Bearcats Breakfast 11.28.11

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I hope everybody enjoyed their Thanksgiving weekend. Hopefully nobody was pepper-sprayed, roughed up, punched, tased, trampled, robbed or shot at any point -- and that's just those that went to Wal-Mart.

The Bearcats basketball team probably feels like all those happened to them following the overtime loss to Marshall on Friday. But, with plenty to get to, I won't start there.

Let's talk football and, in case you haven't heard this enough over the past few days, let's eat...

--- Oh, Pitt, why couldn't you just hang on to that lead? If only the Panthers would have hung on after going up 14-0 on West Virginia, Saturday's game against UConn at The Nipp would have been for a spot in a BCS bowl. It may still be, but the Cats need help.

West Virginia plays at South Florida on Thursday night. If WVU loses, then UC will only need to beat the Huskies to earn the conference's BCS shot. If the Mountaineers win, either they or Louisville will earn the title, depending on UC's result. (More on my problems with that in a minute)

At the very least, UC will be playing Saturday for a share of the Big East title. Going 9-3 with a share of the Big East title for a team picked 5th in the conference and some thought might not even make a bowl game is nothing to scoff at.

--- So, if UC, WVU and Louisville
were in a three-way tie, the first tie-breaker would be wins against those teams. Each school would be 1-1. Then it goes to BCS ranking. There, West Virginia (23) is currently ahead of UC (30) by seven spots and Louisville (41) by 18.

To which point, you have to say that college football, once again, takes the championships into the subjective eyes of voters and away from the teams on the field.

Before you say it, yes, I understand that WVU beat UC and if you are comparing the two, there is no need to go any further. But that is not what is being compared in a three-way tiebreaker. What is being compared is which of the three teams talked about had the best season.

Why is WVU seven spots ahead of UC in the BCS standings? Preseason expectations and schedule. Because the Mountaineers opened the year with so much hype and were picked to win the conference, the coaches poll and Harris votes were much higher for WVU all season. They are ranked 20th in the coaches poll and 21 in the Harris poll. Yet, among the computers, the Mountaineers can be found all the way back at No. 29.

 What is another big part of that voting? The fact UC doesn't have its quarterback going forward.

You can jump back to the Kenyon Martin NCAA tournament when UC, despite sitting at No. 1 most of the year, landed a No. 2 seed in the tournament because they seeded based on expectations instead of merit. You can't tell me people weren't voting UC lower because they knew ZC was out for the year.

So, that plays a role in deciding your champion -- only this is supposed to be a title based on on-the-field accomplishments.

The other argument stems from West Virginia's so-called tougher schedule. Counting the Big East slate as equal, let's take a look at the wins each team accumulated and I'll even toss in the beloved BCS ranking as a reference point.

Austin Peay  FCS   
Akron           118
NC State        56
Miami           102
AVERAGE      92

Marshall          62
Norfolk State   FBS
Maryland         98
Bowling Green 91
AVERAGE      84

The difference could only be considered minimal and basically stems from who played the worse MAC opponent. West Virginia received plenty of BCS love for just playing LSU. Yet, they lost. They got beat. But just the fact that they played was enough to sway at least a few spots -- if not more -- in the final formula.

At the end of the day, West Virginia beat UC at Paul Brown Stadium and the discussion between the two can end there. The Cats have nobody to blame for not controlling their own BCS destiny but themselves.

Yet, if you are truly looking at this as a three-way tiebreaker, the method of declaring the BCS representative leaves a little too much interpretation and bias than should be desired. And it's probably the reason UC needs West Virginia to lose Thursday.

--- It could be worse,
the tiebreaker could be decided by a computer picking a random number like what happened in the Connecticut HS playoffs.

--- Enough complaining. The Bearcats need USF to win. They lost 34-24 to Louisville on Friday and have lost six of seven. Players are bickering in the locker room. They've come close, though, which doesn't need to be told to the UC fans after their dramatic escape from Tampa.

BJ Daniels was a game-time decision against Louisville, but didn't play. There's a chance he could play against WVU, which would provide a big lift.

In the Big East, you always bet on chaos. A Bulls win would be the perfect storm for UC.

--- Speaking of chaos, how about UConn throttling Rutgers? This league never ceases to amaze me. After needing their help, now UC needs to find a way to beat the Huskies who just posted 40 points on a defense the Bearcats couldn't muster but a field goal against.

Consider this: UConn hadn't scored more than 28 points in any conference game, yet against the league's top defense utilizing a two-QB system racked up 40 points in three quarters.

You think you know, but you have no idea.

