I get the question all of the time. Who do you root for when UC faces Syracuse?
For those of you who don't know, I am a graduate of Syracuse University, Class of '85. My wife Peg graduated from SU two years later, explaining why this week's photo of the world's cutest kid shows him wearing Syracuse blue and orange (for the record, he looks even better in Bearcat red and black).
This week, I'm mentioned in the Syracuse game notes in a section titled "Syracuse is Sportscaster U." It's a fraternity of sorts that I'm very proud of.
I decided to attend Syracuse after reading that sportscasting greats Bob Costas, Marv Albert and Dick Stockton had all gone there. While I was a student at the 'Cuse, my classmates included nationally-known broadcasters Mike Tirico, Sean McDonough and Ian Eagle, along with the radio play-by-play voices of West Virginia University (Tony Caridi) and Virginia Tech (Bill Roth). One of my college roommates, Jim Jackson, is the TV voice of the Philadelphia Flyers and one of my former interns, Matt Park, is the radio voice of our alma mater. In the Cincinnati market, Andy MacWilliams, Dave Lapham, and my new colleague at UC, Tommy Gelehrter, are former Orangemen.
So back to the question: Who do I root for when UC faces Syracuse?
That's easy. The Bearcats.
And it's not even close.
I like to joke that if this were a game of poker, employer trumps alma mater, but it's more than the paycheck. After covering Bearcat athletics for more than a decade, I almost feel like a graduate of UC.
My allegiance hadn't changed when the two schools met at the Carrier Dome in 1998. I had only been in Cincinnati for a couple of years and wasn't doing football play-by-play at that point. But I was hosting the Rick Minter show on Fox 19 and he kindly invited me to travel on the team plane to Syracuse as his guest.
I thought he might toss me off of the plane on the flight home after Donovan McNabb directed the 'Cuse to a 63-21 win.
By the time the schools met again in 2000, my rooting interest had changed. When unlikely hero Jason Mammarelli booted a 47-yard field goal as time expired to give the Bearcats a 12-10 win, I was totally ecstatic and realized that it was actually possible to root against my alma mater.
Don't get me wrong. I'm still a Syracuse fan and root for them to win all of their other games. One of my biggest thrills as a sports fan was being in attendance with my wife and closest friends at the Superdome when SU beat Kansas for the NCAA basketball championship in 2003.
But this Saturday, I won't be conflicted.