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President Williams stops at Whit's end

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Since I have met and/or been at the press conferences of every athletic director in recent memory (since about 1990) I decided to find a window in my work schedule and attend the press conference of UC's newest AD, Whit Babcock.

Professionally, I really didn't have to be there as my current assignment has me covering high school sports.  However, I was once the "UC guy" at my previous occupation, I'm a 1983 grad and old habits are hard to break.

Paul Dehner Jr. and Tommy G have you covered as far as the nuts and bolts and basics of the new guy, so I'll just add my two cents worth and be on my way.

When I moved back to Cincinnati from Tampa, Rick Taylor was the AD. It wasn't an easy job then either. While the station I worked at took jabs at UC, I was always fully supportive of the program and never hid my enthusiasm for Bearcat news.

Believe it or not, former football coach Tim Murphy and basketball coach Bob Huggins would thank me repeatedly for booking them on the sports talk show I produced at the time for Cris Collinsworth and that got my foot in the door for further relationships with UC.

Except for any with Rick Taylor.

When I introduced myself as a UC grad at the Final Four in Minneapolis in 1992, all he heard was where I worked and he grumbled at me.

That impression never left me and I didn't shed a tear when his abrasiveness was gone. (For the record, Bob Huggins was his FOURTH choice to coach basketball here and Taylor often brought that up.)

Taking the place of Taylor was Gerald O'Dell. While his years will go down in infamy for his clashes with coaches and Watergate behavior, the man personally treated me well as a member of the broadcast team.

Like Rick Minter when he was let go as football coach, O'Dell wrote me a personal letter after his departure.  So, while I had professional disagreements with both, I wish them both well.

In the end, stubbornness did them both in.

Bob Goin was a tough cookie, but once I got to know him he was supportive and kind and more than once spoke on my behalf. I got to know his family and they were also very kind to me.

History will show he was brought in under difficult circumstances and left under difficult circumstances.  What he accomplished is visually apparent today. If there is a book to be written about the man, I'm buying.

Mike Thomas was also brought in under difficult circumstances.  He was also friendly to me, but honestly I didn't have the same relationship with him as the others. With him came a number of changes and that tends to be the case when a new "sheriff" hits town.

This is not to speak behind the man's back, it's just the facts as I see them. He did hire two good football coaches in Brian Kelly and Butch Jones, so he deserves high marks for that. He also elevated Bob Arkeilpane who did and does a tremendous job and is a very approachable guy.

Part of Bob's job today was introducing President Williams, who introduced Whit Babcock.

My early impressions of Director Babcock are: a) he's the tallest AD here that I can recall; b) he's got a slight "twang" to his accent (which ain't all bad when you're negotiating athletic conferences); and c) his resume is full of crucial and key connections.

Something new to this press conference was the appearance of Missouri's AD and some of the Tiger staff as Babcock was introduced. Very classy.

I don't read anything in that, but in terms of league affiliations, I hope there is.

At the end of the gathering, I waited around as I have for the last bunch of these to say, "Hello!"

Realistically, the "new guy" is always bombarded by this interest or that interest, this TV reporter and that newspaper guy, or any number of donors on hand for inspection. On the "greet the new AD" food chain, I hover near the bottom.

That said, he did say, "Hi," as he initially approached. As I stopped him briefly to shake his hand, I told him my 10-second background and told him my name was Scott and that I wrote for his website.

He asked for my last name.  That's a start.

The coaches and administrators that I've appreciated the most at UC where the ones who would ask how I was or how was my family and then actually listen.

Whit Babcock seems like a pretty good neighbor and I welcome him.  He also briefly went to school with UC's departing ticket manager, Meagan Kantor, which makes him a decent guy in my book.

Now, rather than shove another recording device in Whit Babcock's face, I chose to speak to the "Big Bossman" on the man he delivered from the "Show-Me" state.

President Dr. Greg Williams is as in tune with college athletics as any of those I've covered at UC. I've also already interviewed him more than any previous President. Here's the latest:

(Stopping) the running of the Bulls

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It takes place a year to the date of last year's game.

Last Oct. 22, South Florida (they like USF, and they're actually in Tampa which is not near South Florida) came to Nippert Stadium and beat the Bearcats 38-30. The evasive BJ Daniels threw for two scores and ran for two more.

