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Mile High Sports

Goodman: Cincinnati is delaying the inevitable

Butch Jones is either playing Colorado for a better deal or he’s playing Cincinnati for fools. Or maybe, UC already knows it’s being fooled but is in denial.

Jones is sincerely torn on what to do. He’s been offered a lucrative contract from Colorado with guaranteed new facilities that’ll be built sooner than later. This incredible deal can be his, as long as he’s willing to take over one of the worst college football programs in the country that currently lacks enough talent to compete in the Pac-12.

How’s that for an enticing offer?

You can make the case Jones would be taking a risk by coming to Colorado if this wasn’t his first job offer. It isn’t and it most certainly won’t be his last.

He’s been courted by Illinois, Purdue, North Carolina, North Carolina State, Kentucky and now Colorado. He’s rebuffed all comers to remain king in the Queen City.

If he doesn’t leave today, Cincinnati officials better look over their shoulder to see who is coming next. You can make an argument that CU is being played for leverage, but it’s Cincinnati that’s being held over a barrel if Jones sticks around.

Cincinnati is expected to have a better team next year. That’s some pretty good leverage when better schools with bigger wallets, better facilities and a better tradition start calling – again.

The comical irony when looking at Jones’ decision is that he’s dealing with a pair of administrations at each school who’ve been rightfully accused of not being committed to football. Colorado pledged its support on Monday with its biggest booster in attendance, while Cincinnati showed up at the airport on Monday night with a verbal agreement.

It’s taken a while for Colorado to realize they need to be committed to football, while Cincinnati doesn’t have the money, the fan support or the right conference affiliation to keep Jones happy long term. They’re just giving themselves their own stay of execution by re-negotiating with their coach. If Jones aspires to be a big-time college football coach, he’s working in the wrong city.

Cincinnati officials are considering spending $60 million to renovate a 35,000-seat, century-old stadium they can’t consistently fill. Less than 22,000 fans showed up for the Bearcats’ regular season finale against South Florida in late November. Cincinnati finished with a 9-3 record, so you can’t argue it’s fair-weather fans. The school just doesn’t have a lot of support in a city dominated by the Reds and Bengals, yet boasts some of the cheapest tickets in town.

Jones’ decision has very little to do with money because both offers are pretty much the same. He wants support from his school and his community in Cincinnati. And you really can’t blame him.

The problem is that he’s not going to get it long term and just about everyone knows it.

If this sounds like a familiar refrain to Colorado fans, it should. Cincinnati needs to decide who it is, and who it isn’t. It appears Colorado is changing its direction fueled by donor and Pac-12 money.

Cincinnati isn’t going anywhere, and as of right now, neither is Jones.

He might want to hang around to see if Cincinnati gets invited to the ACC, but nothing appears imminent or guaranteed. The ACC will have 15 members by 2015, leaving the possibility of one more spot on the dance card.

The Big East has fallen so fast that they lose their premier status in the Bowl Championship Series when the new playoff format starts in 2015.

So what’ll it be, Butch, are you leaving tomorrow or a year from tomorrow? Cincinnati will never be able to satisfy an ambitious and successful guy like Jones. He knows it. And Cincinnati knows it, but they’re just not ready to admit it.

Eric Goodman hosts Afternoon Drive with Mac and Goodman from 3p-6p Monday through Friday on Mile High Sports Radio (AM1510 | FM 93.7).

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