Brian Kelly & Mike Thomas Press Conference Quotes

Dec. 2, 2008

Director of Athletics Mike Thomas

Opening Statement

“Well I appreciate the opportunity to be here. Usually if I’m here, I’m in the back of the room eating City BBQ. I thought it was important knowing what the first question would be asked. It was pretty well known that there would be a meeting this morning between Brian Kelly, myself, President Nancy Zimpher and Chairman of the Board Jeff Wyler. I want to capture some of the significant pieces of the meeting. I won’t speak for Coach Kelly. When Brian is finished, I’ll be happy to take questions you may have. As all of you know, Coach Kelly and his success, it has really put things on fast track for us. When I say fast track, I mean that in a very positive way. All the things we are talking about today are things that are important when I started three years ago. Always on the radar screen and part of the plan. There are things that will expedite the plan when things are happening not just with the football program but with the 17 sports and the community. Going back to Coach Kelly, we talked about winning championships, and he put that on the absolute fast track. Couple years later, we are sitting here being BIG EAST Champions and going to the first BCS bowl.”




“The things that are important to Kelly are important to me. To talk about some of these items, the practice facility piece, this is in the pipeline. As we sit today, no one has told me any different. Those things should be done on time. They are important to Brian and our day to day success for our program and the quality for our student athletes. Number two, operational pieces. Brian and I, this is not new, we have talked about this a number of times. There are things he wants operationally in his budget that he wants to stay competitive and make a quality experience for our athletes. There is a laundry list of items, and they will happen in this fiscal year or the next. It is a conversation Brian and I will have with our finance people to get those tightened up. The third piece, which is something importance to all of you, in the last couple of weeks, is nipper stadium. Nippert stadium has been to some extent, a facility that needs to be addressed. We are in a capital campaign and it wasn’t in the campaign. We needed a trigger moment to launch that thing. It was always important, and I always said that the major opportunity to raise and increase revenue is in our facilities. The amenities for folks coming to the games, we need to be able to accommodate not just 35,000 but any additional fans. We needed to have that as part of the agenda. I am very comfortable with Jeff Wyler shared with us and Nancy Zimpher with where that sits. It is a real priority, and it will be a priority in the capital campaign. They see the significance in that to not only stay successful at a high level but what it can do for our program. You can see the success it has done for our program, it is more than athletics. I think you can’t put a price tag on what this has done for this program, department, university and community. It is a community thing and our student-athletes wear Cincinnati across their chest, and they represent it well. Brian was not only comfortable with what was said, but he was pleased and we can look forward to Brian Kelly being our coach for some time.”


On Nippert Stadium Process

The first step is to get architects. We had them at the Pittsburgh game so they could see it at its most stressed moment. Then there will be costs, and it should include three things: additional seats I don’t have a number for you but it will come out of the study, 2 premium amenities that when folks want to buy club seating and premium seating. The third is dealing with the infrastructure to deal with 35,000+ to accommodate them. Once we have that in place and a cost estimate, we put our funding model in place, which will include private funding. It has to incorporate a business plan because it has to make sense.”


On Nippert Stadium

“I have talked to a lot of people that say we couldn’t have a better location and set up for our home football games. We have a great foundation; we just need to put some more meat on it. We want to make an experience for the fans and the team as well. For us, this is just the tip of the iceberg.”


On Raising Money with State of Economy

“I think it is going to be ac challenge and we’re certainly up to it. Once we get a cost estimate and how we’ll make it happen, we have the right people on board to make things happen. It’s interesting because even in a short time, the number of people that can happen that may have never shown up on your screen; there are a lot of people that have shown up out of the wood work wanting to help. As we move forward, the economy affects a lot of things. I also believe that since we are having success, people see real value in our program and it will make it easier.”


On Money Time Table

“I think we’ll have a better feel after we get the study and have a better feel for what this means. Make no mistake this is a priority and it is on the fast track.”


Head Coach Brian Kelly

Opening Statement

“Welcome. Leaders need to be energized as I’m out there as the face for this football program as we need it moves forward; I need the gas to move. My tank was filled this morning with the meeting with Chairman of the Board Jeff Wyler, President Nancy Zimpher and Athletic Director Mike Thomas. It was filled because the message that was reinforced today and given to me two years ago when I took the job at the University of Cincinnati, and that is the commitment to excellence and academics and athletics. That was not made any clearer than the meeting I had this morning. It allows me to continue to build this football program on a day to day basis and into the future. That requires leadership and we got that today from our president and chairman of the board. It also requires real live conversation about what that means, and I think Mike articulated that relative to our facilities, operation budget and stadium. All those have been addressed, and I feel very fortunate to have an administration, president, Athletic director in Mike Thomas that is going to give us the opportunity for me and my family to continue to do that. I’m very excited for the present and future for Cincinnati football. My name has come out with every single job that is out there. That may continue to happen but I’m going to be here at the University of Cincinnati. The reason I am here is our leadership. There is no way I could be working under a better situation than I have right now. Keep in mind, I have a lot of leverage and I don’t have to say this. It was articulated to me is the same vision that was done two years ago was done today. It is the environment that I chose to be a part of it to two years ago, and I feel better about it today as we continue to build this program and community.”