That loss started the second half of UC's season where the Bearcats slumped and were victorious just once in the last six tries.  3-3 turned into 4-8 with much weeping and gnashing of teeth.

In that loss, Zach Collaros threw the ball 53 times for 463 yards and three touchdowns. USF's BJ Daniels was just 13-16 for 286 yards and two scores, but was far more effective.

Naturally, that leads to the key to this game which should be obvious to anyone that's played football, seen a football, played electric football, fantasy football or flag football.

Of course, it's easier said than done.  You MUST contain BJ Daniels!

Two years in a row, he's shaken, squirmed and juked away from Bearcat tacklers and either made plays with his legs or found someone as alone as Tom Hanks in "Castaway" when a defender bit on one of his fakes.

Raymond James Stadium has to become Pamplona for the Bearcats. Defensively, if you don't stop the Bulls (mainly Daniels) you WILL get gored.

Offensively, UC must elude the Bulls diving and dashing and snarling after them. (My advice--don't wear red.)

This can all be accomplished and has been accomplished. If you go back two years ago, the "sub from Steubenville" gave USF a bit of their own medicine as the Bearcats racked up a prime time win.

The biggest key in Tampa is for UC's defense to play as effectively as they in their last couple of games.  The Bulls won't carve you up passing like Tennessee's Tyler Bray did, but Daniels does have big play capability.

UC might also want to take a page out of Pitt's playbook when Ray Graham racked up 229 yards on the Bulls at  Heinz Field as the Panthers rolled USF 44-17.

Sure, I like to see the ball in the air and points aplenty, but the numbers show that Isaiah Pead will eventually crack the code given the right number of attempts.  Pead is running as good as any Division I back around. 

There should be no need for Collaros to throw for over 400 yards.  To stop USF's progress, UC should impede with Pead. Even if it takes short passes, the "prophet" Isaiah needs the pumpkin to continue preaching the gospel to his followers.

Obviously, if they stuff the box to take away No. 23, Nos. 1,3, 6,12, 18 and 80 are viable weapons.

Winning at Raymond James won't be easy, the Bulls are averaging 53 points in three games there.  However, if it gets to be a shootout, UC has that experience. 

If they hold the Bulls down defensively, all the better.

Why I don't eat Papa John's

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I really like pizza. I really do.

But, you have to stand for something.

At the end of 2007, UC played in the Papajohns.com Bowl.  Sure, it was a minor bowl, but folks could make the drive, we had some good barbecue and Ben Mauk had a tremendous game defeating Southern Miss.

Yeah, it reeked a bit of Conference USA, but a win's a win (and that is your last Bearcat bowl win folks).

As it turns out, that was also my last game on radio. At that point, I did the pregame, halftime and postgame shows (and as I recall, Dan Hoard was battling a cold that day so I got to sign that one off).

Anyway, at halftime, the bowl organizers brought "Papa John" in the booth.  He was wearing a bright red shirt.  He grinned as a handler told us he was there for his halftime interview and we were to pump up "Papajohns.com".

OK...I knew this was the same guy that Louisville's stadium was named after, but in the festive mood of bowl season, I was ready to comply.

Then, it struck the "suit" bringing "Papa John" around that he was supposed to be in the ESPN booth which was next door.

Suddenly, "Papa John" lost his pleasant grin and he grimaced at our presence.  There was no, "Thanks anyway," or even a "See you later".  "Papa John" and company whizzed out of the door like a driver who didn't get a tip.

And...He took the boxes of pizza with him!

Based on that, because he's a Louisville guy and because he stiffed us on our halftime pizza, I have personally boycotted Papa John's ever since.

Besides, what's with that stupid pepper anyway?

Of course, in these shaky conference times, I suppose we should be kind to Louisville. Maybe, if the Cards and Bearcats can keep a conference together or team up elsewhere, I might try a small slice again.

By the way, this is a rivalry.  The legendary Keg of Nails is at stake.

keg of nails3.JPG
( I hear the "Spikeburger" is better than the pizza/Thanks to roadfood.com)

More importantly, this is a territorial war involving much more than an empty wooden bucket that used to serve as my microphone stand way back when in Rick Minter's office.

Louisville recruits Cincinnati.  In particular, Charlie Strong has made a strong presence in town and has whisked away some local football talent.

