Coach Tuberville, the Football Fanbase, and Brexit

Now that our long national nightmare has ended, the Bearcats faithful can get back to attacking each other and dividing our already pro-football compromised fanbase due to our support (or lack thereof) for the Tuberville administration. If you listen to local sports talk radio, follow a lot of UC fans on Twitter, or read local news about the Bearcats, you may be familiar with the – “all but one UC blog” – that hasn’t called for Coach Tuberville’s firing. I am the “all but one.” Hi.  Nice to meet you. 

As I’ve processed and sorted through the football frustration, I’ve determined that there are three separate groups within the UC fanbase: (1) The Concerned Criticals, (2) The Ain’t Changings, and (3) The Bearcats Brexits/Trumpervilles. For ease of analysis and your reading pleasure, I’ll discuss each, in turn.

The Concerned Criticals.

Many folks have earnestly and thoughtfully criticized my support for Coach Tuberville based upon their disbelief in his coaching prowess. They highlight Coach Tuberville’s downward numerical trajectory in the win column, fear history will repeat itself with the program regressing back to its 1990’s form, and confront the in-game decisions about the starting quarterback and overall offensive approach. 

Recently a UC loyalist said that he used to smoke cigars with his buddies in the lower bowl during games at Nippert without disturbing anyone. While I think the UC football brand is in no danger of returning to its “Basketball School” form, many are worried.

The Concerned Criticals appreciate that the college football fundamentals have changed and UC is no longer in the former Big East with an automatic BCS tie. They understand that the recruiting landscape is different and 10+ win seasons are not guaranteed. Most of the Concerned Criticals were complimentary of Coach Tuberville’s first two 9-win seasons, but grew alarmed after Tuberville’s second bowl game and last season’s 7-6 record. 

Most of the Concerned Criticals openly acknowledge that Coach Tuberville is generous and kind (with people that aren’t screaming at him). They believe he wants to win; they’re just worried. The Concerned Criticals have hope, but are getting swept into the river of Cincinnati sports negativity advanced by The Ain’t Changings.

The Ain’t Changings.

Some within the fanbase believe the sky is falling. They are convinced that Coach Tuberville is actively trying to ruin the program. Whenever Coach Tuberville says anything, the Ain’t Changings dog-pile in outrage interpreting statements out of context to confirm their hatred.

While I appreciate their affection for the Bearcats, many of these folks have mocked my support for Tuberville as click bait or expressed dispassionate concern that I’ve lost my mind.  In my estimation, the Ain’t Changings got drunk on Brian Kelly’s 2009 high watermark season and are still hungover. 

Instead of a quarterback controversy, they allege quarterback conspiracies – arguing that Coach Tuberville refused to start Gunner Kiel because of a personal grudge. Despite the near unanimous belief that Gunner looked less-than-optimal during Higher Ground, the Ain’t Changings know deep down in their hearts that Tuberville is hellbent on ruining the program.

You can pick out the Ain’t Changings during home games. They’re the ones pounding domestics, booing, and screaming at coaches. Quick to defend their home game negativity, they argue boos don’t impact recruits, 18-22 student athletes, or attendance.

The Ain’t Changings are quick to start a hashtag campaign on Twitter and demand the athletic department (or some donor) buyout Coach Tuberville’s contract.  However, they are the last ones to actually write a sizable check.  Again, I appreciate their allegiance and loyalty to UC, but the negativity is misplaced and self-defeating. I’ve heard from numerous players, recruits, and coaches and they’re disappointed and genuinely concerned about the impact The Ain’t Changings are having on the future of the program.

The Bearcats Brexits/Trumpervilles.

There are many low-key supporters of the Coach Tuberville administration that are not vocal.  They aren’t openly supportive on social media (because they know it’s not worth the backlash).  Like Brexit/Trump voters, they may not show up in opinion polling data (hence, Tuberville + Brexit/Trump = Trumpervilles), but they’re there all the same.  Through whispers and hushed tones they’ve fist bumped me and said they appreciate someone standing up for continuity.  

