Sunday, October 13, 2013

Tragedy at Cincinnati hits close to home for UConn coach

UConn interim coach T.J. Weist got to know Ben Flick and his family pretty well when he helped convince the talented offensive lineman from Hamilton, Ohio to come to Cincinnati.

Following Butch Jones departure to Tennessee and the hiring of Tommy Tuberville as the new Bearcats' head coach, Weist moved on and became the offensive coordinator/receivers coach at UConn. However, when he heard about Flick's death in a car accident that also injured Cincinnati players Mark Barr and Javon Harrison, Weist was absolutely devastated.

With UConn set to play at Cincinnati on Saturday I asked Weist for his thoughts on the tragic events at his former school.

"It becomes personal for the coaches that are outside the program who knew those kids," Weist said. "I knew Ben and his family. We were involved, all the coaches who were at Tennessee who were at Cincinnati we were close with them because we recruited them, had them over at the facility had their families, (hosted them on) official visits and all of those things. It becomes less of a football death, it is about people and about families. It is devastating. We all have families and we all go home and hug our kids, you hug your wife and pray. It becomes less of an 'us against Cincinnati' when I step on the field for the people that I know who are still there, the players and it has nothing to do with football, it is all about life.

"I called to talked to the staff members, some I still know there and even some of the players because it is not about football. Our sympathies are with them and whatever we do in terms of recognition, we will have recognition for Ben and the Cincinnati program."

Weist wasn't at UConn when star cornerback Jasper Howard was murdered but he knew about the heart-felt response from coaches and programs across the country who did what they could to help the Huskies deal with the loss of one of their own.

"When our program went through tragedy with Jasper Howard, other teams reached out to us and did things to us for recognition," Weist said. "I have already talked to the athletic director at Cincinnati about things we can do to memorialize him as a person, as a football player. Other teams have reached out when we were in this situation and we will do the same."



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