I don't think "yellow snow" is in the forecast, but obviously the Bearcats best watch out where the Huskies go Dec. 3 at Nippert Stadium.
Yes, the friendly confines of Nippert Stadium.
A noon kick-off is still not conducive to the total atmosphere (night games at "The Nipp" are ideal) but it's a lot better fan experience than the spaceship we've tried to fill downtown for a couple of key conference games.
Nippert isn't ideal, but it's ours.
Used correctly, it can be very effective and intimidating. It's exactly the venue needed for a key game like this one against Connecticut.
Of course, the Big East may or may not be up for grabs by gametime (depending on the South Florida/West Virginia game) but if you survey most diehard UC fans, you'll find the fans like intimate horseshoe compared to the nosebleed NFL seats surrounded by corporate wine and cheese suites.
REAL fans sit outside and see their breath and live and die on every down. Those that have sweaters tied around their necks eating food on toothpicks and glancing at TVs in a "gladhand" box are merely there to be seen or heard.
UC needs fans that the players can hear.
If this were RIverbend, the Bearcats need the loud and faithful in the lawn. They appreciate those who cough up the coin for the select "Willy Wonka Golden Ticket" premium seats, but they respond to full student sections within an arm's length of the field and supportive patrons that enjoy the economical entertainment of Bearcat football AT NIPPERT.
A win and they're 9-3. Even at 8-4, it's a huge step from last season.
Are they a BCS bowl team?
Honestly, without Zach Collaros, that's a stretch.
But, as long as you have a chance you should put your best foot forward and play all the cards in your deck.
Beating Syracuse on the road 30-13 is impressive. Heck, any Big East road win is impressive.
Now, there's the Huskies who dismantled Rutgers, the team who dismantled UC Nov. 19 in Munchie Legaux's debut.
Connecticut also pounded the Bearcats 38-17 last year, beat them 40-16 in the Orange Bowl year and gave them all they could handle in the Sugar Bowl year as UC escaped, 47-45. If you want to throw basketball in the mix, the Huskies beat UC twice in the final two months of the season last winter, the second ending the Bearcats' run in the second round of the NCAA.
So, there's plenty of reasons to hunker down on the Huskies.
Defensively, the Bearcats have played better the last two times out and this is another team that has high scoring potential.
Connecticut has a throwing quarterback and a running quarterback, similar to UC's strategy. Hopefully, what UC has seen in practice all year will pay off here.
Saturday's game is also the final game at Nippert for a number of seniors. They all have had significant contributions in one way or another, but if I had to pick out a handful that Bearcat fans will remember I'd go with (numerically) DJ Woods, Zach Collaros, Isaiah Pead, JK Schaffer and Derek Wolfe.
Those five could've played on any Bearcat team of any era and stood out.
May they go out strong and then even stronger in whatever bowl game lies ahead.
As for the bowl, wherever and however, what say we win this time?
South Beach and Bourbon Street are nice, but all drinks are sour after a loss. Not many schools can end a season with a win, but it seems like an eternity since Ben Mauk lit up Southern Miss in the Papajohns.com Bowl in Birmingham in 2007.
In the Orange Bowl, I felt good when Tony Pike hit Mardy Gilyard for a touchdown early, but that was unfortunately that against Virginia Tech.
The Sugar Bowl left a lot to be desired on a lot of levels.
After a rough November, I'm looking forward to a strong game against Connecticut and full-bore, focused effort to win a bowl game.
By the way, the title of this column is from an old Frank Zappa song. Turns out, Frank played at the University of Cincinnati's Armory Fieldhouse Sept. 30,1978. I was a year away from starting college at that point. If you were there, perhaps you heard this:
So, when I can break away from the regular gig covering high school sports and get to a UC press conference or practice, I do.
For those that don't know my history, I went to school here and spent a great deal of time covering the Bearcats in my radio career before it became really cool to cover the Bearcats.
I enjoy being around the University and miss the opportunity to be around more.
My objective in coming to the Butch Jones Tuesday gathering (catered by City BBQ) was to hopefully run into Zach Collaros and get his opinions on quarterbacking.
