Cincinnati Football: Top Candidates to Replace Butch Jones for Bearcats

Alex Ballentine@Ballentine_AlexFeatured ColumnistDecember 7, 2012

September 10, 2011; Tampa, FL, USA; Ball State Cardinals head coach Pete Lembo looks on against the South Florida Bulls at Raymond James Stadium.  Mandatory Credit: Jeff Griffith-USA TODAY Sports
Jeff Griffith-USA TODAY Sports

With the news that former head coach Butch Jones has accepted the head coaching position at Tennessee (via ESPN), the Cincinnati Bearcats are once again in the market for a new head coach.

Replacing a successful coach is nothing new for the Cincinnati program. This is a school that claims Jones, Brian Kelly and Mark Dantonio as its last three coaches. There's no doubt that it knows what it's doing when it comes to finding the right guys to lead the program.

With the news that Jones had accepted the job at Tennessee, athletic director Whit Babcock told ESPN that the coaching search will begin immediately.

I would like to thank Butch Jones for his time at the University of Cincinnati...With that said, we are excited about the future of this program and this job will be extremely attractive nationally. Our search will begin immediately.

Here's a look at three candidates that would make a good fit for Cincinnati and deserve consideration to replace Jones.


Chad Morris, Offensive Coordinator, Clemson

If Cincinnati is looking for another offensive genius to lead the program, Chad Morris is the man to target. The spread-offense guru has made a name for himself. The 44-year-old became the offensive coordinator at Clemson just one year into his college coaching career.

Morris has coached some of the most exciting and productive offenses at Clemson and would bring a brand of football that Cincinnati is already familiar with.

Morris has no ties to the school but didn't have ties to Clemson either. After two years as the Tigers coordinator, Morris may feel it's time to take an opportunity to lead a program. Given that the Cincinnati job has now led to bigger jobs for the last three coaches, it has to be a tempting spot for Morris to land.


Pete Lembo, Head Coach, Ball State

Head coaches from the MAC have worked out pretty well for Cincinnati in the past. Kelly and Jones both came from Central Michigan and kept the program playing at a high level. Pete Lembo of Ball State could be next.

Lembo came to Ball State as a relative unknown, coming from FCS Elon, but he's made a big splash. He took the Cardinals from a 6-6 season in his debut to 9-3 this season and has won everywhere he has went.

Lembo has plenty of experience as a head coach, having been one since 2001 at Lehigh. Kelly had a similar resume coming from Grand Valley State to Central Michigan before getting the Cincinnati job, so there's definitely a precedent.


John Jancek, Defensive Coordinator, Cincinnati

Babcock stated that this job will attract national attention, but the school still may opt to look within to make its next hire.

If it does, defensive coordinator John Jancek would be a good fit. Jancek has been the co-coordinator on defense for the Bearcats since 2010, and the defenses that Jancek has coached have been great. At a school usually known for offense, Jancek has his defense allowing only 17 points per game, good for 12th in the nation in scoring defense.

Jancek has no head coaching experience, so that could be a concern, but he was a defensive coordinator at Georgia before coming to Cincinnati and has coached since 1991. Jancek also serves as the team's recruiting coordinator, so the Bearcats wouldn't have to worry about losing many recruits after Jones' departure.