On Potential for Other Jobs

“I am here to tell you that I am committed to the University of Cincinnati. I can tell you that my name is always going to be out there, and we’re flattered about that. There is no question that my family and I have decided that Cincinnati is the place we want to be. My intention as I stand in front of you right now, I want to coach this football team. After today’s meeting, I feel great about having this laid out in front of me. I’m going to be the football coach right now and into the future.”


On Other Jobs Knowing Position

“Yes, we have made that clear of what we are talking about right now in my commitment to the University of Cincinnati. It has been echoed to those that have shown interest in me being a candidate.”

On The Future

All I can say is with all the speculation and jobs out there, sooner or later no means no. What I can tell you is there has been a lot of interest. I want to be here for the right reasons. It is a great place for me and my family. My wife and kids love it here. I have great people to work with. It is a really good situation, and it is only going to get better. For the present and future, I expect to be here at the University of Cincinnati coaching football.


On Nippert Stadium Changes

“I think Mike is beginning to articulate a plan and a vision for what we want there. I think Mike can talk more specifically about this. Mike Thomas is an expert. He was at Virginia when they put that stadium piece. The stadium he put together at Akron is a jewel. I defer that to mike on what it will look like. Nippert stadium is not going away. We think we have a great niche in that stadium. It is where we are going to play football.”


On Stadium in Relation to Job

“Well, a couple of things. First of all, mike needs to get credit for the fact that before I came here, there was a study done that this would happen. They didn’t think it would happen in two years. What we have done, is move this process along quickly to the point where as I stand, we needed to address it immediately. That plan was in place, but we accelerated the time table. Being involved in a capital campaign, you need to be successful to have some teeth in the initiatives that you want. We are in a good place to do that with the stadium. Yes, the piece was absolutely crucial in the negotiations relative to the facilities.”


On Contract Discussions

“Mike and I have had discussions with that. We will continue to have those. Hopefully, in Hawaii or in that time frame, we’ll be able to announce some of those things. They have been on going, and Mike has been proactive on it. I got to hand it to him; he has been a hard guy to say no to.”


On Practice Fields

“Bob Arkeilpane has done a great of keeping this things moving quickly. I am on a different time track than everyone else. Bob understands the need to get things done. I have some contractual stipulations relative to those facilities. And we feel good that we are on track.”


On Recruiting With Success

“A lot of it is kids want to know there is consistently in the leadership. I have to tell you that Nippert Stadium is low on their agenda of things they are interested in. They are interested in the leadership and what the uniforms look like.”


On Hawaii’s Recent Success

“New coordinators that were promoted and replacing their whole receiving core. They have settled on Greg McMackin as quarterback. It took them a while to score some points. They have gotten back to doing what they do. They are playing together and getting better. They are well coached and defensively, they are extremely aggressive, and I think that is why they have improved down the approach.”


On Lamonte Nelms

“I am dealing with it. We will deal with it internally. He’ll be handled appropriately. We are disappointed in Lamonte. He will be handled consistently with how it has been done. He will travel, but based upon the information and our conversations, he will be on the trip to Hawaii.”


On Season’s Goals

“11 wins has never been done In UC history. This senior class has a chance to be in history. They have a chance to move up in the top 10 which hasn’t been done.”


On Matchups

“I think just handling the environment. The travel should be handled quite well; we handled it well when we went out to San Diego. It will be a partisan crowd. They are known to be very lively crowd. They will have to handle that more than any one on one. It will be BIG EAST officials. I think more than anything, both programs have moved dramatically forward from those days, and I know our kids will play with poise and their program is coming off a BCS bid last year. We won’t have any of those antics, but it is nice to have BIG EAST crew on our plane out there.”


DeAngelo Smith, Senior, Defensive Back

On Hearing The Announcement

“I feel pretty good. Exciting to hear new things. Sometimes some things have to be heard.”


On Coach Kelly Staying

“It feels good just to know your coach is going to be here for awhile. Even me leaving next year, I still want to see the team do well. Having coach here, will be great.”


On Getting Motivated to Play

“As seniors, it is another part of the season. We want to win 11 and it hasn’t been done. It is another mark we set for ourselves. We aren’t trying to go out of the end of the season as losers.”


On Playing After Season Is Over

“It is kind of. I’d rather be playing than sit at home. It gives me something to do, and we’d have a long lay-off from the bowl game.”


On Looking Forward to Hawaii

“Most of us have never been out there, and it is exciting to see things. We will do some team activities, and get to go to Hawaii. I have never been so I am hyped up for it.”


On Being Anxious for Sunday Night

“Yeah, I think we are excited just to see where we are going. People are saying sugar or orange, and they want to tell their family so they can get plane tickets. It is exciting to go to a BCS bowl for the first time in UC history it is exciting!”


On Stacking Up With Hawaii

“We stack up pretty well. We don’t go into a game scared. We are going to be prepared pretty well. Our coaches will have our game plan together so we will be prepared.”