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Grading Year One Of The Tommy Tuberville Era

There is still one game left to be played, on December 28th against North Carolina. But with 12 data points in hand it is as good a time as any to take a longer view look at the Bearcats and what they did this year.

Rob Leifheit-USA TODAY Sports

Here is a list of coaches who have won at least nine games in their first year in Clifton

  • Tom Fennell ( 9-1-1, 1897)
  • Brian Kelly (10-3, 2007)
  • Tommy Tuberville (9-3, 2013)

Fennell is without question the best coach of the early era Bearcats. That 1897 team picked up wins over Ohio State and LSU. His only loss as the Bearcats head coach was against the Carlisle Indian School. We all remember the start of the BK era fondly.

It says something about how much UC football has changed over the last decade that Tuberville went 9-3, with a pretty good chance to get to 10-3. Getting 10 wins again would almost certainly see the Bearcats ending up ranked in the final polls. Accomplishing that would create a club of 2 with that accomplishment to their name.

Yet there is a steady drumbeat from some saying that these Bearcats underachieved in 2013. Given the paucity of quality teams on the schedule, particularly early I can see the argument. But underachievement in my eyes is something that is chronic, unrelenting and suffocating. That I don't see.

With 12 games in the books it is easier to see UC's losses for what they are, fluke outcomes that probably would not be repeated were those games to be played again. Illinois played by far the most complete game of the Tim Beckman era against UC, but even then the Bearcats made it a game before Munchie Legaux's horrific injury took the wind out of their sails.

In the USF game the Bearcats gave up a blocked kick for a touchdown and a fumble returned for a touchdown. On the year the Bearcats only gave up two such plays, and two of them came against the Bulls. The odds of any team winning when giving up a non offensive touchdown are really, really low.

The Bearcats put those issues behind them starting with the Temple game and played generally competent and occasionally lights out football down the stretch. UC was at their best in November under Tubs, just as they were under Dantonio, and BK*

*Jones was a very pedestrian 6-5 in November

So that brings us to the question of the moment, what grade would you give Tommy Tuberville and his staff at the conclusion of year 1? Feel free to grade him on whatever criteria you would use.