Bearcat Tidbits

bowl-banner3Tomorrow night, the University of Cincinnati Bearcats makes its first trip to a BCS bowl game in the Orange Bowl showdown with Virginia Tech.

Here are a few UC tidbits to add to previous posts.

The Team
Five different QBs led the offense this year. Season starter broke a leg, current starter broke an arm, two freshman filled in for several games, and former ND QB Demetrius Jones played several plays. One could toss in a 6th by considering the failed attempt to get last year’s QB (Ben Mauk) additional eligibility.

The starting defense is composed of a former walk on, a senior who converted from TE this year, a basketball player who transferred from Prairie View who had to earn a scholarship, a transfer from Ohio State, and an under-recruited nose tackle who developed into an All-American.

The roster has 28 local players

The School
Law School graduates include William Howard Taft and Chris Collingsworth.

The most acclaimed programs are the Conservatory of Music, College of Engineering, and the School of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning.

UC originated the first co-op program.

Albert Sabin developed the polio vaccine while at UC.

Go Bearcats!

Sports wise, most fans think of UC as a basketball school, but many don’t realize that the Bearcats had 5 straight trips to the Final Four.

Good Deeds by a Good Player

I wasn’t planning this post today, but yesterday’s Cincinnati Enquirer had a great story. Sports news is full of many stories of arrests, guns, drugs, poor behavior, and other negative events. These stories also hide the good deeds done by good people.

Mardy Gilyard, the talented junior wide receiver and kickoff returner for the University of Cincinnati Bearcats, is one of the good stories. This is worth the read.

Cincinnati Bearcat Football Overview

bowl-banner2I imagine that many college football followers are scratching their heads since they may not know much about the Cincinnati Bearcats. This post aims to give a conceptual view of the team.

Defense

  • Build on the results of a defensive-minded previous coach, coach Kelly’s defensive units have had two solid years
  • Led the nation in takeaways in 2007
  • With 3 DBs currently on NFL draft boards, some say this is the best secondary in the country
  • Senior DE Conner Barwin, who leads the Big East in sacks, played TE last year

Special Teams
Given high, long punts, good coverage, and a strong-legged (but erratic) kicker, special teams are team strength.

Offense

  • The pass sets up the run in the UC spread offense.
  • A strong crop of receivers, and an accurate QB set the tone.
  • On the downside, the offensive lines gets its share of penalties and one of the rotated RBs has a propensity to fumble.

Overall
Good team speed as coach Kelly prefers quickness instead of power and brawn

The Season

  • Horrible losses at Oklahoma , at UConn
  • Big wins: @ Louisville (1-9 the last 10 meetings), @ West Virginia (never beaten them in the Big East), and vs. Pitt (first time ever win)

Nippert Stadium: What a Venue!

nippert1Located in the center of campus, the University of Cincinnati’s Nippert Stadium is one of the most intimate settings in college football. Build in 1924 on a site used for football since 1902, horseshoe-shaped Nippert is the nation’s fourth oldest site and fifth oldest stadium in college football.

nippert21Although not the Big House, the Horseshoe, or the Swamp, Nippert is a great venue to watch a game. The big, tradition venues are historic with a game-day atmosphere that is an event in itself, but the top row is also the top row. Meanwhile, Nippert Stadium provides close-to-the-field seats with good sight lines.

nippert3Given the much-improved attendance the past three years, enthusiastic crowds have made Nippert Stadium a tough place for opponents to play. In 2006 undefeated Rutgers got hammered. The 2007 season started by dominating Oregon State, and then UC thumped an 8-1 UConn team. A few weeks ago 7-2 Pitt came to town and discovered the power of the Nippert atmosphere.

Sure I hope UC football continued success both on the field and in the stands. Given the importance of revenue through seats and boxes, UC knows something needs to change. The good news is that recent news indicates expanding and renovating Nippert instead of renting Paul Brown Stadium. After all, college football needs to be on campus, especially when having a one of the great venues for fans.

nippert

A Quick History of Bearcat Football

uclogo2As some fans complain about the Cincinnati Bearcats gaining a BCS bowl slot, thought I’d take a moment to inform the curious fans looking for something to know. So here’s a quick history of Bearcat football.

UC Bearcat History

  • Starting in 1885
  • Record: 536-541-51
  • The UC-Miami rivalry (since 1888) is the oldest continuous nonconference rivalry in the nation, the fifth most played, and the oldest rivalry west of the Allegany Mountains
  • Played as an independent from 1970-1996
  • This year’s Big East championship is UC’s first outright title since 1964 (Missouri Valley Conf)
  • Prior to 1997, UC attended 3 bowl games (Sun 1947, 1951 and the Glass 1949)
  • Since UC is a school with a rich basketball tradition, basketball season ticket holders were required to have football season tickets (this recently stopped).

Notables

  • Some say the west coast offense originated at the University of Cincinnati with Coach Sid Gilliam (1949-1954)
  • UC-grad Jim O’Brien kicked the winning field goal for the Colts in Super Bowl V
  • QB Greg Cook, a gun slinging QB, had a promising NFL career cut short by a shoulder injury
  • There are current 13 Bearcats in the NFL

Oddity
Cincinnati (presumably) has an NFL team; Cincinnati is a hotbed for high school football; yet the Cincinnati area as a lukewarm history for accepting UC football.

What I’ve Seen
When I came to town in 1976, UC played as a respectable independent. The mid-80s brought two promising young coaches to town. After the short tenures of Mike Gottfried and Watson Brown, the AD sought stability and hired a stable coach from Long Beach State – whose five years brought losing records, lopsided scores, and a call for discontinuing the football program.

In 1989, a new AD hires Tim Murphy to rebuild the program; and his five years did reset a foundation. Rick Minter’s unexpected 10 years brought the needed stability, respect, and improvement. Those passing through UC as assistant coaches during this period were defensive guru Rex Ryan and two current NFL coaches (John Harbaugh and Mike Tomlin).

With downriver rival Louisville setting the model for what could be, a defensive-minded coach Mark Dantonio raised the level of play, quality of players, and improved local recruiting. Since he departed for Michigan State, offensive-minded Brian Kelly has continued improving the program, and led the Bearcat to their first major bowl appearance.

The current level of play and national recognition is a new frontier for UC and its football fans, so pardon us for our enthusiasm. Since I’m a reasonable fan, I don’t claim UC to be among the elite; but the football Bearcats have earned respect and their way into a BCS game – so while we enjoy a moment in the sun, think about the roads taken on this journey.

Team Website