Bearcat Football Tradition

Participating in the University of Cincinnati football program is being a part of a rich history and tradition.

Cincinnati boasts one of the nation's oldest football programs. Only four other NCAA Division I-A schools have played the sport longer than UC.

UC first fielded a football team in 1885, playing against athletic clubs in the area. In 1888, UC took part in the first intercollegiate football game played in the state of Ohio when the school sent a team to nearby Oxford, Ohio to play a team of students from Miami University. That contest was the birth of a rivalry which today ranks as the eighth-oldest and 11th-longest running rivalry in NCAA Division I football.

Cincinnati has been a launching pad for coaching success. Three Bearcat head coaches are in the College Football Hall of Fame. Frank Cavanaugh, the legendary Iron Major, began his 24-season career at Cincinnati. Sid Gillman, inducted into both the College and NFL Hall of Fame shrines, was the architect of one of the top eras in Bearcat football history. He directed UC to three conference titles and a pair of bowl game appearances in six seasons (1949-54) before departing for the pro ranks.

Cincinnati, with Gillman developing the passing offenses which would make him successful in the professional ranks, became known for its aerial attack in the early 1950s. That notoriety continued. In 1968, the Bearcats boasted the nation's top passing offense. Quarterback Greg Cook was the NCAA's total offense leader with receiver/kicker Jim O'Brien the nation's scoring champ. Both distinguished themselves in the NFL. A year later, Cook earned Rookie of the Year honors with the Cincinnati Bengals. O'Brien, two years later, kicked the game-winning field goal for the Baltimore Colts in the Super Bowl.

Over 90 Bearcats have advanced to the professional ranks. UC boasts 31 All-Americans and 11 Academic All-Americans. Cincinnati football clearly has a history of accomplishments, both on and off the field.


College Football's Oldest Programs
NCAA Division I-A


1st Year
1.Rutgers1869
2.Michigan1879
3.Navy1880
4.Minnesota1883
5.Cincinnati1885