Bohn, Buffs want Butch

Jessica Hill/Associated Press file photo

Butch Jones will coach the University of Cincinnati against Duke in the Belk Bowl on Dec. 27 in Charlotte, N.C., and that could be his final game with the Bearcats. Jones is the Colorado Buffaloes’ top target to replace Jon Embree.

By Arnie Stapleton
AP Sports Writer

Colorado athletic director Mike Bohn made his pitch to Cincinnati football coach Butch Jones on Monday.

“A productive day,” is how Bohn described the meetings that lasted about six hours at Folsom Field, the Buffaloes’ football stadium in Boulder.

Jones is Bohn’s top target in his search to replace Jon Embree, who was fired last week with three years left on his contract after going 4-21 in two seasons.

Jones and his wife, Barbara, flew back to Cincinnati on Monday night after spending most of the day meeting with Bohn and other Colorado officials.

The Denver Post said a decision whether to leave Cincinnati for Colorado is expected soon.

Jones also is being courted by Purdue. He met with Boilermakers officials Sunday in a quick trip to the West Lafayette, Ind., campus.

Among those in attendance at the meetings on the Colorado campus were Jones’ agent, Trace Armstrong, university president Bruce Benson and school chancellor Phil DiStefano.

The Buffaloes reportedly are ready to offer Jones $13.5 million over five years, a hefty jump from the less than $1 million annual salary Embree received. That would make Jones the highest-paid coach in school history.

Jones, who made about $1.5 million this season, is 50-27 as a head coach, including 23-14 in three seasons at Cincinnati. The Bearcats (9-3) are preparing to face Duke (6-6) in the Belk Bowl on Dec. 27 in Charlotte, N.C.

Jones followed Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly at Cincinnati and at Central Michigan, where Jones was 27-13 in three seasons beginning in 2004.

“I’m still the coach here, that’s all that matters,” Jones said at a news conference Tuesday in Cincinnati. “This is about the Belk Bowl. I have every intention (of coaching in the bowl). You have to understand why we’re here. If you don’t, we can end it right now.”

School officials were meeting with him to see what it would take to keep him at Cincinnati, where he’s finishing his third season. He signed a contract extension after last season that stretches through 2017 with a $1.4-million buyout if he leaves before Jan. 1.

Keeping football coaches has been a challenge for Cincinnati. The last two used the job as a stepping stone to a bigger program, leaving after three-year stints.

Mark Dantonio oversaw the Bearcats’ move into the Big East but was discouraged with their inability to draw much of a crowd at 35,000-seat Nippert Stadium, a sticking point for years. Dantonio landed at Michigan State.

Kelly has led top-ranked Notre Dame into the BCS championship game.

AP Freelance writer Monica Costello in Boulder and AP sports writer Jeff Wallner in Cincinnati contributed to this report.

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