Heard it From Hoard: Column 26
By now you've undoubtedly heard about the celebs that have been spotted at The Fontainebleau - the Bearcats team hotel in Miami.
Sean "Diddy" Combs, Jamie Foxx, Adam Levine (the lead singer for Maroon 5), A-Rod, and Sports Illustrated "Swimsuit Model" Molly Sims to name a few.
Well today, I got to spend some time with a celebrity I was hoping to run into at the Orange Bowl: American League All-Star and former Bearcat Kevin Youkilis.
I think Youk has surpassed Nick Lachey as Cincinnati's most high-profile fan. When I've run into him at spring training or in the Red Sox clubhouse, he is invariably wearing UC gear and Kevin even wore a Bearcat hat while being interviewed for Boston's 2007 World Series championship video.
"Guys on our team probably get sick of hearing about Cincinnati," Youkilis told me. "To me, the Bearcats are the greatest thing on earth and Cincinnati is the greatest place on earth and I always get a lot of grief for talking about it all the time."
But it isn't just talk. The Orange Bowl will be the third UC sporting event that Kevin has attended this off-season. Unfortunately, he's 0-for-2 so far having seen the football team lose at Connecticut and the basketball team fall to Xavier.
"I'm hoping for 1-for-3 which is a .333 batting average -- something we always shoot for in the major leagues," said Youkilis, who batted a career-high .312 this season. "I think the coaches are a little worried about me coming - I just saw Coach Coombs and told him that ever since I was a little kid I've seen a lot of big wins too. I was at the Syracuse game that we won on a last-second field goal by Jason Mammarelli, and I was at the Wisconsin upset when Ron Dayne was playing. So I've been to a lot of exciting games and many Crosstown Shootouts that we won, so I think the odds are in my favor this time."
Win or lose against Virginia Tech, he's enjoyed the ride to UC's first appearance in a BCS bowl game.
"It's been great," Youkilis said. "It's been great for the university and it's been great for the football team. Brian Kelly has done an unbelievable job and I hope he stays for a long time - it sounds like he might. That's our biggest concern - if they ever need me as a fellow Massachusetts guy to get him some Red Sox stuff to keep him around I'll see what I can do. I think it would be huge to keep him because UC is a great University and a lot of alumni are really proud of what's going on."
UC pride was certainly evident at the team's pep rally on Wednesday. A ballroom at the Hyatt Regency Miami was jam-packed with Bearcat fans, including hundreds of students who traveled for 22 hours by bus to attend the game (you can find video on youtube.com by searching for "UC pep rally").
As I told the fans at the rally, I don't know what the score is going to be in the Orange Bowl, but I do know the key numbers going into the game.
14,000 to 5,000.
That's roughly the number of tickets UC fans purchased in comparison to the number of tickets Virginia Tech fans purchased.
So much for the notion that Cincinnati fans don't travel to bowl games. You proved it last year in Birmingham and took it a step further this year in Miami.
Perhaps BCS should stand for Big-time Cincinnati Support.
On game day, two more Bearcat fans will arrive in Miami: my wife Peg and our son Sam. He'll be the 2-year-old in the Marcus Barnett #85 jersey hanging out near the pool at the Fontainebleau. We'll definitely take pictures for a future column.
In the meantime, here's the handsome lad enjoying a recent visit to the aquarium.
I'd love to hear from you. The address is firstname.lastname@example.org.