The goal today for Cincinnati is the same goal it was two weeks, when coach Butch Jones was still in the building.
Win 10 games.
No coaching change has deterred what these Bearcats have set out to do in the Belk Bowl against Duke on Dec. 27 in Charlotte, N.C. Are they down several assistants? Yes. Are they missing their offensive, defensive and special teams coordinators? Yes. But that has not seemed to faze anyone now that bowl practices are underway, with interim coach Steve Stripling in charge.
Stripling does plan on joining Jones in Tennessee after the bowl game.
"It's hats off to Coach Stripling," tight end Travis Kelce said in a phone interview Monday with ESPN.com. "All the guys love him to death. For him to still be in Cincinnati, being our head coach and leading us to this last bowl game, it's huge for us. We're really short-handed right now. For Coach Strip to be a big man for every single player on this team is huge. It's going way better than expected, I can say that."
Kelce has some experience to compare that to, having been on the team when Brian Kelly left in 2009.
"I believe it's going way better than the Kelly year," Kelce said. "Just the amount of energy during practices, and guys being locked in and actually focused on doing the right things, not straying and being distractions."
Kelce says there is no extra motivation in trying to show their former coaches what they are missing, but they are more focused than ever on getting 10 wins for the fifth time in six seasons -- a huge accomplishment the senior class wants to achieve.
"It's definitely making us lock in a lot more," Kelce said. "The chemistry on the team is so good, and so high. The young guys really love the old guys, the old guys are making sure the young guys are getting better during this process. They don't want to let us down so everybody is focused on getting 10 and that makes us lock in even more, knowing the whole coaching staff isn't here. It's been a rough transition, but we're handling it the best we possibly can."