Quinn stood behind the podium and discussed his acceptance of the interim head coaching job, former head coach Brian Kelly’s departure and the upcoming Sugar Bowl with more than a touch of pride in his voice.
Fans and players alike were upset by Kelly’s announcement that he accepted the head coaching job at Notre Dame last week, but players were given a few days off before starting practices for the Sugar Bowl to go home and cool off. After some time to get their heads on straight, Quinn stressed that it was time for the seniors to step up and lead the team right now, not just the coaches.
“We told them it was their time, but not their team,” Quinn says of the seniors. “But now it’s their team. They need to step up and lead with maturity and responsibility.”
Quinn also spoke highly of Kelly, saying that the players and coaches “love Brian” and that “they didn’t want to see their coach go, nobody did” while also making sure to give Coach Kelly credit for the program has built at the University of Cincinnati.
“No one man has ever done more for this football program, this university and this community than Brian Kelly,” Quinn said. “He’s done an outstanding job and we should credit him for where we are today.”
When asked about the head coach job search here in Cincinnati, Quinn stated that Athletic Director Mike Thomas asked that no comment be made about the search. Quinn did add that he had expressed interest to Thomas in taking over the position of head coach permanently.
The players and coaches are gearing up for the Sugar Bowl, and Quinn assured the media that he would be on the sidelines on January 1, no matter what. He went so far as to say that the only way he would not be on the Bearcats’ sideline would be if he was “sitting next to the dear Lord above.”
“We need to rally the troops on the next man in mentality,” Quinn said, referring to himself as the “next man in” and the need for the team to come together around whomever their next coach would be.
With Coach Kelly leaving, many are questioning whether some of his top recruits will follow him to Notre Dame instead of honoring their commitments to Cincinnati. However, Quinn stated that, so far, no recruits have rescinded their commitments and recognized the tough situation they were put into.
“The number one concern is all recruits,” Quinn said. “They’re concerned about whether their scholarship and their commitment is going to be honored, and the answer to that is yes, absolutely.”
As for taking on the Florida Gators in the Sugar Bowl, Quinn thinks the team can beat them, but it’s going to take every player stepping up and playing their hardest. Quinn summed up his feelings about the entire situation best with only five small words:
“I love our football team.”