Mick Cronin and Mike Bohn At Odds Over Crosstown Shootout Decision

Steve Dykes

Last night the University of Cincinnati and Xavier University held a joint press conference to announce the resumption of the Crosstown Shootout under that selfsame name and to be played at conference sites once more. All the major players were there Santa Ono and Mike Bohn for UC, father what's his name and that one guy for Xavier. Conspicuous in their absence were Chris Mack and Mick Cronin.

I don't care at all about Xavier, but I do care about the subtext of Mick's decision not to attend the presser because of a "scheduling conflict" or somesuch equally nondescript excuse. His absence did not go unnoticed or unremarked upon by fansjournalists and hacks alike. For a guy who has no problem speaking his mind no matter the subject Mick's decision to treat the news with public silence says a lot.

Not long after the Brawl Mick made a point of saying that he would never coach another game in the Cintas Center, which he wouldn't have to do this year regardless. Yesterday there were some who immediately latched onto that comment in the context of Mick having a foot out the door already. A well placed tweet from his brother did much to fan those particular flames.

If the rumors are true Mick was furious behind the scenes with the decision to go back to campus. Ultimately that is above his pay grade in the hands of Santa Ono and Mike Bohn. The level of consultation in the process afforded to Mick is ultimately a matter of the perspective of you the reader. Some surely think that Mick and Mick alone should have control of the decision. Other's will think that this decision is Ono's / Bohn's to make and Mick's to live with. I personally find it hard to believe that Bohn / Ono made the decision to resume the series on campus without hearing Cronin out to some degree.

Likewise I don't find it that hard to believe that Mike Bohn would hear Mick out and then make the decision on his own with the tacit green light from Santa Ono (who happened to be in Tel Aviv yesterday). His response to Mick's stance against coaching at Cintas ever again really only makes sense in that context. Obviously the decision to resume the series on campus wasn't made Monday morning. It has almost certainly been on the back burner since the end of the game in December and reached a boil at some point over the last few weeks. That is obviously a Bohn decision, and yet another one that Mick doesn't agree with.

It would appear that Bohn and Cronin do not see eye to eye on many things right now. Mick is a very public advocate of the Bearcats playing downtown in a renovated US Bank Arena. Bohn is an advocate for renovating Fifth Third Arena. At one point it was thought that Cronin was close to inking a major extension, it would appear that those talks have dried up and that extension is looking less likely by the day. Now the campus decision. That is an awful lot of public disagreement between the basketball coach and the athletic director who has been on the job for roughly four months. Mind you Bohn is a self professed "Basketball guy" and still all of this negativity is swirling.

What makes this all so disconcerting is that this is in part about the cumulative effects of lots of small decisions. A run of small decisions over many years that have not gone the way that Mick wants. Cronin has been a tireless advocate of increased resources for his team for years. Cronin raised the money for the new graphics in the practice gym. He was intimately involved in raising the money for the renovation of the locker room and players lounge that is currently taking place. At a lot of places those are things that would just be taken care of out of hand. The details are different, but that is the general spirit of complaint's that Brian Kelly first leveled at the UC administration back in 2007; two presidents, and two athletic directors ago. In a program with limited financial resources and a lot of clawing hands that's just how things are going to be.

It was surely frustrating for Croin to watch a succession of football coaches extract ever more lucrative goodies for their program; higher salaries for coachesenhancements for the weight rooma new practice facility and to cap it off a breathtaking renovation of Nippert Stadium. Oh and all of them left, and he stayed. He stayed making (relative) peanuts bringing the program back from the brink and restoring it to a level of relevance nationally that many doubted was possible in the wake of the Huggins/Zimpher feud that basically leveled the program and put the department behind the 8-ball for fundraising. What he has accomplished at UC is pretty staggering considering just how low things got.

That considered I get where Mick is coming from in his issues. He is essentially saying to the administration that you took care of them, now take care of me. Mick makes no bones about his goals here, he wants to win a national title, and he doesn't feel that he has the infrastructure or institutional support to get there. That's one are of conflict in the contract negotiations.

At this point nothing is a back breaker because there is still time for Bohn and Mick to break bread and make peace. But If the contract situation continues to dawdle for several more months, if concrete plans with a timeline doesn't emerge for an arena solution than the decision to resume playing this game on campus could indeed become a deal breaker and lead to the departure of Mick Cronin from the program he resurrected. To quote the Hound aping Omar Little, a man's got to have a code.

The next few months are going to be interesting to watch with Mike Bohn. It seems obvious that his relationship with Mick is not in the best of shape right now, and steps are going to have to be taken to repair that. Both of these guys have a ton of pride and belief in themselves, but no good can come from their relationship deteriorating from this point. Concessions will have to be made to rectify things, and my guess is that most of them will have to come from the AD's office. If Bohn wants to force Mick to go back to the Cintas Center then he has to give him something that he wants in return.

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