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When Conferences Collide!

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There's been lots of talk about the Big East and the Big Ten possibly merging or the Big East losing teams to the former over the last month or so. I being one who likes to marinade on certain subjects prior to weighing in will cast my thoughts into the wind.

NO. No way should these conferences even think of doing anything other than a team vs. team match-up much like the Big East and SEC does; or the ACC and Big Ten. This is not corporate america but its starting to feel like it with merger-mania. Remember how many conferences have become a league of the past? At the rate these leagues keep merging and discussing the same you'll have 4 leagues: The Pac 20, The Big 24, The SEC and the The Big Twenty. In essence all the teams that are worth anything and that can afford anything will be in these four conferences. In basketball there won't be any Butlers left; they will be in the east or west, north or south division of a league conglomerate. 

So who's left? Maybe division II schools who might merge with Division I-AA to form a junior league. The thought of it upsets my stomach because you'll have no more underdog to root for like you do in the Big East. Who's the underdog in the Big East? Rutgers? no because they're in the Big East. Do you root for Northwestern in the Big Ten? No they've had success and they give the perennial powers all they want while maintaining a 3.0. Stanford? They own USC these days and probably ran Pete Carroll to the NFL.

Long story shorter, the big leagues are all sitting pretty with big name schools, boosters and TV deals. The money comes in and so does the exposure week in and week out. ESPN, FOX sports and USA Today all give them plenty of coverage, so much so, the James Madison's of the world fight for a byline. And you want to make an even bigger beast of a conference? No; just leave well enough alone and let the mid-majors continue bringing us a heartwarming story from time to time. With the disbursement of talent these days, the little schools know they can compete if their guys stay together for 3 years. While the big schools have players who are one and done, the field is leveled as a result.

So I hope things don't change but with corporate guys involved in college sports and someone whispering in the ear of the big networks about the potential of owning the league and all its games, sooner rather than later it will probably happen. I won't like it, but I'll watch. I won't even kid myself...

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

A MOTHER'S DAY BLOG

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We've seen the hi Mom, love you Mom and even request for the favorite dishes on TV during sporting events, most of the time during football games as a outward show of affection for Moms. So with Mothers day coming up this week, I thought I would take some time out to thank all the Mothers (Dad you day is coming) for just being Moms. Typically Mom is the transporter, chef, paper processor for scholarship opportunities and judge and jury on punishment and more.

But they're also the compassionate ones who root, cheer and believe even when Dad says otherwise based on facts. All Moms know that loving and supporting that child-athlete is of vital importance and good for self esteem. To have someone believe in you even when you don't always do the same sets them apart, even if it was the sole reason they get props. But when you listen to guys talk about their Mom, especially past tense its obvious they have continued the nurturing way past the womb. If its present tense, its on going and you're looking forward to seeing her or eating her cooking as we speak because frankly: no ones food is as good as Moms (and if it is....shhhhh!)

My Mom died in 1983 and I still long for her mac and cheese, salmon croquettes and 7-up cake among other things; and have also grown to love her discipline and warnings. When you play sports in the Big East the pressures are a little more than a DII or DIII school or even a mid-major; So when you call home, the one voice that can soothe you or kick you in the butt to end the pity party is usually Mom. I say usually so that Dads who do the same recognize I'm not omitting them. But we know Mom is special, worthy of praise and they say the women you end up marrying will remind you of your Mom. If you love your Mom, then what a fitting tribute to her and compliment to your wife.

Mom's thank you for all the sacrifices, car rides, meals on the go, laundry, hemming and stitching, tissue, hugs, corny jokes, criticisms, love, support and "Momness" you give us without hesitation and regret. You are First Team All American, MVP Most Valuable Parent, and the one we can count on in the clutch, time and time and time again. We salute you and I dedicate this blog to all the Mothers of UC players past, present and future. Enjoy your day!

