Tommy Tuberville is going to fill Butch Jones's old ass groove at Cincinnati. Three years ago, coming off of a decade of success at SEC-powerhouse Auburn, going to a Big East team, even a strong Big East team, would have seemed crazy. Now, after three middling years at Big 12 Texas Tech, the most recent of which has resulted in a berth in the Meineke Car Care Bowl against Minnesota, Tuberville leaving for a Cincinatti still seems kind of crazy.
First, there's the way he did it: A Tech official said they were "completely blindsided by the coach's decision," and at least one player's Twitter—that of tight end Jace Amaro—seems to bear that out. Amaro went from optimistic to livid in the span of a couple hours today:
Never felt more anger in my life, I vow, I swear, I will do everything I can next year, and Texas Tech will win the Big XII championship.— Jace Amaro (@J_ACER22) December 8, 2012
This is just the year to forget for me. Never been more furious in my life.— Jace Amaro (@J_ACER22) December 8, 2012
Then there's where he went. The Big East had eight schools playing football this year. Four are leaving—Syracuse, Pitt and Louisville for the ACC, Rutgers for the Big 10—meaning that Cincinnati's current competition (all but Pitt shared the Big East regular-season title with Cincinnati) is essentially out the door. USF, UConn and Temple all played like death within the conference; they're staying, so the Bearcats can keep beating up on them, but that won't help your strength of schedule. The Big East gets new members next year so it's not just a Cincinnati, Pitt, UConn and Temple round-robin: Tulane, Houston, UCF, Memphis, and SMU. Some of those schools have rich football histories, in a sense, but it doesn't average out to anything better than the Big East that Cincinnati was near the top of this year.
Tuberville—football royalty for a long time—is leaving for a worse conference than the Big 12 and one that's likely to deteriorate further. It's not as if doing a good job as the Cincinnati coach is fruitless labor—it works for some people!—but Tuberville is a southern coach unexpectedly setting up shop in northern territory for reasons that aren't entirely clear, and on a landscape that's not just shifting, but turning into a sinkhole.
As noted, Tuberville's reasons for leaving have yet to be reported, and it doesn't seem like Tech forced him out. ESPN, however, does remind us of the incident from earlier this year, in which Tuberville smacked assistant coach Kevin Oliver around a bit. In case it's not burned on your retina:
Yeah, if that's the most notable part of your season, it may be time to pull up stakes.