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After taking in the second scrimmage of the Bearcats training camp and barreling toward an opener now less than two weeks away, here are five observations of where UC stands for Purdue on Aug. 31. 

1) Greg Blair looks every bit one of the top defensive players in The American. Blair, a first-team All-Big East selection last year, lost weight this offseason. After every spring practice there would be Blair running afterward until his shirt sweated into a darker shade of black. It shows. He's moving faster and consistently broached the backfield Saturday. On one play he bolted from the middle to sniff out an RDA screen before the RB could even reach the line. He looked explosive. 

Defensive Player of the Year in the conference is not out of the question. 

2) The Bearcats need a receiver to play big. UC lacks the dominant, tall wide receiver to serve as a long target on the outside. That onus for now looks to fall on to Alex Chisum (6-3) and Chris Moore (6-1). They both recorded touchdowns Saturday with Chisum catching a 25-yard back-shoulder pass from Munchie Legaux. The reception came on tight coverage from Deven Drane. Chisum faded into a sophomore slump last year but looks invigorated as a junior. If you need to know about Chris Moore, just read this story I wrote on him last week. He caught the offense's first TD of the scrimmage Saturday beating his man deep. This team needs someone to stretch the field with RDA and Anthony McClung running underneath. Without a 6-6 speedster to track down bombs, these two appear ready to lead the way. 

3) Hosey Williams could be a threat at RB. He's only 5-9, but weighs in at 200 pounds and runs like a bowling ball, powerful and low to the ground. As the team looks for depth behind RDA, Williams could hold his own. He did a nice job picking up a blitz from Blair on Saturday before breaking the game's lone long run. He sliced through the middle of the line and broke free for a 25-yard score. He also did a nice job bouncing a run outside after being stopped up in the middle. The running backs didn't show much Saturday, but Williams looked the best. 

4) The QB battle is closer than originally thought. Those were the words of Tommy Tuberville. He's kept the QB derby open, but under the knowledge that Kay had been ahead of Munchie since midway through spring. Now, with the shoulder soreness he experienced which limited his snaps on Saturday Tuberville opened the idea that this could be pushing him to a position where they must go forward with Munchie. 

"It's going to be a lot closer than what people think," Tuberville said. "We will see what happens with Brendon, see when he can come back. But if he can't come back soon we will make Munchie our starting quarterback because we have got to start gameplanning here in a few days." 

5) Gunner Kiel to Mekale McKay looks nice for 2014. When the third-string team ran plays Saturday, transfers Kiel and McKay showed a nice connection with each other, including a touchdown pass in a red zone attempt. Kiel shows nice touch on his passes and with the 6-6 frame on the former Arkansas WR, he's the perfect target to take advantage. So much can happen between now and opening day next year, but that could be a combo to watch for the future. 

I want to hear from you! Shoot me your comments, questions and suggestions regarding UC football as they approach the opener against Purdue at pauldehnerjr@gmail.com or hit me up on Twitter @pauldehnerjr. 



Sophomore Chris Moore showed ripples of greatness last season and his relationship with Brendon Kay could be the reason those become a tidal wave in 2013. 

WEST HARRISON, Ind. - Down the hall of the seventh floor football offices at the Lindner Center the window behind the desk of Tommy Tuberville peers over the stands and onto the field at Nippert Stadium. 

During long days of summer kicking his boots up on the desk or making phone calls, he would spin around and glance to the home of Cincinnati football. More times than not, he'd twist his neck and see quarterback Brendon Kay and sophomore wideout Chris Moore, throwing and running routes. 

ChrisMoore.JPG
They weren't often alone, but they were always part of the group.  

"They worked a lot in the summer together," he said. "They all did, but those two I would see them out there in the summer through my office window throwing all the time."

Occasionally the two would mutually agree to take a day off of the player-organized sessions. Kay's arm and Moore's legs aren't robotic, those days were few and far between. They had to be. In the game of evolving into a much-needed deep threat at wide receiver for the Bearcats, off days can't be afforded. 

