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Onions!

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Allow me to steal an expression from one of my favorite broadcasters Bill Raftery: 

"Onions!"

 

As in Brian Kelly has 'em.

 

More than any other coach I've even been associated with; the dude is completely fearless about being second-guessed.  Then again, why worry about criticism if you're the football equivalent of King Midas? 

 

Think about the way he used Tony Pike in Friday's 24-21 win over West Virginia.  When Coach Kelly announced that Zach Collaros would start but Pike would play, I think most people figured that Tony would enter on Cincinnati's third drive of the game . . . or first possession of the second quarter . . . something like that.  

 

Instead, after Collaros took the team right down the field on its first drive, Pike got the call to enter as soon as the Bearcats hit the red zone, and promptly threw a 10-yard touchdown strike to Armon Binns on his first snap in 29 days.

 

"Who's crazy enough to do that?  I guess I am," Coach Kelly said with a laugh on our post-game show.  "It was great to get Tony in and you could see him start to get that look back in his eyes that he wants to get back out there."

 

If Pike's return as a "red zone reliever" hadn't worked and UC had to settle for a field goal try - or worse yet, if Tony had thrown a pick - Kelly would have been ripped from coast to coast for abruptly yanking Collaros with a perfect season on the line.  Instead, his gutsy strategy not only worked - it worked twice. 

 

"It couldn't have been better," Kelly said.  "We were at the right place on the field - if it were two or three yards different in each one of those instances, we couldn't have used him.  It really scripted out well for us.  We lost D.J. Woods for two plays on that second touchdown and we had to wait for the play that we wanted.  We got D.J. back in and Tony made a great throw - he's the only one who can make that throw - and it was a great catch by D.J."

 

So now what?  Last Tuesday, Coach Kelly said that his plan was to have Pike return to the starting lineup against Illinois after the upcoming bye week.  But will Collaros continue to play?  I asked BK if would consider playing two quarterbacks for the rest of the year.

 

"I'm not opposed to that, but I think I would rather play one and have him excel at a high level," Kelly told me.  "We've had that this year.  When Tony started he played extremely well, and when Zach has started he has too.  We have a luxury in terms of having two quarterbacks that we not only can win with, but we think we can win a championship with.  It's a bit unusual, but it's not a controversy because our team is not split.  I think it's a controversy when you have different people with different opinions.  Our football team knows that both guys can play at a high level."

 

It's a recipe for success that's put Cincinnati within one win of a Big East title and a return to a BCS bowl game.

 

A recipe that's heavy on the onions.

 

* * * * *

 

I'm psyched for the basketball opener on Monday night against Mr. T's Alma mater - Prairie View A & M.

 

It will be my first opportunity to work with my buddy Chuck Machock this season, and in addition to getting his insights on the team, I'm eager to see if Chuck has heard who will perform at halftime of the Super Bowl this year.

 

It's his favorite band "THEE HO".

 

An explanation is in order.

 

A few years ago, the Bearcats played Temple in Atlantic City.  After the game, Chuck was driving to the airport with our engineer Mo Egger and asked Mo the following question, "Who the heck is THEE HO?"

 

Mo said, "Excuse me?"

 

Chuck repeated, "Who the heck is THEE HO?'

 

Mo said, "I have no idea what you're talking about."

 

So Chuck pointed to a billboard that was promoting an upcoming concert in Atlantic City.

 

The billboard was for . . . The Who re.jpg 

You gotta love Chuck!

 

Talk to you on Monday night.

 

I'd love to hear from you.  The address is dhoard@pawsox.com.

 

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

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