In about three months time, the "Brian Bubble" has become the "Butch Bubble". We're talking the Jefferson Avenue Sports Complex here. It's the semi-open area from what's left of the old Sander Hall up to the Corry Lot and beyond.
For a wad of cash, you can have your name on it. Just look up Andy Hurley and you can see your name in lights for the next 15 years or so (or however the contract is negotiated).
While the facility will be eventually used by women's lacrosse and some other community functions, its primary use is to give the UC football team their own practice facilities. I was told that pretty much everyone has such facilities with the exception of Marshall and Miami (OH). It may appear to be a case of "keeping up with the Jones'". Actually, it's about keeping Jones here (as it would've been with that fellow that left for South Bend).
Butch Jones fully knew what was on the menu here and it definitely was a factor in him signing on with UC (contractual details in Tuesday's Enquirer).
"I knew a lot about it and it was obviously a great draw," said Jones. "It just illustrates the commitment this great university has to collegiate athletics and the total development of the student-athlete."
You can say what you want about Brian Kelly (and many have) but he did leave Butch Jones with a well-oiled late model "vehicle" so to speak. He was also instrumental in getting this new "garage" built.
"Anytime you can go into a controlled environment, especially in the offseason and be able to work on your timing (is good)," Jones said Tuesday. "So much of football is timing."
Jones' timing couldn't be better.
'No question," said Jones. "You always look at how you can develop your football team. Can you take each person and develop them to their fullest. This is going to be another great tool for us--to be able to provide the best a student-athlete could ever want."
So, perhaps we'll call it "The Tool Shed"? Personally, I like the "Butch Bubble".
Among those speaking at the groundbreaking was a UC football player with great perspective. Chazz Anderson as a junior should get a couple years use of the new fields. Certainly, we all know Chazz can play football (quarterbacked the team to a couple wins in 2008 when Tony Pike was hurt).
What many didn't know (and found out) was what a poised speaker he is in a formal setting.
Chazz "represented the C" Tuesday. He represented class and Cincinnati.
"This facility as a football team serves as our home away from home," said Anderson. "It serves as a shelter in the cold winter months. I was one of those people standing outside in the cold. I understand, my teammates understand what it means to have something like this. If we want to transform the community, we need to be able to have resources like this."
Considering some of the University's biggest and best donors were on hand for the celebration, it might not have been a bad idea to have passed a plate after the Reverend/Senator Chazz Anderson was finished. He spoke completely off the cuff and was persuasive and convincing.
Anderson represents the combination of student-athlete as good as anyone. Tuesday, he spoke as if he were on campaign, Wednesday he'll campaign for some playing time with fellow quarterback Zach Collaros.
Oh yeah, while the silver shovels dug into the ground, your Butch Jones 'Cats are about to hit the ground running for the first of fifteen spring practices (including the Bearcat Bowl April 24th).
Personally, I find it quite humorous that day one of the "Jones era" begins on St. Patrick's Day when the Irish are drinking.
Bad references aside, it's an exciting time for anyone involved in the UC football program. And, at this point more are involved than ever. Ask Larry Sheakley, the donor who put up millions toward the Jefferson Complex.
Now, all Butch Jones has to do is get the Bearcats on the field and get back to the momentum that led them to a 12-0 regular season record.
"Really, really excited, can't wait," said Jones when asked about hitting the current practice facility a/k/a Nippert Stadium. "I hope the weather continues to cooperate. It's been a long time coming, everyone's looking forward to it."
Perhaps that's why Jones is anxious to get his men on the field. He's taking a little different path initially by scheduling a couple practices early.
"We have two practices right away, then we'll break for spring break," said Jones. "I think it'll be great because our players will learn the expectations. The first two practices are in helmets and shorts. So the foundation will be laid so when they come back from spring break they exactly understand the expectations."
Have a good spring break guys, but come back ready to get after it. Remember, Jones coached under Brian Kelly and Rich Rodriguez before unleashing his own rapid-fire style at Central Michigan.
"Very uptempo, very intense, we're learning as we go," said Jones. "(It's) another step in the evolution of our football team and our football program. You know there's been very minimal growing pains up to this point in time."
It'll be a typical spring day (although not quite spring yet). Jones gets to back out the 'Catmobile, dust it off and then mash down the pedal like a teen in their first car.
Let the road to the BCS begin....