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Report: Cincinnati to hire Jones

CINCINNATI — Three years after Cincinnati hired Brian Kelly from Central Michigan, the fourth-ranked Bearcats are looking at another Chippewas coach to replace him.

Central Michigan’s Butch Jones emerged Tuesday as the school’s choice to replace Kelly, according to a person familiar with the coaching search.

The Morning Sun in Mt. Pleasant, Mich., reported that Jones was negotiating a contract with Cincinnati on Tuesday night. A person familiar with Cincinnati’s search, speaking on condition of anonymity because no deal was complete, confirmed Jones was the top option.

It would mark the second time in three years that the Bearcats turned to the Mid-American Conference school for their head coach. They hired Kelly after his three-year stay at Central Michigan, where his spread offense was one of the nation’s best.

Jones has kept the high-powered offensive approach and built on Kelly’s success at Central Michigan, winning the MAC title this season by beating Ohio. The Chippewas finished the season at No. 25, their first time in the national rankings.

Cincinnati (12-0) has moved quickly to replace Kelly, who accepted Notre Dame’s coaching job last Thursday. The team has been off since then. Offensive coordinator Jeff Quinn, who has been Kelly’s assistant for the last 22 years, said Tuesday afternoon he hoped to get the job even though he had no head coaching experience.

Quinn was promoted to interim coach when Kelly left, given responsibility for getting the Bearcats ready to face Florida in the Sugar Bowl on New Year’s Day. The Bearcats are scheduled to resume practice on Thursday.