Obviously, all the talk around the Bearcats right now surrounds the Grant of Rights approved by the ACC which appears to shut down anymore conference realignment circus. At least for now. That's by basic logic. Of course, logic hasn't always prevailed in the game of realignment. Money, however, is undefeated. And all the major players seem to be thrilled with their financial plates and now moving to cover it with both arms.
So, where does this leave the program?
Doc wrote about the latest blow and discussed it with Whit Babcock. You can read that here. The column reads as a bit of an obit on UC, one which has been written before in other forms and circumstances. In the case of locking into the college football lottery the big conferences cashed in, the road to that path certainly grew longer. But the path to relevancy, winning and a national profile hasn't gone anywhere.
Basketball is a no-brainer, this effects the conference schedule and little else. As long as the overall schedule is in the top 40 or so each year there will be opportunity to build an NCAA tournament resume and win there. Continue winning there and players like Jermaine Lawrence and the rest of this year's class will continue to commit to UC.
Think being in a top conference is necessary to be a factor in college hoops? See Butler, Xavier, Gonzaga, Temple, Memphis, Wichita State, Creighton, VCU, St. Louis, New Mexico, San Diego State. This list could go on and on. Many of these aren't just relevant, rather perennial powers across college hoops.
Basketball has been and will continue to be fine.
Much thanks to a lengthy email I received from loyal reader, Twitterer Doug, for sparking this conversation. In it, he talks about how all the goals for making a national splash and playing a similar role in the big picture are still available.
These were his thoughts on football:
"Assuming the AAC will be included in the "Group of 5" arrangement, taking the Big Easts spot, this is a great opportunity for UC. Competing for the top BCS ranking with the Sun Belt, MAC, Mountain West and C-USA seems like a very favorable position for the Cats. Once Louisville leaves for the AAC, UC is by far the class of the AAC.
So you're left with this competition (traditionally) for the top BCS ranking:
- Boise State (MW)
- Whichever team comes out of the MAC
- Likely one of the Florida schools from the C-USA
- Honestly, probably no real competition from the Sun Belt
I like those odds. It isn't at all ideal, but it certainly does not signal the end to UC's success in football. When you consider UC has probably the 3rd biggest coaching name in Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky, I think Tommy T makes up a bit for the lack-luster conference. If the renovations to Nippert are ushered along, the Cats keep winning and fan support remains, UC can dominate the AAC and find themselves with a good BCS ranking every year. Will they make a BCS Bowl every year? Probably not. But what team, besides Alabama, does?"
Tip of the cap, Doug. Quality analysis.
The bottom line is every year, you could argue UC will be more likely to end up in a BCS bowl than 75 percent of the programs the newly-aligned power conferences. When you consider the competition nationally, if they were to put together a team capable of running the table and beating a few B1G teams in the non-conference, they'd be looking at a major bowl along with serious consideration for the four-team playoff.
The trade off clearly becomes a conference home schedule with less traditionally attractive opponents. Yet, let's not pretend like the Big East was rolling Alabama and Texas into Nippert every year.
Pittsburgh, Syracuse and Louisville are all nice programs, but as far as on the field success in the last five years how much better have they been then say a Houston, SMU or UCF? They've been better, but the difference is more marginal than most would prefer to admit. Go ahead and take a look:
UCF: 10+ wins two of last three years, including bowl wins over Georgia ('10) and Ball State ('12)
SMU: Four straight years in bowl games, including 28-6 drubbing of Pitt at 2011 Independence Bowl
Houston: Ranked in Top 10 in 2011, going 13-1, beating Penn State in bowl game
Louisville: Enjoyed emergence last season, previously only one shared BE title coming off Kragthorpe disaster
Pitt: Losing record and bowl losses each of last two years, one shared BE title in last five years.
Syracuse: Two winning seasons in five years. One shared title last year.
The perception will be the obstacle for UC, but dominating The American would help squash that nationally while also making for a number of enjoyable, winning fall Saturdays for the Clifton faithful.
Playing in the ACC (or name other major conference here) would be an ideal scenario, but any idea that success and national relevance are out the window in the current format would be misunderstanding the future system.
Send any questions, comments or other thoughts regarding this whole crazy situation to email@example.com or hit me up on Twitter @pauldehnerjr.
Let's eat ...
--- Stewart Mandel of Sports Illustrated came around last week and put together this fantastic piece on Tommy Tuberville and UC. Nuggets like TT heading down to the circus at US Bank by himself are scribe gold.
--- Awards being handed out around UC:
Babcock was named the College Swimming Coaches Association of American Benjamin Franklin Award recipient. It goes to the person whose efforts most promote the student-athlete ideal. Kudos to Whit.
Former UC runner Kathy Klump was named the Cincinnati/NKY Sports Association College Sportswoman of the Year. Congrats to Kathy who closed out her career as a three-time All-American and four-time BE champion in track.
--- Usually the joke sign in front of the bar will read "Free Beer Tomorrow," but UC baseball is erasing the proverbial signs out front to read "Free Baseball Today." A game against Thomas More originally scheduled for Thursday will be played Wednesday at MSS and admission will be free.
--- Randomness ...
--- Matt Taibbi has this NFL Draft Decoded column which is pure gold. Have to say I stand behind his rule "Avoid Players Who Punch Cops in Bars Just Before The Draft."
--- Yes, I will be taking in Dodgeball II.
--- The Ghostbusters 3 drama needs to end already.
--- Ben Affleck and a few others plan to live on $1.50 a day for four days to raise awareness of poverty. It's a great cause, but what happens after that, Benny? You continue to hang in your million-dollar mansion, right? Nice thought, but you sitting on your couch watching TV and eating ramen for half a week doesn't exactly qualify as social commentary.
--- For those hoping this epic 10-game Reds homestand ends quickly, this song doesn't apply. But it's as catchy and fun of a country tune as you'll find. And I'm the last guy typically pushing country. Have a great day, everyone.