The Glitzy Hire: Tommy Tuberville

Can Tommy Tuberville lead UC to the Promised Land of major-conference money?

When Tommy Tuberville took over as the University of Cincinnati football coach in December 2012, he brought something new to the Bearcats program: big-time head-coaching experience. Tuberville’s résumé includes stints at Ole Miss, Auburn, and Texas Tech; all 15 of UC’s previous head coaches had never held a position higher than assistant at a major program (like Mark Dantonio at Ohio State) or the head man at a smaller one (like Brian Kelly and Butch Jones, both from Central Michigan) prior to leading UC.

The hiring of Tuberville made a statement that UC football finally (hopefully?) had a coach who wouldn’t leave Clifton for the likes of Knoxville, South Bend, or East Lansing. But Tuberville also has a loftier task than his most recent predecessors: keep winning games, sure, but also get UC the heck out of the former Big East—now American Athletic—Conference. The AAC faces long odds of landing in the new four-team College Football Playoff. That’s why new UC athletic director Mike Bohn didn’t bother to be tactful when the subject of conference realignment came up at his hiring press conference this past February. “Obviously, that’s the issue, and the opportunity,” he said.

The question is, which conference?

Why It Should Happen
Pretty good conference, apparently. Natural rival in Kentucky. Would forever settle the question of whether Cincinnati is in the Midwest or the South.
Why It Won’t
They don’t need UC. Or anyone. Thanks to the new SEC Network deal with ESPN, they’d even turn down Notre Dame.

Big Ten
Why It Should Happen
Greatest proximity to other schools. And, at least at this moment, UC might be better than every team other than Ohio State and Michigan State.
Why It Won’t
The Buckeyes host the Bearcats on September 27, with no reciprocal visit, and likely want to keep it that way. And UC wouldn’t extend the Big Ten Network into a new region (as recent unpopular additions Rutgers and Maryland did).

Big 12
Why It Should Happen
With only 10 teams (the Big 10 has 14!?), it has the most room to expand. And they clearly don’t care about geography: Say hello to UC’s newest conference rival, West Virginia!
Why It Won’t
Having left Texas Tech for UC in the middle of a five-year contract, Tuberville might have to let his assistants coach the games in Lubbock, for safety’s sake.

Why It Should Happen
It’s more like the old Big East than the AAC is, with Pitt, Syracuse, Boston College—all natural, and travel-friendly rivals, along with Louisville, of course. Bohn’s predecessor, Whit Babcock (who hired Tuberville), could have influence as Virginia Tech’s AD.
Why It Won’t
It needs to.

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