"We are all hungry," Moore said. "I feel like we want to go undefeated first of all and want to win the conference outright. Every day we had to work. I don't think there was a day I had to get him going. We had that hunger."

The hunger mixes with an established trust. Moore and Kay rose up last season after spending the majority of days working together with the second string during practice. As Kay emerged as the starting quarterback against Temple so did Moore surface in the rotation at wide receiver. 

It took minimal time for the two to show off their signature play. Moore made a living in at Tampa Jefferson high school running deep and hauling in bombs from his quarterback on the way to the school's first state title. The big arm and deep accuracy became a perfect match. 

In the third quarter against the Owls, Moore gained a step on the defense and Kay placed the bomb perfectly in his hands for a 65-yard touchdown. In the Belk Bowl, the two repeated the act to gain the lead in the fourth quarter of the Belk Bowl. 

"Same thing, just on the other side," Moore said. "The one for Temple that is my favorite play. All I had to do was run, I just ran past the dude and that was an easy six points." 

He made the most of limited opportunity, he only caught four passes on the year and two of those came from Kay, both going to the house. The trend rolled over to the first of 2013 when he opened up the first scrimmage catching a 75-yard bomb from his workout partner. 

"We've done it since last year in the summer," he said. "When you have that connection you just keep doing it." 

Moore finds himself in the mix with another 10 receivers for a spot in Tuberville's receiver rotation. At 6-foot-1, 190 pounds coaches need Moore to perfect using his body to shield smaller defensive backs. He learned from the best spending portions of the offseason watching Larry Fitzgerald college highlight tapes. 

Fitting that mold would plug a hole in this offense. 

"Chris is going to be a guy we are going to depend on," wide receiver coach Blake Rolan said. "He's got to be our playmaker. He's got really strong hands, he's fast, he can run all day." 

The redshirt sophomore broke his collarbone in his state title game in high school and the other collarbone at Higher Ground his freshman year to force a redshirt. Both came extending for catches. Injures won't change his mantra of sacrificing body for brilliance. 

"If the ball is up in the air I've got to go get it," he said. "I think I make the catches that are harder to make. Deep balls and a catch difficult to make I can make those."

He'll need to make more than two this year, but if the peak at his connection with Kay last year and summer dedication are any indication, Moore plays are coming. Even if the lights go out. 

"I have caught in the dark with him before," Moore said. "That's just trusting him. I trust he is going to put the ball in a spot where I can get it and he trusts that I can get open and catch the ball if he puts it there."

I want to hear from you! Shoot me any comments, questions or suggestions about Tommy Tuberville and the 2013 Bearcats prospects at pauldehnerjr@gmail.com. 

Max Aims To Be Factor In Bearcats Passing Attack

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The most prolific quarterback in high school football history is Maty Mauk - the younger brother of former Bearcats QB Ben Mauk - who passed for 18,932 yards and 219 TD at Kenton High School.

While Maty wound up at Missouri, his favorite target wound up at Cincinnati.

Wide receiver Max Morrison caught 289 passes at Kenton H.S. including a mind-boggling 142 receptions for 2,033 yards and 27 touchdowns as a senior.  His single-season reception total was reportedly the fourth highest in history at the time.

After seeing those astonishing passing stats, I had to ask, "Did Kenton even have running plays in the playbook?"

"No we did not," Morrison told me with a grin.  "It was a five wide (receivers) air raid and we threw the ball.  Our only running play was if the quarterback didn't see a receiver open, he took off and ran."

Max Morrison 2013 (440x325).jpg

Morrison will be a redshirt sophomore for the Bearcats this season and is looking to be a key figure in UC's passing attack.  With leading receiver Anthony McClung nursing a sore hamstring in training camp, Max has generally practiced with the first string offense.

"I'm confident, but it's fall camp and there's a lot of competition," said Morrison.  "I'm running with the 'ones' right now, but that's just a depth chart.  You have to come out every day and compete."