Unfortunately, Zach wasn't around.
I did hear Coach Jones speak and I can surmise from his comments that: a) Munchie Legaux has the job to lose b) Jordan Luallen will get a look c) Brendon Kay might get a look and, d) the UC goal is to gain four yards on first down.
Reading between the lines, that sounds like Munchie's still the guy with a somewhat conservative game plan.
Whatever it is, agree or disagree, I hope it works. First and foremost, I have made no secret that I pull for the Bearcats. Theoretically, I'm not supposed to say that.
Honestly, it goes against everything my parents taught me.
I'm one that doesn't think my occupation in the media precludes me from feeling good for a team I'm covering. I did it with UC. I do it for a lot of the high schools I cover.
Truth is, you sometimes become a fan of something by exposure.
My graduation from UC and my previous job that had me physically on the sideline at one point or another for every Bearcat football game from 1994-2007 has given me a perspective that not many are privy to.
I will not apologize for being a fan.
If you listen to ESPN radio (which I do on Sirius/XM to avoid local clutter I'm all too familiar with) Mike Goldberg is as blatant a New York Jets homer as there is.
If you catch Scott Van Pelt in the afternoon, he often integrates coverage of Maryland and the Baltimore Ravens in his show. He's fooling no one.
None of us should have to feel guilty about a passion.
That said, if you think I'm a straight Kool-Aid drinker, think again.
Part of my job covering Bearcat football on the radio was to be truthful to those I was talking to. There was no shortage of folks wanting to call me a "homer", but they apparently didn't listen much.
I often questioned play calls, quarterback choices, and strategy. In Hawaii in 2002, while having bottles and drinks thrown at me while interviewing Rick Minter (the infamous, "This is a disgrace!" quote) I questioned the ridiculous amount of hanger-ons on the sidelines. I even confronted the AD Herman Frazier after the game when I was told that specific group of referees had done numerous Hawaii games.
More potshots were taken, but in the end, I was proven right. Hawaii had several more brawls with teams from the contiguous 48 and now I'm hearing of point-shaving allegations there.
(Aloha from ESPN) At UC, I questioned playing games on weeknights when it affected attendance and the product wasn't ready (38-0 to West Virginia when the lights went out).
To this day, I question taking home conference games to Paul Brown Stadium, particularly, HOMECOMING. (You guys have been down this path before.)
I don't like the red pants, not big on the red tops and I think every bad karma white helmet from the Sugar Bowl should be shot through the ROTC cannon.
Do you think I'm alone?
I'm not saying I'm the ultimate opinion, but I always tried to talk to the guy sitting high in the Herschede-Shank pavilion at Nippert (and the fans like Nippert) as if I were sitting next to him during the game. The compliments I have received over the years and since my departure have usually been, "I liked the way you told it like it was."
Now...circling back to my intention to interview Zach Collaros...I wanted his opinion of the quarterbacks.
The reason being, in my numerous interviews with Ben Mauk, a quarterback that I admire both on and off the field, I asked him who should take his place if he were injured.
He didn't reply with Dustin Grutza, who showed guts and heart and was Mark Dantonio's chosen quarterback. He didn't say Tony Pike, who became a five-year overnight sensation thanks to a gunslinging offense. He didn't say Chazz Anderson who led a fairly restricted life here.
He said, "Zach Collaros!"
I asked him why.
"He reminds me of me," he said.
Good enough. It turned out pretty accurate and prophetic too when Collaros took over for the injured Tony Pike.
If you look at those numbers, Zach was never better and many of you questioned putting Tony back in.
Whether or not Collaros would now tell me his selection or be diplomatic remains to be seen.
But, I would be curious to know.
My quick opinion (which matters little in the film/tape room): Munchie Legaux will be good, but he was thrown into a tough situation early and not given the package to succeed. If you recruited him to be multi-purpose, let's go with it. Don't send him into battle with a butter knife. If you watched the UC/Rutgers telecast with former Florida State and pro quarterback Danny Kanell, you know I wasn't in the minority with those thoughts.
