The big news coming out of Wednesday was the announcement of the future football and basketball games against the University of Michigan. Here's the details of the games from our site.
Basically, UC will play at The Big House on Sept. 9, 2017 and the basketball teams will play a home-and-home series sometime between the '15 and '18 seasons.
What does all this mean? Well, there are a number of interesting trends to result as a fallout to this significant deal.
1) While most people will discuss the football impact, I believe a greater development to come out of this is the home-and-home basketball series to go along with it. For years, Mick Cronin has chased down relevant home-and-home series with powers or like teams. Too often as the program rebuilt he was met with a thanks, but no thanks by major programs.
As part of the development of UC's rebuild the prospect of a major opponent coming to Fifth Third didn't contain the payoff they desired. Coming into the arena and winning was much more difficult than the national folks would give a on opponent credit for, so they would rather pass and either play in a large neutral court game host the Dukes, North Carolinas or Kansas types of the world.
This home-and-home signifies UC turning the corner in perception and beginning to win over the major programs to match up for games that will excite the fan base and establish significant non-conference matchups. As Cronin has often said when critics challenged his schedule, he'd love to schedule a home-and-home against Duke (or insert major program here) but the Blue Devils don't want to come here. Didn't make sense for them.
Playing series against Cincinnati is beginning to make sense for those seeking national respect now. That's a sign the Bearcats have officially garnered theirs.
2) That check will be for $1.2 million. Make that out to University of Cincinnati. They'll be sure to deposit it immediately.
3) The Bearcats have found a match with the B1G. Over the next six years UC will play six B1G opponents. Over the previous six years, they played none. That last UC games against the Big 10 came in 2006 when they traveled to Ohio State, in 2005 they traveled to Penn State, losing both games.
Here's the schedule going forward:
2013: Purdue, @Illinois
2014: @Ohio St.
2018: @Ohio State
The B1G provides a unique setup to allow fans a short drive while at the same time keeping quality opponents on the non-conference schedule. I heard from a number of people on Twitter yesterday talking about how they love traveling to these games and will certainly be making the trek to Ann Arbor in 2017.
"The 1.2 million guarantee to play at Michigan is nice, it certainly helps our budget," Whit Babcock said to Lance McAlister last night on 700WLW. "What I really like is it's a four-hour drive or so, something our fans can travel to, that has some appeal. We certainly don't do it just for money."
Those comments from Whit echo similarly for all the B1G games on the slate and it's clear the program has latched on to the concept of this conference being a great one to be associated with for games.
4) Drawing the home-and-home for football didn't materialize. Getting Michigan to come to the city to play never came into the discussion, according to Whit.
This administration isn't a huge fan of one-game road trips, but throwing the basketball package in there along with the money made it a deal worth doing. Don't expect this to open up a run of one-game road payouts, the Michigan name, proximity and basketball connection made this a unique situation.
5) Thanks to Twitter follower @dcweisbrot for the idea that the UC-Michigan games will serve as a perfect opportunity to bring back the 1992 unis as throwbacks. Remember, the last time these two teams played in hoops was the 1992 Final Four game.
Those '92 jerseys and shorts were pretty spectacular and along with the 2001 Jordan line jerseys rank atop my list of throwbacks I'd love to see happen. No better chance than this, which could come at the 25th anniversary of that Final Four matchup.
Moving on, let's eat ...
--- Some discussion of next year's basketball schedule has come up since the end of the season. Although, UC will be in the Currently Unnamed Conference, they will still have Louisville (1 seed in this year's NCAA Tournament), Memphis (6 seed), Temple (9 seed) and UConn (ineligible) on the slate next year. The top will still be no joke.
It makes for a delicate dance, but expect the non-conference schedule to be beefed up to compensate for the weaker bottom half of the league anchoring the strength of schedule numbers.
For now, we know San Diego State (7 seed) and NC State (8 seed) will both be coming to Fifth Third Arena with a trip to New Mexico (3 seed) and The Pit also on the itinerary. There are others in the works yet to be finalized, but it will be far from a cakewalk. For now, with a likely rotating schedule, you're looking AT LEAST 9 games against NCAA tournament teams on the schedule with probably 3-5 more on the list by the time all is said and done.
--- I know we are supposed to never say never about anything, but I'm telling you Cronin will not be taking a job anywhere else this offseason. Let's stop talking about it no matter how many lists for jobs he ends up on.
This is his dream job, he references that repeatedly, he finally built it up into what he wants it to be and is able to be around his family every day. The UC administration is dedicated to keeping him here and is willing to make sure his loyalty is rewarded.
We can end this discussion now.
--- Cronin talks about deflections as the most important stat to watch. It finds a way to gauge defensive hustle. There aren't many other topics he'll talk more about after games. That all comes from Rick Pitino. Yahoo's Pat Forde wrote this piece on Pitino and the deflection stat. Good stuff.
As said by Steve Masiello, current coach of Manhattan and also a Pitino disciple along with Cronin, in the expansive Pitino tree everyone uses this metric. Everyone.
"I don't know of one of his guys that doesn't," he said to Forde. "He'd disown you."
--- Steven Godfrey of SB Nation put together this expansive, detailed piece on Tommy Tuberville and his fit at UC. Great reporting and does a nice job debunking the myths that ran rampant regarding his arrival in Clifton and departure from Texas Tech.
--- Coach Tuberville breaks out his Uncle Sam routine to profess he needs you to get in under the wire for the UCats priority ticket renewal, which wraps this week.
--- While UC added Michigan, UConn set up a home-and-home with Boise State. The Huskies actually will host Michigan next season at The Rent.
--- I've spent some time in the UC student rec center and walked away impressed. It's a remarkable facility and this report backs that up ranking it as the best in the country.
--- If Iowa State was having trouble attracting new students, they may have figured out a great new method with BaconFest. Of course, 90 percent of those new students will be overweight men.
--- I can get behind "It's on like Gronkey Kong" catching on as a new catchphrase.
--- Lost Letterman ranks the best college basketball bench celebrations of the last season. I have to do a feature on this. Love the out of control bench and particularly the assistant coaches in charge of containing it.
My favorite from this year was Ge'Lawn Guyn slipping through the cracks during the Alabama victory. Love watching him blow by the unapproving face of Drew Seidenberger at the 35-second mark here.
--- If you love comedy, here are seven good books about the topic written by comedians.
I was lucky enough to catch a great stand-up act at GoBananas this past weekend when Nick Vatterott just killed it. That's part of what I like about GoBananas, some of the headliners aren't as well known, but you can catch a really incredible under-the-radar comedian there most of the time.
If you ever have a chance to go see him, I highly recommend it. Here's a sample of some of his stuff.
--- In honor of the Michigan deal, here's some Bob Seger (he's from Ann Arbor, I know because the Internet said so). Have a great day everybody and shoot me any comments or questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or hit me up on Twitter @pauldehnerjr.