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The CFA College Football Advantage

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There is a work stoppage in the NFL and ironically in my life too. Unlike the NFL and the players my position was eliminated at the hotel I worked for and it was a total surprise. Life moves on and so will the game of football, even if the NFL doesn't resolve its billionaire versus millionaire fight.

So it's a great time for college football to market itself even more aggressively during this time. People are already wondering if there will be pro-football and their love jones for the game is calling. College football can answer the call by reminding football fans they have no strikes, plenty of games and future stars en masse. Advertisers may be nervous about capitalizing on that core audience and you can come to their rescue.

If you love football, the SEC, Big Ten, Big 12, Big East and a few other conferences will give you the fix you need. You will see hard hits, great athleticism and late game heroics that keep you glued to the edge of your seat. Now I admit it won't be to scale but high level college football is a great place to land in the event of a strike and the ticket prices are less of an impact on the budget as well. You can actually pick up the tab for the day including parking and food.

So as the NFL owners cry broke but won't open books; and the players cry foul and won't bend, college football run a blitz on the fans and advertisers. The NFL doesn't have a defense to stop that...at least right now.

That's the way I see it, sitting in The Box Seat.

RUN ON COACHES

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One thing about winning in college sports is that is makes schools that have underperformed look at other schools and declare war on their staff. Xavier just lost their women's basketball coach and the only thing I am left to conclude is that he couldn't do any better than he did with the wealth of talent he possessed. So to go to the Pacific Northwest and do what he did here would make him a saint and I guess that was the allure. Arkansas went after Mike Anderson who cut his teeth there but was initially content to stay at Missouri; but when they came back with something he couldn't turn down he left and with the blessings of his players.

So now word is other schools may be looking at Mick Cronin and some of his staff because of the 5 year job he has done with a program that was lower than a basement to start. They are thinking what could he do in 5 years with a program that has some stability and better facilities and/or the commitment to build them? I hope it's a question that never gets answered because UC might be wise, contrary to some public opinion, to secure his services at the going rate; or something close to it.

People get spoiled so quickly now they think what Mick did was no big deal because its been done and they're on to the next complaint. What I don't want to happen is another rebuilding period to set the school back yet again in the very competitive Big East aka Big Beast. While UConn is the only school left in the tournament, it is still the best basketball conference in the nation hands down. Any other team playing that schedule would truly understand.

So I know we are talking to Mick and I hope a deal would come sooner than later. In the world of coaching, money and length of contract speak volumes. Followed closely behind is the financial wherewithal to take care of your family. Selfishly, feeling appreciated is the trump card. I hope those who are inclined to decide the fate of UC basketball look at where we were when Mick arrived on campus and ask the obvious questions: Was it an easy job? NO and secondly did he get it done? YES

I think with those answers in tow, the negotiation process should happen rather quickly. What you do in these negotiations will set a precedent mid-court.

That's the way I see it, sitting in The Box Seat.

 

Concrete Poured, Foundation Built

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When building subdivisions they always say phase I complete; Phase II underway. I would think the construction terminology fits the UC basketball team perfectly. The concrete was being poured and people were asking what are you building? It doesn't look like a program. That's not the way the last one was built. That's taking too long....all right already.

We have come to realize that Mick and his coaching staff have built a solid foundation and it does look like a quality program and one that can return to the NCAA tournament less than every 5-6 years. The exposure on TV via the Big East tournament and playing two rounds in the NCAA will help recruiting and reconnect some lost fans (you maybe?).

It did feel good to see UC's name called and even better to see them on all the brackets and game board in the studio. To see them respond to the pressure of Missouri's defense, and have solid success, erased even more haters from the inner circle who proclaimed allegiance to the University when convenient. To see them battle UConn and a sizzling hot Kemba Walker, thanks to Rashad Bishop playing his last game in the classic black uniform, was further proof that the concrete has hardened. What is showed was the typical Jekyll and Hyde team we saw at times this season didn't show up in the tournament.