They’re not happy that last season’s turnovers broke the 2015 team’s spirit.  They don’t tweet praise for a 4-5 season.  But they’re willing to listen to Coach Tuberville when he says he’s backfilled future depth by red shirting top level talent.  They don’t love it when Tuberville yells at a fan, yet they’re willing to imagine themselves in a similar position and how they might react.

Consider the common criticisms aimed at Coach Tuberville by The Ain’t Changings and whether that makes sense given Tuberville’s press conference on Tuesday…

  • Coach Tuberville never owns the team’s losses.  On Tuesday, Tuberville said:

This is all my fault.  

I know the fans are booing me.  

The coaches have to put players in the right spots.

The kids (the players) don’t always realize what’s going on.

  • Coach Tuberville came to Cincinnati to retire.  On Tuesday, Tuberville said:

I came here to build a program.  It ain’t showing on the scoreboard…we want it to get better and build it the right way.

As long as the higher ups will have me, I’m going to be here.

Let’s build this program the right way…we’ve only had 12-15 years that we’ve had a winning football team. Some programs have had 150 years.  

-We don’t want to win games; we want to win championships.

I didn’t come here to retire.  I’ve got more energy now than I’ve ever had…let’s go in the right direction and be positive and win games.

You win games by building a program from within and not by putting bandaids on things.

  • Coach Tuberville yelled at a fan.  On Tuesday, Tuberville said: 

I was totally wrong and I apologized for it…and I’ve said don’t [yell] at the players and that was at me.  Some of the guys I’ve worked under – Hall of Fame guys, guys I respect to no end – called and asked what in the heck are you doing. I’ve been President of the AFCA and you don’t let it get to you…nobody’s fault but mine and I haven’t slept a lot since then.

This kind of caught me by surprise a little bit…we go into a game and fight hard…maybe lose three guys for the year [to injuries]…and our guys fought until the end. I’m proud of our guys.  They could’ve folded their tent and they didn’t give up.

We respect our band, our cheerleaders, our dance team, all of them.  We recognize the hard work they put into a football game.  They put hours into it.

Terry Frenz has done a great job.  He’s been here for 40 years and has made a great band out of nothing.  We want to support the band win or lose.

People are booing during the alma mater.  They’re booing me and I want our players to know that.  But people are booing and I’m thinking – come on. 

Every game at halftime and the end of the game, they do it [boo] every time…since I’ve been here, win or lose…I’ve got recruits there and parents there.

I promise I won’t do it again…I hope.  I mean, it’s hard (laughing).

My mother, who recently passed away…would not have been very proud.

  • Coach Tuberville gave up this year.  On Tuesday, Tuberville said: 

We do not have as much speed on the outside this year…[When defensive coaches] can consolidate…and play head up, it makes everything else more difficult to execute on the offense.

It’s going to be a tough year.  We’re going to have to scrap and claw for everything we’re going to get the next three games. 

In closing, Coach Tuberville emphatically stated: 

“I’m glad to be here.  And I’m not politicking…if I’d have came here to retire I would have retired and not came here.  I don’t need to work, okay.  I like coaching.  I like kids.  I like educating kids.  I like being around them.  And when you put in 15 hours a day, you dang sure better like it.  I’m telling you, 7 days a week.”

Here’s my bottom line Bearcats Nation, I still believe Coach Tuberville can coach.  He’s more engaged than perceived.  While many of The Ain’t Changings focused on a sentence or two from his press conference, I think he’s saying all the right things.  It’s obvious the team has struggled this season.  Can they right the ship the rest of the season?  More importantly, can he win next season with the depth created by red shirting 90% of his recruits?  I hope so.  I believe so.  For that reason, I remain on #TubervilleIsland chanting #KeepTuberville.

Go Bearcats!

By Brian Fox – “All but One”   

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