After redshirting as a freshman, Morrison appeared in 11 games last year without making a reception.  But in his first spring practice under Tommy Tuberville, the 6'1", 181 pound receiver caught his new head coach's attention by catching nearly every pass thrown in his direction. 

"Max probably had the best spring of anybody catching the ball," said Tuberville. 

"As soon as the new coaches came in, I looked at it and said, 'I need to show them what I can do,'" said Morrison.  "I think I did open a few eyes.  I didn't get a whole lot of opportunities the last two years here, but that's said and done.  They're giving me my chance now and I'm trying to do what I can with it."

Morrison hasn't stood out quite as much in the first week of training camp - perhaps because he's often been matched up against top cornerback Deven Drane - but Tuberville expects him to play a significant role this season.

"He'll be an on-and-off starter," said Tuberville.  "We'll probably play eight to 10 receivers every game and he'll be in the rotation.  I'm pleased with his progress, but after watching him in the spring I had bigger hopes for him coming back and being stronger in two-a-days, but for some reason he started off a little slow.  But he's getting better." 

"Camp is a grind," said Morrison.  "Everybody out here gets dead legs, but you have to be mentally tough and keep working.  I'm going against a three-year starter in Deven Drane every day and that can't do anything but make me better."

Max is not the first member of his family to play at UC.  His grandfather Joe finished his college career in 1958 as Cincinnati's all-time leading scorer (since broken) and went on to spend 14 years with the New York Giants who eventually retired his uniform number.

"I remember coming here on my official visit and one of the coaches showed me the school's Hall of Fame and lo and behold, there he is:  Joe Morrison, number 21," Max told me.  "I thought it was really cool to see that and follow in his footsteps."

And while it will be difficult to match his crazy high school stats, Morrison aims to be a reliable target for Bearcats quarterbacks in the years to come.

"I have three years left and it all starts this season," said Morrison.  "I got a few plays last year at the end of games, but now it's a new coaching staff, a new fresh start, so I'm going to come out here and work hard every day and hopefully everything falls into place."

I'd love to hear from you at Dan.Hoard@Bengals.nfl.net

If you Twitter, you can follow my tweets at http://twitter.com/Dan_Hoard

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Bearcats Breakfast 8.12.13

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The Bearcats announced Monday morning they will play the 2014 season at Paul Brown Stadium while Nippert Stadium undergoes renovations. Some logistical details still need to be worked out, but the two sides agreed to a deal to make it happen. 

No, the Bearcats didn't have many other options, but this serves as the latest example of the relationship improving between these two sides. That's not just as observation regarding this deal. There have now been a series of events where the two have done things to help out there other. 

The Bengals allowed the Bearcats to come practice down at the stadium in the spring while Marvin Lewis and Tommy Tuberville have developed a relationship. On the flip side, the Bearcats bubble has become the bad weather home of the Bengals. 

These two sides haven't always been able to work out deals or act as the best of friends, but being able to come up with a deal that works for all involved in this situation is a great sign and one that will benefit all the UC fans. The bright side of games at PBS were the easy in, easy out, comfortable experience provided by the facility. For one year, it makes for the perfect home and eases the renovation transition. 

Let's eat ...

--- The first play of the first scrimmage of the season opened up with what I believe will be a staple of this year's team. I have been talking about Brendon Kay's deep ball capabilities all offseason and he tossed a 75-yard bomb to Chris Moore to get the 2013 action going. 

Who will be the most consistent deep threat is yet to be seen, but Kay's shown a remarkable ability to drop deep passes perfectly.

Eddie Gran had this to say about Kay taking ownership of the team: 

"He's done a great job. He takes it personal and everything he does is about this team. I think the good part is that all the quarterbacks have done that. They are all leading in their own way. It's been neat to see and they are all competing. That's really good especially at that position. If you don't have that you don't have a chance."
 

--- Speaking of competition at QB, continue to keep an eye on Bennie Coney, who threw four touchdowns working with the third team. 


--- Dan Hoard talks about new JuCo running backs Rod Moore and Hosey Williams. Their presence goes to explain why you can expect a deeper rotation of backs as the season begins which I talked about in this post last week. 

