In the world of Big East football, expect the unexpected. Or perhaps more fittingly, the legitimately inconceivable. That's the proper message coming out of Tuesday's press luncheon with Butch Jones and player interviews.
Suddenly, if Louisville can beat Rutgers on Thursday, UC will be playing for a four-way share of the Big East title. Now, they won't be the BCS rep regardless, but don't think that matters to these guys. When you work all offseason for a goal, attaining it means the world to them, even if it's only a portion.
"At the beginning of the year we didn't want a share of the title, but just to have a chance to share would be amazing for us," OL Austen Bujnoch said. "As the program builds we want to outright win the conference, but to have a share is better than having nothing."
It wouldn't be worth nothing. At the end of the day, this team could possibly claim the fourth time in five years they've at least shared a portion of the league title and win 10 games for the fifth time in six seasons.
Plus, for somebody like Cam Cheatham he could add a fourth ring to his collection. Last year, he sized one for his pinky, but now he could possibly have all digits but the thumb covered. He says he's never worn his rings and they currently lay in the bottom a drawer at his apartment.
One day they'll be on display and he says he might even wear them when he walks at graduation on Dec. 15.
"I'm not a big jewelry guy," he said. "But it's definitely a big thing, you get another ring. that's your goal when you start out at the begi9nning of the year. For that to still be out there to accomplish your goal is big."
Butch Jones preached to keep all the focus on what this team can control. And they'll have their hands full with UConn. Jones ran down the long list of their impressive statistics in case us slacker media didn't do any research. Make no mistake, this is one of the best defenses in the country and probably better than even Rutgers. As they've figured out their offense a bit the last two weeks, they've taken down both Pitt and Louisville.
For that reason, avoiding any concern about sharing titles or other possibilities has been the major talking point on the stump this week.
"We can't worry about the outcome of the Rutgers-Louisville game," he said. "The only thing we can control is our mindset, our mentality and workmanlike approach, not only on the field but in the film room, in the classroom this week. The only thing we can control is ourselves. That's kind of been the message all week long. Let's worry about ourselves because we have a lot to be concerned about Saturday at 3:30."
That said, you know the Bearcats will be watching closely on Thursday.
"No doubt," Drew Frey said. "I'll be glued to the TV."
--- So, we went into the Tuesday presser discussing realignment thoughts and by the time we exited the second-floor bunker, the landscape already changed with the addition of Tulane and East Carolina.
Welcome to realignment. Absurd how quick the massive change occurs. As commish Mike Aresco said: "We are not done yet."
--- Kentucky announced Mark Stoops will be their head football coach. Guess that "Butch Jones to Kentucky. Done Deal," report was bogus. Shocking. #Sarcasmfont
The rumor mill is a failure of epic proportions right now. Dear UC fans, stop hanging on every rumor. It will drive you crazy. Follow Butch's advice:
"I can't concern myself with rumors," Jones said. "Ther'es a lot of rumors going on out there. Anybody can write a blog, anybody can tweet something, you throw things out there and you may be right one out of 10 times and you look like a genius."
--- Hearing the outside rumors both of realignment and coaching searches can test a young player. Just ask Cheatham. Sure, he's a senior now, but he's been through the coaching rumor/change/adjustment situation before. It's as regular around UC this time of year as barren trees.
Even though Cheat's headed out after two more games, he does his best to help his teammates handle the news cycles.
"I care for those young guys," he said. "The young guys will ask me what's going on, how does that situation work? I try to give them as much insight as I can because it was the same way when I was young and coach Kelly was leaving. We are kind of used to it."
--- As was the case last week, Jones discussed Whit Babcock and President Santa Ono doing all they can to assure the future of the University of Cincinnati athletics. Yes, the changes out there leave everyone nervous and unsure about the conference positioning and Jones admitted the conference standing of his job is a concern going forward. It has to be or you are blind to the environment.
"If you ask any coach around the country, that security in a conference is critical," he said. "That's critical for everything. That's big. I do have the comfort knowing that President Ono are doing anything and everything in their control to take care of the University of Cincinnati."
--- Remember, I want to hear from you so shoot me any questions, comments or your confirmation that Butch Jones will be the new coach at Waynesville High School. Email me at email@example.com or hit me up on Twitter at @pauldehnerjr.