CINCINNATI – University of Cincinnati football coach Butch Jones met with officials from Purdue University Sunday to discuss the school's vacant head coaching position, according to reports.
The 44-year-old head coach has directed the Bearcats to a 9-3 record and a share of the Big East crown this season. On Sunday, UC accepted a bid to play in the Belk Bowl in Charlotte, N.C. on Dec. 27.
Multiple sources reported Thursday Jones had surfaced as one of the favorites to take over as head man of the Boilermakers.
9 News anchor Dennis Janson confirmed with sources close to the situation that strong interest was being expressed from Purdue officials but nothing else, specifically a job offer, had been extended at this time.
The rumor mill came to life Thursday night after a tweet from a Purdue radio personality indicated Jones had already been offered the job. Brendan Murphy , who works for BoilerRadio.com, made the initial tweet that read "BREAKING: Purdue has offered Butch Jones its head football coaching position, I've been able to confirm. Decision expected soon."
Murphy's initial tweet led to multiple follow-up tweets and blog posts dedicated to the topic.
GoldandBlack.com , a site on the Rivals.com sports network dedicated to Purdue athletics, reported Jones is the top candidate and front-runner to fill the position that became available when Danny Hope was relieved of his coaching duties.
Jones, who is 50-27 during his six-year head coaching career, was also rumored to be a candidate for the Kentucky job that became available after former coach Joker Phillips was fired earlier this month. Jones was also considered for the head coaching jobs at UCLA and North Carolina at the end of the 2011 season.
Even though the Boilermakers finished the 2012 regular season 6-6, the Purdue job would seem to make sense for Jones. In addition to a likely pay increase, coaching the Big 10-based Boilermakers would provide Jones with a more stable working environment, given the level of uncertainty and instability surrounding the Big East conference.
Louisville announced Wednesday it planned to leave the Big East to join the Atlantic Coast Conference. The Cardinals will become the seventh former Big East school to leave for the ACC. Many of the non-football members of the Big East, including Georgetown and St. John's, are also rumored to be in discussions with other conferences.
It's not only conference insecurities that might lead Jones away from the Queen City. UC has a difficult time recruiting top talent due to the small size and age of some of its athletic facilities and the limited funds the athletic department can offer the football program. All three of these issues will continue to impact Jones' ability to recruit top-notch recruits.
In addition to the Purdue job, Colorado has surfaced as one of the schools in pursuit of Jones' services. The job in Boulder, Colo. became available when former head coach Jon Embree was unceremoniously fired on Nov. 25.
The Denver Post reports that interview could take place Monday.
Jones would not be the first UC head man to leave the school for theoretically "greener" pastures. Current coach of the top-ranked Fighting Irish, Brian Kelly, led the Bearcats to consecutive BCS bowls and a 12-0 regular season in 2009 before making his way to South Bend, Ind. Before Kelly, Mark Dantonio left Cincinnati to lead Michigan State to six straight bowl bids. The two combined to make college football relevant in a town obsessed with high school football and the Bengals.
Jones has gone 23-14 overall (12-9 in the Big East) in three seasons at UC, which includes a pair of Big East titles. He was 27-13 during a three-year stint at Central Michigan before making the move to Clifton.
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