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How to keep their heads from spinning

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This is what UC interim coach Jeff Quinn has to accomplish in the next week or so: figure out how to keep the Bearcats focused amid the turmoil happening all around them.

 

Their head coach is gone to Notre Dame. Their interim coach already has taken the head coaching job at Buffalo but he, along with the rest of Brian Kelly's staff, is sticking with UC until after the Sugar Bowl. Their new coach Butch Jones is staying in the background until after the Jan. 1 game.

 

And oh yeah, they have to devise and execute a gameplan to beat one of the best teams in the country.  

 

It is, Quinn agreed a few days ago in a sit-down interview at Dave & Buster's, an absolutely crazy time.

 

"How many teams have lost a coach to Notre Dame, hires a coach from Central Michigan who followed us after we left Central and then came here, named me interim head coach at Cincinnati and then turned around and became the head coach at Buffalo," Quinn said. "OK? You couldn't even make that story up and say that was true and factual.

 

"I have four jobs currently - I have the head coaching job of my home, I have the head coaching interim job at Cincinnati, I hold the offensive coordinator duties here, and the head coaching job at Buffalo. I am drinking through a fire hose, as the old saying goes. But I'm still standing, baby. You just take it one step at a time. There's certainly not enough time in the day to get everything done and you can't get too far ahead of yourself."

 

Every Bearcats player I've talked to has said they haven't been distracted by the constant who's-coaching-ok-he's-leaving-but-oh-he's-staying-for-now. In fact, UC has responded in a different way - apparently, the Bearcats have been more focused than ever.

 

"It's not as difficult as you would think," senior linebacker Andre Revels said. "We still have the same staff, except for coach Kelly. It's not like we're getting a whole new group of people or we need to learn a whole new system. It's the same guys inside the locker room, the same guys who are putting the plan together upstairs and the same guys who are going to go out on the 1st and put forth the same effort.

 

Said sophomore running back Isaiah Pead: "It makes us focus on stuff we can control. With all the coaches leaving and the changes, you can't control it. All we can control is our preparation for this game and trying to come out with a win."

 

Much of the credit for that must go to Quinn and the rest of Kelly's staff. They've always talked about how to overcome adversity. Now, they're getting an even bigger lesson in how to deal with that hardship.

 

"We lost our head coach," Quinn said. "That was very difficult and emotional. Nobody wanted to see Brian Kelly leave, but it happened. In any situation, we have to talk to players about overcoming adversity. How are you going to handle adversity? We talk about it every day. There's going to be adversity in your life - every day, every game, every situation. How you handle that is going to be the key to keep this season going for a perfect 13-0. That's what I want to stay out there on."

 

Defensive backs coach Kerry Coombs credits the players.


"What is great about these kids - and this is the honest truth - they just show up for practice," he said. "They go to work. They go to meetings. They're doing everything exactly as you would want them to do. It's my first time through something like this and to watch how they're handling themselves on a day to day basis, it's really impressive to me."

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