I don't know if you're convinced that UC basketball is back but you have to admit that was one giant step in the right direction. Now if you take one giant step toward campus, it might be like it was; or even better...yes even better. Mick made it public that the fans were the difference once they showed up and got involved. So there's confirmation that you can make a difference with your presence in the building night in and night out.

With that I say congratulations UC Bearcat basketball; some of us actually think you had a successful season and believe the concrete has hardened. Now use that foundation to build a house that will stand the test of time and return UC back to the glory days when teams didn't want to play you and the fans were always behind you. Just put a couple of big picture windows in so the haters have a good view.

That's the way I see it, sitting in The Box Seat.

6 Seeds Of Satisfaction

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It is now official; The University of Cincinnati is once again dancing in March and Mick Cronin should be somewhere saying under his breath "How you like me now!" Fresh from years of being berated and questioned; attacked and admonished, he can now smoke a cigar and plan to play basketball at the highest level outside the Big East.

With a number 6 ranking in the tournament seedings UC actually got some respect from the idiot committee. I don't think anyone understands the logic or lack thereof as to why some of the teams like UAB get in, but I digress and get back to the celebration of Bearcat basketball's return to March Madness. Their first game is against the Big 12's Missouri Tigers which means by buddy Billy Price and I will be rooting against each other in good nature. He wishes well for UC but as a Mizzou grad and supporter I do understand. Thank goodness for us Arkansas reportedly has said they're going after Mizzou coach Mike Anderson; lets hope its a distraction to our advantage.

UC also has the benefits in sight that come standard with the tournament and are available to UC for the taking; play well and several high profile players will sign to become the missing pieces. Win 2 games and become a sweet 16 darling. Become Butler of last year or George Mason of a few years ago and the merchandise revenue goes through the roof. Yes there are a lot of things that March Madness brings but the most important thing it brings, that this program has been sorely lacking, is respect. After hearing their name on the selection show, respect has extended the seal of approval to University of Cincinnati. I couldn't agree more. Congratulations University of Cincinnati; Mick Cronin, Rashad Bishop and Larry Davis. 4 years ago the mountain top wasn't visible but today neither is the valley. 

That's the way I see it, sitting in The Box Seat

Good Win Good Bye

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UC has finally made a statement worthy of a doubters surrender. They swept Georgetown en route to an impressive Big East regular season record earning them a first round bye. The 24 overall wins and 11 wins in the Big East ended the excuses that were as frequent as a businessman at a Las Vegas brothel...allegedly.

The Bearcats displayed tough defense and big plays when they needed it to solidify their invitation to the NCAA tournament after a long drought. No one can say they backed in; no one can say they conference is weak; and not one person can say if,  if or if; They deserve to go because they won 11 games in the toughest hoop conference in America, period. They got a first round bye as a result of the league performance while teams like Villanova (whom many of you thought were better) have to start playing right away. 

So lets enjoy Big East tournament with a team that returned the University of Cincinnati basketball program back to its rightful place of residence: The NCAA tournament. Here's to a return engagement next year.

It's Getting Better All The Time
I also want to pay respect to UC women's coach Jamelle Elliott, who I think has this program heading in the right direction. Lets face it, when you come into a league with UConn and Rutgers and everyone else has been recruiting to get on par with them, you're fighting up hill in the most challenging of ways. I know at times its hard for her, but I think as she continues to recruit top flight players; the kind who won't be scared of the competition and who will buy into her Gino, Jr. philosophy of take no prisoners basketball, you will see success.

She doesn't get the support she was used to at UConn as a player and coach but she will before its all said and done. Coach Elliott we are watching; we are impressed and we believe. We may not say it enough but I'm saying it now. I think you will create a program with talent and wins sooner than later. You were more competitive this year and got some much needed wins and now its just adding and padding the win total. 

Keep working hard and the next time I write about a UC team getting in the NCAA tournament after a long absence, I most certainly feel like it will be you and your young ladies.

