If you had a really long license plate, I guess the title of this entry could be somewhat clever. (There again, you could ruin the whole vibe if you plastered one of those ridiculous stick figure families on your back windshield.)
What I'm getting at is be it Munchie Legaux, Jordan Luallen, Bennie Coney, Patrick Coyne or Brendon Kay, I think the Bearcat offense can move the ball in a number of ways.
However, I'd be lying to you if I didn't say I was intrigued by Brendon Kay. I'm written on this before and it's not a shot at the other quarterbacks, it's just based on observation and some private discussions.
If you look at what most pundits look at as a prototype quarterback, he is it. He's big. He runs. He throws. In various cameos, Kay has usually been able to move the team.
The downside is he's older and he's had some injuries. (Gosh, isn't that most of us?)
In a true Jon Gruden quarterback test, I wouldn't be surprised if he came out on top. Again, Legaux and Luallen are more than capable players, but I think Kay might get the edge if everyone were to start at square one.
Naturally, what I think means little. Coach Jones, Jon Gruden or ESPN Gameday have never dialed my number for my two cents worth.
What intrigues me though is the case of Tony Pike. He was on the team seemingly forever, seemingly an after thought and nearly given the boot. Then, he got a chance and turned out to put up some really impressive numbers for a guy that toted a clipboard longer than most shop foremen.
Is that now not Brendon Kay?
Time will tell, but here's the young man from Marine City, Michigan who could end up around Nippert a little longer than anticipated.
Having been to my share of Bearcat football spring practices, it still is strange to see a fair amount of spectators watching.
Granted, Nippert Stadium is in the open and any passerby can catch a glance or pull up some cement, but it used to be just a handful that would watch.
When I stopped by Saturday, March 31 I noticed more folks than usual at practice, particularly considering the weather wasn't conducive to spring spectating (football weather yes--but several degrees below what it's been).
When I reached the sideline, I noticed numerous recruits around, along with coaches wives and their families, player parents and others. For what wasn't a highly publicized scrimmage, it wasn't a bad turnout.
After the final whistle, the various position groups broke into numerous circles around the field and a lot of pictures were being taken. At each position group, introductions of players and families were being done and it struck me as something a little different in what usually is a highly regimented environment.
To get the full skinny, I sought out coach Butch Jones, who posed for pictures with numerous families and hosted the affair.
Now that March Madness is over (other than hoping Louisville finds a way to stop the Big Blue Crew of one-and-doners) I took some time to hit the Sheakley Athletic Center for a little spring football.
I was able to see Dennis Janson, one of the classiest guys around in the media who always has great stories and I was able to update fellow Springsteen fan Dan Hoard on the recent shows I saw.
Plus, I'm a little odd. I just like hanging around football practice.
This week, I tried out the new Iphone's video feature to check in with the current No. 1 quarterback Munchie Legaux. Some of the information you may know, some you may not. What I do know is that he has a mature presence about him and he certainly looks ready to be in charge.
I'll let Munchie fill you in on the rest....
OK, upon further review, the audio doesn't appear great, so maybe I'll stick to my small HD cam. However, Munchie's still worth listening to so hang with it if you can. I'll inform my IT staff of any difficulties and file a full report in the morning ;)
It's been 10
long years, and I couldn't be more proud.
And, in full disclosure, I wasn't there to see it this time. (My two
oldest perused Broadway in Nashville in my absence.)
Yeah, I missed UC's tournament games to see Bruce Springsteen and the E
Conflicted by two of my major interests in life, I chose the E Street
Shuffle. In all fairness though, when I bought the tickets to go to
Atlanta and Greensboro, there were no assurances UC would be in the
tournament and if I could have predicted such I would
be on CBS or ESPN.
I also had to coach my sixth-grader on that Saturday, so it just wasn't
in the cards for me to go to Music City.
Fortunately, Music City was in the cards for the Bearcats as Mick Cronin
and company hooked the 'Horns and tomahawked the 'Noles.
I enjoyed the Friday afternoon off watching UC torment Texas. Sunday, Mr.
Springsteen was kind enough to end his final encore at Philips Arena in
Atlanta quick enough for me to go to an establishment next door and
watch the second half (among some rowdy Seminole
In the end, my red UC hat was being noticed, as were my C-Paw shirts I
packed. I was being congratulated for a game that I had nothing to do
with, but it felt good for fans in the Southland to "recognize the C"
I even ate some barbecue in Greensboro, across from ACC headquarters,
where I was tempted to find some spray paint to add a "UC" to the FSU
Chief Osceola logo. Fueled by a couple of sweet teas, I even thought
about storming in and asking them how they figured
Syracuse and Pitt fit in with their league, but my wife instructed me
to mind my manners.
