Today is the final day at Higher Ground for UC. The Bearcats love the place and Butch Jones is even looking into going to the facilities from Day 1 next year, instead of holding the first four practices at Nippert. But, as of last night, following the 10th day in rural Indiana -- the kids are ready to go.
They miss their families and, probably more importantly, their connectivity. The lack of television access and Internet they are used to is pretty rough on the guys.
It's all football, all the time.
But I am sure they are excited to get back to their DVRs and catch up on saved episodes of Teen Mom.
OK, let's hit the links...
--- Butch Jones finds himself on a Tony Barnhart's list of five coaches who will enjoy early success. There's another coach on the list you may know. Please contain your rage.
Barnhart also lists five coaches on the hot seat with another Butch Jones connection at the top in Rich Rodriguez. Jones was an assistant under RichRod at WVU. It's difficult to see people you immensely respect in this business struggle on that kind of level. Of course, that's the way college football goes.
Win or get out.
You are hired to be fired. Or, you are hired to move on to a bigger job and leave your program in a lurch for the Sugar Bowl. I can never remember how that saying goes.
--- Speaking of tough spots, Jones talked a about freshman Dyjuan Lewis yesterday, as I posted on the blog last night.
Lewis was cleared to practice earlier this week, so that is a plus, but the fact this situation is still going on with less than two weeks until the opening game is slightly absurd.
Jones talked about the frustration for Lewis, whose season continues to hang in the balance.
"It is very frustrating," Butch Jones said on Tuesday. "Not so much for me, but for the kid. We are in the business to help kids and that poor young man did everything that was asked of him from his high school. He followed directions. He followed protocol. Now it is up to a governing body to determine his future."
--- We also concluded the position analysis series yesterday (hold your applause to the end please). I have linked all eight position group analysis at the top if you missed any.
It may not be the most exciting stuff in the world, but I hope all of you have a better feel for the players who will be wearing the red and black this season.
Many sports fans in other cities -- and even some in this town -- can be downright unintelligent when it comes to understanding their teams and what they are attempting to do. Hopefully, this will help the folks filling Nippert Stadium understand why certain decisions are made why a play from a certain player is more extraordinary than it may appear.
--- Teddy Greenstein of the Chicago Tribune thinks UC is the most underrated team in/or near the Top 25 poll in the preseason.
Even as the resident homer, I would probably disagree. When a team has questions as the Bearcats do on defense and also questions regarding a coaching transition, they probably shouldn't be in the top 20. Now, if they were in the 40s as some magazines placed them, then yes, they are extremely underrated.
As far as who I view as the most underrated, I may catch some slack for this, but I would say North Carolina at No. 18. This may be one of the best defenses we have seen in years. They could have as many as four first-round draft picks on the unit. Don't get me wrong, QB T.J. Yates is awful, but I have to believe they will find some way to score points. Even if it means replacing Yates. And they don't need to score many to win games.
Overrated? Florida. I don't think this will have anything to do with the loss of Tim Tebow. John Brantley and the offense will still hum with all that speed. However, this defense reminds me of the 2008 defense that was a complete rebuild and the Gators went 8-4. Everyone is gone. To blindly place them No. 4 is based purely on past history. Of course, that's what just about all of the preseason polls are based on. Why we still have them the first four weeks of the season is beyond me. But that is for another post.
--- Bill Koch wrote about how smooth the camp has been to this point. Outside of Kenbrell Thompkins, Lewis and the injury to Solomon Tentman, it has been pretty uneventful. That's really all you can ask for out of the month of August. Stay healthy. No disasters.
Mission accomplished. (Knock on wood)
--- USA Today talks Bearcats, Butch Jones and Zach Collaros.
--- AOL Fanhouse has a preview piece on the Big East written by Brian Grummell, who, judging by his tone, I have to assume was a recommended PR hire of Paul Tagliabue.
On the other side of the fence, there is SB Nation, who compares the Big East to the Juggalos, the group of feces-throwing mental institution escapees that follow Insane Clown Posse.
Is it Sept. 4 yet?
--- Former Bearcat Trent Cole, now with the Philadelphia Eagles, talks about not only being a great player himself after being underestimated as a 5th-round draft pick, but becoming a leader for first-round draft pick Brandon Graham.
What you love about Cole is he does it the right way. Like many UC players, he doesn't have all the physical qualifications the NFL demands of his position, but he makes up for it with intelligence and desire. Hard not to like a guy like that, regardless of where he went to school.
--- Also, former Bearcat Jason Fabini visited UC camp last week and Butch Jones Blog posted a video. Fabini is now retired after an 11-year NFL career.
--- A quick move over to basketball as they prepare for their Canada trip. As we said after the mid-summer press conference with Mick Cronin, it appears likely Rashad Bishop will be with the team this year. He is practicing with them and Cronin said he has one more hurdle to clear and expects him to clear it.
This may have been the fire Bishop needed lit underneath him. My gut tells me he will have a career year this season.
They will need it from him, particularly on the offensive end. Cronin is using the 10 Canada practices to find ways to improve shot selection and put the ball in the hole. Mike DeCourcy at Sporting News talks about the search for offense.
--- When Dana O'Neil writes, I link. This time, she profiles new Seton Hall coach Kevin Willard.