Jordan Luallen is interesting. If you're going more conservative run game, why not "Tebow it" or play Army/Air Force ball? The funny thing is he appears to be exactly what Travis Kelce was at quarterback before he became a tight end.
Brendon Kay is the wildcard.
He is Munchie's height plus 30 pounds. He led his high school team in Michigan to a state title by throwing and running. He came to UC in the same class that brought you Isaiah Pead, JK Schaffer, Derek Wolfe, Dan Giordano, Brandon Mills, Walter Stewart, Travis Kelce and DJ Woods.
In the long run, that's not a bad class of dudes.
I don't know if Mary Kay has a better chance of playing before Brendon Kay or not, but he has a resume similar to that of Tony Pike's--he's lurking about just waiting for a test drive.
So, if he's ever in Heisman contention, I just provided you with your marketing website.
It wouldn't be the first idea taken from me without recognition/compensation, nor will it be the last.
Just like the seemingly devastating injury to Zach Collaros isn't the first in UC athletics or the last.
History proves otherwise and Dan Hoard, Bill Koch and others have documented the past incidents pretty thoroughly in the past week.
What happened to Collaros against Louisville is why you often see five or six guys in different colored jerseys at spring and preseason practices. A team only needs one quarterback on the field, but several are vital to the operation.
As far removed as a guy can look, he's always a tear or break away from moving up the football flinging food chain.
In recent memory, you can look no further than Tony Pike, who greyshirted, redshirted and then seemingly was relegated to clipboard duty for life.
In his junior year, he was nearly told to "go on about his life's work" as Brian Kelly wasn't impressed with his work ethic.
Then, he went from the guy that smuggled Skittles into his quarterback pouch at practice, to a viable replacement, to THE guy in a span of less than two years.
Opportunity often brings maturation.
Others off the top of my head that have stepped up (some of these may be dated as some of you were in preschool when I was walking the sidelines):
1) Eric Vibberts stepping in for an ineffective and injured Todd Preston.
2) Chad Plummer running crazy when Vibberts faltered.
3) Part-time basketball player Brent Petrus going deep when Plummer and Vibberts struggled.
4) Deontey Kenner showing he was more than a holder in the Humanitarian Bowl.
5) Adam Hoover in relief of an injured Deontey Kenner.
6) Gino Guidugli stepping in with the best freshman debut ever when Adam Hoover was injured at Army in the second game of the season.
7) George Murray nearly coming back to beat East Carolina (before he went to wide receiver) as Guidugli was injured.
8) Guidugli stepping up for himself by recovering from a broken hand in less than a month to be MVP of the Fort Worth Bowl.
9) The legendary replacement of Dustin Grutza with Nick Davila to beat No. 7 Rutgers in 2006.
10) Grutza in relief of Ben Mauk in several games in 2007.
11) Mauk, like Guidugli in 2004, overcoming considerable pain and doubt to be MVP of the Papajohns.com Bowl in Birmingham.
12) Tony Pike, in relief of Dustin Grutza after the broken leg at Oklahoma 2008.
13) Zach Collaros sealing the win in Akron in 2008 after Pike's injury.
14) Chazz Anderson starting against Rutgers in 2008 over Collaros.
15) Dustin Grutza, back miraculously quick to come in for a reinjured Tony Pike at Hawaii.
16) Zach Collaros again in for Pike with the memorable 75-yard run against USF in 2009 and his string of impressive statistical games.
Which brings us back to Munchie Legaux, who now is in the limelight.
While his passing at times left much to be desired, it didn't look like he had the full playbook at his disposal. When he ran, I think you saw another dimension. The last Bearcat quarterback, outside of Pike, with long strides like that was Chad Plummer who often turned five-yard losses into 20-yard gains in the mid 90s.
Once he was beyond the opening jitters, I think Legaux showed a lot of Cajun (fill in your favorite slang term for intestinal fortitude) by leading the Bearcats back and nearly pulling the game off.
