UC fights Power 5 schools, perception

Posted at 9:06 PM, Feb 03, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-03 21:29:59-05

CINCINNATI -- University of Cincinnati football coach Tommy Tuberville said UC is fighting the good battle when it comes to high school football recruiting.

But the battle is getting tougher and tougher.

Tuberville met the media Wednesday afternoon after signing 23 new recruits, all but one of them from outside the Tri-State. But Tuberville admits his recruiting efforts are hitting a major roadblock from schools in the so-called "Power 5" conferences, who use that status against schools like UC.

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Power 5 conferences (ACC, Big 10, Big 12, Pac 12 and SEC) all have bigger media contracts, which means more dollars devoted to recruiting prospective players.

The easier path to a national championship is also another weapon that football teams in those conferences can use against UC.

Tuberville said Wednesday that there were high school players who had verbally committed to the University of Cincinnati as far back as nine months ago, who changed their minds and ultimately signed with Power 5 conference schools.

"We enhanced our recruiting office," Tuberville said Wednesday. "We hired people. We're doing more evaluation. And we're not saying we're not going after Power 5. We're going to go after as many at that level as we possibly can. Hopefully, one day, we'll be in that -- there's not a lot of difference. But it's a sales pitch that the other teams use against you. And we have it used against us every day."

There are several national reports that if the Big 12 Conference decides to expand past its 10 schools, the University of Cincinnati is on its short list. But recruiting challenges of being in a non-Power 5 conference aside, Tuberville and his staff had something more curious to reveal today: Of the players that signed letters of intent with the Bearcats, only one player was from the Greater Cincinnati area, Mason High School linebacker Ty Sponseller.

Tuberville defended his recruiting record in the Cincinnati area this year.

"Now we offer a lot of scholarships in Cincinnati," said the head coach, heading into his fourth season at UC. "We do our due diligence. We go to the high schools. I personally watch games on Friday night, to be around, to make sure we're targeting the right guys. And we offer scholarships. And they went other places, bottom line. That happens to every place."

As for the players who did sign letters of intent with the Bearcats Wednesday, Tuberville was particularly high on 6-3, 232-pound linebacker Michael Pitts, from Stone Mountain, Georgia, and wide receiver Thomas Geddis, 6-1 160 pounds, from Pompano Beach, Florida.

"We try to get it to as perfect a process as we can, and there's still a little guesswork to it. But I'm proud of all the guys in our recruiting office."