A person familiar with the decision told The Associated Press on Thursday that Butch Jones has rejected an offer to become the Buffaloes' next coach. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because Jones hadn't publicly revealed his decision to stay at the University of Cincinnati.
The Cincinnati Enquirer first reported Jones had withdrawn his name from consideration for the Buffaloes job, just as he had the Purdue opening earlier in the week that subsequently went to Darrell Hazell.
Colorado athletic director Mike Bohn didn't return phone messages seeking comment on Jones' decision.
Jones met with Bohn and others in Boulder for nine hours on Monday, when he was offered a five-year deal worth at least $13.5 million. He then spent two days avoiding questions about his coaching future while promoting the Bearcats' appearance against Duke in the Belk Bowl in Charlotte, N.C., on Dec. 27.
On Wednesday night, Jones sent a text message to the AP calling a report that he had accepted the Colorado job "absolutely false," and Bohn responded in a text to AP that "our process is not complete."
Now, it's back to Square One for a program that, at 1-11, just completed the worst season in its 123-year history.
Jones was Colorado's top choice to replace Jon Embree, who was fired after going 4-21 in two seasons at his alma mater. Jones is believed to be the only candidate that Bohn has met with during his third coaching search since firing Gary Barnett in 2005.
Jones, 44, is a hot candidate with a 50-27 record as a head coach, and might soon be in line for much better opportunities than the one Colorado had to offer. He's 23-14 in three years at Cincinnati after going 27-13 at Central Michigan. He followed Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly at both schools.
Embree had three years remaining on the five-year contract he signed on Dec. 6, 2010, when he replaced Dan Hawkins. Like Hawkins, he was due a buyout approaching $2 million.
The Buffaloes job isn't a glamorous one, with sub-par football facilities and a fan base and booster pool disenchanted by seven straight losing seasons - and now, as Embree's quick hook attests, an administration that wants immediate upgrades on the scoreboard and in the Pac-12 standings.
That's a daunting task for the next coach, who will face a truncated recruiting season while inheriting a youthful roster that has managed just three league wins since bolting the Big 12 two years ago.