Personally, once he hit Adrien Robinson at the 20 for a first down, I wish he had been given an opportunity to go to the endzone.
Sadly, that's another meeting/decision where my input wasn't asked.
Still, Legaux showed me a lot in the West Virginia loss as I was kind of in the corner of Georgia Tech transfer Jordan Luallen. For that matter, Luallen still can help on short downs and I think Brendon Kay has more to offer than just miming plays in.
But, Munchie's the guy and that's good. At worst, you get a glimpse at next year's quarterback and you have a marketable entity for your next batch of bookstore jerseys.
At best, the Creole 'Cat jazzes things up and you've got a nice story to take to another BCS bowl game.
Your next story then would be the quarterback controversy as I wouldn't be shocked to see Collaros available and willing to play come bowl time.
Never a dull moment behind center....
Now, to relive one of the finer games in Bearcat history (where Jim Kelly did his Meg Ryan impression on radio after Ryan Manalac's game-saving interception) here you go:
Louisville has entertained the Big 12 option and the Bearcats took them down at Paul Brown (Rick Pitino is the only one with any sense in "The 'Ville").
Pitt jumped ship to the ACC, joining Syracuse in an attempt to gut one of the best basketball conference's ever. Their payback was another national TV loss at the hands of the Bearcats at Heinz Field.
Now, it's West Virginia's turn.
Again, the move is puzzling, but sometimes I think too much as a fan I suppose. In doing so, keep in mind, this conference jumping is a complete slap in the face to loyal fans.
West Virginia will travel heavy to Paul Brown Stadium, just as they have to Nippert Stadium and Fifth Third Arena. Outside of the few coach-burners who get worked up into a lather over beer being served, the Mountaineer fans are generally good people.
They'll load up the truck and drive to Louisville, they'll drive to Pittsburgh, they'll drive north to Syracuse and here. That was the luxury of the Big East.
You think anyone's driving from Morgantown to Waco, Lubbock, Austin, Stillwater or even Lawrence, Kansas?
Maybe if it were a bowl game or an NCAA tournament game, but not for a regular season contest during one of the worst recessions ever.
Financially, I suppose it makes sense. That's the end answer to anything in life you'll ever wonder about.
Logically and logistically, it's all a nightmare.
Pitt and Syracuse used to play in the BEST postseason basketball tournament around, the Big East tournament in Madison Square Garden. To any basketball junkie, Madison Square Garden is the mecca of college hoops.
Now, instead of playing where Willis Reed once limped onto the floor and led the Knicks to the NBA title and where Gerry McNamara made improbable shots for Jim Boeheim, Syracuse gets to play in Greensboro.
Greensboro exists solely to host first-round Duke tournament games.
Pitt also made great runs in New York, as did West Virginia. Now. the Panthers will play in a conference where they are middle-of-the-pack at best.
West Virginia's basketball in the Big 12 makes little sense too. Sure, they'll compete, but instead of Bob Huggins getting a yearly warm welcome in Cincinnati, he'll be heckled and harassed unmercifully by those in Manhattan, Kansas that he left high and dry.
In football, maybe all the teams compete. Maybe not.
In the ACC, Pitt and Syracuse can probably do OK, but I wonder how many of their local recruits will be ignored by the pressure to recruit more in the south?
As for West Virginia, do you really want to play Texas, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, etc. every year?
The Mountaineers absolutely have had respectable teams, but be careful what you wish for.
What do you think the odds are of WVU making another Orange Bowl playing out of the Big 12?
For the Bearcats, Saturday at PBS is another of several opportunities to slap some schools around that in my mind have showed athletic arrogance. In exchange for some cash, these schools have spat on tradition, on rivalries and essentially told their fans, "You don't matter!"
Syracuse, Pitt and West Virginia are all at fault. Connecticut, Louisville and Rutgers have made overtures.
It's kind of like having a date for the prom and then ditching her because the phony, superficial popular girl with her store-bought charm has feigned interest.
When all this Big East stuff started for UC a few years back, they decided to make it another one of those "trophy games".
