For both the Cincinnati Bearcats and the Florida Gators, an appearance at the Allstate Sugar Bowl in New Orleans on New Year’s Day might be classified as a disappointment amid the off-field news that has been emerging from both camps.
With one of the most high profile coaching jobs in the country, Florida’s Urban Meyer announced six days before the Sugar Bowl that the game would be his last due to health concerns.
Less than 24 hours later, Meyer changed his mind and decided instead to take an indefinite leave of absence after the game.
The Cincinnati coach who led the Bearcats to a perfect 12–0 record, Brian Kelly, decided to leave the team well before the Sugar Bowl. Less than a week after Cincinnati defeated Pittsburgh 45–44 to cap off a perfect regular season, Kelly left his team to take the Notre Dame job left vacant by the firing of Charlie Weis.
The Bearcats scrambled to promote coordinator Jeff Quinn to interim coach and a few days later, signed Central Michigan’s Butch Jones to a five-year deal.
Quinn will be in charge of coaching Cincinnati to their 13th win, but to add to the postseason coaching drama, Quinn is set to become the Buffalo head coach after the game.
With all of the off-field headlines, the fact that Cincinnati was one second away from going to the national championship game instead of Texas hardly gets any attention.
The 12–1 Gators had their own opportunity for a trip to the national title game.
Ranked No.1 for most of the season, Florida took their 12–0 record into the SEC Championship Game against No. 2 ranked and also undefeated Alabama.
The 32–13 loss for the Gators was crushing and later prompted one of college football’s most accomplished players, quarterback Tim Tebow, to say, “I don’t think you’re over a loss. It’s going to hurt, probably will hurt for a while.”
Although both teams feel that a spot in the championship game should have been theirs, they have now accepted their fate in the Sugar Bowl.
Meyer says, “It’s full speed ahead. We’re going to do everything possible to win this game.”
Quinn voices a similar mentality from the Bearcats coaching staff, “Our focus is to congratulate them [his team] for being 12–0 and getting them ready for the Sugar Bowl.”