Most notably, Dominique Brown of Winton Woods, who flip-flopped like a political candidate after declaring for UC, and Preston Brown of Northwest.

(See Paul Dehner Jr.'s column effectively fanning the flames)

Beyond that, Gregg Scruggs and Stephon Ball of Cincinnati St. Xavier are there. So is seemingly eighth-year senior Josh Chichester of Lakota West and Colerain's Tyon Dixon. Throw in a number of Northern Kentucky products and there's a substantial amount of Tri-State talent that did the I-71 shuffle.

Now, I would never fault a player that gets a full ride anywhere.  Truth be told, if most of us had athletes at either University, we'd be very proud.

However, for those that have some loyalties to their town and school, it doesn't and shouldn't sit well that Charlie Strong passed "Checkpoint Charlie" on the Brent Spence or "Big Mac" bridges and toted some players back.

The key in Saturday's game is to not let any of these local kids who went South be a factor in the game.  I remember that same Papajohns.com Bowl year when Louisville came to Nippert and got a win.  Elder's Eric Wood was the Cardinals center and he rubbed Cincinnati fans' noses in it by strutting the Keg of Nails all around.

Petty as it may seem, I didn't like it.  I don't want to see it again.

That's what's on my pie.



The six degrees of Treadwell

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This just struck me as I mentally prepared for the latest version of the Victory Bell game between UC and Miami. Current Redhawks coach Don Treadwell has more connections to both sides of this game than most.

It starts in 1994, the first of my 14 years on the radio crew.  Don Treadwell was a 34-year-old wide receivers coach on Rick Minter's staff.  I'll remember that UC/Miami game forever because it was my first one and because of the lousy way it ended, a 17-17 tie.

After back-to-back losses at Indiana and at Nippert to Syracuse, the 0-2 Bearcats looked like they had secured a dramatic win as the legendary Jon Bacon connected on his only UC field goal--a 58-yarder--to put UC up 17-14.

Miami got the ball back on the kickoff with seven seconds left.  Somehow, through the lack of dexterity of their late timer, Elden Wyckoff, the Redhawks were able to roll wide right, then throw clear across the field complete to a receiver who caught it and ran out of bounds.

That conveniently left :01 on the clock and Miami's Chad Seitz kicked a field goal to spoil the party for the Bearcats.

Treadwell was on the UC side that day. The previous year, he was a Miami assistant and before that he played for the (then Redskins) in the early 80s.
don treadwell.jpg
(Courtesy Miami University--dig the hair)

Where do you want to start? Treadwell's coaching web is a tangled one.

Between 1986 and 1991, Treadwell was an assistant at Youngstown State under Jim Tressel.
Many don't know that former UC athletic director Rick Taylor was in favor of hiring "Sweater Vest" here until then-President Dr. Joe Steger interceded on behalf of Rick Minter.  Theoretically, Treadwell could have worked for the Bearcats prior to Minter.

As it worked out, he lasted one year and then returned on Mark Dantonio's staff. Both were with the Penguins on Tressel's staff.

Treadwell also worked at NC State, who just got their rear ends handed to them by the Bearcats. NC State's offensive coordinator is Dana Bible.  Bible and Treadwell were both on Rick Minter's first UC staff.

Working with Treadwell in that first year at UC was John Harbaugh.  Harbaugh was tight ends and special teams coach here before making a name for himself with the Eagles and then getting the Ravens job.  Brad Jackson was a redshirt freshman defensive back on that 1994 team, who eventually wound up playing for the Ravens.  The Ravens also feature former UC standout Haruki Nakamura who was a Bearcat during Treadwell's second stint at UC.

Also on staff in '94 with Treadwell was strength coach Mickey Marotti.  Marotti eventually left for Notre Dame which hired Brian Kelly away from UC.  But, before Kelly left, Marotti had already left for Florida to work with Urban Meyer.  Urban Meyer is a former UC defensive back who throttled his old team--minus Kelly--at the Orange Bowl.

Back to Treadwell's second stint at UC.  While he served as the offensive coordinator (yawn), Pat Narduzzi was the Bearcat defensive coordinator.  Like Treadwell, Narduzzi had previously been a Miami coach.  In 2006, when Mark Dantonio left for Michigan State, Narduzzi was named UC's interim coach.  Had he been hired over Brian Kelly, this game could've been Narduzzi vs. Treadwell. 