All I can say, is Dion Dixon's steal and lay-up that put the Bearcats up two in the final minutes is as memorable a play now as the "Fletch to Kenyon to Melvin"
dunk against Duke, or the DerMarr Johnson bucket in the improbable win
over DePaul years ago.
10 years ago, I was in San Diego as UC made it's last Sweet 16. They
beat BYU and then Kent State to earn the right to play Stanford and
Casey Jacobson in Anaheim. Somewhere in between, one of our JUCO
forwards (Antwan Jones) went AWOL in San Diego, and I don't think anyone's
heard from him since.
That was a different time. This is a new time.
Ditto for the game against Ohio State. In the first year under head
coach Mick Cronin, the Buckeyes were gracious enough to give us a game
when they had Greg Oden and a squad full of NBA players. Not
surprisingly, with the likes of "Hurricane" Ron Allen
and future Houston Texan Connor Barwin guarding Oden, UC was thumped.
(On the upside, Barwin made Sports Illustrated with a picture of him
guarding the oldest-looking college student since Granville Waiters.) (Thanks to Associated Press/Rivals/Yahoo)
Before that, Ohio State had successfully ducked UC since losing to them
in back-to-back years for the NCAA championship.
Somewhere between now and Friday, March 16, a caravan of red and black will make its way on 71 South and then over to 65 South toward Music City as UC squares off with the Texas Longhorns at 12:15 (11:15 if you adjusted your clocks in Nashville).
It's "Brunch with the Bearcats" and it should be fun to watch a rested and ready crew hook up with the 'Horns. Ironically, it's St. Patrick's Day weekend as it was last time the Bearcats were in the NCAA tournament in Nashville (2001).
Here's hoping some of you are a little more wiser in your "Wearing of the Green" Day behavior than you were the last time (you know who you are).
Nashville's got a variety of things to do downtown. Beyond the Country Music Hall of Fame, there's plenty of other music in various surroundings. If you're like as they say "both kinds of music" (country and western) I'd recommend Tootsie's Wild Orchid Lounge or Robert's Western Wear (where the legendary BR-549 once made a live album).
Should you get hungry, Jack's BBQ on Broadway is pretty decent stuff. Beyond that, I'm sure you'll have fun if you just follow the UC cheers that should perpetuate Nashville just as they did on Beale and Bourbon Streets in events past.
As for the game, I like the way Cashmere Wright has stepped it up this year, so let's hear from him. Sadly, my regular job duties have me occupied Friday, so I'll have to watch from afar for one of the rare times in the last 20 years.
Oh well, life's full of curveballs. Here's the Wright stuff....
That UC and Louisville played in the Big East championship game should not go unnoticed.
Back when Virginia Tech, Boston College and the Miami Hurricanes left the Big East, the conference was all but declared dead for the football losses and inviting the "non-easterners" was frowned upon by those not wanting to invite the best of Conference USA into the executive washroom.
The reality is that it strengthened an already strong basketball conference .
The continued rivalry of UC and Louisville is as good as ever as indicated by their presence in the grand finale at Madison Square Garden. Furthermore, Marquette was viewed as top 25 threat all season long as they've continued their tradition, South Florida sports the league coach of the year and DePaul won't be any more down than any of the current Big East "also rans".
If you watched this year's tournament, the Big East games are as exciting as ever. Other than the obvious allure of easy money, it's still a mystery to me why Syracuse would leave the Garden and their New York fans for the Greensboro Coliseum and the ACC. Ditto for non-factor Pitt this year.
As for West Virginia, I doubt the "Let's go Mountaineers!" cheer will be as loud in Stillwater, Oklahoma or Lawrence, Kansas.
To all departing schools I say, "Be careful what you wish for."
In football, UC and Louisville have more than held their own with both making BCS bowl games and representing the league as proudly as the departed. South Florida has also made it as high as No. 2 in the top 25 and the Bulls have beaten national powers (ask Brian Kelly).
Now, the guys that get paid to spout off think the league is down or isn't deserving of multiple NCAA bids or shouldn't get a BCS game.
My guess is that some self-appointed expert made those same under-researched comments years ago. Again, the loudest person isn't always the right one. Those that have used their two ears and two eyes more than their one mouth are usually on target.
The new entries to the Big East will eventually prove themselves. Memphis was good under John Calipari and has a good coach in Josh Pastner. They have great talent and Pastner was schooled under Lute Olson. I think you'll find the "Silver Fox" won on occasion.
Temple has been good and will be again. You don't come out of the basketball-rich Philly area without attracting talent. Houston has been an NCAA player before.
The underlying key to success for all of these schools is a bigger league and the fact that they represent bigger markets. Memphis, Houston, Philadelphia, Dallas, and the Florida area are full of talent for the home and OTHER teams in the league. Everyone benefits.
The same logic exists in football. Houston got national attention with their offense and SMU has June Jones who also plays an offense popular with young players. Last time I checked, there was considerable interest in Texas for football. With the Big East involved, UC and others can now cultivate talent from those same fields.
