Confession: Writing this blog at 6 a.m. because I'm having trouble sleeping. Isn't it crazy what sports can do to a person? Probably why I never became a professional athlete (Lacking of any discernible athletic skill probably only played a minor role).
It's been a while since this city has seen a game of this magnitude. One of its best against another team's best with everything on the line. A pro sports town without playoff success hangs over this city a bit. So many chances have fallen by the wayside around here whether by injury, inferiority or just bad luck.
The Reds will attempt to exorcise those demons of the past at 1 p.m. today. We'll see what happens. There are no guarantees outside of the fact it won't be easy.
Here on the Bearcats beat, a number of these types of games have arisen since I started covering these programs in 2009. More often than not, UC came out on top.
There was the first game I ever covered for CNati -- UC 45, Pitt 44. Quite a first day.
There was the first-round NCAA tournament game against Mizzou in 2011.
There was the last-minute drive of Zach Collaros at USF. There was Tony Miliano at Pitt.
There was the 3-point barrage of Syracuse at the Big East tournament.
There was the sweat and rubble remaining when the dust settled on UC 56, FSU 52.
There was Legaux to Julian.
Sure, moments of humility came in-between, whether by Tebow or tOSU. Point being, when success rains buckets, as has been the case around Clifton the last few years, the difficulty of the journey often becomes masked to the average fan. The average fan invests x-number of games a year. Maybe they read a blog (please!) or two. Maybe they met an athlete and took to his/her story. But completely understanding the everyday grind of these student-athletes at UC means appreciating the work put in to get there. It means appreciating what these games, these wins, mean to those who dedicate their lives to winning for this university.
Maybe you grew up a Reds fan, you watch as many games as you can, attend a few even. And what does today mean to you? If you are like me, quite a bit.
Imagine being one of these athletes who live and breathe the program every day? Every game feels like Thursday, Oct. 11, 2012 to them. If there's one lesson we all should take away from the excitement, anticipation and anxiety surrounding today's elimination game at Great American Ballpark is to never take winning for granted at any level.
For a team that's won three of four championships and off to an undefeated 4-0 start, it would be easy for such an evolution to occur with this fan base. Hopefully, that's not the case. If that was beginning to seep in, maybe today will return perspective.
--- Funny I talk about taking winning for granted when nationally the perception of Cincinnati football continues to leave a chip on the team's shoulder. At least, it should when considering the latest piece from Andrea Adelson at ESPN.
She writes about the national perception of the program. Being recognized as a perennial Top 25 team doesn't come overnight. But at this point, sure feels like morning arrived and gave way to lunchtime already.
Butch Jones has bigger fish to fry, but Adelson makes the point he shouldn't have to say. UC should be recognized immediately among the conference's best. If there's anything the first four games of 2012 taught us, that's the takeaway.
Now, those perceptions can change in a hurry, but no short-term result can trump four 10-win seasons in five years.
Highly recommend reading AA's piece on how UC gains respect.
--- Bill Koch writes about Travis Kelce, who appears to have figured it out and playing to his potential this season.
The tight end has never been a huge receiving fixture in the Butch Jones offense, but Kelce's made a mark for himself this year.
--- Hope everybody caught my piece on the offensive line yesterday.
Hard to believe how well this group has done. Each of the past two seasons we sat here in preseason and talked about how big of a question mark the group up front would be. Now two years in a row they've been one of the biggest reasons the team succeeds.
Credit O-line coach Don Mahoney first and foremost. He's proven exemplary at molding and teaching on the fly. Look no further than Parker Ehinger, a redshirt freshman who started the last two games at right tackle.
He's been forced to step in to a new spot and thrived. He's a repeat of last year's case of Eric Lefeld, who played for an injured Sean Hooey and a year later starts at LT.
Beyond this year, UC should return all five starters on the line for next season with Hooey set to graduate. Another reason Ehinger's starting experience will serve as a major benefit going forward.
--- Hard to believe basketball practice begins Friday. I'll have more from the player/coach availability session this weekend and early next week.
--- One of the funniest shows on TV, The League, returns for a new season tonight. Might be worthy of a morning Shiva-blast.
--- USA Today discusses the best films of the 90s. Snub: No sign of Bio-Dome.
--- The 30th Anniversary of Cheers was held last weekend and somehow Dan Cortese burrowed out of whatever hole he had been living in and showed up in photos.
--- How big must a $23,000 bed be? Yeah, that's probably about right.
--- Best of luck to the Redlegs today. Here's hoping we get to hear this song in the stadium one more time.