Instead, Brian Kelly was hired from Central Michigan, Narduzzi and Treadwell went to Michigan State and current UC coach Butch Jones was promoted at Central Michigan.

When Jones took the UC job, Central Michigan hired Dan Enos from Mark Dantonio's staff at Michigan State. Enos was also quarterback coach here, where he coached Gino Guidugli for one season.

Guidugli is on Central Michigan's staff as an offensive assistant. He played for both Dantonio and Rick Minter, who hired Don Treadwell.

Well, in college football circles, this could go on and on. So, here's a few thoughts on the game.

  1. UC can't be too cocky over the NC State win, because Miami does recruit some talented players and a win over UC would be the pinnacle of their season.  Beyond beating UC, there's not much to pull for in Oxford until the hockey team skates into Goggin Arena.
  2. The worse feeling in the world is watching the opponent come over and steal your Victory Bell if you have it and lose it.  For the sake of keeping the trophy case at the Lindner Center full, the Bearcats best be prepared to play.
  3. Zac Dysert can throw the ball some.  Both Tennessee and NC State threw for major yards on UC's secondary. The Bearcats still need to tighten the coverage up back there.
  4. If you're going to sit in traffic on Route 27, you might as well get a win out of it.  There's really not much to do in between Oxford and Mount Rumpke. Any route that includes some place called "Millville" is routinely dull as dirt.

Hope for some sunshine and enjoy the scenery in Oxford, some of it is downright pretty this time of year.

The leaves ain't bad either....

Dances with Wolves

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I feel confident in using "Dances with Wolves" as my title this week as I actually met Kevin Costner once.

I was covering an old-timer's game in St. Petersburg's Al Lang Stadium in the when Costner and Tom Selleck were both there.  Selleck had his "Mr. Baseball" movie out and Costner had just put out his latest western.
Dances-With-Wolves-On-Broadway-500x375.jpg
(Courtesy "Dances with Wolves"/ popcrunch.com)

Since my wife had just seen the movie, and I had just caught a foul ball, I decided to ask him to sign it.  I had just did a radio interview with Selleck, so I thought Costner was fair game.

Initially, he hesitated.  However, I noticed a shapely female come up with the same request and Costner obliged.  He also noticed (me noticing him) and decided to make amends.

"Sir, I'll sign that for you now," he said.

Since I admittedly enjoy some of his movies and was looking for spousal approval, I flipped him the ball.

Now, I'm guessing you're not reading this for my various "brushes with greatness".  Some of you may think I'm just a veteran Bearcat who wanders the Lindner Center talking to himself.
But, I've always got a story and an opinion when it comes to UC, so here goes this week's attempt to stir the Bearcat pot a bit.

This could be the most pivotal game of the Butch Jones era!


A year ago, with a team many thought would be better, the Bearcats lost another prime TV opportunity against North Carolina State 30-19.  If you recall, this wasn't long after the opening disappointment at Oregon State (also on TV).

Last year's game wasn't as close as the score. It was 20-7 at halftime and UC scored late to make it look better in the morning paper (or hand-held device).

The good thing is, Russell Wilson is gone. The NC State quarterback has taken advantage of that odd rule that allows him to move on without a year of sitting out since he's got his degree.

The man that tormented Bearcats through the air and on the ground last year, is Wisconsin's starter this season. (Wish those things would work out UC's way for once.)

That said, the Wolfpack can score. They've put 43, 27 and 35 points on the board in three games.  Their one loss was to Wake Forest.

UC should win this and needs to win this for a lot of reasons:

  •  The routs against Austin Peay and Akron were expected. This is not exactly a "gimme".
  •  Fans need assurance that mistakes made in the soft-coverage defense against Tennessee have been corrected.
  •  Again, it's a national TV shot.  You don't want to soil the nest too many times when opportunity knocks.
  •  Tom O'Brien, the NC State coach, is from Cincinnati. At Boston College, and with the Wolfpack, he recruits this area.  NC State wins, and he has more "ammo" to use in the recruiting wars.
  • The students are trickling back into town with classes starting soon. They need a reason to come out and make a difference. As we've seen, when given the product, they do make a difference.

