With the Sheakley Athletics Center bubble down, the Bearcats got in a spring practice with some actual sunshine mixed in. UC's at Paul Brown Stadium on March 30, and Coach Tommy Tuberville evaluated the troops after a week of spring break in the Bearcats second outdoor gathering of 2013.
I'm sure you've seen or heard by now that former Bearcats Terry Nelson and Corie Blount showed up at UC's open practice at Fifth Third Arena on March 19.
It doesn't quite seem 20 years since both were on the floor in their final UC game against North Carolina in the Elite Eight in 1993. They got out to a 15-point lead and eventually lost in overtime to the Tarheels who went on to win the national championship behind the likes of Eric Montross and George Lynch.
I spoke with Corie Blount, who has had his mistakes, but always was cooperative with the media (as was the affable Mr. Nelson). One of the highlights of my career was being at the Metrodome in 1992 when UC made the Final Four and took on Michigan. At UC's pregame practice I was able to interview the late George Smith who first took the Bearcats to a Final Four, and much of the CBS crew that did the game including Lesley Visser, Pat O'Brian and James Brown.
I also recall having to pick up Cris Collinsworth's wife, Holly, at the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport. (I produced No. 80s Sportstalk show back then, part of the job.)
Part of what I talked about with Corie was the fame of the "Fab Five". It's a great ESPN 30 for 30 special if you haven't seen it. On the other hand, had the Bearcats advanced, I'm not so sure you wouldn't have an equally compelling show from the on and off the court experiences of Nelson, Blount, Nick Van Exel, Anthony Buford, AD Jackson, Tarrance Gibson, Erik Martin, Jeff Scott, etc. To this day, I have in my possession the press release from then SID Tom Hathaway announcing the Bearcat recruits for the '91-'92 season.
Included in that group were LaZelle Durden, John Jacobs and Shane Komives. Komives (the son of former NBA player Howie Komives) transferred, and Durden and Jacobs didn't play that first year.
If you look at what that group accomplished in basketball, it's very impressive and rates right up there with any previous UC class. Off the court, we all know now there's been some tragedy. Like I said, perfect ESPN story.
Corie Blount has faced the music and I find him to be a stand-up guy. I hope he can contribute to people's lives the rest of his.
In my day hours, when not patrolling the Queen City in costume with The Avengers, I cover high school sports for The Community Press papers owned by the Enquirer. (I'll be covering Walnut Hills in the Division I state tournament this weekend. When not at live events, I write a pretty tolerable volleyball preview.)
When I can tie Bearcat athletics with something locally, that works out pretty well. In this case, as an Anderson High School grad and the father of two others (with two yet to go) I was happy to cover the hiring of Vince Suriano to the UC football staff.
This link is what will be published in the local papers this week and it's already online on www.cincinnati.com. Suriano literally rescued the Anderson program from the armpits of the old Hamilton County Suburban League and turned it from a doormat into a yearly playoff contender. He set the table for their two state appearances in Division II in 2007 and 2008.
When he first made the DI playoffs, they took just four local team and somehow Anderson was one. I'll never forget it.
Here's the link which also includes the video interview:
And here's Coach Tuberville "photo-bombing" the new staffer
I had every intention of including running back Anthony King in my video piece for Monday, but I had some camera difficulties and I thought I lost it. Tonight, after deleting some things in the camera, No. 48 magically reappeared.
Because he had one of the better days of the running backs in Saturday's scrimmage, I thought I should at least play the raw interview. You could discount King because he's a senior and there's some competition, but no one thought much of George Winn either until he started running through people last season.
For the techno-types, I've figured out that the flash light coming on inside the bubble makes the video look foggy. I've turned it off (truthfully, I didn't even know it was on). We'll try to rectify with better stuff next time around.
This is the full-length version of my interview with Munchie Legaux that i used in a short video about the opening of practice last Friday.
As has been well documented, Munchie got a haircut in the offseason. He's also back competing for the quarterback position with Brendon Kay, Bennie Coney and Trenton Norvell for now (Jordan Luallen and Patrick Coyne have moved to fullback).
You can't deny what Brendon Kay did with his opportunity, but Legaux was 6-2 as a starter and likely still has some plays left in him.
When you check the temperature first thing in the morning and it's 18 degrees, you kind of have an inkling that spring has not yet set in.
When spring football practice begins at 9 a.m. and it's 27 degrees at UC, you find yourself very thankful for the Sheakley Athletics Center. Despite some early March sun, the Bearcats are often able to get more done inside when it's below 40 outside.
Sure, football is played in the elements, but the upside for the southern schools has always been weather more conducive to getting a lot of work in. Now, if there's rain, sleet, snow or just general all-around shivering weather, UC is able to go inside and be productive.
Everyone's happy. Including the media who celebrates such luxury in pictures:
Over the course of time, the perception of UC football has changed dramatically.
Several years ago, if I mentioned I was coming to UC football spring practice, I might have been asked, "Why?", or "I didn't know they had spring practice."
This March 1, a full media contingent was on hand. There were possibly more total media in the Sheakley Athletic Center (a/k/a "The Bubble") for the opening of practice than there have been at some spring games/Bearcat Bowls in the past.
A high profile coach and a few bowl wins will do that.
Today, I get to show you some of the fancy formal training the Gannett folks have put us through. We now shoot videos, voice them and edit them on our phones. This little number was put together in my car in the Corry Garage.
Here's a brief look at today's practice. I will have some more interview-type videos, etc. and I'm no match for young Video Shane and company, but this is mildly tolerable for a guy that used to bang out quite a bit of his work on an IBM Selectric.
With a full day of high school coverage on my day gig, I was unable to make Coach Tommy Tuberville's 3 p.m. press conference for National Signing Day Feb. 6.
However, a crafty veteran always finds another way. I knew the 1200 Club would be entertained later in the evening at the Kingsgate Marriott, so after my day of high school press conferences, videos and getting a kid to his pitching lesson, I made my way to the Bearcat gathering.
It was a great event, with Coach Tuberville introducing his staff and many loyal Bearcats (such as UC's all-time leading tackler Karl Woods) on hand to meet the football crew.
Later there was a rundown of each recruit for those attending dinner in the ballroom. As always, the Kingsgate staff was at the top of their game.
While I was just there for a couple interviews, I was able to meet Tyson Helton (special teams/tight ends) who just came here from UAB. My son is a trainer for the Blazers, so it was nice to meet someone who had worked for him.
OK, personal gibberish aside, this staff includes two guys that I remember from Coach Tim Murphy's Bearcat staff from the early 90s. I got to know Coach Murphy then and covered the team when they honestly were overmatched and underfunded. Things have changed drastically.
Eddie Gran and John Lovett are now back. Gran is the new offensive coordinator and Lovett is coaching defensive backs.
I spoke to both, but I'll give you the "Gran Plan" first. For those I saw at the event that remembered me from my involvement with the football program, I appreciate your kindness. .
Having just recorded his 200th win as a college head coach, UC's Mick Cronin has worn a collection of outfits while pacing the sidelines.
He doesn't have a trademark sweater or pullover like a couple of famous "Bobs" have sported. Instead, he goes with the flow of the game. With many games having different "themes", I decided to do some hard-hitting journalism and ask La Salle High School's finest what he most enjoys on the "Catwalk".
(Surely this will lead to an Oscar gig with Joan Rivers and her daughter.)