--- Randomness ...

--- Are you a Homeland watcher? Here's the trailer for the new season

--- Detroit Lions new kicker learned a lot of his English from Wu-Tang. True. I think we all learned new words from Wu-Tang. 

--- Which only leads us to a little Wu-Tang Monday. Have a great one. 

JUCO Duo Provides Contrasting Boost To Backfield

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Is there a statute of limitations on the exclusive use of a nickname?

In the 1940's Army won three national championships thanks to Heisman Trophy winners Doc Blanchard and Glenn Davis who were known as "Mr. Inside and Mr. Outside."  Now that 67 years have passed since their last college game, that nickname could be revived for pair of junior college running backs looking to make an immediate impact at Cincinnati.

Hosey (pronounced like Jose) Williams is "Mr. Inside" - a 5'9" 199 pound battering ram who rushed for 1,269 yards and 14 TD on 177 carries (7.2 ypc) for ASA College in New York (see video here).

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"I think Hosey is a Rudi Johnson-type," said Tommy Tuberville who coached Johnson at Auburn.  "He's got big, strong legs and a low center of gravity."

"I feel like I'm an all-around back," said Williams.  "I can run through you and I can run by you."

Rod Moore is "Mr. Outside" - a 5'10, 176 pound jitterbug who was ranked as the number one junior college running back by 247Sports.com after rushing for 902 yards and 11 TD on 147 carries (6.1) for East Mississippi C.C.

"What you see with Rod is his quickness," said offensive coordinator Eddie Gran.  "There was a play today (at practice) where he hit the hole and you saw a burst.  That's what you're looking for is a guy like that with really good speed.  I've been excited about him."

"I try to play fast and show my speed," said Moore.  "Mostly I like to get out on the edge, but I can run between the tackles when they need me to.  It I get to the second level, it's most likely going to be a big gain."

Williams and Moore say they chose Cincinnati largely because of the coaching staff.  When Tuberville and Gran worked together at Auburn, they sent eight running backs to the NFL including Ronnie Brown, Carnell "Cadillac" Williams, Brandon Jacobs, Heath Evans, Kenny Irons, and the previously mentioned Johnson.

"(Coach Tuberville) is a laid-back, straight-forward person," said Williams.  "He lets his coaches coach and does a great job.  And Coach Gran is an excellent coach.  He's big on all of the little details being perfect."

"I was committed to Texas Tech, but I wanted to follow this coaching staff," said Moore.  "They recruited me first and I feel like this is going to be a great fit for me.  All I have to do is listen and they'll take me where I want to go."

Following the departure of leading rusher George Winn, the Cincinnati coaches are counting on the JUCO duo and walk-on Anthony King to provided needed depth to a running back group led by Ralph David Abernathy IV and Tion Green.

"Anthony King has looked really good," said Gran.  "I've been surprised and excited for him because he's worked his tail off.  In all of the cut-ups that we watched in the spring, he keeps showing up.  I'm going to give him some reps with the ones this camp and give him a shot."

Williams and Moore are also sure to get plenty of reps at Camp Higher Ground, but their running ability is not the only factor in determining which of the two gets the most playing time.

"It's whoever can learn the offense the quickest and be durable," said Tuberville.  "Both of them can run the ball, but one thing that they both have to learn in this offense is protecting the quarterback.  If you can't protect the quarterback, I'm not going to have you in there because a lot of times we have to check off and he has to pick up a linebacker or an end.  We can't afford any missed assignments.  We probably run 12 to 15 protections per game and they change every week.  Things change very quickly at the line of scrimmage - who they block, if they block, of if they go out for a pass."

Mr. Inside and Mr. Outside say they're ready for the challenge.

"I feel like everything is going extremely well," said Williams.  "It's basically about how I apply myself.  If I study the playbook like I'm supposed to, I don't think it's going to be a problem."