Personally, I look forward to seeing UC's starters play the bulk of the game and more of the playbook.  Give the offense credit, without revealing much, they pretty much took Austin Peay and Akron to the woodshed.

They also moved the ball well against Tennessee, until the Vols were able to shift momentum and change the strategy.

If UC wants to make a statement, locally and nationally, this is a game where the Bearcats need to send the Wolfpack home with their tails between their legs whimpering.

If the defense can affect the game the way they did against the Zips, this could be an exciting night. And, there 's always something a little special about a fine night performance in "The Nipp", isn't there?


Besides, with the Big East and ACC talk going on, don't you think those loyal to the Big East wouldn't like to see UC lay the smackdown on an ACC opponent?

I'm not sure UC can keep up their 60 point average this season at home, but half of that should equate to a Bearcat win.




Zip it!

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I begin this piece a bit out of sorts and a bit jealous.

I'm supposed to play the journalist's angle, but as a UC fan and grad, I'd be lying if I told you I wasn't disappointed with the effort in Tennessee in game No. 2.

If you read this last week (and God bless you) you know that I may have overextended myself saying UC should've gone into Knoxville and just had a business-like performance over Tennessee.

 In some ways, I was correct.

If you're a Tennessee fan and you weren't concerned when Isaiah Pead rambled 65 yards on the first play, you're lying.  Ditto for the second touchdown that came relatively easy.

However, I'm guessing the Vol fans were feeling better once they saw that UC's defensive backs were playing UT's receivers as far back as Sevierville.  In many ways, I thought I was seeing Peyton Manning at quarterback, or the next Carl Pickens at receiver.

I'm also jealous that the Tennessee fan base thinks so much of their football team, that they find my little ol' blogpost and blow it up.  In all of my writings here, I've never had as many comments about one article.

In one way, I was flattered, in another, I was tired of reading Volunteer fans ripping me all weekend. Had they read anything I wrote, they would've seen my closeness and appreciation of the Tennessee program.

Some people just read what they want to read and see what they want to see.

What I'd like to see is UC fans catch the same fervor the Volunteer fans have. Sure, it's easy to laugh at, but (statistically speaking) the two products haven't been all that dissimilar.

The difference is in the passion and I commend the Orange folks for what they have.  In Knoxville, the fans come in by the wagon load. Here, it depends on when the bandwagon starts.

I know that doesn't speak for all, but deep down, you know I'm right.  We're a bandwagon town.

Everyone wants to have an Opening Day party, but they don't want to follow the Reds in August if they're not in first. 

We throw Super Bowl parties when many can't name three players on either team.  Derby parties have a lot to drink, but little in terms of handicapping knowledge.

Each summer, we buy a new Hawaiian shirt for Buffett at Riverbend, but are lost beyond "Margaritaville" , "Fins" and "Cheeseburger in Paradise".  Oh well, it's a party.

At Nippert, the party was on when Brian Kelly lit the scoreboard up and UC racked up wins, but it's dissipated some since.

Sure, the Akron Zips don't give you chills like Michigan and Notre Dame, but Nippert Stadium gives you a nice Saturday respite and several opportunities for a cold beverage you couldn't get at "The Big House" or in South Bend.

What's the harm?

Will any of you ride an Akron web columnist like the Volunteers rode me last week?

Will you utilize UC's new tailgating options and throw some money in the local economy? Or, will you just look from afar in your lawn chair watching youth soccer, peeling orange slices and waiting to do that gosh awful "human bridge" thing for Biff and Muffy?

(OK, going a little "Matt Foley" on you--I'll slow down.)

Chris_Farley.jpg
(Courtesy SNL/mattfoley.com)

Here's the Cliff's (Scott's) notes for this week.

1) Isaiah Pead will get the first carry. Akron will know it and still won't be able to stop it.
2) Zach Collaros needs to run more.  I think they've put the brakes on.  Time to freelance No. 12.
3) Anthony McClung will catch a TD.  Because of D.J. Woods and Kenbrell Thompkins, McClung benefits. Kind of like a good college fantasy play.
4) Travis Kelce? Wildcat? Anyone?
5) Akron WILL throw the ball against UC. Why wouldn't you based on the tape?
6) Kickoffs must reach the endzone.  This is big boy football. If not, let Milligan kick because he'll make a play somehow.
7) UC's a huge favorite. Anything less than 50 points is mildly disappointing.
8) If UC goes for it at 4th and 1, everyone will hold their breath and hope they use the other 99 percent of the field.
9) Sadly, Kirk Herbstreit won't pick us on Gameday. This week, there won't be a mention.
10) Don't EVER "Fear the 'Roo"!

