University of Cincinnati football coach Butch Jones held court at his press luncheon today and his IRU statement caught my eye obviously. The indisputable Role Understanding speaks to this philosophy as stated (in part) by Coach Jones: "...But it's really your role players that really determine whether you win or lose or play winning football at every position. It's our role players and it's the consistency that's needed each and every day."
He is right. Everyone knows what to expect from Zach Collaros and Isaiah Pead and other front line players but it's the role players who will determine what happens in every game, especially the Big East. I offer up the Chicago Bulls who, without Dennis Rodman agitating Alonzo Mourning or Steve Kerr or John Paxson hitting late game shots; or Horace Grant grabbing rebounds and providing inside scoring, we may have talked about Michael Jordan being the greatest player not to win a title. Look at the New England Patriots. Everyone talks about Tom Brady but what about Kevin Faulk in the backfield? And a Ted Washington in the middle? With Kevin they were always converting a clutch third down and with Washington stuffing the middle, they made third down more difficult for their opponents because they were unsuccessful on first and second down runs.
The Bearcats also have to apply the IRU policy to the coaching staff; this is their second season here and like a late night hand of poker the stakes are higher. UC fans might get impatient with another non-bowl season and with talent returning we should expect more wins than last year. But it is incumbent upon the position coaches to get this team to not only play up to their potential, but to keep their heads in the game when adversity strikes. It appeared that when things didn't go their way last year, it was visible. In a major conference that spells disaster. I don't know if it's true that's why I said it appeared that way. But while Butch is the head coach and gets all the attention, the position coaches have to make a difference. They may not get the credit but when this team wins, they win; the opportunities to move into a bigger role or realizing their dream of becoming a head coach.
My gut feeling is this team is going to have a solid season, a bowl appearance, and some big wins if they believe in themselves all four quarters. They have the talent, more experience and another year together.
So starting this Saturday the answers start to reveal themselves as Austin Peay comes to town. I think the win is inevitable scoreboard wise, but I want to see a win of effort, execution and attitude. I think the coaches want to see the same thing.
That's the way I see it, sitting in The Box Seat.