CINCINNATI -- University of Cincinnati football coach Tommy Tuberville is stepping down, the school announced Sunday.
Director of Athletics Mike Bohn will lead an immediate national search for his replacement.
READ MORE: These are the coaches UC might look to
Despite an impressive resume, Tuberville struggled to find the success at UC he had elsewhere. The Bearcats went 1-7 in their conference and 4-8 overall this year, missing a bowl game for the first time since 2010.
Confirmed. Tuberville out. Could be news conf later today @WCPO
— Ken Broo (@kenbroo) December 4, 2016
Tuberville was 29-22 in four seasons with UC and coached the Bearcats to three bowl appearances and a share of the 2014 American Athletic Conference Championship.
He's 159-99 in 21 seasons as a collegiate head coach, and he said Cincinnati wouldn't be the end of the line.
"I am not done coaching and I look forward to my next challenge," Tuberville said in a news release.
A month ago, he drew some criticism for calling out a fan -- telling him to "go to hell" and "get a job" -- after the team's 20-3 loss to BYU at home.
Tuberville later apologized for those remarks.
"I promise you, I won't do it again... I hope. It's hard," he said.
At a news conference Nov. 7, Tuberville told reporters what continued to keep him in the head coach spot was his love for the game and his respect for the players, to whom he also issued that promise.
As for retirement, he said the fact that he was still coaching was testament to his love for the game and the players.
"If I was going to retire, I'd have retired when I came here. I don't need to work. I like coaching; I like kids.
"With all the 15-hour days, I'd better like it," he said.
Recruiting was a struggle at UC, Tuberville admitted last winter, with a major roadblock coming from schools in the so-called "Power 5" conferences. The ACC, Big 10, Big 12, Pac 12 and SEC all have bigger media contracts, which means more dollars devoted to recruiting prospective players.
Some high school players who'd verbally committed to the University of Cincinnati months ahead of National Signing Day changed their minds and ultimately signed with Power 5 conference schools, Tuberville said in February.
UC hoped to join the Big 12 in a possible expansion, but the conference ultimately decided to stick with its current 10 schools after three months of analyzing, vetting and interviewing possible new members.
Move stuns players
Tuberville's resignation, after his earlier comments that he planned to stay at UC, surprised some current players.
"Him resigning this morning, I woke up to it just having the banquet yesterday," running back Tion Green said. "The curiosity of what's next for Bearcat Nation and Coach Tuberville, who I wish the best for -- he's a great man, great family man. Taught me more than I can ever learn being an adult outside of football."
Running back Mike Boone said he found out Tuberville was leaving through text messages from teammates.
"He wasn't strictly about football," Boone said. "And as a coach, you have to be like that. He was more academics and as a man off the field, as well. And that's another reason it hurts seeing him leave."
Student-athletes under Tuberville performed well in the classroom, the university said, with record GPA marks and rising graduation rates. Tuberville also gave almost $300,000 to help support Bearcats student-athletes through Olympic Sports scholarships.
While at UC, he started a foundation and outfitted two accessible homes for local veterans with disabilities. This year, he bought a block of 150 season tickets to give to local vets in a section of Nippert Stadium named Tubby’s Troops.