Now that I've got all that out of my system, enjoy these reflections of UC quarterback Zach Collaros on his first game against Akron and his next game with the Zips.


UC's role at Rocky Top

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Enjoy the scenery, but it's nothing more than game No. 2

 

There's a lot of folks worked up over this upcoming UC and Tennessee tilt and that's a good thing for the Bearcats.

 

Provident Travel sold out a bus trip and many are making the four-hour (depending on how many fireworks you buy in Jellico) drive to Knoxville to watch UC face an SEC opponent.

 

My wife's even fired up--particularly at me, because I was a day late in trying to secure her a spot on the previously mentioned bus.  She did most of her undergrad work at Tennessee, then finished up at UC.

 

She's now a Bearcat and is looking forward to watching them take down a team that used to pack 100,000 plus at Neyland Stadium.

 

When we were in college, she came up for a UC game against Rutgers in the early 80s.  I mentioned to her the crowd of 15,000 or so wasn't bad.

 

Having taken in several games at Rocky Top U., she looked at me like I had three eyes.

 

Attendance-wise, UC's not on the same scale of Tennessee yet, but things are evening out in terms of football.

 

As for the crowd, it's the only thing to do that day in the entire state and it is the state school.  Knoxville has no pro sports, so a Volunteer home game is a big deal. No other school in the state has that same following. The rest struggle to maintain fans.

 

Where UC can compete is on the field.  That's exactly why I think this game is no big deal.

 

The facts

 

UC got clobbered in 1992 by the Vols 40-0.


Prior to that, the two schools hadn't met since 1942 when Tennessee
blistered the Bearcats 34-12.

 

I wasn't on the radio crew when Tim Murphy coached, but covered them close enough to know him pretty well.

 

Back then, the picture of UC merely playing at Neyland Stadium was displayed proudly in his office and was used as a recruiting tool.

 

Johnny Majors was still Tennessee's coach, with future SEC coaches Phil Fulmer and David Cutcliffe as assistants.  Heath Shuler was the Tennessee quarterback before going on to a mediocre NFL career and then politics.

 

40-0!

 

UC then had no conference or bowl ties. "Hanging" with a quality opponent was considered good (UC had begun the season with a 24-20 loss to Penn State at Nippert).

 

A year later, a representative from the Poulan Weedwacker Independence Bowl would come to look at Murphy's team that finished 8-3 and left unimpressed when about "15 and change" showed up for a game against Memphis.

 

That's how far UC's come.  In the recent BCS race, the Bearcats have been and the Vols have faltered.

 

Back in the day, Tennessee's archrival was Alabama.  They didn't much like Georgia either.

 

Tennessee-Fans-2001-SEC-Championship.jpg

(Courtesy of www.frumpzilla.com)

Now, UT's hired Dave Hart from Alabama as their AD and their coach is the son of the legendary Vince Dooley from Georgia.  At least one of the UGA's must be rolling in his grave!

 

Enough embellishing, what about the game?

 

I don't think for a moment that UC will put up 72 on Tennessee or that Tennessee will smoke the Bearcats 40-zip again.

 

Regardless of recent changes, the Vols still attract top notch talent and their atmosphere will be the best UC will see all year.

 

However, the Vols are still young and the coach still doesn't have the track record that the folks around the Smokies are used to. (He is to be commended though for lasting longer than noted scoundrel Lane Kiffin.)

 

Tennessee struggled to 6-7 last season (yes, they sadly played a bowl game with a .500 record).  If not for winning all of their November games, they wouldn't have even got that far.  Let the record show, the November schedule of Memphis, Ole Miss, Vanderbilt and Kentucky wasn't exactly "murderer's row" by SEC standards.

 

My oldest son is getting a Master's degree at UAB and works with their football team. The Blazers were sub .500 in 2010 also, but took the Volunteers to double overtime before falling 32-29 last season.


