Brian Kelly has a background in politics. His father was a local politician and he once worked on Gary Hart's presidential campaign.
But Kelly has yet to hit the stump for No. 5 Cincinnati's inclusion into the BCS title game. And if the Bearcats wrap up a 12-0 season with a win over Pittsburgh this weekend, Kelly said he doesn't plan on standing on a soap box then, either.
"I don't think my style is to go out and pound our chests," Kelly said Monday. "I think people will see the work that we've done, and they'll decide whether we're deserving or not."
If Cincinnati wins Saturday and does not make it to Pasadena, it will become just the second undefeated, BCS conference winner to be excluded from the title game since the BCS era began. The other team to do so was Auburn in 2004.
The Bearcats have a strong case, as well. Beating Pitt would give them wins over three teams currently in the Top 25 (Oregon State and West Virginia are the others). Oregon State could win the Pac-10 this week by defeating Oregon, and Cincinnati beat the Beavers on the road.
"Obviously, we'll be pulling hard for Oregon State," Kelly said. "We'd have three Top-25 wins, a Big Ten win [over Illinois].
"There are so many things we can't control. I can't worry about that stuff. All I can do is get this football team one more win and let our record speak for itself."
The record won't be enough, though, unless No. 3 Texas loses to Nebraska in the Big 12 title game and Cincinnati manages to vault past No. 4 TCU. The Bearcats would have to hope a strength of schedule bump from the Pitt win, plus a few more poll votes in their favor would erase the gap between them and the Horned Frogs, which is now .0142 points in the BCS formula.
Even with a loss, Cincinnati will officially be recognized as co-champions of the Big East by virtue of finishing with an identical 6-1 league record as Pitt. But the Bearcats could fall from a BCS bid all the way down to the Meineke Car Care Bowl with a loss, since the Gator Bowl seems interested in West Virginia's large fan base. So Kelly isn't exactly thrilled about the co-champion designation.
"We're not playing for co-championships," he said. "I'm sure it would go in the media guide that way. But I know this: we'd be extremely disappointed."
There's nothing political about that.