While fans felt Kelly would be here for the long term (and he still may be) they really didn't buy into the program the way it needs to be. Yes, Nippert Stadium has seen record crowds this year in the last few games but in no way has the fan base bought into Cincinnati football the way it needs for program to achieve long term success.
The 2009 season is a dream season done with smoke and mirrors. The Bearcats should have never been in the position to go undefeated with the lack of facilities, funding, and tools other major programs have at their disposal.
While plans are in the works for practice facilities and an indoor facility they may be too late for this staff. Money is still needed for the practice facilities and for Brian Kelly time is not on his side.
Brian Kelly has seen this before. Grand Valley State now has an indoor 100 yard indoor turf facility paid for by private funds. It came after Kelly left but I'm sure his winning at the school helped the Division II School raise the money needed in getting such a nice facility.
Even in Ohio there's a high school (Massillon) with an indoor practice facility. Why are we still waiting on one as a two-time Big East Champion and school that is getting ready to play in its second BCS game?
But it's not just the practice fields that make the job Brian Kelly and his staff has done impressive. Working with a smaller budget than others in the Big East, Kelly and his staff just outwork and outcoach those they go up against.
Having seen other college programs has allowed me to see how others work. Simple things like having the proper cell phones, courtesy cars, and solid people working to raise money to build and maintain a program at the BCS level play roles in how a coach feels his chances of success are. And Cincinnati is just not there yet.
Brian Kelly learned early in his Cincinnati tenure that he wasn't playing on the same field as the teams he looked to beat. Something as simple as a cell phone can become an issue. Coaches must have the right tools to contact recruits and stay informed of what's going on. As Brian Kelly found out he needed to go out and buy his staff the phones others in college football use.
Look at most college football game programs and you'll find car dealers listed for their help in giving the program vehicles to use. For the Bearcats coaches must go out and find their own car dealerships to work with for courtesy cars. And to park those cars the staff must pay for parking just to go to work everyday.
And when it comes to raising money the Bearcats got lucky as Brian Kelly has proven to be a gold-mine in bringing in money. While most colleges have no problem raising money Cincinnati remains to be a tight wallet to pry open. While most colleges have solid proven staffs that raise large sums of money it seems like Kelly is the main fund raisers. Be it golf outings, or speaking engagements, Brian Kelly is willing to go out and do what it takes to continue to grow the program.
Now don't misunderstand what I'm saying. Mike Thomas is working to keep growth of the overall athletic program going and if Brian Kelly does leave I'm sure he'll find a great replacement who will continue to build the football program.
But don't bash the man who changed Bearcats football if he makes the choice to leave and take another position in college football.
There are still games not sold out and money that has not been raised. Has it gotten better? Yes! But University of Cincinnati football still has a major road to climb if it wants to continue the success it's seen the past couple of seasons.
Brian Kelly has given everything and more since taking over for Mark Dantonio in 2006 and Bearcat fans should be thankful of his time, if over, for the success he's brought to the University of Cincinnati. But don't blame Kelly for looking at all options placed in front of him. He's just doing what is best for his family and each of us would be doing the same.
As for local reporters who want to bash Kelly for his reactions during the press conference after the Pitt victory it's understandable you need to ask the question, it's also the right of the person being asked to decline to comment. For a member of the media to continue to push on the subject even after being told for the second time there would be no comment, it seems like it may be the media that is at fault.
Keep in mind we were not in Brian Kelly's shoes at that moment. We now know one of Brian's assistant coaches had family members in a bad accident prior to the game and Brian and his staff was just learning about the situation.
And last but not least, I don't remember any member of the media making play calls during the Bearcats victory over Pitt. That is how Brian Kelly feeds his family and why his salary continues to rise. Not the words keyed out on a computer by a writer who wants to ask the same question for the third time.
How funny is it that the same company that didn't cover the Bearcats at the start of Brian Kelly's tenure (Big East Media Days) jumped on the bandwagon once Kelly made it cool to follow the Bearcats and now wants to bash him if he leaves?
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