I thought December was supposed to be a dull time around here? This is supposed to be the window during the season where everyone can catch their breath. Yet, every day it seems something surrounding the Bearcats makes me gasp for it.
Tommy Tuberville, undefeated basketball, realignment, Crosstown Classic and now an unveiling of the renovation plans for Nippert Stadium today at 2 p.m.
You can watch it live here at this link.
As for what to expect, the Enquirer produced this glimpse at what they are reporting will be the pertinent details. They follow suit with what Whit Babcock and the UC administration have been preaching for some time now -- more luxury suites and boxes, improved bathrooms/concessions. This was never about an expansion, remember more seats are nice, but the biggest problem was lacking the high-end quality seats.
That's what we all expect to be addressed. Of course, I'll have more about the renovation announcement today and going forward. For live updates, just follow me on Twitter at @pauldehnerjr.
Let's eat ...
--- Hope everybody got a chance to read yesterday's piece about the UC football players banding together over the coaches leaving. I thought the players only meeting and subsequent dedication to celebrate Team 125 since the Bowl game was inspiring, really. I know how feeble my emotions were as a 20-year-old and a group of guys learning from the past and attacking the future despite being deserted by their leaders kind of makes me want to watch an after school special movie. Their reaction has been textbook as far as how people should react to this type of adversity.
Here's an extra quote from Dan Sprague about what the message was at the players only meeting after the assistants bolted:
"Stick together," he said. "Don't veer off to screw the coaches, that's how you get embarrassed by 40 points against Florida. Stick to the gameplan. Run the ball play good defense and we'll be fine."
His point makes perfect sense. This doesn't need to be complicated, specifically when you run the ball as well as the Bearcats do.
Remember, Duke is a dumpster fire against the run. They rank 103rd in the country and even those numbers took a nosedive the final six weeks of the season.
Here are Duke's last six games against the run:
Opponent: Rushes-Yards-yards per carry
Virginia Tech: 39-268-6.9
North Carolina: 38-177-4.7
Florida St.: 47-261-5.5
Georgia Tech: 72-330-4.6
And these weren't necessarily powerhouse rushing teams. Florida State and Georgia Tech ranked in the top 10 in yards per carry, but the other four teams ranked lower than UC (21st) in yards per rush this season -- three outside the Top 50. And they still rolled it up on the ground.
--- Plus, how can the Bearcats lose when they will be looking so strong? We caught a glimpse of the alternate helmet they'll be sporting for the bowl. It's among the tightest of the new helmets I've seen anywhere. Huge score by UC operations.
--- Tickets still available through the UC website. Go there now, or hit up the One Team, One Ticket plan and support the program even if you can't go to Charlotte.
--- This story by Dennis Dodd at CBS about the future of the conferences outside the Big 5 is a quality read. He mentions UC in it with two telling paragraphs:
"The intentions of Cincinnati, Connecticut, the ACC and possibly more. So far, the two schools have not been thrown lifelines to BCS leagues, but are on record as being willing to jump. Cincinnati has a surprising amount of juice at this point. It has been to a BCS bowl. It draws surprisingly good TV ratings in basketball. Call it the best player left on the board.
"Cincinnati is more valuable than what is being let on," an industry source said."--- Even more good news rolled in yesterday when QB Brendon Kay was granted a sixth year of eligibility. He'll now be back for another season and adds depth, experience to a quarterback battle that will be one of the most intriguing storylines of the offseason. Kay has played well in his role the last four games and will likely top the list of QBs entering spring football, but nobody quite knows what Tommy Tuberville and OC Eddie Gran have in mind at this point.
--- Kay numbers since taking over against Syracuse: 69 of 111 for 950 yards, 62.2-percent completion, 8.6 yards per attempt, 6 TDs, 2 INTs.
the former Florida State special teams coordinator and running backs
coach, will be missed in Tallahassee. Conversely, he's a great addition
to the Cincy
staff. For the past two decades, Gran has proven to be one of the best
recruiters in the country. He has great ties in Florida and is a great
communicator. He's a guy who was in the mix for a few head coaching
vacancies this month and ultimately ended up reuniting with Tommy
Tuberville as the Bearcats' offensive coordinator. It'll be interesting
to see what Gran does as an OC. I've heard he's going to spend some time
with UCLA offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone to get a better handle on
the Bruins' version of the spread."
--- The Enquirer has this deeper look at Tommy Tuberville from Tom Groeschen.--- Moving on to the Crosstown Classic, UC and Xavier both held their media availability yesterday. The Bearcats weren't making any waves or delving much into last year's incident. Taking last year as the past and downplaying any of it really represents the only way to go in this case. Rehashing anything only leads to blowing that element out of proportion.
This game needs to be about two quality teams in an event great for the city and downtown. Not about who threw punches or any aftermath comments. Mick has long since taken that approach and it continued yesterday.
One quote from Mick stood out to me which I tweeted out yesterday:
"I have no concerns with that whole incident; it's in our past. I don't have much to say about it. It's not a concern of ours. We have two teams full of young kids, good kids that are trying to get their education and chasing their dream in basketball. I think if anybody talks about anything but that it'd be unfortunate."
--- As we all know, Cronin's not afraid to speak his mind, so it's not because he doesn't want to rock the boat.
--- More interesting to me than conduct on the court -- which I fully expect to be civil -- will be the conduct of the fans off it. Placing both fan bases in the same building was the biggest risk associated with moving this game to US Bank. Let's hope both bases represent themselves well. *Crosses fingers/cringes*
--- Shannon Russell at The Enqy is loving her turn with conference realignment, I'm sure. But she also has quotes from Mack and AD Mike Bobinski on the future of the Crosstown, including their desire to eventually see it moved back to campus.
--- Mick Cronin downplayed the need for both schools to come together with community outreach, but asked his players to reach out to Xavier players they know to make sure the game stays all about basketball. Of course, these schools have provided opportunities to get together including this group walkthrough of the Freedom Center museum.
--- Great work right now by my associate Ashley Davis, who took a deeper profile look at new women's soccer coach Neil Stafford, whose from England and hopes to bring some of the soccer fanatacism from his side of the pond to the UC soccer scene. I assume without the hooligans or tear gas, though.
--- Some randomness ...
--- Instagram found itself in a heap of trouble locked between Facebook and Twitter. Somebody needs to update their status to "Awkward :/"
--- SEC basketball needs a new slogan: Did we already tell you we are good at football?
--- If you can let the language go, the NFL QBs on Facebook gag has been among the best running posts this season.
--- I know the good people of UC wouldn't do this at their commencement, but what this girl at Grand Valley State pulled off was, well, "frickin awesome."
--- A Grantland Sports Podcast that will be well worth your listening.
--- Detroit's Doug Anderson reminds me of Curtis Bostic. With a slice of Melvin Levett. Point being, all ridiculous.
Have a great day everybody and remember, I want to hear from you, it's been great to see all the emails/tweets coming in and if you have some more shoot them over today because I'll be throwing together a mailbag for Wednesday morning. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or Twitter: @pauldehnerjr.