In Orlando, UCF lives in the same player-rich area as USF. The Bulls in Tampa have grown because they've kept players that didn't go to Gainesville, Tallahassee or Miami at home. If you look at most Division I rosters, (including UC's) you'll see a boatload of players from the Sunshine State.
Memphis has been down, but they have a new coach and if they can keep players from escaping to neighboring states, they can compete. It wasn't all that long ago, that UC labored to beat Memphis.
It's easy to sit on a throne somewhere and declare a league dead because of longstanding biases. It's much harder to do be open-minded and do the homework.
It's a combination cattle-call/job fair that occurs every year at the University of Cincinnati. They call it "Pro Day".
Years ago, a handful of scout would show up at the Armory Fieldhouse and work out a five or six Bearcats and go home. Some would get camp invites, some would get lip service.
Every now and then something odd would happen like basketball player Rod Monroe using his 6-4 height and seemingly endless wingspan to haul down a high football, pivot, bounce it perfectly on the surface and dunk it into a basket that was in the way.
Rod and his two career catches as a Bearcat was a seventh-round NFL draft pick and played in a Super Bowl for the Falcons.
Now, Pro Day is held in the spacious, climate-controlled Sheakley Athletic Center on a regulation-size field. 28 of the 32 NFL teams were represented March 1.
As the voice in the cornfield said, "If you build it, they will come."
I'm sure this has been rehashed in other areas, but my impression was Isaiah Pead was the "darling" of the group with 4.47 combine 40 and his impressive Senior Bowl. Bengals running back coach Jim Anderson spent a lot of time with the Pead family.
Zach Collaros also looked good to me throwing the ball. He threw some precision deep balls and benefited by having former teammates Armon Binns and Vidal Hazelton back to help catch them.
Again, Zach will be knocked for his height, but he's roughly the size of Drew Brees who's had a relatively good run around the six-foot mark.
Derek Wolfe also did his share of interviews after measuring out with the biggest hands there (10 3/4) and pounding out 33 reps on the bench press.
Here's Wolfe in a drill with Bengals defensive line coach Jay Hayes: x
You sprint like an ancient knight engaged in medieval jousting, deposit a
pole into a trough, hoist yourself upward, contort your body over an
inch-thick bar, then fall some 12 to 13 feet downward toward a pit of
Most track athletes can't successfully execute the first few steps.
Fortunately for Loveland High School, Eric Bryant can. The senior holds
the school record in the pole vault and is about to begin his sixth
season of soaring for a Tiger track team.
"I started in the seventh grade at Loveland," Bryant said. "I just saw
the pole vault as being unique and different and I wanted to try it. I
realized I was pretty good at it."
At 6-4, Bryant used his athletic build in basketball for a couple years
and in football all four years at Loveland. However, propelling his
lanky frame skyward in the spring proved to be Bryant's calling.
"It helps a lot," Bryant said of his height. "The taller you are, the
closer the pole is to vertical. College coaches actually look for the
Kent State, Morehead State and University of Colorado-Colorado Springs
coaches all looked at Bryant, but he settled on the comforts of home and
the University of Cincinnati. He will focus on math and business and
clearing the bar for the Bearcats.
"I'm very excited," Bryant said. "UC field coach Kris Mack is from the
West Coast and is a lot like my current coach, Scott Carney. They're
Not associated with the UC track team, Bryant practices with other prep
athletes with the UC Track Club. The group is open to any area athlete.
There is a fee to belong and per event, but the participants can use UC
facilities (this time of year, the old Armory
The convenience and camaraderie sold Bryant on staying in town.
"I met the vaulters at the UC Track Club and I got along pretty well
with them," Bryant said.
At Loveland, Bryant has cleared 13'3" (in last year's regionals at
Dayton) and surpassed 14' in the summer. The regional mark set the
school record, one that Bryant hopes to better by more than a couple
feet this season. He's shooting for 15'6".
How does it feel to fly through the air with the greatest of ease, flip
over a bar and freefall into a pit?
"It feels really good," Bryant said. "When I first went to 13' and tied
the school record, it felt really, really good. When I broke it, it felt
even better. It just goes really fast, you don't even think about it."
To perfect his craft, Bryant watches You Tube videos of others,
including those of retired Ukrainian vaulter Sergey Bubka. His record of
20' 1.75" has stood since 1994, when Bryant was a baby.
He also relies on the local "pole-vault community." Because of the
specialization involved, many schools share tips, video, facilities and
"Loveland doesn't supply much. I have to usually go out and get it on my
own," Bryant said. "Anderson and Turpin gave me poles."
When not soaring on Loveland's track, Bryant soars toward musical notes
with the Loveland Show Choir. Though he prefers B.O.B. and Lil' Wayne,
Bryant and the singing Tigers are preparing for the World Choir Games
upcoming in Cincinnati.
