One second. That was the difference between Brian Kelly staying at UC or going.
I told Kelly as I enthusiastically pulled for Nebraska Saturday night that this was more than just a football game: it was the future of Cincinnati football. If the Big 12 officials don't abuse their authority by putting that one second back on the play clock, the Bearcats are playing Alabama in the National Championship and there is no possible way that BK can go to South Bend.
Why do you think he didn't seem too torn up about the situation in interviews the next day?
Anyway, the coach leaves, the players and the fanbase feel betrayed, but I can't be too disappointed. UC football is light years ahead of where it was just a couple of years ago. If you had told me then that BK would've only been here three seasons but they will have played in the Orange and Sugar Bowls, I would've taken it in a heartbeat. The facilities are improving (with a new practice bubble that the Bengals will have to rent), they are part of the national conversation, and a symbol of the changing college football landscape, where smaller schools can compete.
"He lied!" people will cry, but [newsflash]: that's what college coaches do. Sure, I'm disappointed that BK didn't have the class to tell his players first, or to at least address the local media before he bolted Dodge, but place the blame on college football. Notre Dame had to hire him now because of the February National Signing Day. This season (between now and February) is actually as important as the bowl season itself; if you can't get the players, you can't win the games. There's no reason the NCAA can't move that date back and protect the student-athletes from coaches bolting before the end of the season. This is why BK left early- it's what the system demands. So like I said, it sucks, but it's the system.
Furthermore, understand that in less than a week, UC will do the exact same thing to some other college program; they'll swoop in, steal a coach, and another group of kids will pay the price. It is a game where the egos of college coaches and the immense amount of money at stake rule the day.
I loved having BK here, but his ego was too large for the UC program. Best wishes to him at Notre Dame. I doubt they'll be sitting at #3 in the country anytime soon. And if he doesn't put the Irish in back-to-back BCS games soon, he'll experience a backlash that he's never felt before. You wanted big-time, BK? You got it.
And now, we look to Mike Thomas, UC's AD and see what's next. My pick is Kevin Sumlin at University of Houston. Whomever they select, they'll inherit an energized fanbase, a town that loves its football, and proof that they could one day be considered among the elite ranks.