The bottom line is that in order for Cincinnati to take the next step, it is likely going to have to not only play more games at Paul Brown Stadium, but attract crowds to those games, as well.
Jones understands that, but he would still like to have the advantage that playing a true home game affords. In absence of that, however, he and the Bearcats will continue to try to make Paul Brown Stadium as homey as possible.
"I think just in the overall familiarity of your home games, I think we're getting to that point where Paul Brown Stadium will become a home venue for us,'' Jones said. "If you practice in that stadium and your players have played a lot of home games in that stadium ... The thing that we have to continue to do is put people in the seats in order to continue to play down at Paul Brown Stadium and continue to make that a home-field advantage.
"It's just an overall familiarity of where you play and I think our kids will continue to grow accustomed to playing down there.''
Playing in an NFL stadium, of course, is nothing new for teams in the Big East. Pitt and South Florida are both visitors in their own home stadiums and Rutgers plays the occasional home game at the NFL venue shared by the Giants and Jets in New Jersey. Former Big East members Miami and Temple also regularly played games in NFL stadiums.
So how does Cincinnati make Paul Brown Stadium more like home? Well, by playing there and by attracting crowds.
"Obviously for us we need a great crowd and we need to make that a home-field advantage,'' said Jones, a former receivers coach at West Virginia under Rich Rodriguez. "Anytime you're playing what is obviously a tremendous football team in West Virginia you're going to need all the help you can get. And there's something to be said about playing at home.
"But when we looked at it, we're going to do what's best for our entire athletic department and we thought going down to Paul Brown, to be able to get more people to come watch us play and the NFL amenities that it brings as we continue to grow and elevate the program, [all that] was critical.''
When the Bearcats play at Paul Brown Stadium, Jones even manages to channel his inner Norman Dale, the Gene Hackman-portrayed coach in Hoosiers who measured the height of the rims in the big-city arena.
"Again, I think the fan support is going to be important, the attendance,'' Jones said. "[But] you've got to go play the game. The football field is the same length. The goal posts are the same. And we're playing a very quality opponent. And that's what we've got to focus on, what we can control.''
Reach Dave Hickman at 304-348-1734 or dphickm...@aol.com.