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Two Big Topics

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I know that my pals Lance and Mo do a ton of prep before hosting their daily talk shows, but they probably won't need to this week.  They can simply bring up either of these two topics and watch the switchboard light up:

 

1.  Pike or Collaros?

2.  How much longer can UC hold on to Brian Kelly?

 

Let's start with the quarterback dilemma.  We discussed it at the end of the post-game show on Saturday night and I said, "If Tony Pike is healthy, it is still his job." 

 

Zach Collaros has been unbelievable.  In three starts he's 66-for-82 (80%) for 1,028 yards, 8 touchdowns and no interceptions.  That's an NFL quarterback rating of 151.3.  Between high school and college, Zach is 33-0 as a starting quarterback.

 

But I think some folks have conveniently forgotten how well Pike was playing before he got hurt.  Remember the "Pike For Heisman" t-shirts?  Remember the Mel Kiper big board?  I still think that a healthy Pike would give the Bearcats the best chance to beat an elite opponent.

 

The key word is healthy.  Right now, Tony is wearing a high-tech brace on his left arm that disperses the impact of a hit away from the injured area.  That's allowed Tony to run the offense in practice and he has been medically cleared to play.

 

But if he's limited in any way, it will be next-to-impossible to pull Collaros.  I have tremendous admiration for Tony Pike and would hate to see his senior year end due to injury, but the stakes are too high to base the decision on anything other than picking the guy who gives the team the best chance to win.

 

It's a tough call for Brian Kelly.  Fortunately, it's not nearly as tough as trying to stop whomever he selects.

 

That brings us to hot button topic number two - the inevitable Notre Dame rumors . . . or Michigan rumors . . . or fill-in-the-blank school with a bad record and big budget rumors.

 

At times I wonder if Brian Kelly thinks more highly of the UC job than those of us who want him to keep it.  Every Notre Dame loss sets off a new wave of panic.  The Enquirer does a mostly positive story about the topic and readers are angry that they even brought it up.  No matter what Coach Kelly says about wanting to stay at Cincinnati, people assume that someone will make him an offer that he can't refuse.

 

I don't pretend to be BK's closest confidant, but we've discussed it enough that I know that he really likes it here.  His family likes it here.  In less than three years, he's proven that you can win big at Cincinnati, pack the stadium, and make a ton of money.  Heck, if everything falls just right, he could be playing for a national championship in 60 days.

 

Furthermore, his legitimate concerns about the job are being addressed.  People from all economic backgrounds have generously stepped up to get a practice facility and indoor bubble built.  All signs point toward it being completed by next fall.

 

Nippert Stadium improvements will be the next hurdle to clear.  Let's face it, the ability to generate more revenue through luxury boxes, club seats, and expanded capacity is a necessity.  For Coach Kelly to stay long term it will have to get done.

 

Admittedly, stadium improvements are not an issue at the schools that will attempt to hire him.  Somebody could offer to double his salary.  But that comes with a price - the 24-hour-a-day, 365-days-a-year scrutiny that he and his family don't have to put up with at Cincinnati.

 

Brian Kelly is at a BCS school that's located in a recruiting-rich environment and plays in a conference without a perennial powerhouse.

 

Isn't it possible that he's perfectly happy building one?

 

I'd love to hear from you.  The address is dhoard@pawsox.com.

 

And if you Twitter, you can follow my tweets at http://twitter.com/Dan_Hoard

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