A piece of me wants to see a giant snowfall just for the chaos it provides in keeping life interesting, then the other piece of me pummels that piece into the ground with his empty snow shovel. This may have been the most delightful Cincinnati winter I can remember in a long time.
Hey, I just made small talk about the weather. It's like we were in the elevator together. You're going to talk trash about me when I get off on my floor, aren't you?
--- The Sporting News ranked the Bearcats as the top recruiting class in the Big East.
First off, this is good. To claim otherwise would be silly. The better the talent -- perceived or otherwise -- entering the locker room, the better the chances of victory.
That said, UC fans -- of all college football fans -- should know to take that with a grain of salt, the same way they took it with a grain of salt when their classes were ranked fourth and fifth and they continually won Big East titles.
Unless you are snagging top five and ten draft classes nationally, rankings mean little. When selecting from the middle tiers of high school football players it's all about what you do with them when they arrive. UC has been proving that for years. It doesn't change now because they are finally receiving some respect.
As Butch Jones likes to say, praise and blame is all the same.
--- Welcome, Memphis. Long speculated, lobbied and discussed, the Big East is adding the Tigers.
Great for basketball, not so great for football will be the snap analysis. That's certainly a different stance considering what's driven every move to this point in conference realignment.
One point brought up as a defense of Memphis, which has lost 31 of its last 36 games, was that UC wasn't a great football school before it entered the Big East, either.
Yes, but they weren't Memphis level bad. Since you can't look at these moves through a narrow lens, let's take a look at the last seven years of UC in Conference USA (1998-04) vs. the last seven years for Memphis (2005-11).
Seasons <4 wins.......2/4
--- Neither were exactly Alabama and LSU, but UC clearly was in far better shape than the Tigers. Memphis entering on the brutal run of the last three years doesn't help, though they look more attractive in a broader spectrum.
Also, neither team experience one season with more than seven wins.
--- UC and Memphis frequented the same bowl circuit in that time frame. Memphis played in the Motor City Bowl, New Orleans Bowl and St. Petersburg Bowl. UC played in the Motor City Bowl (2x), New Orleans Bowl and Fort Worth Bowl.
--- The Cats clearly possessed more elite talent than Memphis has run through its program. Granted, only one of UC's draft picks were taken earlier than the third round (Hawkins, 2nd round, 1998), but sending 12 players into the draft during a seven-year period in C-USA is no small feat.
--- The Tigers did run DeAngelo Williams through their program and turn out the only first-round draft pick, but quantity trumps quality in a big way in this case.
--- By the way, how did the 1998 Bearcats go 2-9 with four NFL draft picks? (Artrell Hawkins, Brad Jackson, Jason Fabini and Derrick Ransom)
--- At the end of the day, expecting a program like Memphis to rise from the ashes in a similar fashion as the Cats did upon entering the conference seems like a bit of an unfair parallel. Can the program improve in a new conference? Certainly. But they aren't 2004 UC.
--- The Memphis Commercial-Appeal discusses this move being a major asset to new coach Justin Fuente, who can walk into the house of a recruit and tell them at Memphis they can compete for a national championship. He couldn't say that before -- at least, not without lying.
--- Geoff Calkins of the C-A provides 14 reasons the Big East is great for Memphis. Yes, clearly, but vice versa? Only time will tell.
--- No secret here, this is a big win for Mick Cronin, Rick Pitino and the rest of the Big East basketball coaches concerned about football diluting their product. It certainly helps make up for the loss of Cuse, Pitt and WVU.
Pitino, in particular, has been lobbying hard for Memphis. The US Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn) even thanked Pitino as the news broke.
"I am thrilled that my hometown team and alma mater the University of Memphis is being invited to join the Big East. Joining the Big East will not only be great for the University of Memphis, but it will be an economic catalyst for the City of Memphis.
"Thanks to Louisville Coach Rick Pitino for his strong support. And Congratulations to Dr. Shirley Raines and R.C. Johnson."--- Gary Parrish at CBSsports.com talks about how this isn't all rainbows and lollipops for Memphis hoops coach Josh Pastner.
--- Jeff Eisenberg on the impact of Memphis to the Big East.
--- Moving on past all the Memphis hoopla, UC at St. John's tonight.
UC/STJ at Madison Square Garden on ESPNU at 7 p.m.
The prominent storyline surfacing is the Bearcats in search of revenge of the buzzer-beater loss at home last month. Fair enough. These types of fabricated motivations tend to be overrated, but it does make Cronin's job easier entering tonight's tilt.
"I don't have to worry about having my guys focused," he said.
--- Chad Brendel also talked about revenge.
--- As for the Johnnies, they've lost six of their last eight. However, they've won two of the last four with both coming at home against DePaul and West Virginia.
Make no mistake, this is a game UC badly needs to win. At 6-4 in conference and living on the bubble, losing twice to one of the youngest teams in the conference would be a brutal blemish on the resume.
Big night for the Bearcats. Just find a way to win. At this point in the season, beauty means little. Only one stat matters.
--- Bearcats Nation with an x and o preview if you're into that type of thing.
--- UC pumping a new promotion that essentially allows you to hang out with me. Well, OK, that's not exactly how they are selling it, but that's the truth. You can win two media credentials and all the food and access that comes with it. That includes hearing the lame gags Bill Koch and I tell to each other every game.
Apparently the title "Listen to Lame Gags Promotion" was widely panned in test groups.
It's a pretty sweet deal though as your seats will be upgraded to lowers for the game and you'll have access to postgame pressers, media dining and other amenities. Here's the deal for those interested.
--- Time for people to start noticing the Bearcats women's team. They just won three consecutive Big East road games for the first time in school history. Congrats to Jamelle Elliot.
--- Metallica is starting its own music festival this June in Atlantic City. They're promoting it as acts different their the standard metal they churn out. I think this could be a cool festival to attend if they can deliver on the variety. Plus, if you haven't been to a Metallica show -- if you like metal or not -- it's worth it for the unique experience alone.
(Attn old people like myself: bring earplugs)
--- Billy Eichner reported from the Super Bowl for Conan O'Brien. He asks Giants players about the Madonna concert on the field after the game. Worth watching.
--- Line nobody says while taking this picture: Let's wait for Chris Hardwick.
--- If you have ever rhetorically asked, how do you even spend $67 at Taco Bell? -- you now have the answer you never wanted.
--- If only...
--- As for that Metallica concert, have to admit, when this song came on it would be fun to be a part of the crowd going bonkers.