"It's the most talent that I've seen in a backfield in a long time," said Moore.  "We're going to have a little rotation and it's going to work out great.  I'm just trying to be a part of it and help us win some games."

I'd love to hear from you at Dan.Hoard@Bengals.nfl.net

If you Twitter, you can follow my tweets at http://twitter.com/Dan_Hoard

And I'm on Facebook at www.facebook.com/dan.hoard.1


The days of one back lugging 35 carries for 200 yards are gone with along with standard definition TVs and Big East football. In the new age of college football utilizing depth to endure 13 games of the grind falls closer to necessity than a want for coaches. That's especially true for new coach Tommy Tuberville and offensive coordinator Eddie Gran. 

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Nobody on staff understands the concept better than Gran, a running backs coach by trade over his 26 years. When assessing a Bearcats team possessing backs with styles as different as the numbers on their back. 

The diminutive, explosive Ralph David Abernathy IV comes offset by the powerful frame of Tion Green. Junior College transfer Hosey Williams brings a burst along with great hands out of the backfield. Fellow JuCo Hosey Williams comes as the compact bowling ball at 5-foot-9 and 199 pounds. Darkhorse Anthony King (222 pounds) brings size as the biggest of the five RBs taking reps. 

As plans are devised to utilize RDA without forcing him to withstand a beating 13 times a year, what type of rotation wheels out against Purdue will be decided over the next three weeks at Higher Ground. 

In the past Gran's best seasons came while utilizing a rotation of running backs. Last season at Florida State he had three RBs with between 91 and 111 carries. Much of that came because of Chris Thompson tearing his ACL midseason.  

FSU RB 2012CarriesYardsTD
Chris Thompson916875
Devonta Freeman1116608
James Wilder11063511
Lonnie Pryor473768

The rotations worked with FSU posting a Top 25 rushing offense and Top 20 overall offense. Back in 2004, working with Tuberville during Auburn's perfect season, the rotation proved even more effective with the combination of Cadillac Williams and Ronnie Brown, who both went in the Top 5 of the NFL Draft. 

Auburn RB 2004CarriesYardsTD
Cadillac Williams239116512
Ronnie Brown1539138

Expect at least two running backs to have at least 100 carries this season, with one of them being RDAIV, but Gran remains flexible to whatever works best for the offense as the season progresses. 

"If a guy does have his rhythm and we are going, we go," Gran said. "I make sure if he's got the hot hand, go, but at the same time if something is not happening, I will get somebody else in there. ... I don't mind playing two, though, I don't mind playing three. If they are all going to be productive I have no problem with that. It's a long season."

How many and who of the five competing end up earning those carries began three days ago. Pressure for the junior college transfers will be on how fast they pick up the system. For everyone else, Gran will be watching closely and piecing together the puzzle of how their skill set can fit into effective personnel groups. 

"What you got to find out when we are tackling, whose breaking tackles? Whose getting the YAC yards and see from there where they fit in and what they do," Gran said. 

Entering Day 3 of Camp Tubs as the team still practices on campus before moving to Higher Ground on Friday. The team has been moving between the Sheakley Athletics Complex and the newly turfed Nippert Stadium and will do so again today. 

Let's eat ... 

--- The football team was upstaged Tuesday by the performance of an alumnus. Josh Harrison hit a walk-off home run for the Pirates, going opposite field against the Marlins at PNC Park. 



Those are the moments why you put in the extra work, the long hours and spend every waking minute working on your game. You can't replicate that feeling, the moment anywhere else in sports. 

Harrison's career experienced highs and lows but he's rising along with the Jolly Roger right now. He's been playing mostly for Triple-A Indianapolis and some for the big-league club, but this was his signature moment. He's slugging better than he has any year in his career (.500) and hitting for better than his career average (.265 while a small sample size of 37 PA). 

He looks harder and harder to send back to Indy the more time he gets with the Pirates, who have the best record in baseball. 

--- On the football side, Tommy G and Video Shane are hard at work already offering unique looks at practice. Check out this helmet cam video of practice through the eyes of RDAIV

Next, I want to see a helmet cam on Video Shane as he cuts one of his masterpiece videos he's known for. That will be true behind-the-scenes magic. 

