold on him, and I understand the reason some fans are completely against the idea. Ready?
Pros: Coombs is the anti-Tuberville. He’s the perfect foil of the guy we’re trying to get rid of. Tuberville seems out of touch with UC? Coombs is from here and coached at UC during the five best years in program history. Tuberville has no passion? Coombs is one of the most fiery guys you’ll see. Tuberville has steadily slipped into the recruiting basement? Coombs is a great recruiter with in-depth knowledge of the area. Tuberville’s teams seem to dislike playing for him? Players will tell you Coombs is the best coach they’ve ever had.
Cons: He doesn’t have a lick of head coaching experience at the college level. He’s never even had control of an offense or defense. Not to mention, during his time at UC, many feel that his secondary was the weakest link in an otherwise sturdy defense. Are you sure you want to hand the reigns of the entire program to a guy who seemed to struggle in the minor position he held last time? The obsession with Coombs is understandable, but it seems like a knee-jerk reaction in the opposite direction of Tuberville. Hire Coombs and four years later we may be looking at the same record Tuberville has, but with the opposite personality at the helm.
The bottom line: I’m willing to try just about anything at this point, so I wouldn’t burn the city down if Coombs were to get the call. There are worse things to go after than a passionate local guy who would love the job and could reignite the fan base. I just think the red flags are everywhere.
Offensive or defensive background? Defense (secondary/cornerbacks)
Big program experience? Ohio State (five seasons, cornerbacks and special teams)
Pro experience? None
Head coach experience? None
The best of the rest:
Brent Venables — Defensive Coordinator, Clemson
This guy has been hanging around the coaching hot list for a while, and it’s only a matter of time before somebody jumps on him. The Clemson Tigers have quietly assembled one of the nation’s toughest defenses under Venables, and he’s due for a head gig. It will probably take a big program to lure him away, because he’s killing it in South Carolina and just signed a contract that pays him $1.35M as a coordinator.
Gene Chizik — Defensive Coordinator, North Carolina
This guy has a national championship under his belt as head coach. Do I need to say anything else? Outside of his national title season at Auburn, he struggled in SEC play. Maybe he’s done licking his wounds at UNC and would be interested in taking another shot at head coaching, but would Cincinnati want another guy coming off a rebound?
Frank Wilson — Head Coach, UTSA
Wilson is very under the radar right now, but he could be lightning in a bottle. He has big program experience with nine total years in the SEC with Ole Miss, Tennessee, and LSU. He’s most famous for being Les Miles’ associate head coach, running backs coach, and recruiting coordinator from 2010–2015 before jumping to UTSA, where he inherited a 3–9 team and has started 4–4 in his first season at the helm. He’s on the riskier side, but he could be special.
Jason Candle — Head Coach, Toledo
Candle could be a huge hit or a total bust. He’s in his first year at Toledo after Matt Campbell left for the Iowa State job. He won Toledo’s bowl game last year and has started 6–2 this season. It looks good on paper, but you have to question how much if this is a simple continuation of the stellar job Campbell did for the Rockets. Candle could be a hot commodity if he can keep this up for another season or so. It may be early to take a flier on him now.
Scott Satterfield — Head Coach, Appalachian State
Satterfield is a lot like Boise State’s Bryan Harsin. He’s a local kid coaching at his alma mater and having good success. Could he translate that system to a larger program? Would he even want to try? Expect fans to be intrigued by his resume. He facilitated the Mountaineers’ move to FBS and won 11 games in their second season in the big show. He’d be worth an interview.
John Grass — Head Coach, Jacksonville State
Grass boasts a 29–5 record in Jacksonville, which looks pretty stellar. However, not only does Grass have zero major program experience, he doesn’t even have FBS experience. That makes his candidacy like a game of Russian roulette. He coached at the high school level as recently as 2012, which reminds me of the disaster Bowling Green brought upon themselves when they hired Mike Jinks. Grass is intruiging, but is ultimately way too risky for my liking. Give him a couple years in the MAC or Sun Belt before I take that chance.
