Dances with Wolves

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I feel confident in using "Dances with Wolves" as my title this week as I actually met Kevin Costner once.

I was covering an old-timer's game in St. Petersburg's Al Lang Stadium in the when Costner and Tom Selleck were both there.  Selleck had his "Mr. Baseball" movie out and Costner had just put out his latest western.
(Courtesy "Dances with Wolves"/

Since my wife had just seen the movie, and I had just caught a foul ball, I decided to ask him to sign it.  I had just did a radio interview with Selleck, so I thought Costner was fair game.

Initially, he hesitated.  However, I noticed a shapely female come up with the same request and Costner obliged.  He also noticed (me noticing him) and decided to make amends.

"Sir, I'll sign that for you now," he said.

Since I admittedly enjoy some of his movies and was looking for spousal approval, I flipped him the ball.

Now, I'm guessing you're not reading this for my various "brushes with greatness".  Some of you may think I'm just a veteran Bearcat who wanders the Lindner Center talking to himself.
But, I've always got a story and an opinion when it comes to UC, so here goes this week's attempt to stir the Bearcat pot a bit.

This could be the most pivotal game of the Butch Jones era!

A year ago, with a team many thought would be better, the Bearcats lost another prime TV opportunity against North Carolina State 30-19.  If you recall, this wasn't long after the opening disappointment at Oregon State (also on TV).

Last year's game wasn't as close as the score. It was 20-7 at halftime and UC scored late to make it look better in the morning paper (or hand-held device).

The good thing is, Russell Wilson is gone. The NC State quarterback has taken advantage of that odd rule that allows him to move on without a year of sitting out since he's got his degree.

The man that tormented Bearcats through the air and on the ground last year, is Wisconsin's starter this season. (Wish those things would work out UC's way for once.)

That said, the Wolfpack can score. They've put 43, 27 and 35 points on the board in three games.  Their one loss was to Wake Forest.

UC should win this and needs to win this for a lot of reasons:

  •  The routs against Austin Peay and Akron were expected. This is not exactly a "gimme".
  •  Fans need assurance that mistakes made in the soft-coverage defense against Tennessee have been corrected.
  •  Again, it's a national TV shot.  You don't want to soil the nest too many times when opportunity knocks.
  •  Tom O'Brien, the NC State coach, is from Cincinnati. At Boston College, and with the Wolfpack, he recruits this area.  NC State wins, and he has more "ammo" to use in the recruiting wars.
  • The students are trickling back into town with classes starting soon. They need a reason to come out and make a difference. As we've seen, when given the product, they do make a difference.

Personally, I look forward to seeing UC's starters play the bulk of the game and more of the playbook.  Give the offense credit, without revealing much, they pretty much took Austin Peay and Akron to the woodshed.

They also moved the ball well against Tennessee, until the Vols were able to shift momentum and change the strategy.

If UC wants to make a statement, locally and nationally, this is a game where the Bearcats need to send the Wolfpack home with their tails between their legs whimpering.

If the defense can affect the game the way they did against the Zips, this could be an exciting night. And, there 's always something a little special about a fine night performance in "The Nipp", isn't there?

Besides, with the Big East and ACC talk going on, don't you think those loyal to the Big East wouldn't like to see UC lay the smackdown on an ACC opponent?

I'm not sure UC can keep up their 60 point average this season at home, but half of that should equate to a Bearcat win.

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