Kentucky Sports

UK denies offering Cincy's Jones football coaching position

Cincinnati Bearcats head coach Butch Jones yells during the second quarter of an NCAA college football game against the Toledo Rockets, Saturday, Oct. 20, 2012, in Toledo, Ohio. (AP Photo/David Richard)
Cincinnati Bearcats head coach Butch Jones yells during the second quarter of an NCAA college football game against the Toledo Rockets, Saturday, Oct. 20, 2012, in Toledo, Ohio. (AP Photo/David Richard) ASSOCIATED PRESS

A website that covers Cincinnati football created a stir Sunday afternoon when it contained a report that Kentucky had offered its vacant head coaching position to Bearcats Coach Butch Jones.

But Kentucky athletics officials denied the report, saying a position has not been offered to anyone at this time. Later Sunday, a Twitter posting by the Bearcat Lair site attributed the report to a message board member and not its own staff.

When asked if UK had extended any offers to any coaching candidates, spokesman Dewayne Peevy said: "We have not."

When asked if Kentucky had requested permission from any schools to speak with their coaches about the UK vacancy, Peevy said: "I can only confirm we haven't offered anyone."

Calls and emails to officials at Cincinnati went unanswered on Sunday.

Jones, the 2011 Big East Coach of the Year, is in his third season at Cincinnati and holds a 48-27 career record, including going 7-3 this season after a loss to Rutgers on Saturday night.

The bowl-eligible Bearcats face University of South Florida on Friday and then play at Connecticut on Dec. 1.

After a win over Vanderbilt in the Liberty Bowl last season, Jones received a three-year contract extension with the Bearcats, who won a share of the league title.

According to multiple reports, his extension runs through 2017 and includes raises that will bring his annual salary to $2 million by the end of it. His deal also includes loyalty bonuses of $300,000 in 2013, 2015 and 2016 if he stays with the Bearcats.

This season, Jones made $1.58 million, and he will get up to $1.6 million each of the next two seasons. That new deal with Cincinnati also included an increase in the salary pool for assistant coaches from $1.6 million to $1.85 million.

Jones left Central Michigan and took Cincinnati's top spot after Brian Kelly left for Notre Dame. Cincinnati won just four games in Jones' first season but followed with 10 wins in his second season. previously reported that if Jones leaves to take another head coaching job before Jan. 1, his buyout is $1.4 million. If he leaves after that but before Jan. 1, 2014, the buyout goes to $1.1 million.

Defense's big night

Lost in the drama and the emotion of Senior Night at Commonwealth Stadium and Coach Joker Phillips' final game at home was the big night for the much maligned Kentucky defense.

Granted, the Cats were facing a Football Championship Subdivision program in Samford, but UK managed to hold the Bulldogs to 102 yards of offense, the fewest yards for a Cats opponent since 1996, when UK held Vanderbilt to 91 yards. That same game also was the last time UK held an opponent to negative rushing yards, which it did Saturday against Samford (minus-2).

Kentucky's defense came into the game allowing one of the highest national percentages on third-down conversions, but the Cats allowed Samford to convert on just two of its 12 tries.

The Cats' defense had a season-high five sacks and eight tackles for loss. Two of those sacks came from junior linebacker Avery Williamson, who had 13 tackles. He's had 13 or more tackles in four straight games and is now third in the nation in tackles (128) and tackles per game (11.64).

Phillips still recruiting?

The last question UK's Phillips answered Saturday was about how he and his staff have handled their dismissals with members of this upcoming recruiting class. Phillips said he hasn't contacted any of them because he wouldn't want to use a call that the administration might want to make.

But the coach said he did see one recruit Saturday and encouraged him to go to Kentucky regardless of who is on the coaching staff.

"I just told him this is the place for him," Phillips said. "Be proud to put this UK on, this interlocking UK on. I expect him to represent it the right way."

Phillips, a former UK player himself, said he also told the recruit: "You chose this place for a reason. You didn't choose this for us, for coaches. You choose a place because of the players, because of the support people. That's the reason you choose a place, not for the coaches."

Jennifer Smith: (859) 231-3241. Twitter: @jenheraldleader. Blog: