Bearcats Breakfast 6.2.11

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First Wednesday of the Bearcats Coaches Caravan sounded like a success. The Glenway location had folks introducing themselves to the coaches and, of course, enjoying some City BBQ.

Here's a photo from Tommy G of Butch Jones and a young Bearcats fan.

Remember, the next stop is Wednesday in West Chester.

Our own Scott Springer popped out to find Jones in the parking lot and fired off some offseason questions. Here's his story with the answers he received.

Let's eat...

--- ESPN officially posted Phil Steele's All-Big East teams. I had the list here for you last week and discussed it, so I won't go any further except to continue my point on the slight bias held for West Virginia. The Mountaineers were without a player on the second team, but owned a whopping 10 on the first team. That's from a team returning 12 starters. Either Steele overestimates the value of the returning WVU players or holds stock in their national exposure.

Not one should have been on the second team instead of the first? Not one?

Inhale. Exhale. I digress.

--- However, I will give you Geno Smith's star potential. This from the Orlando Sentinel.

--- While looking up the official WVU returning starters numbers, I noticed a little statistical Did You Know.

UC is one of three teams in the country with all 11 starters returning on either side of the ball. (Vanderbilt offense, San Jose State defense). In fact, no other team besides SJSU and UC have even double-digit defensive starters returning this year.

What is that worth?

Since you should know by now my affinity for recent historical research, I figured I'd take a look at if we can draw any encouraging or discouraging conclusions from those numbers. So, I took a look at the teams from last season with double-digit starters returning on either side of the ball and viewed their rankings/progress from 2009 to 2010.

Remember, UC's defense was ranked 63rd last season.

The rankings are based on total offense or defense (yards/game):

Team          Unit      09Rank  10Rank  Difference

Ball St.       Off (11)     114      106         +8    
Boise St.    Off (11)      10        2           +8    
Boise St.    Def (10)     14        2           +12
Georgia      Off (10*)     75       56          +19
Idaho          Def (10)    107      95          +12
Miami (OH) Off (10)       84      82          +2
N. Texas     Off (10)      36      63           -27
Oregon       Off (10)       33       1          +32
Syracuse    Def (10)      37       7          +30
Washington Off (10)      62       76         -14
Wisconsin   Off (10)      30       21         +9

TOTAL DIFFERENCE=+91/11 teams= +8.2 average

(*QB did not return)

--- The numbers are about what you'd expect, proving the previously known hypothesis that teams will improve with nearly all/most their starters returning. Obviously.

For me, the question was how much? Particularly, looking at the three teams returning defensive starters in Boise State jumping from 10th to 2nd and Syracuse making the quantum leap from 37th to 7th. Idaho worked its way out of triple digits from 107 to 95. The sample size is small, but they did take steps forward. I'd also like to point out the Cuse jump came in the second season of a new coach. Just sayin.

--- Offensive execution can
be a different story. The loss of a single playmaker or, more specifically, quarterback can flip the script, whereas defensive injuries for the most part can be easier to mask. That explains North Texas (the Mean Green were embedded with QB problems) and Washington (the unpredictable statistical regression of Jake Locker).

That said, we see another unit returning double-digit players in the second year of a new coach take the biggest jump -- that being Chip Kelly's Oregon Ducks flying from 33 to No. 1 overall and playing for the national championship. Again, just sayin.

--- So, should the fan base
be expecting UC to turn the No. 63 defense into one of the Top 25 defenses in the country? No, that's unrealistic. But to claim this defense can't be Top 50 or 40 by season's end would be false. Numbers insist that's entirely possible. With the weapons available on offense, that would be enough to take a major step in the right direction for Jones and company.

--- Troy Nunes is an Absolute Magician spends some time speculating on speculation involving the Big East and possible television deals. For those of you into those types of things, it's an interesting read.

--- Am I the only one that feels like coaches paying football players $300 a game out of their own pockets is opening Pandora's Bank Account? The fact that it was proposed by Steve Spurrier should make it even more concerning.   

--- Bill Koch caught up with Mick Cronin yesterday. A wide-ranging offseason read about the accomplishments of last season and needs of the 2011-12 campaign.

No real surprises except I was slightly taken aback by the apparent severity of Cashmere Wright's knee injury. We knew Cash was hurting most of the season, but clearly the injury was worse than any of us knew. Cronin said Wright struggled to come out of the locker room for the second half against UConn.

Cronin said, "if he's full strength, I really like our chances." The "if" makes every fan worry. Hopefully all aspects of the rehab from his surgery go well and Wright can make it back on the floor. It will be a story I'll monitor closely for you throughout the offseason.

--- If Billy Donovan read this blog, he would know the RPI is an outdated and inaccurate way to rank true production of teams. Such is not to say Donovan isn't reading this blog, but he must have missed the 20-some days last season when I pointed out different flaws in the RPI. 

Some randomness...

--- After Hangover II
produced two hours from the department of redundancy department, it's disappointing to see Hangover III is already in the works. The negative backlash from the disappointment of the last movie won't allow the box office smash of last weekend to repeat itself.

--- Joey Votto. Bomb
. The shot was estimated at 439 feet. I'd venture to say it was longer than that.

--- It was time for
Shaq to retire, but can't help but say I'm sad to see him go. The guy was incredible for the game of basketball. Hopefully we'll still see funny ads like this one.

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