UC's noteworthy nine

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This time of year, we all like lists.
As the new year approaches, we list what we're going to do (then generally chuck it come February).  Or, we list what we didn't get over the holidays.
In difficult situations, we're asked to list what we do on our jobs so that some bean counter without a soul in a distant state can justify our existence.
Keeping with the theme, and with UC's date at the Autozone Liberty Bowl with Vanderbilt fast approaching, I've decided to list UC's nine recent bowls (all of the ones I've physically attended/worked).
Sure, I've kind of done this before in various forms, but maybe some of you missed it.
However, I'm a big proponent of "to understand the future, you should study the past".
For those that think the Lindner Center has always been on campus as well as the Sheakley "bubble", here you go (worst to best):

9) 2001 Motor City Bowl--this was UC's second consecutive trip to the Pontiac Silverdome and second consecutive year playing and losing to a team from the MAC (Toledo). The Bearcats also had a halftime lead (13-3) for the second consecutive year followed by a lackluster second half.  There's also the somewhat non-publicized fact that a number of assistant coaches walked out of a bowl practice in protest prior to the contest (things we can say now that we knew then--trust me, there's plenty more.) Bearcats lose to the Rockets 23-16.

8) 2000 Motor City Bowl--this predecessor wasn't as bad because it was the first time up.  However, after the royal treatment in Boise at the Bearcats "return to bowling", the Silverdome had all the splendor of a Bengals preseason game at old Riverfront Stadium.  The staff there barely knew there was a bowl game, the place had no special "feel" to it, and UC lost to Marshall after leading at halftime 14-9.  Outside of a visit to the "Moose Preserve" a local hangout that served game meat like buffalo, this game was about as depressing as the Detroit economy. Final: Marshall 25, UC 14.

7) (One more stinker here and the news gets better)  2002 New Orleans Bowl--the upside was this was in New Orleans which has considerably more to do than Troy, Michigan.  This was the culmination of a long season as it was the 14th game. The Bearcats had their brawl with the islanders in Hawaii the month before, then beat UAB and made up a game (hurricane postponement) at East Carolina Dec. 6. That gave them a mere 11 days before the early-bird New Orleans Bowl on Dec. 17.  The Bearcats led after one quarter, 7-3, but then were flat afterward.  Holding back on the passing game 'til it was too late, Gino Guidugli was picked off five times in obvious throwing situations.  Oh well, the food was nice and all.
North Texas over UC 24-19.

6) 2007 International Bowl-- The despair of losing Mark Dantonio after a 2006 season that saw UC beat then  No. 7 Rutgers at Nippert, turned to joy when Brian Kelly was hired from Central Michigan with the immediate duty of coaching the bowl game.  What transpired was gutsy and miraculous, Kelly immediately hired Colerain's Kerry Coombs and then some of his staff coached Central Michigan, and some coached the Bearcats.  Jeff Quinn guided CMU to a bowl win as the interim coach and then was in Bearcat garb for this game in Toronto with the rest of the staff.  Kelly also took the Dantonio offense and used it with Nick Davila and company in Toronto.  The result was an early surge in the game and then an eventual win over Western Michigan 27-24. Heck, if you're going to go north for a bowl, you might as well go over the border.

5) 2010 Sugar Bowl-- New Orleans,here we are again.  AGAIN, fun town.  Particularly on New Year's Eve when you get to meet friends from Florida that you haven't seen in awhile.  Not so fun when their Gators chomp you up like live bait behind the guy that everyone insists is no good (Tim Tebow, 31-35, 482 yards and three TDs).  Unfortunate here was the timing of Brian Kelly's departure to Notre Dame, with the team being coached by guys that were also out the door for the most part.  An unfocused effort against a very focused Urban Meyer and Tebow was  a recipe for disaster. Gators roll 51-24.
Gators roll. May we have seen the last of those awful white helmets.
uc sugar bowl.jpg
4) 2007 PapaJohns.com Bowl-- This was in Birmingham, which pales in comparison to New Orleans, but has decent areas like Hoover where my youngest kids got to meet Bart Starr at the Hotel Wynfrey.  This was the end of the Ben Mauk year and the quarterback overcame season-long pain to play some very exciting football games.  Mauk threw for  334 yards and four touchdowns in UC's 31-21 win over Southern Miss. The Bearcats took a respectable 8300-plus people to the game.  It was Ben Mauk's last college game and my last game on the radio. I'd be lying if I said I didn't miss it.

3) 2004 Fort Worth Bowl-- Even though it was in Texas, it was bar none the coldest UC bowl game I've been to. This was also Gino Guidugli's last college game and he went out with a bang throwing two touchdown passes and taking game MVP honors, all just a month after suffering a broken hand.  Guidugli played under considerable pain and showed great courage leading his team to the 32-14 win over Marshall.  Because of the cold and ice, many UC fans had flights canceled and had to find alternative ways home.  My wife and I consider this one of most memorable Christmases as we were in that category until former UC administrator Paul Klaczak arranged for us to have a seat on the team charter.  We were picked up that evening by our four sons at UC and made it to the in-laws for Christmas Eve and back to our house for Christmas Day (even though the power was out).

2) 2009 Orange Bowl--Couldn't beat the location for this one.  Kids got to go to the beach, players stayed at the famous Fontainebleau, South Beach, etc.  However, as per the agreed upon rules, there was a game.  Despite a tremendous response from Bearcat fans, UC struck early on a Tony Pike to Mardy Gilyard pass and then struck out.  Flat.  Virginia Tech had been there and done that and it showed as the Hokies eventually mowed down a UC squad that could've been better prepared in my opinon.  20-7 Hokies win, but Cinderalla crashed the dance finally and made it to a New Year's bowl.
(The Fontainebleau where P. Diddy had a New Year's Eve party while the Bearcats were there. Tom Bodette has never stayed in something like this.)

1) (A win in either the Orange or Sugar would've knocked this one off,  but it still leads on my list) 1997 Humanitarian Bowl-- OK, it doesn't sound like much.  But, when you consider the  nearly 50-year bowl drought that predated it and the ingenious maneuvering that then-AD Bob Goin did to get the Bearcats in a bowl, it was special.  It was scenic as we first gandered at the blue turf that we've all become familiar with in Boise.  And, though many made fun of it not knowing any better, Boise, Idaho is beautiful.  With the snow-capped Rocky Mountains in the background and an American flag unfurled on the field before the game, I witnessed not a dry eye among many of the Bearcats that had played and had never made a bowl game.  Some had played in the  last UC bowl game (1951) while others toiled in other eras without a conference and without a chance.  The game meant something to every UC fan alive at the time and UC didn't disappoint, beating Utah State 35-19.
scott-humanitarian bowl.jpg
(Me with Darryl Royal (gray t-shirt) behind me, Artrell Hawkins, No. 21, and Jason Fabini next to him. This team had five NFL draft picks:  Hawkins, Fabini, Brad Jackson, Darryl Ransom and Rod Monroe.)

After this weekend, I'll have a 10th bowl game under my belt and perhaps this list changes some, you never know.   I've done a lot of games at the Liberty Bowl Stadium and it'll be fun being back.  

I'm hoping somewhere Jerry Glanville has left Elvis a ticket and I hope I hear the theme from 2001: A Space Odyssey.  While you're looking that up, enjoy this and best of luck to Coach Jones and the 'Cats

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