Is there any doubt remaining that Pittsburgh is going to rip Notre Dame to shreds next Saturday?
Sad thing is, if the Gator Bowl has any say about it, they'd still prefer to take the Irish over the Panthers. ND is like an unwanted houseguest that just won't take a hint. I cannot comprehend their appeal on any level, but that appeal still exists nonetheless.
Which, has to be scaring the living daylights out of the Cincinnati athletic department right now. Jon Gruden and Skip Holtz may have the more obvious ties to South Bend, but it's increasingly looking like a matter of when, and not if, Brian Kelly will replace Charlie Weis at the helm of the program.
Kelly may talk up the Bearcats to the press, but sports are driven by the bottom line, and college football is no exception. Turning down a Washington may be one thing, but will he be able to say no to Notre Dame and their NBC megabucks when UC is still dragging their feet on promised facility improvements?
But the stadium hurdle will be huge. UC has had a difficult time raising the $13.5 million to $15 million needed for the practice fields. The challenge of raising $50 million to $100 million or more for a stadium renovation looms as a daunting one.
Asked about the stadium Friday, new UC president Greg Williams spoke only in generalities.
"I'm exploring a lot of options," Williams said."
As Brian Cook has noted, there's only so much that Kelly will conceivably take, which includes publicly pressuring the school administration. Being that this is a Rutgers blog, there is an interesting comparison to how things played out with Coach Schiano a few years back. Kelly may publicly talk up UC, but he's originally from Massachusetts, and presumably just sees his current position as another step on his path to the NFL. Schiano committed to a program in his home state, and made, pretty much, well, ironclad assertions that he wasn't going anywhere.
More importantly, Rutgers stood up to its commitments and gave Schiano the facility upgrades that he wanted. In turn, he rebuked overtures from Miami and Michigan. I don't know if it's possible to make a more-definitive gesture in turning down two programs with that level of prestige. Now, Cincy isn't going to build Kelly's wishlist over night, but there's at least the public perception that they're dragging their heels. With a perception as a commuter school, and as second banana to Ohio State when it comes to program support, it's fair to be a little skeptical.
In fact, it may be fairer to ask why Kelly is even still with the Bearcats at this point. I think there's a good chance that he would have gotten the Michigan job two years ago if not for one specific incident that happened while he was still at Central Michigan. Before Kelly's first season at CMU was even underway, several scholarship players beat a man to death outside a night club. His subsequent comments are open to interpretation, and I'll leave that up to the readers.
Yeah, rah rah to the Big East. I'm rooting for the Bearcats to run the table for the rest of the year, but Rutgers fans will be the first to celebrate if Kelly leaves town, even if it's to take over the hated Fighting Irish. And make no mistake about it, Charlie Weis is a goner after this continuing debacle. After all, this is a guy who Rutgers wouldn't even give a cursory interview when they were the worst program in all of I-A, and it's really not that hard to see why at the moment.
It was fun watching Navy's win on Saturday, but that victory may, unfortunately, end up dooming Weis. Savor all the negative vibes over the next two months, because they'll disappear when the axe does fall. I'm not exactly looking forward to seeing a Notre Dame program that could actually, conceivably live up to their hype, but it's a small price to pay to get rid of this damn thorn in our sides over the past few years. Kelly can coach. From Ben Mauk, to Tony Pike, and now Zach Collaros, all Kelly needs is a live arm and he'll put out a solid quarterback. In fact, I wouldn't be too surprised if he ends up spurning the Irish and following his dreams to the NFL instead.