--- We also hear from LB Jeff Luc, who continues to be frighteningly strong

--- USA Today has been counting down it's top college football teams and has UC ranked No. 34. Here's the comprehensive preview, inclduing the all-important list of Division I coaches with the same letter in their first and last names. 

--- The Kenbrell Thompkins story continues to play out in Patriots camp as Brady searches for targets. 

--- Ralph Russo with the AP talks about how this will be a year of cherishing one last run at the BCS before the playoff change. 

Randomness ...

--- Yeah, I'm on board with the new Muppets movie. Is that going to be a problem? 

--- When the Mannings wear bronzer, I watch. These two are the gift that keeps on giving. 



Congratulations. Football has finally arrived. We can stop speculating on speculation and report on the media reporting on the media reporting on the media reporting on the NCAA. What a fantastic day. Let's talk UC football. 

So, today marks the first camp practice of the Tommy Tuberville era and with an influx of new players and last year's holdovers, battles begin everywhere today. While most everyone will be fighting for playing time, these are three of the most important battles to watch as UC barrels toward Aug. 31 against Purdue. 

How should you keep up with those battles? Well, of course, keep it locked to GoBearcats.com for updates from myself, Dan Hoard and video from Tommy G and the crew about all the happenings in Clifton and Higher Ground. 

Battle 1: Wide Receiver
Possible Starters: Anthony McClung (Sr.), Chris Moore (Soph.), Alex Chisum (Jr.)
In the mix: Pretty much everyone else, Jeremy Graves (Soph.), Max Morrison (Soph.), Shakim Alonso (RS Fr.), Johnny Holton (JC transfer), among many others.
Analysis: The position generally is stacked but Tommy Tuberville loves to rotate deep at every position. A cast will be auditioning every day for the right to play outside starter Anthony McClung in the slot. He's only definitive starter at this point and will be counted on to help carry the offense. But he needs help. Bearcats fans caught a glimpse of what Chisum could do in 2011 but he endured a sophomore slump last season. If he can take the next step he adds a dangerous element because of his size and body control. Coaches love the blazing speed of Johnny Holton. Chris Moore impressed in the spring and enjoyed pockets of success last. The list goes on and coaches will be evaluating every snap. Anybody listed as a WR in camp has a shot to line up outside on the first play against Purdue.  

Battle 2: Cornerback
Possible starters: Deven Drane (Sr.), Trenier Orr (Jr.)
In the mix: Howard Wilder (JC transfer), Leviticus Payne (Soph.), among a host of young players. 
Analysis: Drane will be the starting corner and the senior already has received love from NFL scouts, a big year gives him next level potential. Beyond him, an open contest should be fun to observe. Orr always was a Butch Jones favorite and showed well in the spring. Tuberville eyes depth at the position and plucked the junior college ranks to provide it, Howard Wilder, a transfer from Pierce College will attempt to show his game translates to FBS. Sophomore Leviticus Payne played sparingly as a freshman but reported increased comfort and confidence during spring ball. In all, six other freshmen are listed as either CBs or DBs. It will be a wild chase to see who can show enough to enter the rotation. 

3) Running Back
Possible Starter: Ralph David Abernathy IV
In the mix: Tion Green (Soph.), Hosey Williams (JC transfer), Rodriguez Moore (JC transfer), Deionte Buckley (Soph.), Anthony King (Sr.)
Analysis: The plan to utilize Abernathy IV will go a long way to deciding the efficiency of this offense. Expect multiple facets but don't expect 20 carries in the I-formation. Green, Moore, Buckley and Williams will share carries and see who proves most effective. Often hitting is limited in training camp but Tuberville won't shy away because he must find out who to play thunder to RDAIV lightning. He's been a big believer in rotating the backs since his days at Auburn most notably rotating Kenny Irons, Cadillac Williams and Ronnie Brown. Backs take a pounding, especially in his pro style system, and he'd love to find two to match with RDA. 
For a new conference looking to build credibility, Cincinnati's hiring of two-time SEC coach of the year Tommy Tuberville was well-received news in the league office.