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

DJ's Out Of The Woods

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Yes and he won't be a secret anymore. DJ Woods showed more of why his former coach wanted him here at UC and after the spring game it will be hard to keep him under wraps. DJ is an athlete and in todays football if you have multiple capabilities, it makes the offense or defense that much better. UC has an established reputation for a wide open offense and Coach Butch Jones wants more. With DJ he gets that and combined with Zach Collaros, good luck Big East defenses!

I think today's game is more acceptable of school yard football because chaos can be organized and its been proven time and again on every level of football including the pros. It wasn't that long ago the St. Louis Rams greatest show on turf won a Super Bowl and more recently on defense the Pittsburgh Steelers and their exotic blitzes show what happens when you lift restrictions. I think fans may be surprised that Coach Jones has an opportunity to go deeper into the creative but I believe he will. He looks, walks, talks and acts like a football coach and I respect that. This is NOT dancing with the stars or T-Ball everybody makes the team. This is a grown man's sport, played in a Big Boys league.

With DJ and Zach and the other returning players; the new coaches and players who want to carry on the tradition, optimism hasn't left UC campus but lets hope the unrealistic expectations have. Going undefeated is possible but if they end up at 9-3, or 8-2 the season won't be a waste. Spring showed you potential, the regular season shows you results. One thing is for sure, this team expect to win and we expect the same. How much is up for debate...always.

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

Represent The Si!

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Now that UC football is firmly on the local map and arguably the national one (a BCS bowl game win would help) its time to expand the fan base. With our ever growing Hispanic and ethnic population, I hope the Bearcats see the new frontier of their fan base. Just in Cincinnati alone the population of Spanish speaking citizens is growing faster than we know and with grocery stores, newspapers and events that draw large Hispanic crowds, UC can really get the jump on Ohio State, Miami of Ohio and others by rolling out the welcome mat. They may have already done it and I'm not aware of it and that's ok too.

I think this city is experiencing a growth on multiple levels but we must not forget those who want to call Cincinnati home. By engaging the Hispanic community it also endears their college bound children to have a connection to the University of Cincinnati and that increases enrollment, diversity numbers and potential scholars. 

Sports has always been the great equalizer and as you see the NFL doing more games outside the US, the one place where the numbers boom is in Mexico when the Cowboys play there. 100 thousand fans show up and revel in the moment. If UC gets one-tenth of that that's 10 thousand new fans, students and supporters simply by saying you're welcome here. Football is growing in popularity around the globe and while it won't soon replace football (soccer) as the world knows it, it can grow its market share. UC get out into the Hispanic Community and invite them to a football game, practice or take players to them and say
If you're a Cincinnatian then we're your (college) team! UC could be a trend setter with this type of outreach and capitalized on their efforts in process. Imagine Cincinnati being know for reaching out...hmmmm I like the sound of that

Ésa es la manera que la veo...sitting in The Box Seat

LOGANS RUN

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Good news if you're a bearcat fan and/or a compassionate soul;  Charges against former UC basketball star Steve Logan were dopped due to inconsistencies in the stories involving the allegations of his reported criminal act(s). Since the charges have been dropped I don't need to mention them.

I know he's breathing a sigh of relief and hopefully praising GOD for his freedom but what's next? How do you rebound from a situation that had you in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons? I know its stars with evaluating your life and your priorities. I don't know Steve personally, just from the years at UC, where he kept it close to the vest and with family. I get that but now that you are trying to rebuild trust and confidence among those who would employ you it is imperative that your circle steps up for you like the screens they set on those long jumpers.

Sadly one of my memories of Steve is that of he and his agent, allegedly, turning down the contract offer with Golden State because it wasn't guaranteed money (at the top of the second round) and subsequently he never got to display his talents in the NBA. The balls never seem to bounce his way after that and it culminated with these charges. But now that this is for the most part over with, let's hope he can share his talent with a coaching staff who can not only use his success on the court but his near tragedy off. So many star players have a feeling of invincibility and he can show them just how thin the line is, and he's young enough that they can relate.

