Okay, so you have Brian Kelly leaving the Queen City to be the next coach at Notre Dame or any other so-called big program that comes calling? Well, I think that may be a little premature to say or in the words of Lee Corso, "not so fast my friend!"
When Brian Kelly came to Cincy almost three years ago, he said all the right things that a new head coach says. He stated that Cincy will not only compete for Championships, but will win the Big East title. In fact, one of the main reasons why he took the Cincy job is that he wanted a chance to win a national title. Here we are in year three of the Kelly experiment and he is looking like a prophet.
Not only has Kelly delivered the schools' first Big East Championship, but now he has the Cats off to their best start at 10-0, ranked number five in the country and still in position for a possible national title appearance. For all that Kelly has done at Cincy, that is not why people close to the program think he is going to stay but its what he's saying and doing that is making it clear.
Coach Kelly has made it no secret that he wants the university to show a commitment to the football program and the university has answered the call. Currently, the university is about to break ground on the new practice facilities and inflatable bubble that Coach Kelly requested. Kelly even put in a donation of $50K to go towards the fund raising effort when it was initially started.
Nippert Stadium which is one of the oldest venues in the country is now being examined to expand its seating capacity to around 50K and to build a brand new press box with luxury suites to increase revenue for the athletic department.
With almost all of the home games sold out this season, the Cats have now become the hottest ticket in town and even UC basketball players have fans begging them for football tickets.
Coach Kelly has embraced the city of Cincinnati and the city has embraced him, so much so that Kelly has a busy schedule making speaking engagements all across the city. To put this in perspective, as much as the former UC coach Mark Dantonio tried, the fans and the city never bought in to his program.
Recruiting at Cincy is at an all-time high and many top flight recruits from not only the Cincinnati area but surrounding areas are starting to look hard at the Bearcats and the success they are having.
I say all that to pose the question, why leave? Money is not as big an issue as many people make it because Coach Kelly is making about $1.4 million a year and probably a little more if you add in bonuses and incentives.
Cincy will give him a raise every year he continues to win and Kelly did agree and signed an extension through 2013 before the '09 season started, of which if he was leaving he didn't have to sign.
Recently, he and his wife Paqui purchased a second home on a lake in Indiana right across the river from Cincy. Coaches that are leaving town don't purchase houses in the area that they are currently living in. You have to also remember that this is the first metropolis that Kelly and his family have lived in and according to Coach Kelly, they love the city and the people in Cincinnati.
I know most people will argue that all coaches will say that they love where they are at, but Kelly says things to let you know he has no plans on leaving. When you ask him about the program he always says that they still have plenty of work to do, even though UC has arrived on the map there is still work to establish them as a perennial powerhouse in college football.
Coach Kelly is not stupid either, he understands that the road to the national title is not as complicated in the Big East that it may be in another BCS conference. That is not to say that the BE is weak, it's only to say that with no conference championship game all you have to do is win and you are in!
If you pair that with yearly success and Top 10 finishes that UC could accomplish, they can very easily become the next Virginia Tech or Miami. Those programs started out the same way that UC has and the common thread is that they all had a coach that stayed to build the program.
Kelly is a winner and a builder. He wants to leave his stamp on the UC program before leaving for another challenge and he can win big at UC. He also knows that as the program wins, his name is going to be thrown out there as a candidate for other jobs but he keeps deflecting those notions.
Job security is a big thing and even though coaches have egos, they also have assistant coaches who depend on them as well.
Next year, the UC program will be just as good if not better. Pike is gone but Collaros is the heir apparent. Pead is back at RB and the Cats only lose Mardy Gilyard at receiver. I know you say only but the Cats gain Vidal Hazelton, the speedy and lengthy WR transfer from USC who had to sit out this year. On defense, they lose a few starters but after losing ten starters from last year, they will be solid.
With all of this going for Kelly, again I ask why would he leave? The lure of a bigger program and more money seems to equal more pressure and less job security. In the end I think Coach Kelly is smarter than that, and you will see him on the Cincy sidelines for a little while longer.