Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The Tale of a Good Coach Leaving UC... Again (Jumping Ship to a Sinking Boat)

Bearcats fans hold onto your hats. This could get bumpy.

Your team has just claimed its second consecutive outright Big East Championship after a thrilling comeback against a very solid Pittsburgh team.

You are headed to the BCS for the second year in a row.

And you are once again on the verge of losing a good coach.

Lets look at the past few seasons.

Mark Dantonio had moderate success in Cincinnati, which is thought of by most as a stepping-stone, and then bolted for a “bigger” program at Michigan State.

Enter Brian Kelly. In just his third season as head coach, he has accumulated a record of 34-6. He has lead the team to its first perfect season, a 12-0 start, the aforementioned two Big East Championships, and what will be two BCS appearances. Again, let me stress that this is all in THREE seasons.

Dantonio left for a bigger job, and what was his team’s record this year? Oh, I think they were 6-6. Have they won the Big Ten? Nope. Which is the destination program now?

All bashing of former coaches aside, I’ll throw it out there for the Bearcat faithful: it just isn’t fair.

You lost a good coach in the guy sporting Sparty green, and got someone with no big league success. As fate would have it, this guy turned out to be quite legit, delivering success at speeds that the Vikings can’t even drive at. And he is about to be ripped from your program.

I’ll say it again for the people in red and black, because it really is not fair.

Brian Kelly came and finished what Dantonio stated. He took Dantonio’s recruits and used them in a completely new offense. He took a solid foundation and improved it, adding flash to a program with the raw athletes that did not know how good they could be. He has brought in his own athletes and plugged them into his system perfectly, showing that he knows what he’s doing. He has shown that success can be found at the University of Cincinnati on playing surfaces other than hardwood.

He has turned the town into a place where college football is a big deal. A practice facility is on the way, courtesy of his demands. The stadium will be expanded eventually, because he found out how to sell seats through success.

And yet here comes Big Bad Notre Dame. They bring tradition, but no recent success. They look flashy with all the gold on campus (see: football helmets, Golden Dome) and they look like good Catholic people of upstanding morals. They bring an open checkbook. They are greedy in the eyes of UC fans.

UC fans appreciate what Brian Kelly has done. ND fans will forever scrutinize. UC fans support Brian Kelly and wish for him to stay and coach a contender every year. ND fans will support Brian Kelly, but only if he delivers National Championships every three years.

UC is loving, ND is demanding.

I can see how UC fans could question it if BK decides to jump ship to a program already underwater. It would seem like jumping onto the sinking Titanic from a lifeboat, rather than vice versa. But tradition and money carry leverage, and UC is not quite there yet.

Besides, with the way his success rate is looking, Brian Kelly could have salvaged the Titanic himself.

Maybe Notre Dame fans should prepare and find a way to appreciate him, since Cincinnati fans will have to find a way to forget him.

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