How Butch Jones Made A Great First Impression

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I guess it should come as no surprise that a bunch of college guys were excited to get somebody's phone number.  But in this case, the coveted "digits" didn't come from an attractive coed; they came from a 41-year old man.


When Butch Jones held his first team meeting as Cincinnati's head football coach, he wrote his cell-phone number on a blackboard and told his players that they could call him at anytime - day or night - if they needed to talk.


"That made a huge impact," linebacker J.K. Schaffer told me.  "The guys on the team were looking at the board and saying, 'Is that really his cell phone number?' because previously we had never had our head coach's cell phone number.  That was a pretty cool thing.  That showed us right there that he has an open door policy that we can come talk to him anytime that we want, and that means a lot to the guys."


Brian Kelly's 34-6 record at Cincinnati and back-to-back Big East Championships makes it silly to question his methods.  His former players knew that BK would help them win games and potentially get to the NFL.  But if they had one common complaint, it's that it was a business relationship and they didn't feel much of a personal connection.


That is not the case with Butch Jones.


"As soon as he came in, we could tell that he was a guy who was going to run the team as if it were a family," Schaffer said.  "He's a real personable guy.  I'm totally confident that he's going to be a great coach.  He's a very positive guy and I think he's going to do great things for our program."


In an attempt to bring the team and the new coaching staff closer together, Coach Jones invented the "Bearcat Olympics."  Captains were chosen (including Schaffer) and a draft was held to form ten teams (you can see some video here).  The event will culminate in a "Night of Champions" at Fifth Third Arena that will be open to the public.  The date and time are TBA, but look for an announcement in the near future on 


"It's a lot of fun," Schaffer said.  "We played basketball in the 12-foot pool in the rec center and we had to tread water for a whole basketball game.  That's not the easiest thing to do.  The "Bearcat Olympics" involves athletic talent, academics, and character, so you really had to look into the guys that you were going to draft.  I had to pick guys that could win me a dunk competition, that would get me a bunch of points in the classroom, and guys that weren't going to screw up off the field and get me negative points.  But it's a lot of fun and brings a lot of friendly competition into our family."


Schaeffer earned some community service points for his team this week by speaking to the Oak Hills Kiwanis Club where the audience included his parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins.  They are the biggest reason why the LaSalle High School grad accepted a scholarship offer from Cincinnati as soon as he got the phone call from assistant coach Kerry Coombs.


"Looking up into the stands and seeing my family there - I just want to do everything that I can to make them proud," J.K. told me.  "That's my main driving force before anything else."


It sounds like he has two families to play for.


JK Schaffer re.jpg 

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