"I was thrilled when I heard about it - absolutely thrilled for a couple of reasons," said American Athletic Conference commissioner Mike Aresco.  "Number one, he's a great coach and you can't argue with his record.  But he's also a great guy.  I've known Tommy for a long time - he's understated, he's highly effective, and he's a classy person.

"It signals that Cincinnati is going to continue to move forward.  They've always hired good coaches whether it's Mark Dantonio, Brian Kelly, or Butch Jones - now you get Tommy Tuberville and you may have even taken it to a new level because I don't know that anybody had the record that he has."

Tuberville's record is 130-77 including 7-3 in bowl games.  He led Auburn to at least one victory against an AP Top-10 school in seven consecutive seasons and was named the National Coach of the Year in 2004 when he led the Tigers to a 13-0 season.

With a glittering resume in meat grinder conferences like the SEC and Big 12, Tuberville has heard a recurring question since accepting the head coaching job at UC roughly eight months ago.      

"A lot of people have asked me, 'Why Cincinnati?'" said Tuberville.  "My answer is, 'Why not?'  Heck, this is as winning of a program as anybody in the country.  We have a good established base, but we have a lot of room for improvement."  

Tuberville's track record made him one of the most sought-after interviews at The American media days this week in Newport, RI.  In the league's golf outing on Monday, he was put him in a group with Sports Illustrated's Pete Thamel, and with several other national writers in attendance, Tuberville had an opportunity to sell his vision for UC football and its new conference.

Tuberville at media day (315x440).jpg
"We don't have to sell Cincinnati," said Tuberville.  "I'll tell you, over the last six or seven years, Cincinnati has been the up-and-coming team in college football.  When you win 10 games as many times as Cincinnati has done the last few years and gone to bowl games and two BCS games - you don't have to sell that.  What we have to sell is the conference.  We have to get this conference going.  We have new teams coming in, we have to talk well of each other, we've got to play good football, and we've got to put a good product on the field. 

"Cincinnati is going to survive, but we want this conference to be one of the better conferences in the country and everybody is going to have to pitch in."

The American currently includes a Louisville program that won the national championship in men's basketball, was runner-up in women's basketball, and won the Sugar Bowl in football.  In the preseason college football coaches' poll released on Thursday, Louisville was ranked ninth.

But the Cardinals will leave the American for the ACC at the end of the year.  Is the league counting on Cincinnati to be its dominant program moving forward?

"I don't think there's any doubt that one of our flagship programs will be Cincinnati," Aresco told me.  "I think the Bearcats have a really bright future.  They've also had a great record of success in our conference so you have to already put them in the top echelon, and Tommy Tuberville is another in a long line of great coaches at Cincinnati.  He just has an outstanding resume and I know he is going to have great success there.  I think Cincinnati is going to be a very important school for us - I don't think there is any doubt about it.    

"Whit (Babcock) is really one of our most able athletic directors, and Santa Ono is a visionary president who wants to be good in athletics.  He understands athletics but he also understands the mission of the university."

Tuberville's mission is to build on the momentum generated by the coaches that preceded him.

"We've had several coaches at Cincinnati that have really gotten the program on the track - but sort of on a jog," Tommy told me.  "I need to get it going on a run."


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Clambake. 

That's right, the official kickoff of the football season happened last night. I wont' use this space to complain about how I've never actually taken part in this unique standard of UC's football conference, rather, to rejoice its arrival. 

We are now less than one week from the first Bearcats practice (Aug. 5) and just over a month from the opening game against Purdue (Aug. 31). We can stop talking about conference juggling and Ryan Braun's urine samples.  

The Bearcats sent Brendon Kay, Austen Bujnoch, Jordan Stepp and Greg Blair. 

Our sterling media team sent Dan Hoard and Video Shane to document the festivities. 

Unfortunately not lobster, but let's eat ...

