In 10-plus years in Cincinnati, there are 3 questions that I'm frequently asked. Allow me to quickly answer the first two.
1. No, I'm not related to my former Fox 19 co-worker Greg Hoard.
2. Yes, this is my real hair.
Now that we have that out of the way, let's get to question number three: What is the most exciting sporting event you've ever covered.
I've been incredibly blessed. I've covered 5 Super Bowls, 2 World Series, the Final Four and a Ryder Cup (where I got sprayed with champagne by the victorious Europeans). I've interviewed Tiger Woods, Sandy Koufax, Jim Brown, Michael Jordan and Katarina Witt (I'll let you guess which of those sports legends left my slightly tongue-tied).
And, of course, I called the final 17 minutes of an NCAA tournament game without a partner after my good friend and color analyst Chuck Machock made March Madness history by getting the boot for yelling at an official. For the record, Chuck did not use bad language-despite what the official said.
So, what's the most exciting sporting event I've ever covered? That's easy. It was the UC vs. Ohio State football game at Paul Brown Stadium on September 21, 2002.
The stadium was packed with what appeared to be an even mix of Bearcat and Buckeye fans. Ohio State was undefeated and ranked 6th, but was missing RB Maurice Clarett (for an injury-not disciplinary reasons). The Bearcats were 1-1 and listed as 17-point underdogs.
Under perfect conditions, Cincinnati marched right down the field to score on its first possession and led for most of the game, but a 6-yard scramble by OSU quarterback Craig Krenzel put the Buckeyes on top with 3:44 to go.
Led by sophomore QB Gino Guidugli, the 'Cats answered with a perfectly-executed 2-minute drill and had a first down at the OSU 15-yard-line with about a minute to go.
On first down, Gino threw a perfect pass in the end zone that bounced of the chest of WR Jon Olinger. I'll admit to screaming TOUCHDOWN before having to correct myself on the broadcast. To this day, I wonder if I was responsible for any heart attacks.
On second down, the 'Cats tried the same play but OSU defensive back E.J. Underwood broke it up.
On third down, Gino lofted a pass into the opposite corner of the end zone that a leaping George Murray got both hands on but couldn't catch. If he held on, it would have been perhaps the most memorable play in UC history.
On fourth down, Gino's 4th pass into the end zone was intercepted by Ohio State's Will Allen.
The final score was Ohio State 23, Cincinnati 19. The Buckeyes went on to go undefeated and win a national championship. The Bearcats went on to share the Conference USA championship.
It remains the most exciting sporting event I've ever covered.
But I'd be happy to revise that this Saturday.