That's the way I see it, sitting in The Box Seat.

WHAT NOW!?

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I thought UC was in the NCAA tournament after wins over Louisville at home and Georgetown on the road but some of my friends and colleagues weren't sure. Well after their impressive road win over Marquette can we finally celebrate the return of UC to the NCAA tournament dance better known as March Madness?

I mean people are sitting around biting fingers, saying IF, wondering aloud. They have 23 wins; they are 10-7 in the Big East which guarantees them their first winning record in the league and they are now working on a first round bye in the tournament with a win on senior day Saturday.

It has been a long road back with lots of bumps and bruises and you better win this year or else shouts from the rafters but they've done it so sit down. Mick Cronin, like his style or not, has brought UC back to a respectable standard with this seasons success and you should pat him on the back and his entire staff who have worked as hard and endured as much criticism as the head coach. Pull out your UC gear that you put away when Huggy Bear left and remember why you rooted for UC in the first place. You were probably home town proud or a proud UC grad. Both happen before Huggs or Mick showed up.

We cling to the past because we can't change it or more important we won't let it change us. The future of UC basketball should change you from a hater, bystander or naysayer back into a fan now. They did what you ask and that was to get back to the NCAA tournament where we belong. Now get your butt back in the seats this Saturday where you belong. The kids aren't convinced that you're for real either; but now we know they certainly are and congratulations are in order regardless of your allegiance to Mick or Huggs.

That's the way I see it, sitting in The Box Seat.

Big Win Bigger Turnaround

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Are we all relieved that UC beat Louisville and stayed in the NCAA tournament race? I would say so. Thank goodness Rick Pitino has always had trouble here and the way that UC team played everyone would have trouble winning here. It looked like a pack of vicious dogs or Bearcats were unleashed and U of L had no answer for either. It was a solid win, RPI booster, strength of schedule enhancer and a 20th win, giving UC an increase in wins for 5 consecutive years (if only my bank account did that).

I hope this team realizes in the Big East you have to play like this every night to have a chance at success. The loss to West Virginia and St. John has to be eating at the coaches because it could end up hurting in the end, if they don't keep playing like they do. With this team we have to wait; because it is somewhat a mystery as to which team will show up. I hope the momentum from this win will become a signature style of play down the stretch. 

But the bigger turnaround was the immature adult fans who chose to boo Yancy Gates during the end of the St. John's game. Don't get me wrong I am not happy with his effort night in and out and wasn't happy at that moment either. But to boo a young man as  if you at his age didn't mess up along the way was embarrassing. I could hear most of you telling your kids how to act and then display that kind of behavior. Thank you for rebounding with your emotions and giving the kid a nice ovation when he check in the game. The reality is Yancy is going to play as he always has; when he wants to and booing him won't increase the chances he will, and yes, cheering doesn't guarantee it either. But I like the chances of being positive and fair more than being immature and unfair. Yancy we want the best for you and the rest of the team; we adults sometimes can be hard on our youth, forgetting we didn't like it when adults were hard on us.

That's the way I see it, sitting in The Box Seat.

GATES KEEPER

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The Bearcats escaped DePaul last night with a much needed win but it was as ugly as ugly gets. Nonetheless in the Big East get what you can and don't look back; the posse might be gaining on you. UC is now 19-5 overall and 6-5 in the Big East, equally their league win total from last year.

And while the win and the record have its place in my column, so does Yancy Gates and his recent suspension. Word is he lost his cool in practice with one of the coaches and that cost him a complimentary trip to Pittsburgh where the Xavier Yancy may have showed up or the other one. We'll never know; but we do know he admitted his mistake and took responsibility for it. I can't say I am a fan of his because I would be stretching the truth, but I am a fan of his maturity. He was quick to admit his shortcomings and that he indeed deserved to be sanctioned. I don't know that I would have been that quick to admit it at that age but Coach Mick Cronin needed to remind not only Yancy, but the rest of the team that no one is bigger than the team. He didn't have to tell Rashad Bishop though; he already felt the wrath when UC went to New York last year without him costing him a trip back to his hood.

