As much as we wish the topic on Tuesday would be the upcoming national TV matchup with NC State, the ugly, greed-filled cloud of conference realignment dominated the discussion at the media luncheon.
Everyone spent the day speculating, but as interim AD Bob Arkeilpane so perfectly put it, the situation seems to be changing now by the minute instead of by the hour.
In fact, Arkeilpane has many great musings on the topic of realignment to offer. Here is a transcript of everything he said this afternoon. Of course, let's just hope by the time you read this a fresh news cycle of moves haven't made these comments obsolete.
Arkeilpane on the current state of UC amid the speculation:
"I obviously can't go into specifics, I can assure everybody the University of Cincinnati has been actively engaged in this process. While everything seems to be happening so quickly now there has been some signs this is on the horizon, so it is not catching people completely off guard."
On this being all about money:
"Unfortunately, it appears money is the primary driver. Its disappointing. As athletic administrators we often talk about student athlete welfare and what is best of the students, yet when we actually take action a lot of time it is predicated on dollars."
On the possibility of the 16-team superconferences coming to fruition:
On where he sees UC in a few years:
"We think the Big East is the best collection of schools we can be with. I know our president has placed his allegiance to the Big East. We would like to remain with that grouping of schools if we possibly can but we're also ready to look at other options if we have to."On if he's bothered about the Wall Street Journal piece placing UC among six schools at risk of being left out:
"It bothers me only from the perspective it gets people riled up and they start believing everything they read. I certainly believe, as the president believes, that in any realignment UC is going to be part of a major football college landscape. That is how we are carrying it right now."--- Loved what Arkeilpane said about the hypocritical nature of the current situation. He's absolutely right. So often we here talk about the betterment of student-athletes are fed that on a regular basis. Yet, when the opportunity comes to act in the best interest of the student-athletes they are discarded in favor of a money grab.
That's fine, but don't sell me the student-athlete garbage again.
--- Butch Jones talked about the realignment situation as well. After the game Saturday he mostly ran with the company line that he was focused on the Akron game and winning football games. He took a little more of an opinionated approach to the topic Tuesday. He went so far as to say he believes it won't affect recruiting and the Bearcats will come out better following this fiasco then they were coming in.
"I think there is a bright future ahead," Jones said. "I know there are a lot of things going on behind the scenes right now that I can't comment on, but I will just say this: I know we have an unbelievable product. You look at our academic reputations, look at the success, look at where we are located, look at our facilities. I know our administration has been very proactive in a good position, I think we'll see that. We are a very attractive place."
--- Beyond the wild, wild west of realignment, there was some discussion of a football game on Thursday. Jones spoke about the NC State special teams being a concern for this weekend. Returner TJ Graham already has two kickoff returns of more than 40 yards this season. With some of the problems the Cats have had on kickoff returns this year, it will be a major matchup to watch in the hidden yardage category.
--- Jones also compared Russell Wilson, who carved UC up to the tune of 333 yards and three touchdowns in the 30-19 defeat of the Cats last, and new QB Mike Glennon. They are much different styles. Glennon is more of a stationary pocket passer compared to the elusive Wilson.
"Glennon is a dropback passer and he is extremely smooth. He's athletic, he can scramble now and make plays, but you are looking at a 6-foot-6 kid who can see over the rush, very poised in the pocket and throws with great rhythm and he has a great sense of the rhythm and timing of their throw game."
NC State also struggled to run the ball this season. They are 86th in the country in rushing but struggled to protect the passer.
Hmmmm, sound familiar? This sounds just like the makeup of the Tennessee offense. Granted, the Wolfpack won't be waltzing Da'Rick Rogers and Justin Hunter out there, but the makeup is very much the same.
Is that good or bad? Probably not great, but we'll see how much the defense learned from the mistakes made in Knoxville. Once again, pressuring the quarterback will be the undeniable key to a big non-conference win.
--- I am doing a story on Zach Collaros and his steady approach to the position this season. In the process, however, I was talking to his roommate Alex Hoffman who told me about ZC being one of the most competitive people he's ever come across.
"His new thing is on his phone, Words With Friends," Hoffman said. "I used to be (into it), but I don't play with him anymore. He's too competitive. I am not saying I'm not competitive, I'm just not very good with words. He'd talk a little bit of crap."
As for who he takes out his competitive wordplay with now, he says he and JK Schaffer have some serious battles. Who beats him, though?
"My grandmother in Boca Raton," Collaros said. "But she cheats."
Haha. It's really hard not to like the guy. More from him in traditional story form later this week.