The success or failure of any college football program starts with recruiting, which is why we see the coaching turnover in the sport start before the final games are played. Tommy Tuberville officially took over the University of Cincinnati football program on Dec. 8 and had less than two months to put together a recruiting class.
On Feb. 6, 22 players signed to play with the Bearcats and Tuberville, with the seven junior college players and 15 high school players comprising the second-ranked recruiting class in the Big East, according to Scout.com. Afterward, CityBeat spoke to Tuberville about recruiting, the Bearcats and his transition to his new home.
CityBeat: So, now do you get to settle down and exhale?
Tommy Tuberville: It seemed like just yesterday I came into this room and sat at the front in front of all these kids and I had no clue who they were and they had no clue who I was. It’s been two months and that time has flown by. There’s so many things I’ve had to do: hire people, to figure out what we’ve inherited and what we need to add to the players that are already on the team, and then that takes five weeks and leaves us three weeks. The biggest thing you probably don’t do a very good job with is your players here. You come, you talk and you leave (to recruit) and they still don’t know...
CB: You probably still don’t know as many names as you’d like.
TT: I probably, out of the 60-70 players on the team, couldn’t name you 10. I’ve seen them, and I can give you a number, but I can’t put a name to a number. That’s what our coaches are doing this week. I’ve started watching weight workouts and had them wear their jersey numbers and we’d go along with a roster. I’m not like an assistant coach — they have to know their players, eight or 10 of them — I have to know them all.
It’s a little more difficult for me. I’m excited now ... Everyone is getting pretty close to getting their family moved. You can’t really rest and settle in until you get out of that hotel room or that apartment, until you get your home and your own recliner and your own TV.
CB: Have you been able to do that?
TT: I’ve moved in, down on the river, in a condo. My wife and I wanted to live close to downtown and it’s been really nice. We’ve got great views of the river and downtown. If your wife and family and are happy, you’re happy.
CB: It’s a little different than Lubbock, Texas, or Auburn, Ala., or Oxford, Miss.
TT: Or College Station (Texas). ... Here’s the difference, this really reminds me more of Miami, obviously, because of the size of the city — we’re an inner-city school. Those universities, that’s basically the city. Everything’s built around the school and here there’s more. That’s not to say it’s better, it’s just a different environment.
CB: What’s been your biggest surprise since you’ve been here for two months — anything you didn’t expect?
TT: You know, football’s football for us. For the last two months, I’ve pretty much had blinders on, assessing what we need football-wise. Once (signing day) is over, you can’t really add to it — what you’ve got is what you’ve got. In the wee hours of the night, we coaches really spent time watching film and deciding what we need. Do we need another offensive lineman? I hadn’t really evaluated or thought outside the box. Now I get to meet the fans and do all those things.
CB: So far, I guess, it’s only been what’s on the field and now you get to the part of the job off the field, which for you is probably going to be most of the job.
TT: The good thing is, I’ve been able to spend some time in a few restaurants downtown — there’s some good ones here. I ate at Nada last night and it was excellent. I just came from a place with great Mexican food, but this was a little different, but really good.
Thinking Out Loud
If you’re like me, you haven’t really watched a Slam Dunk contest since Michael Jordan retired from the competition or maybe since Dee Brown pumped up his Reeboks, but I’ll be checking in Feb. 16 for the contest in Houston. Former Bearcat James White will be making his Slam Dunk debut, nearly six years after he left UC. White had the best dunk I’ve ever seen in person, one year at Midnight Madness taking off from the free throw line and then putting the ball between his legs before dunking it. Every time he got on a breakaway at UC, there was a sense of anticipation for what he could do. The fact that you had Jason Maxiell and Eric Hicks on those teams too, meant there was some serious dunking fun during that era of UC hoops. ... Also Saturday night, Cincinnati native Adrian Broner, the WBC Lightweight World Champion, will take on Gavin Rees live on HBO.
CONTACT C. TRENT ROSECRANS: email@example.com or @ctrent