Sept. 30, 2009
(9:31 a.m.): It makes sense that the rivalry would begin to fade. Many of the players on this year’s UC squad have never lost to Miami. Mostly, they’ve known only big, crushing victories against the RedHawks. Yes, the all-time series record still belongs to Miami, and yes, they still have the Cradle of Coaches/Ben Roethlisberger tradition.
But what can that mean to a guy like, say, Dominique Battle, who’s been in the program only two years and came to UC from Florida? How could he look northwest to Oxford and see any kind of threat? The Bearcats are No. 10 in the country, and the RedHawks haven’t won a game yet this year. Where’s the danger?
As the older players, who have seen and participated in the rivalry when it wasn’t so UC dominated, continue to filter out of the program, how does the coaching staff continue to make the point that the game with Miami is still an important rivalry contest? How do they make the players care?
“I can tell you that in the three years I’ve been here, they have a lot of tradition,” BK said. “It’s not that far removed from people’s minds about Ben Roethlisberger and the success they had here. Even when I was in the Mid-American Conference, Miami was regarded as that school in the MAC. I still see them in that way.
“Any time you have a school that’s within proximity and plays Division I football, that’s exciting to the players. It obviously has some merit and tradition. They have the tradition and you educate your players. They understand this is not a typical BCS team playing a non-league opponent. It has more to it than that. It’s because of Miami’s tradition.”
Junior tight end Ben Guidugli doesn’t need to be educated. He sat in the stands on plenty of Saturdays watching the RedHawks beat up UC. He’s not one who forgets.
“I hope some of the other guys take it serious and go about it like we do every other week,” Guidugli said. “Don’t take this game lightly, because that’s when people lose.”
Craig Carey doesn’t need a reminder either. As a redshirt freshman, he stood on the sidelines and watched as Miami decimated UC by four touchdowns in 2005. That memory is still fresh in the mind of the senior linebacker.
“Being able to win the past three times has been great,” said Carey, who knows the Bearcats have never beaten the RedHawks in four-straight years. “No matter what the records are or where it’s being played, it’s still a rivalry game. It’s going to be a hard-fought game every time we face each other. We don’t like each other.”
And as for educating the younger players?
“We have the Victory Bell in the locker room now,” Carey said. “They’re going to learn about it real quick.”