Jones and his wife, Barbara, visited the Purdue campus in West Lafayette, Ind., on Sunday to meet with officials about the Boilermakers' head coaching position and were in Boulder, Colo., on Monday to discuss the Colorado job. He is also considering staying at UC, where he has been the head coach for three years and is under contract through 2017.
UC president Santa Ono, contacted late Monday afternoon while Jones was still in Boulder, said he could not get into specifics about what the school is prepared to do to keep Jones.
"I certainly think the world of Butch," Ono said. "I consider him part of the family here, the leadership team that we have here. I'm very pleased with his performance. I think he's a fantastic coach. I think he fits very well at the University of Cincinnati. I think it's the right place for him."
Jones and his wife were scheduled to leave Boulder at 5:30 p.m. Mountain Time on a flight back to Cincinnati, but sources said he agreed to remain later. According to reports, he arrived at Lunken Airport at about 1 a.m. Eastern Time on Tuesday.
"It's been a productive day," Colorado athletic director Mike Bohn told reporters.
Jones is scheduled to appear at a press conference at 1 p.m. Tuesday in UC's Lindner Center to preview the Bearcats' Dec. 27 game against Duke in the Belk Bowl in Charlotte, N.C. Neither Jones nor UC athletic director Whit Babcock returned calls Monday.
UC has gone 23-14 under Jones, with a win last year over Vanderbilt in the Liberty Bowl. The Bearcats won a three-way share of the Big East championship in 2011 and a four-way share this season. UC was 4-8 in Jones' first season in 2010.
At the end of last season, UC extended Jones' contract through 2017 after he reportedly turned down overtures from Illinois, North Carolina and UCLA. His new contract increased his guaranteed annual compensation from $1.1 million to $1.575 million, with annual increases through 2017 when he would be paid $2.05 million in the final year of his contract. The contract includes a $1.4-million buyout if he leaves UC before Jan. 1, 2013.
Jones reportedly is torn about his decision. Friends say he and his family love Cincinnati and want to remain here, but that he felt compelled to listen to the offers from Purdue and Colorado. If he decides to leave UC, Colorado is believed to the frontrunner for his services.
UC's struggle to find a suitable conference home is considered a major factor in Jones' decision to entertain other offers, along with the school's inability to locate the money to upgrade Nippert Stadium. Colorado, which plays in the Pac-12 Conference, reportedly offered Jones a five-year contract worth $13.5 million, with upgrades to 53,613-seat Folsom Field, the Dal Ward Athletic Center and the team practice facilities.
According to sources close to the situation, Jones has been in discussions with UC to re-do his contract, with the stipulation that Nippert Stadium will be renovated, although it's not known where that money - estimated at $60 million to $70 million by University Architect Beth McGrew - would come from.
If Jones leaves, it will be another major blow to the UC athletic department, which last week learned that its attempts to leave the wobbly Big East Conference for the Atlantic Coast Conference had been rebuffed, with the ACC choosing to invite long-time UC rival Louisville instead. That left the Bearcats to compete in a league that has lost its status as one of the top six football conferences in the country and with no automatic tie-in to a major bowl game when the current BCS contract expires at the end of next season.
Written by Bill Koch
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