In the loss, they outgained Tennessee on the ground and through the air.

 

I watched several of UAB's games and saw them in practice recently.  I also watched several of Tennessee's games.

 

Based on what I see (which won't get me on ESPN Gameday anytime soon because I'm not a pretty boy or girl and won't wear a stinky mascot head) UC's talent, at the very least, is on par with Tennessee's.

 

Personally, they're better than UAB and Tennessee.

 

So, as big of a win as it sounds, UC should approach this game with the attitude that Tennessee should be in awe of them, and not vice versa. (Much like South Florida should look at Notre Dame in the rear view mirror.)

 

Kenbrell Thompkins should have a fun day.  This is the team that sidelined his college career by a year because they wouldn't release him from his scholarship.

 

Lane Kiffin was able to bolt in the dark of night, but Thompkins was held
contractually hostage by the unfair policies of college athletics.

 

I look forward to Zach Collaros and KT hooking up in the creamsicle checkerboard endzone. 

 

I look forward to Isaiah Pead chewing up yards while Vol fans are searching
frantically for that flask of Jack Daniel's they snuck in.

 

I look for a routine win, a small dosage of hillbilly music in between, and all eyes forward on bigger and better games.

 

Silence the banjos!

Not letting the Governors intervene

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I used to write a rather formal game preview here that included when the game was, the name of the field, the time of kickoff and where you can find it on TV.

Due to regular employment and the fact that most of you are intelligent enough to find Nippert Stadium without the help of GPS, I'm going to toss that aside.

(UC and Austin Peay kick off at 7 p.m. at "The Nipp" and it's more fun to be there in person. That's all I'm giving you.)

I will give you a few random thoughts, which I tend to have from time to time.

I remember the last time the two played, I think Robert Tate had kick return for a score.  For those that don't remember Robert Tate, he was probably the best return guy the Bearcats have had on kickoffs.  If you want to talk punts, you go back to Tinker Keck.

If you don't know who Robert Tate or Tinker Keck are, you're probably not reading much of me anyway because you think I'm too old.

I'll give you this, I'll put my knowledge gained from 14 years on the radio crew up with anyone's regarding UC football personnel and minutia from the early 90s on.

(That's just my little disclaimer for anyone that thinks UC football began when Brian Kelly marched onto the field.)

What to watch for:


Will UC open up their big bag of tricks on offense? Or, will they hold back a little knowing they have to travel to Knoxville to take on another Tennessee school of note in a week?

Realistically, with Zach Collaros and Isaiah Pead, the Bearcats shouldn't have to go too deep in the playbook.  However, receivers Kenbrell Thompkins and Anthony McClung need to rack up some DI college receptions and get their feet wet. 

Don't worry about D.J. Woods, he'll get his (and because he'll get his, Thompkins and McClung will get theirs).  If they focus on Woods, KT and McClung will have a big night and vice-versa.


Missing links?

I'm kind of interested to see who steps up at tight end.  I think UC, at least initially, will miss Ben Guidugli.  Adrien Robinson has an NFL body, but hasn't quite put it all together yet and Coach Jones wanted to see more out of Blake Annen at one point in training camp.

Also, two "stud" running backs were recruited, Jameel Poteat and Akise Teague.   The staff is high on them and they're realistically the backs of the future.  How much will they get in, if at all?  Currently, George Winn is listed as the No. 2 back behind Pead.

In addition, Pead has bulked up and improved his pass blocking.  Will he get his 1,000 yards or will one of the youngsters get in the mix?

Beyond Collaros?

Munchie Legaux won the No. 2 quarterback spot, although Coach Jones says Jordan Louallen will play some too.  I wouldn't have guessed Legaux at No. 2 in the spring when Louallen looked very effective running the team and running the ball. 

However. watching at Higher Ground, the stronger arm belongs to Legaux.

Where does Brendon Kay fit in with all this?  With Collaros wrapping up his career, this season could determine who runs next season.

Defensive concerns?

There shouldn't be as many as last year.  Too many players return and some that were injured return.  I'm interested to see how transfer Ben Pooler does.  (By the way, with his helmet off, he's a dead ringer for Dhani Jones.)

The secondary is clearly stronger and I think the LBs (Maalik Bomar, JK Schaffer, Pooler and throw Dwight Jackson and Solomon Tentman in there) are downright nasty.

