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New Coach Reset: Cincinnati's Tommy Tuberville

By Chip Patterson | College Football/Basketball Writer

Tommy Tuberville hopes to lead Cincinnati to their fifth conference title in six years. (USATSI)
Tommy Tuberville hopes to lead Cincinnati to its fifth conference title in six years. (USATSI)

Over the next several weeks, we will be catching up with the coaches preparing for their first season in a new location and/or role. From recruiting to staff moves and personnel decisions, we will take a look at how the first months have gone and preview the 2013 season ahead. First up, Cincinnati coach Tommy Tuberville.

The Hire

Coaching experience: 17 years (130-77 overall), 2004 SEC Championship, five SEC Western Division titles. Most recently head coach at Texas Tech (2010-12)

Reason for the change: After discussions with Purdue and Colorado, former Bearcats' coach Butch Jones opted to accept Tennessee's offer to coach the Vols. Cincinnati athletic director Whit Babcock quickly made an offer to Tuberville, who jumped at the offer for a change of scenery after three up-and-down years at Texas Tech.

The First Months

2013 Recruiting Class Ranking (according to 247 Sports): No. 63 nationally, No. 5 in American Athletic Conference.

Notable Prospects: Keeping a recruiting class together after a coaching change is never easy, so Tuberville tapped into a crop of junior college prospects that he originally intended to bring to Texas Tech. All-purpose back Rodriguez Moore and defensive end Terrell Hartsfield were each ranked in the Top 10 for their position, and weak side defensive end Jerrell Jordan -- Hartsfield's teammate at Copiah-Lincoln C.C. (Wesson, Miss.) -- enrolled after ranking No. 2 in the nation with 13.5 sacks in 2012.

Off-field: The faux-drama regarding Tuberville's hasty exit from Texas Tech ended with a light-hearted dig from Red Raiders fans on National Signing Day. In between faxes from committed recruits with fresh signatures on the Letter of Intent, Tuberville received a menu for the 50 Yard Line Steakhouse in Lubbuck -- the scene of his alleged dine-and-dash the evening before accepting the Cincinnati job. "Yeah, I laughed," Tuberville told SB Nation. "You have to laugh."

Fan reaction: Butch Jones' extended interview process gave Cincinnati fans plenty of time to ready themselves for a coaching change. Tuberville has not faced much hostility from the Bearcats' fans, but the the Riverboat Gambler is not the first coach who comes to mind when thinking of ideal coaching candidates for the state of Ohio. Skepticism can be erased with wins, but fans are hoping to avoid the same "square-peg-round-hole" vibe that surrounded Tuberville's three years at Texas Tech.

Looking ahead

Advantages: Thanks to Kelly and Jones, the Cincinnati program is in the midst of one of the most successful runs in school history. In the last five years, the Bearcats have claimed a share of four conference titles, appeared in two BCS bowl games and recently recorded back-to-back 10-win seasons.

Toughest challenge: While there is plenty of top-rated talent in Cincinnati's backyard, Tuberville must overcome two obstacles to continue the Bearcats' winning ways. While the former Coach of the Year carries plenty of name recognition, Tuberville's strongest ties on the recruiting circuit are in SEC country. Cincinnati will also face plenty of adversity on the trail as opposing coaches will point out that the Bearcats are standing in line outside of the Power 5 conference club. They are in a great position to continue winning conference titles in the American Athletic Conference, but conference realignment has created an uphill battle the former Big East schools -- Cincinnati, Connecticut, South Florida -- will lose their automatic qualifying status when the BCS era ends in 2014.

2013 Outlook: The Bearcats return eight starters on offense, with some impressive depth along the offensive line and two senior quarterbacks, Munchie Legaux and Brendon Kay, with starting experience. Tuberville and offensive coordinator Eddie Gran must determine where both quarterbacks fit in the system, but Bearcats fans will have their eye on 2014; when former Notre Dame quarterback Gunner Kiel is eligible to take the field after an offseason transfer. The Bearcats have been solid on defense the last two seasons, but many of those leaders -- like Dan Giordano, Walter Stewart and Cameron Cheatham -- have graduated. New coaches and a brand new membership makes the AAC tough to predict in 2013, but on paper it looks like Cincinnati should be able to compete for their fifth conference title in six years.

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