--- As for the Bearcats,
the creativity of the offensive gameplan shined against Syracuse. Utilizing Isaiah Pead at receiver more, changing the launching  point of passes and bringing in Jordan Luallen for a change of pace provided the vaccine for what ailed UC at Rutgers.

Bill Koch wrote about Luallen delivering UC's needed spark.

--- Really, any gameplan that revolves around finding multiple ways to get Isaiah Pead the ball usually ends well.

He went over 1,000 yards rushing for the season in a game where he did most of his damage in other ways.

Pead finished with 28 touches for 246 yards. That's 17 for 80 on the ground, 9 receptions for 112 yards and two punt returns for 58 yards.

--- More on Pead: Jerry Jones initial drugstore list for the NFL Draft projected Pead being selected in the third round.

--- HOMEWORK FOR YOU: In honor of senior week and the final game at Nippert for the senior running back, I'm going to be asking you for your favorite Isaiah Pead moments. Whether it be run, catch, return or touchdown that wasn't. Let me know what you thought were his greatest couple plays as a Bearcat. Why do you remember it so well? What made is special for you?

I'll talk to Pead about his favorites and have all the results for you later this week.

Email me at or Twitter @pauldehnerjr

--- A total of 21 seniors will be honored prior to Saturday's game against UConn (noon, ESPN). The ceremony will start at 11:35 a.m.

--- UC's turnaround has Butch Jones
being mentioned in the coaching carousel rumor mill. I'm positive we'll hear more about this in the coming days/weeks. I'll leave it with what has been reported. Here's the story from Bill Koch.

Because of the history around here, people start biting their nails at the mere mention of other schools being interested. This should be viewed as a good thing. Would you rather have a coach nobody was interested in?

--- Jones wants to see Nippert sold out Saturday. Those seniors who are on the verge of delivering three Big East titles in four years deserve it.

--- The current bowl predictions by Andrea Adelson have the Bearcats falling all the way back to the BBVA Compass Bowl in Birmingham, Ala., on Jan. 7.

--- Rather than dive head first into the shallow end discussing UC basketball right now, I'll only reel off some of the early-season losses from around the country to this point and you can judge whether it should be panic time yet.

UNLV 90, No. 1 UNC 80
UCF 68, No. 4 UConn 63
Harvard 46, No. 20 Florida State 41
Georgetown 91, No. 8 Memphis 88
San Diego State 61, No. 23 Arizona 57

(By the way, my Ohio Bobcats went on a 17-2 run at Louisville and nearly pulled off the upset of the Cards before falling 59-54)

Those are just in the past five days.

Nobody is claiming UC's loss to Marshall to be a positive development, but this is happening everywhere. Step off the ledge.

That said, UC needs some toughness and needs it yesterday. Mick Cronin has been begging for it in nearly every postgame press conference this season. Adjusting to the loss of so many dirty work, role players takes time. The Bearcats need it to take less time with a pesky Charlie Coles bunch coming Tuesday plus UGA and XU on the horizon.

Here was Cronin on what kind of toughness is needed from Friday's postgame:

"Physical and mental. You have to be mentally tough enough to do the right thing at the right time. And not give up an and-one, when Yancy's got a guy pinned behind the basket, lose your man, and then give him an and-one. You can't do that. You have to be mentally tough enough to stand (in a) stance, see the ball and get a defensive stop. We aren't tough enough. We are struggling to get five guys on the floor who can defend as a unit and rebound the basketball. We only had nine turnovers tonight."

--- Another big congratulations and good luck to the UC volleyball team. They didn't grab the home pod for their regional, but will be playing in Tallahassee, Fla., Dec. 2-3 against Samford, then a possible second round matchup against the Albany/Florida State winner would earn the Cats first Sweet 16 appearance under Reed Sunahara.


--- Somewhere Vlade Divac sitting at a table of professional soccer players stood up simultaneously, shed a single tear and started a slow clap. Well played, Jerome Simpson.

--- When you got to go, you got to go.

--- A Flight of the Conchords movie might actually be made after all. Please, let this happen.

"Can I please have a look at the lyrics?"

--- Everybody knows the
best part about Waffle House is the environment. Go for the hash browns, stay for the drama. Though, I prefer my WH drama minus the robbery, The New York Times knows what I'm talking about.

Sidenote of this story: So awesome that there is a Waffle House museum. I now have my next vacation planned.

--- Stanford's Andrew Zimmerman is the early leader for college basketball's best beard. He's got an Unfrozen Caveman Basketball Player vibe to him.

--- UC fans will get their
last home view of some great players Saturday. Here was one of the best moments from JK Schaffer.


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