Belk Bowl Preview

Rumors fly but Cincinnati's Butch Jones stays focused

Bearcats coach says his Bearcats won’t be affected by talk of his leaving

rgreenjr@charlotteobserver.comDecember 6, 2012 

While his name continues to be linked to other college football coaching vacancies, including a published report Wednesday that he had accepted the head coaching job at Colorado, Cincinnati coach Butch Jones said Wednesday that his Bearcats have done a good job of not letting the rumor mill distract them in advance of their Dec. 27 date with Duke in the Belk Bowl at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte.

“We talk to our players all the time about the clutter and handling distractions and from day one, the way our players have managed their business has been exceptional. It has not been a distraction,” Jones said.

“I’ve been very up front and honest with them. They understand. All this speculation is really a compliment to them. It has nothing to do with me. It’s a compliment to our players and our coaching staff, the way we play the game, the way we execute the plan to win. It has not been one distraction at all.”

Prior to a Belk Bowl press conference Wednesday, reporters were told there would be no questions about Jones’ coaching future but he answered three questions related to his status and his Cincinnati team.

The Denver Post reported Wednesday that Jones had accepted the Buffaloes’ coaching position with final details being worked out. Colorado released a statement denying the report. Last month, Jones reportedly talked with Kentucky officials last month and he visited Purdue on Saturday.

Jones said there is no deadline for any decision about his coaching future and he expects a resolution “pretty soon.”

After the Bearcats captured their second straight Big East championship last week in a four-way tie with Louisville, Cincinnati and Rutgers, Jones said that he began to study the Blue Devils on Tuesday. He said watching tape of Duke helped him amid the reports about his future with the Bearcats.

“That’s the way I’ve escaped. I haven’t spent a lot of time with it,” Jones said.

“The media and everyone else spends more time on it than anything else. But if you watched the way our team performed last Saturday against Connecticut to win the Big East Conference championship, I think you saw a team that was galvanized.”

Despite losing Big East offensive player of the year, running back Isaiah Pead, and co-defensive player of the year, defensive lineman Derek Wolfe, after last season, the Bearcats kept rolling along, earning their fourth conference title in five seasons. They beat Virginia Tech, Syracuse and Pittsburgh, among others this season, but lost out on a possible automatic Bowl Championship Series berth via the Big East because of losses to Louisville and Rutgers.

Running back George Winn gained 1,204 rushing yards this season as the centerpiece of an aggressive offense.

“We’re a no-huddle, up-tempo offense. We like to run the football,” Jones said. “We’re balanced but we’re going to play with an up-tempo style.

“Defensively, we’re pressure oriented and we win on special teams. You’re going to see a disciplined style of football. Our formula never changes.”

A friend of Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra, Jones this season had his team mimic the Heat’s ‘sign your name’ approach the team used in winning the NBA championship last season. Like the Heat last season, the Bearcats didn’t talk publicly about the theme until after the season.

“It means your last name is all that you have. It’s your personal brand. It’s what you stand for every time our players go to class, they way they perform on and off the field,” Jones said. “Through this title stretch run of our (own), we reverted back to the trials and tribulations that were associated with Miami’s championship run as well.”

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