If you look up front on the defensive line, you see a lot of the names you heard last year, Walter Stewart, Brandon Mills, Derek Wolfe, John Hughes, Dan Giordano, Rob Trigg, Jordan Stepp. I think overall, the UC defense will be fun to watch and far more successful.

Who's kicking?


Elder's Tony Miliano won the job and probably is going to have to go through some of the same growing pains we watched Jake Rogers have.  He's young and he's going to be here awhile, so strap on your seatbelt and be patient. Elder kids tend to deliver.

Pat O'Donnell's still the punter and he's fine.  I kind of wish he wasn't the holder (I like the possibility of a fake) but I'm typically not contacted on personnel matters.

Early returns?

DJ Woods will handle punts and possibly Isaiah Pead. I like the idea of Pead, because he might have more open space for his moves.  As for Woods, I've been predicting a punt TD since his freshman year, so I again see him "taking one to the house".

On the kick returns, it's Ralph David Abernathy IV, all 5-7 and 160 pounds of him.  He's a true freshman, but as long as he can secure the ball, he'll give teams fits.  You can't tackle what you don't see.

Don't look ahead!

What I hope to see is an all-out blistering of the Governors.  I think holding back things for week two is dangerous and you should play them all with the same intensity.

Austin Peay will run the ball, which will give Jim Kelly a clever line during his "Kelly's Keys" segment on radio: "Watch when Peay runs!"

(You didn't think I'd do a whole preview without a sophomoric reference, did you?)

I think UC's defense is up for anything. I think they're hungry to whack someone else and I predict a score similar to the last time these two met in 1993 when I had more hair (42-10 ).

Going into the following game, I think UC has every opportunity in the world to beat a Tennessee team that was far from dominating last year. .

I'd write more, but then I'd be guilty of looking ahead.  If I don't want the players to do it, I shouldn't either.

Enjoy the night against Austin Peay and drive safely down to Knoxville. If you take the side trip to Dollywood, say hello to Ms. Parton for me.



 

Bearcats two-deep with many area prepsters

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Sure, this is a variation of an interview I did with Kerry Coombs at Higher Ground, but at the Butch Jones press conference for Austin Peay, I did notice a number of area kids, not just on the roster, but on the "two-deep" that media folks like me use during games.

In my constant effort to satisfy my high school obligations with my day (and a lot of nights) job and my college obligations with my side job, I cornered coach Jones today outside of the Bearcat locker room.

Here's a fancy little intro I wrote for The Community Press/Enquirer Media outlets....

Going into their opener against Austin Peay, the UC Bearcats have nine Greater Cincinnati players on their "two-deep" roster: guard Sean McClelland of Moeller, center Evan Davis of Colerain, guard Austen Bujnoch of Elder, defensive lineman Brandon Mills of Colerain, linebacker Maalik Bomar of Winton Woods, linebacker J.K. Schaffer of La Salle, safety Arryn Chenault of Fairfield, defensive back Chris Williams of Winton Woods and long snapper Tom DeTemple of Moeller. In addition, Elder's Tony Miliano was just named the opening game kicker.

Coach Jones had this to say about the Bearcats' local recruiting efforts:


Isaiah ready to get his (Austin) Pead on

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Coming into his final season as a Bearcat, senior Isaiah Pead is coming off a 1,029 yard season where he scored six touchdowns.

Pead was also the team's third-leading receiver with 26 catches.

Since season's end, coach Butch Jones emphasized that Pead needed to become a "complete back".  As the team returned to Camp Higher Ground in Indiana to prepare for the 2011 opener with Austin Peay, it appears Pead has made those strides.

"He's really improved in his pass protection skills and has done a great job in handling the throw game," Jones said. "He's progressed exceptionally well. He's had a great training camp and worked extremely hard. He's been a great role model for our younger backs."

Two of those younger backs are incoming freshmen Jameel Poteat from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and Akise Teague from Youngstown.  Both show tremendous promise.

"It's critical because you lead by example," Jones said of Pead's relationship with the youngsters. "Everyone has a great amount of respect for Isaiah on the field. He's been a mentor for these younger backs. He's been a model of consistency and practiced extremely hard."

For Pead's views on the season, the young backs and the opener, please view this: