Stability tough to find in college football

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In an world where 41 percent of college football teams changed coaches the last two years, Whit Babcock and Butch Jones took a step toward securing stability in an inherently unstable environment.

CINCINNATI -- Approached with the concept of being one of the most tenured football coaches in the Big East, Butch Jones could only call the thought "comical."

After all, only two seasons ago, he arrived at the University of Cincinnati following in the footsteps of the most successful coaches in school history. Seems like just yesterday. Only, in the constantly changing landscape of college football, yesterday might as well be yesteryear.

Since Brian Kelly exited the football banquet in December of 2009, six of the eight programs in the Big East experienced coaching changes. Skip Holtz, Charlie Strong and Jones entered that year. Last season, Paul Pasqualoni took over at Connecticut and Dana Holgorson assumed the top job in West Virginia. Shoot, Pitt employed four different coaches since Jones arrived.

Only Greg Schiano at Rutgers and Doug Marrone at Syracuse -- by one year -- own more head coaching experience in this conference than the 2011 Big East Coach of the Year.

While the Big East might be the face of transient coaches, it reflects a deeper trend of instant gratification across the sport.

Take into consideration of 120 FBS schools, 49 experienced at least one coaching change the last two years.

"The great programs always have stability behind them," Jones said.

On Tuesday, Jones sat in the Bob Goin Team Room and signed on for stability. Like the contracts of Mark Dantonio and Brian Kelly before them, those signatures on his three-year extension that would keep him in Clifton through 2017 don't guarantee much more than less ink in the pen.

Stability takes off quicker than Isaiah Pead when living at the epicenter of prime poaching territory.

Athletic Director Whit Babcock doesn't know that he owns an answer for how to create coaching stability in an inherently unstable environment. Not many do. But he hopes, not only the contract extension, but the proactive nature with which he sought answers to all the concerns regarding the football program, will strengthen the tether attaching Jones to UC.

"The history with the money that's involved in it and football and the immediate pressure to win, I don't know that all of those are good things necessarily, but it is the nature of the business," Babcock said. "I also think you have to compete on more than just money. I think money is important but if that is the sole driving factor -- it better be built on relationships and opportunity to win and all those other things."

Jones and Babcock both nodded as their press conference turned to topics of atmosphere and family driving the desire to keep this connection together. Words about building foundation and something special may be only words, but they represent the desire to make up for any monetary discrepancies with intangibles.

"We got to work across the board, facility-wise, staff-wise, salary-wise, stadium-wise, amenity-wise, to keep moving these things forward," Babcock said.

Bearcats fans need not be reminded what happened the last two times their coaches completed a third season as Jones will do in the fall. Michigan State and Notre Dame know. Nobody can see the future and for every program in the country not named Alabama and LSU, the crystal ball is murky.

The entire system needs an overall. Bolting and buyouts dominate the conversation while interim coaches and unfulfilled promises to student-athletes own the headlines. Loyalty seems to come around less often than franchise quarterbacks.

Jones would like to see that change. Not speaking with schools showing interest and signing the extension with UC represent his latest step toward being part of the change.

"As a coach it takes time to build football programs, too," Jones said. "We have a great industry. It is an honor and a privilege to be able to coach college football. I also think that both sides need to come to an agreement from longevity on both sides with coaches being able to stay at places to really build their infrastructure and really put their personalities into a football program, also, them being able to stay there. But on the other side, also the administration being able to stay with it in an instant gratification society where people want things right now. Sometimes it takes time to build and if you take shortcuts and try to take the easiest way, they don't pan out over the long period of time."

Neither Babcock nor Jones took a shortcut with this deal.

While building undeniable stability and loyalty in this era of college football is near impossible, both sides put in writing on Tuesday their belief UC is trending in that direction.

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