I wish Steve Logan the best in rebounding from this situation. I hope the Bearcat faithful encourage and root for him the same way they did when he was making jumpers and winning games. He's due at least that; don't you think?

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

Community Coaches

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I happened down to the Westin Hotel early today in preparation for my meeting with our travel industry's Regional Tourism Network in conjunction with the Cincinnati Reds opening day; and If you're not from here Google it and save me the pleasure of your jealousy. It is a tradition way beyond out-of-towners comprehension. But I was made aware of another event involving military personnel who were at a breakfast where Ken Griffey Sr. and Hall of Famer, and all around good guy Anthony Munoz were speaking and in attendance as well.

And so were Mick Cronin and Butch Jones from the University of Cincinnati. I was aware but not intimidated by their security guard and assistant athletic director Mike Waddell as well but it had me thinking how cool it was to see both these coaches in support of our troops first thing in the morning. I'm sure some may not be impressed and you shouldn't be but what you should be is proud Cincinnati alumni because neither had an obligation to be there and who could blame them for being at work with their respective challenges, one replacing his mentor and icon while the other works to continue moving his program back to the Bearcats desired NCAA tournament position.

I often think coaches and athletes are in a unique situation. These coaches went because it was the right thing to do and to offer support of those who probably followed UC while at war. They say sports help take your mind off things when you're thousands of miles from campus and UC has lots to embrace no matter how you look at it. But the uniqueness is that if they promote they're going to be somewhere, people think you are grandstanding; if you don't people don't know, and say you don't care because they aren't aware. Which road would you choose? I think both coaches chose the latter and let the naysayer's make fools of themselves spewing conjecture without facts. College's coaches of today face more pressure than ever before courtesy of money minded alums who like to dangle (pledge) dollars in the face of decision makers. And believe you me they are all eyes and ears "evaluating" how well a coach does their job based on their personal assessment and, if they see them at multiple events and their record isn't superlative, then maybe they aren't doing their job. I am adding some conjecture but I have some facts in my pocket that support my claim, and as my former pastor would say "I know that doesn't apply to anyone here."

Let's simply give props to coaches and players alike who fly under the radar to give and do in the community as part of their commitment to Cincinnati. Whether or not they promote it or you see them is irrelevant; Its about being part of something bigger than yourself and bigger than your team. Spending time today with troops, many who have lost limbs, is as big as it gets. Thanks to all the coaches and players who did just that this morning and any other time they stopped working to get out in our community. As I say "Those that know, know; those that don't know don't need to."

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

 

Josh "Schneid" Sealed & Delivered The Gold!

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I know many of us don't follow swimming, with the exception of the new fans of the sport courtesy of Michael Phelps; but UC has a swimmer whose name should be remembered as well: Josh Schneider. Josh has made a name for himself in the world of aquatics and didn't disappoint as he won the NCAA 50 yard freestyle national championship, the first UC individual swimmer to do so since 1946. So not only is it a national championship for Josh and UC, its now a set up question to impress your friends or win a wager or two going forward.

We tend to focus on football and basketball and rightfully so; they bring in the money for the other sports like swimming, golf, etc. but we have to acknowledge the success of athletes like Josh, especially if you've ever swam a lap or two in your local pool. While he continues to compete and prepare for post college competition, he must receive his do before he leaves UC.

Josh' accomplishments give UC another feather in its athletic department cap and shows kids that athletes, regardless of sports, will be recognized for their success. I didn't wait for someone else to do it, I am recognizing him here as have the UC media on the university's site and other outlets. So don't say UC doesn't give props to its smaller sport champions because they do. And now its your turn to pass the knowledge on to other UC faithful and alums and yes even aquatic lovers. UC has another national champion swimmer and its been awhile since they have; but Josh got them off the schneid, Josh Schneider that is...

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

MO DON'T GO...

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Momentum has no loyalty but we can at least petition him to stick around a while. After getting the goose egg off the Big East Tournament scoreboard, UC posted an impressive win over Weber State which sets up the game tonight (Monday) against the Dayton Flyers. The Flyers have two things going for them year in and out: They are active on the court and around the ball and they have diehard fans! I expect to see a healthy dose of Flyer fanatics in the building for sure. I know, I know, we are too refined to embrace the NIT and heaven help you doing it for the kids!