Yancy Gates needs to realize hard work pays dividends, not potential. He has a supportive family and I know they weren't happy to hear what happened. But they had to be happy to know that he is maturing as a person admitting his wrong publicly. I hope Yancy plays every game from here out as it he is playing against Xavier. That will ensure UC several more Big East wins and a trip to the NCAA tournament. He is big, strong and has broad enough shoulders to carry this team down the stretch. The question is whether he wants to or not. But after admitting his mistake we know he has matured off the court; but now can he mature on it? If they get to the dance it will be because Yancey Gates wanted to be there himself.

That's the way I see it, sitting in The Box Seat.

Chances Are...

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You could have won back fans rooting for West Virginia; you could have shut the haters up; you could have made a statement to the Big East that UC understands playing in this league means there are no easy games even if the other team is short handed and one of the starters isn't playing. But the outcome went against everything that was on the line and 2 things deeply disappointed me: One, UC seemed to lose their heart after not scoring easy buckets and defensively their intensity was noticeably absent at crucial times. 

I don't pretend to know what goes on in the mind of an 18-21 year old no more than my parents knew what was going on in mine. But I do know what should be on the mind of a 18-21 year old in the Big East; playing for 40 minutes like it's your last game. I am anxious to see if the lost and their mental state carry over into the next game with a positive or negative impact. If they are who we think they are (apologies to Dennis Green), then this loss could be the catalyst to tighten up team chemistry down the stretch. If not then this team is going to hit a spiral like an Alfred Hitchcock Thriller. 

Every team in the Big East is in desperate mode because from week to week the top teams are getting beat not once but several times. We looked at Syracuse as the top team and they can't stop losing; UConn was a force but U of L went on the road and beat them. Georgetown, Villanova, etc. all have a roller coaster ride to show for their schedule thus far. And UC can't afford to give away home games after stealing road ones.

So up next is Pitt in Pittsburgh and they saw Notre Dame rock their home court so there will be no looking past UC. The Bearcats need to make a statement in this game and it better be something along the lines of Tupac Shakur..."Me Against The World". Because after that performance at home against the Mountaineers it has probably reverted back to that. The fans who came to potentially get back on the bandwagon found an easy excuse not to. I am hoping to find a reason to keep hope alive, but its up to them to convince each other more than me.

That's the way I see it, sitting in The Box Seat

A won & A Two

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That's what UC finished on this first real test of the Big East road wars, ending with a gutsy win over St. John; and some people still aren't happy. Good thing the players don't care, coaches either. If people would take a minute and look a the home record combined of all the Big East teams, you would find this is not that much out of line with the norm. It is just hard to win on the road in the Big Beast; especially if you start slow. Look at the New York Jets when they played the Pittsburgh Steelers yesterday; slow start, impressive second half and the results are to watch the Super Bowl at home.

As this teams continues to (hopefully) buy in to the coaching staff and toughen up their start of game mentality there is a real chance they could steal another road game. But more important, they have to hold serve at home. Any team who will have any measure of success in this league will have to hold serve and "steal" on the road. This is the only time stealing is condoned. The other challenge is not to let down because you're back at home because Rutgers and West Virginia are trying to steal wins as well, and with Huggy Bear, Bob Huggins returning the incentive to win has more layers than a normal game regardless of what anyone tells you.

UC's salad and appetizers portion of the schedule have been served; the main course is ready and its a heavy dose of meat and potatoes banging in the Big East. If this team can continue to improve and a clear cut leader can lead by example on both ends of the court, this team can get better. Say what you want about Mick, UC and/or the program itself but progress is real; getting in the NCAA tournament is realistic. Knowing everyone won't believe in them is reality.

That's the way I see it, sitting in The Box Seat