Rich Rodriguez — Head Coach, Arizona
I never even considered Rodriguez until someone brought him up. He was great at West Virginia before finding some success at Arizona. However, the Wildcats won just seven games last year and are just 2–6 so far in 2016. If he gets fired, maybe he’d consider heading back east and coaching for one of his old division rivals. You could do a lot worse than Rich Rod, although I’d prefer to avoid a rebound candidate.
Bo Pelini — Head Coach, Youngstown State
Jeremy Pruitt (Defensive Coordinator — Alabama), Mike Sanford Jr. (Offensive Coordinator — Notre Dame), Troy Calhoun (Head Coach — Air Force), Sterlin Gilbert (Offensive Coordinator — Texas)
The Bearcat got arrested at a game in 2010. It’s not directly related to this post, but it kinda seems fiitting.
By now, the secret is out. The Bearcats have been downright putrid in the second half of AAC games, and everyone knows it.
These stats are insane, particularly the one about UC losses. If Tuberville is let go in December, you better believe that will be a reason why. A fundamental part of coaching is knowing when and how to make adjustments. The Bearcats have been able to hang strong in the first half of each AAC game this year, but they go into the locker room and do nothing about it. Rather than make corrections to their game plan to gain an edge in the second half, it’s the other team that re-tools and runs Cincinnati off the field in the second half.
If you look at UC’s 1–4 AAC record, it comes as no surprise that 17 of those 23 second half points came in a single game. It just so happens that game was the only AAC game where UC outscored the opponent after halftime, and thusly, the only game the Bearcats won. This is how you end up with the garish 81–6 second half scoring figure in AAC losses.
Needless to say, this season’s second half numbers seem historically bad. I sat down to compare them to past UC teams and some other teams in the country this season.
If you’re looking at the full season, the Bearcats currently rank 123rd out of 128 teams in second half scoring. However, for this exercise, I’ll be focusing on conference games only. [Note: The stats below do not include overtime points, only third and fourth quarter.]
There are the second half numbers for this year’s team, last year’s team, the undefeated 2009 team, the 2003 season that got Minter fired, the best team in the AAC (Houston), the only winless team in the AAC (Tulane), arguably the worst team in FBS (Bowling Green), arguably the worst team in a major conference (Kansas), and the best team in FBS (Alabama).
A couple things to point out:
- I promise I didn’t plan it this way, but you’ll notice this year’s Bearcats are dead last in points scored (4.6) and points allowed (19.4) in the second half of conferences games.
- Putting up scoreless second halves is bad. Doing it three times in five games is absolutely awful. Minter’s 2003 team did it three times in eight games and he was fired. Florida Atlantic has the worst second half offense in the FBS, and they’ve only been shut out twice in their 0–4 start in C-USA. I can’t wrap my head around a modern Bearcats offense getting blanked in the second half of over half of their conference games.
- That 19.4 points allowed by the defense looks pretty bad, but we should remember that 21 of those points are the direct result of the offense giving up an interceptions for a touchdowns. Houston had two of them and USF had another. If you look at points that were allowed by the defense only, UC has surrendered 76 points, or 15.2 per game. That’s still not great, but it’s better. It also puts us nearly exactly where we were last season, so there’s this: UC’s second half defense is just as bad as 2015, but the offense is scoring two fewer touchdowns. What a mess. It’s incredible we aren’t winless in the AAC.
- While the second half ineptitude is the reason the Bearcats are having a miserable conference schedule in 2016, it’s not always a measure of team success. Last year, Cincinnati finished with a +24 point differential in second halves and outscored their opponents in five of eight conference games. That looks pretty good on paper, but it only translated to a 4–4 AAC record, good for a share of sixth place out of 11 teams.
- The Bearcats are on pace to score 37 total points in the second half of AAC games while allowing 155. That would be a -118 point differential. I can’t imagine this trend continuing in order to reach that finish, but I don’t know anymore. You have to think we’re approaching historic territory, and not the kind UC made during the Brian Kelly tenure.