In a recent show with the choir, he was able to play the part of Dan
Aykroyd's Blues Brother character, "Elwood."
The "Pole Man" Bryant will be in class at UC this fall.
My theory on judging opposing teams and players has always been, "Who on that team would you like to have on yours?"
If you think about it, there's probably several. I've used this argument over the years when comparing the Steelers and Bengals. I'm not necessarily a gung-ho fan of either in terms of face paint and jerseys, but I've always appreciated the Steelers' toughness and success--even though I typically want the Bengals to beat them.
It's not being a Steeler fan, it's just appreciating good coaching and athletes.
Likewise, though my UC allegiances have never been doubted, there have been players that I grew to like even though they were thorns in the backsides of the Bearcats. I'll surely miss a few, but I enjoyed the following: 1) Penny Hardaway at Memphis--great player but UC owned him and it usually meant a big win. 2) Tom Kleinschmidt at DePaul (yeah, some of these date you youngsters). "The Doughboy" was one tough cookie. It made for a great chant from Bearcat fans. 3) Quentin Richardson, DePaul. Awesome player who's halfcourt shot was past the buzzer a few years back when DerMarr Johnson sank a shot to beat the Blue Demons in the epic "Kenyon takes over" comeback game. 4) The tandem of Scott Highmark and Erwin Claggett. The Billikens of Charlie Spoonhour could "ball" and shoot the "trifecta". Thank goodness LaZelle Durden had a shot left in the Great Midwest tournament. 5) Gerry McNamara, Syracuse. Got to give it up to a guy that single-handedly beat a decent UC team and everyone else that year in the Big East tournament. 6) Sam Young and Dejuan Blair of Pitt. I still preach Sam Young's shot-fake to my younger kids and Blair was a Wes Unseld-like presence that couldn't be stopped. 7) Luke Harangody, Notre Dame. One ugly dude, but a reliable, old-school player. 8) Kemba Walker, Connecticut. I assume you watched last year's Big East and NCAA tournaments. 9) (NOT INCLUDED: Diego Guevera of UNC-Charlotte--blowing kisses is one thing; running to our fans and dropping F-bombs at UC fans after a CUSA tourney win in Freedom Hall crosses the line.) 10) (NOT INCLUDED: Francisco Garcia of Louisville. Thought he was a dirty player and a crybaby. No respect in my book.)
That leads now to my current list. While UC has defeated several of these guys and their respective teams, who wouldn't want them on your side?
1) Starting with my favorite--Dennis Kilicli of West Virginia. Sure, he looks like their mascot on 'roids, but give me some flying elbows and a strong hook shot (the lost shot of basketball). (Thanks to www.bleacherreport.com/Getty Images)
Throw in Kevin Jones and his bag of tricks and Truck Bryant and that's a power trio. Who doesn't need a guy named "Truck"? 2) Syracuse is loaded, but give me a long guy that can score in Kris Joseph and a seven-foot coordinated monster in the middle (Fab Melo) and I'll take my chances. 3) Moe Harkless of St. John's. Beaten UC twice. You'll always take the best player in New York City. 4) Jeremy Lamb, Connecticut. Huskies best scorer and last year's tourney experience=money. 5) Jack Cooley, Notre Dame (see Luke Harangody above). 6) Herb Pope, Seton Hall. It seems like Herb's in his 15th year of college basketball now. At one time, he had interest here. Darn! 7) Vincent Council. Providence. Bearcats fried the Friars the other night, but Council scored at will. Sign me up. 8) Chane Behanan, Louisville. A beast already and he'll only get better. Should've been here. UC had the inside track and the kid was in the backyard. There's a nice Enquirer story out that includes some unique coincidences in life. Funny how things work out sometimes, huh?
That's mine. Who do you have? We've all had these thoughts. No matter what the level, there's always someone you compete against that you seemingly hate.
Why do you hate them?
Because they're beating you.
Heck, the Yankees have built teams for years on this theory. Next time you're in a pick-up game somewhere and you're choosing up sides, take the guys you hate!
UC basketball coach Mick Cronin has said that statistics can be deceiving.
However, logic says if Justin Jackson can score 14 points a game, the Bearcats' chances are helped immensely.
"How many shots?" Cronin asked when I questioned what 14 points from Jackson would mean each night. "If he's five-for-five (as he was against DePaul) we'll take it."
Cronin says Jackson's shot selection has been better.
One shot in particular stood out in the DePaul game Feb. 4. It was a thunderous dunk from the lane that reminded me of moves Kenyon Martin, Jason Maxiell and Eric Hicks would make. Just "take no prisoners" and ram it home.
Dunks like that are a huge momentum changer. I spoke with Jackson about that and other "deep" topics before a recent practice.