With the news, that Charlie Weis is officially out at Notre Dame, it strikes me that Cincinnati's fans find themselves in a similar spot to the one Mountaineer fans found themselves in 2007. To wit, a Bearcat win in their next game means a BCS bowl, but will their coach be around to coach it? Granted, it is a slightly different situation - we had already locked up our BCS berth in 2007 as Pitt came to town, but we were playing for an even bigger prize - the national championship game. And in any other year, Cincy might find themselves playing for similar stakes. But now, the Bearcat faithful find themselves worrying about Pitt only half as much as they are worrying that this game will be Brian Kelly's finale. Sound like the end of 2007? Or 2006, for that matter?
If you recall, the day of the 2007 Pitt game, Les Miles ruled out leaving for Michigan just before playing in the SEC title game, and suddenly the talking heads were mentioning Rodriguez as a potential coach at Michigan. I remember feeling incredulous at that suggestion, because we were prohibitive favorites, a win that night meant a title shot, and no coach would depart a program on the eve of a championship game, right? Had we beaten Pitt in 2007, Rodriguez would probably still be coaching in Morgantown, but then, we all know how it went down...
Now, here is Cincinnati - on the eve of what might be the biggest game in the progam's history, and rumors are flying about their coach's imminent departure for South Bend, and Pitt is coming to town. Will the Panthers benefit from the crazy anxiety of the Bearcat players and fanbase? Or will Cincinnati finish the job of winning the conference?
I heard this interview of Kelly on the Dan Patrick Show last week. He said: "You know, my family loves it here. They love Cincinnati. Do you want to be a public figure? Really, it’s like being the governor. When you’re the head coach at Notre Dame, you’re gonna have everything out on the line and you know I’ve got a young family so those are all things you have to consider.”
When I heard Kelly say that , I thought to myself, well, it isn't a done deal that he would take the job. Kelly is obviously an intelligent person who considers these kinds of decisions carefully. I couldn't find text of the exact quote, but he also mentioned something to the effect that people don't think of Cincinnati as a destination job, but one coach spending 25 successful years in one place is what makes a destination job a desination job.
He is building something there, and it is conceivable that he is that program's Knute Rockne, and he seems aware of that possibility. I sincerely hope he stays at Cincinnati. But even more than that, I hope the spectre of his departure doesn't ruin what could be a great night for the Bearcats, their fans and Kelly.
So, Cincy...do what we did: BEAT PITT!!!