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Henry's Highlights
Thursday, December 4, 2003

By Henry Hinton
Broadcaster & Owner of Greenville Cable 7

College football turned upside down


The archive of this week's Midweek Tailgate, with Henry Hinton, Steve Logan, Mike Steele and guest Jeff Jagodzinski, is scheduled to be available on Friday. Meanwhile, replay previous programs: Select clip...

Itís that time of year again for a lot of college football coaches ó pink slip time. Once again there are some firings that just leave us scratching our heads. How about the guy who tied for the Conference USA Championship last year, Rick Minter? Gone!

College football hysteria has reached new heights. Everywhere you look expectations are out of control.

Even more unfathomable than Minterís firing is the Frank Solich's release for going 9-3 at Nebraska.

Some firings are expected and others are understandable. Then again some are downright idiotic.

My personal feeling is that Cincinnati has lost it. All of a sudden, the Bearcats program is being thrust into the Big East, which is unexplainable enough. Now, UC Director of Athletics Bob Goins has decided Minter is not the guy.

In a statement released by the media relations department in Cincy, Goin is quoted as saying, "I have very high expectations for this entire athletic program, including football, as we get set to head into the Big East Conference in the near future. We will move swiftly ahead as we try to reach for those lofty goals that we aspire to achieve."

Great! High expectations. Everyone should have high expectations.

Here is a guy, Minter, who leaves the defensive coordinator position at Notre Dame in 1993 to take over as head coach of a program that has not been to a bowl game in 47 years. Thatís right 47 years. Now there is some football tradition. Most people didnít even know UC played football prior to Minterís arrival.

As might have been expected, it took Minter a while to get things going. Ask any other coach who has played UC in the last several years how the Bearcats program was progressing and they may have told you that Minter was doing an amazing job there.

Starting in 1997, Minter took the Bearcats to four bowl games in seven years, including last yearís appearance in the New Orleans Bowl after that team took home a share of the C-USA crown.

This yearís UC media guide predicted that this would be a rebuilding year for Minterís program.
Here is a direct quote from that publication which was released in mid-summer:

ďIt will be hard not to notice the changes in the 2003 Bearcat football team. After all, the departure of 12 starters from a squad that claimed a share of the 2002 Conference USA title has resulted in a significant decrease in the star power of the team. Gone are the players who served as the backbone of the group that set a school record by making bowl appearances in each of the last three seasons.Ē

So, let me get this straight. The university was willing to admit that the backbone of the team was gone due to graduation, but Minter was still expected to work a miracle this year?

Amazingly, he almost did. UC went 5-7, including a win over West Virginia before a rash of injuries set in to cripple chances of another winning season. Who can forget the dominating 40-3 thrashing the Cats handed ECU in the season opener on Labor Day?

They finished the year with a 43-40 near-miss on Louisville last Friday that would have sent them bowling again.

High expectations? Yes. Ridiculous expectations? Um, I think so.

I will say this for Goin and the UC administration, though. Recognizing what Minter has meant to the growth of the program, they have offered him a chance to stay at Cincinnati and be a part of the administration.

Just as Army treated Todd Berry well when relieving him mid-season, Cincinnati is showing some class that my own alma mater did not afford our last coach when Steve Logan was banned from the ECU campus as part of his settlement last year. Logan actually had to get a waiver on that clause of the agreement to come watch his own son play baseball at Harrington Field.

What was that all about? Firing a guy for going 4-8 isnít enough? He had to be banned from campus? I will never understand the way Logan was treated by ECU.

So, yes, I think the whole damn college football world has gone nuts. Was the embarrassing situation that left Auburn the laughing stock of the country last week an unusual occurrence? Or were they just so dumb that they got caught?

Decide for yourself.

But I have to tell you. At some point, college athletics is going to implode from the stupid expectations being placed on athletes and coaches. And it may be closer than you think.

Who in their right mind is going to put themselves through such a corrupt and unbalanced system and become a college football coach in the future?

No one with their priorities in order. Thatís for sure.

That will leave those who are dysfunctional enough to be interested in the job to deal with the administrations of the future.

Talk about misplaced priorities. Unfortunately, we already live in an era where the goodwill of the student-athlete is barely given lip service.

Itís only going to get worse.

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Click here to dig into Henry Hinton's archives.

02/23/2007 10:11:56 AM

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