Along with the "Victory Bell" and the "Keg of Nails", we were blessed with "The River City Rivalry" courtesy of Trophy Awards who concocted something that looked like a riverboat steering apparatus (that's the extent of my nautical knowledge).
Most of these trophies rested inside the Lindner Center, but Pitt last year was able to grab the "wheel" back with a 28-10 win at Nippert.
Given the current conference carousel, it's best for the Bearcats to retrieve said trophy and place it back in the case on the fourth floor.I don't suppose Pitt will have much use for it in their television-dictated move to the ACC.
That's just one of the reasons UC should have for beating the Panthers.
The most obvious one is that they're 6-1 and ranked and Pitt is 4-4. A Bearcat win at Heinz Field is a serious blow to the ribs for the Pittsburghers in their first season under their new head coach.
Part of the joy of beating Pitt used to be watching "the 'Stache" nervously run his hands through his 1970s disco hair. Somewhere, I can imagine a white John Travolta suit in the Wannstache closet that plays "Burn Baby Burn (Disco Inferno)" by the Trammps as the door opens.
Todd Graham did an excellent job at Tulsa, but there's no reason (yet) to have a burning desire to pummel his teams. It simply was a lot of fun to watch an agitated Wannstedt on the sidelines getting outcoached time and time again.
One other word of warning Bearcat fans: you may not to know it, but the Pittsburgh folks are trying to infiltrate and sway your thinking. Why else would there be a virtual dumping of Yuengling Beer on the Tri-State during the last week? Coincidence or not?
(Either way, I'm still in a Halloween mood stirring the pot.)
The bottom line is the Bearcats should take care of business and win. It might not be as crazy as the Dec. 5, 2009 classic, but I'm guessing the days after it will be more pleasant than they were nearly two years ago.
Lest you forget, here was the timeline:
12/5/09 Bearcats pull out instant classic win as Tony Pike hits Armon Binns in the endzone (nothing fancy--Binns beats his man and Pike hits the target).
12/6/09 Bearcats host a selection show at Fifth Third Arena where everyone nervously approaches Brian Kelly with kid gloves. It's announced that UC's going to the Sugar Bowl.
12/10/09 Brian Kelly is announced as the Home Depot Coach of the Year while at UC's football banquet. Word is already out that he's going to Notre Dame, he officially tells us team after the banquet, then marches across the hall to play political word games with Chris Fowler on ESPN.
12/11/09 Brian Kelly resigns and is announced new head coach at Notre Dame.
12/11/09 Kelly assistant Jeff Quinn named interim head coach and will coach Sugar Bowl.
12/16/09 Butch Jones named new head coach, but Quinn still coaches Sugar Bowl.
1/2/10 Bearcats get Tebow'd at Sugar Bowl by Florida.
All things considered it was from joy to madness as a Bearcat fan, a scenario many hope never plays out again (in terms of coaching musical chairs).
Also of note from that game in 2009, of the key players you may remember in that game offensively, only Pitt's Dion Lewis (47 carries 194 yards and three scores) is on an NFL active roster (he's an Eagle where Jason Kelce, Trent Cole and Brent Celek can agitate him). Tony Pike received an injury settlement from Carolina in late August and Mardy Gilyard was released by the Rams and then the Jets in early September. Armon Binns is wearing No. 85 for the Cincinnati Bengals, but is on the practice squad.
Since the hustling Paul Dehner Jr. has already provided you with the Pike to Binns highlight, I'll leave you with this one. This, in my opinion, changed the momentum of the game. UC was down 31-10 late in the first half, when Mardy Gilyard took the football 99 yards to cut it to a two touchdown game at halftime. Later, in the third quarter he had a 68-yard touchdown catch to make it 31-24. Pitt then had leads of 38-24 and 44-38 before Tony Pike hit Binns on the memorable pass and Jake Rogers made the extra point for the 45-44 win.
>Also, for those thinking Tony Pike had the game of his life, you might not remember that he threw three picks that game and was only 22-42 passing.
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:
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.
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.
( 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.
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.
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. (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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. (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.