I'm just hoping the 'Cats play like they have of late, and players who showed so much promise show us its now reality. I also hope players who thought they were better than advertise will recommit themselves and as a team they send these seniors out with another trip to the final four. Deonta Vaugh was one of the guys who came here inspite of...regardless of and not because of. We all owe him support because as this program turns that slow corner to progress and respect, I will remember the soliders of hoop who came here against all odds and said give me a shovel and a hammer; I want to help rebuild UC basketball. Deonta (or Deon-Trey as I used to introduce him) you put in work and there's a cornerstone with your name on it here at UC in the hoops department. And its not bricks; but bricks and mortar.

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

"SHOT PUT" THE CATS OUT OF THE TOURNEY

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We've all probably seen West Virginia's last second shot and the turnover several times now and it was a reminder of how exciting the tournament can be good or bad. Arguably the Big East Tournament is one of the best year in and year out because of games like UC-West Virginia and the 5 overtime thriller last year. Say what you want but UC did earn some respect and 2 wins to eliminate the ghost of tournament past. While everyone still has thier doubts about Mick, there was the improvement factor and you can now say next year the expectation should be a tournament berth, NCAA that is.

As Dion Dixon relives the play over and over again it will now develop and/or reveal his character. We all make mistakes but on this stage they're never forgotten. He has an off season to get better, as do the rest of the 'Cats, and come back with a Chicago chip on his shoulder ala Chicago's finest Michael Jordan. You root for and want to see players like this rebound from a embarrassing moment to a shining one. How sweet would it be next year to see him practice and play with a purpose so when he's put in that position again the results will be the complete opposite. UC has people talking again and losing Deonta' Vaughn will hurt but for those who've been looking for playing time, here's your chance to snatch it and keep it. But more than that work on your game offensively especially; the tough D kept you in games but you have to win on both ends of the court to get to that Sunday evening in March of '11 to hear "The...seed is the University of Cincinnati Bearcats, who are finally back in the NCAA tournament."

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

New Season New Reason

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Well the 2009-10 regular season is over and no matter what your opinion is the 'Cats are back in the NCAA tournament run. Yes; the Big East tournament has granted the extra wish as a result of a bubble or once bubble team playing well in the tournament. UC has only one game and that's Rutgers. If they're able to get by them U of L is next and after their win over Syracuse do they have any emotion left for the next game?

I know some are not happy about Mike Thomas confirming Mick's next year of employment but do you really want to start this whole thing over or deal with the growing pains? I'll take growing pains for $500 Alex. Then the opposition is saying Box lets get a Calipari in here and I'll quickly say will you contribute to the 5-8 million dollar price tag a hired coach commands? NO and neither will the university in this yet to be named recession.

Face it, Mick has some decisions to make about his staff and maybe who stays and goes or how they do things. I thought he upgraded the staff with the addition of Coach George Jackson who has ties to local talent and high school coaches but more importantly has a rep for developing big players (i.e. Tyrone Hill and others) I look for a more consistent Yancey Gates next year; and the other coaches like Stubblefield who grind all year long are valuable so that is a tough one but at best you'll have to share with your supporters some upgrades even if its how you'll teach the kids, even more, about playing smarter at the end of games. If you look at the games they lost down the stretch it says these kids can play in the Big East. Getting them to do it a few minutes more solves all our problems and ensures us a spot in the NCAA tournament.

The time is now; the new season is called the Big East Tournament and the opportunity to address some concerns and make some noise is here. It's still a one game season and the one game is Rutgers; if anybody looks past them including fans, shame on you. Here's wishing them well after a season more akin to a ride at Kings Island...up and down, up and down.

This time lets just Get up for Rutgers and get down to business for 40 minutes minimum! That's the way I see it sitting in "The Box Seat".