--- The media poll came out with UC slotting second behind Louisville, the Bearcats were the only team besides the Cardinals to receive a first-place vote, they had two. 

Team (1st votes)Points
Louisville (28)298
Cincinnati (2)257
Rutgers240
UCF210
USF155
Houston134
UConn131
SMU118
Temple60
Memphis 47

Not many surprises, most anticipated Louisville first with UC and Rutgers the top contenders to dethrone them. Of course, I'll give the same speech here I do every year at this time. Pay as little attention to these polls as possible. How many years when the Bearcats won four outright or shared titles were they ranked first in the preseason? None. 

YearUC Poll Pick
20085th
20093rd
20115th
20124th

All that said, Memphis will be terrible. Believe that. 

--- Dan spoke with Brendon about all things clambake and anticipation of today's Media Day questions. DH also points out Kay participated in the Manning passing academy this offseason. It's a collection of the top 30 QBs around the country. Amazing how much life has changed for Kay in less than a year. More than halfway through last season he was a backup quarterback riding out his senior year seemingly into a frustrating obscurity. Now, he's throwing with the top QBs in the country and being instructed by the Mannings. 

Perhaps we've come across time to start thinking about Kay not as much as in a battle within his own team, but a battle among quarterbacks nationally. Unfair? Maybe. 

How many returning quarterbacks reeled off four of five games to close last season with at least 61 percent completion, at least 240 yards per, 10 touchdowns and two or less interceptions? 

  • Tajh Boyd, Clemson? No. Seven picks.   
  • Teddy Bridgewater? No, tossed one pick in each of his last four games. 
  • Aaron Murray? No. Twice completion percentage less than 55 percent
  • Marcus Mariota, Oregon? No. Twice under 175 and twice less than 57 percent. 
  • Brett Hundley, UCLA? No. Twice under 52 percent, three picks.
  • AJ McCarron, Bama? No. Three picks, twice under 175 yards.  
  • Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M? Almost. Had three picks in last five games. 

Debate however you'd like about difficulty of opponent or if stat-twisting is going on, we only have five games to weigh how Kay played and his numbers compared with the best in the country and his team only lost one game. 

--- Because I love the word extrapolate and the calculator app on my phone, let's extrapolate Kay's numbers out over the course of a 13-game season. 

Totals: 226 of 360 (63 percent), 3,375 yards, 26 touchdowns, 5 interceptions. 

Who can claim hitting all those watermarks last year? 

 Colby Cameron (La. Tech). That's it. 

Those numbers are rather unfair, particularly the five interceptions but you get what I am getting at here? In a game where the quality of your quarterback relates directly proportional to your success the Bearcats could have one of the best around. 

--- Also, a recap of the lobster, with Buj, Jordan and Greg discussing how much food they will put down. And DH goes back to his TV roots with the standup over top of the plate. And I have no doubt those went down smooth and in mass. 

--- Random observation: The cover photo on the American Football Twitter page is the Bearcats entering the 2008 Orange Bowl. 

--- Have to love the retrospective on the 2008 team from Bill Koch at The Enqy. Great to hear from all the old players who permanently changed the direction of the football program. 

--- Want to hear what Commish Mike Aresco said Tuesday morning. Here you go. Highlights worth earmarking: If the power five plans on attempting to break off from the rest of football, he fully expects The American to be a part of that. 

"Whatever the highest level of football is, we expect to be a part of it." 

--- Randomness ...

--- One of my favorite movie scenes is from Barbershop when the women busts up a car with a baseball bat thinking its her cheating boyfriend's, only to be some old man getting a lined up for a cut. She just takes off running when she realizes. This isn't quite that, but the whatever this dude did his lady wasn't real fond of it. 


--- Sam Elliot on Parks and Rec can only result in genius. That also means by my own personal law, I must link to Sam from The Big Lebowski. 

--- Southwestern Oklahoma's new helmets appear to be made for use in a tree stand on a deer hunt. 

--- Going with The Who today and I shouldn't need a reason why.