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Thread: #19 UC vs. #20 Pitt - Major Big East Championship Implications

  1. #16
    Playoffs Cyclone792's Avatar
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    Re: #19 UC vs. #20 Pitt - Major Big East Championship Implications

    Update on Koch's blog ...

    http://news.cincinnati.com/apps/pbcs...cincinnati.com

    Stay in the moment.

    That’s the approach Brian Kelly is taking this week with his players as they prepare for Saturday’s game against Pittsburgh that could all but secure the Big East championship and the Bearcats’ first BCS bowl berth.

    “We’re not going to change anything,” Kelly said today. “We’ve tried to stay in the moment. If we do that, we’ll be fine.”

    It’s a moment that would have been hard to envision 10 years ago when the Bearcats were toiling in Conference USA. In 1998, UC went 2-9 under head coach Rick Minter on the heels of an 8-4 season in 1997 and an appearance in the inaugural Humanitarian Bowl in Boise, Idaho, that was made possible only because then-athletic director Bob Goin promised that the UC basketball team would play a game at Boise State.

    This has been a long time coming for those few folks who have been UC football fans through the many tough times this program has endured.

    I’ve been doing this long enough to remember some of those tough times. I sat in the press box and watched the Bearcats absorb a 40-21 loss to Division I-AA Indiana State before about 5,000 fans in the spacious Hoosier Dome in Indianapolis. I saw them lose to No. 2 Miami, 56-0, in 1989. And of course there was the 81-0 loss at Penn State in 1991, just to name a few.

    There were times when I wondered if those faculty members who wanted to abolish football were right, that maybe UC was wasting its time fighing a battle it could never win. I held to the belief that a school of UC's size should have a football team but I can’t say that I ever truly believed the program would reach this point.

    I don’t know what will happen Saturday against Pitt, but just the fact that UC is playing in a game of this magnitude is a testament to how far the program has come.

    Kelly says UC fans should get used to it.

    “It’s where we want to go to each and every year,” Kelly said. “It’ll be exciting that we’re in this but we want this to be old hat. This is something that you can count on each year in November, that Cincinnati will be competing for a Big East championship.”
    Barry Larkin - HOF, 2012

    Put an end to the Lost Decade.

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  3. #17
    Playoffs Cyclone792's Avatar
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    Re: #19 UC vs. #20 Pitt - Major Big East Championship Implications

    We're getting some national pub from the NYT:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/17/sp...r=1&ref=sports

    The inherent nature of a campaign — be it a football or political one — is that it is prone to drastic swings of momentum.

    Few know this better than Cincinnati Coach Brian Kelly, who improbably has the Bearcats on the cusp of the team’s first berth in a Bowl Championship Series game.

    Before he started a career in football, Kelly, 46, dabbled in politics in the early 1980s. He worked on Gary Hart’s 1984 presidential campaign, organizing grassroots efforts in Boston. Kelly has fond memories of driving Hart around Boston in his 1980 Ford Escort, which he likes to joke had just three cylinders.

    As much as he can, Kelly still keeps up with politics. And he is hoping that his Bearcats (8-2), who were picked fifth in the Big East in the preseason, can steal a few plays from Barack Obama’s campaign playbook.

    “I thought it was textbook,” he said of Obama’s campaign. “One of the things I thought was impressive was that they learned from the Gore situation and used their money down the stretch like never before. They finished strong.”

    A strong finishing kick for the Bearcats would mean victories against Pittsburgh and Syracuse to close the Big East season. Those games will be played at Cincinnati’s Nippert Stadium, and two victories would put the Bearcats in the rarefied air of one of the elite-level bowl games.

    It would mean yet another championship for Kelly, who won a MAC title as the coach at Central Michigan and back-to-back Division II national titles at Grand Valley State.

    But Kelly said that in the 18 years he has been a head coach he has never had to use more creativity than this season. An onslaught of injuries has forced the Bearcats to use five quarterbacks.

    “You have to be able to sell the other 10 guys that this quarterback is going to get the job done for you,” he said. “Being the parent of an 11-, 8- and 7-year-old, I’ve been able to con a bunch of 18- to 22-year-olds this year.”

    Somehow, the Bearcats have managed to lead the Big East in passing offense and passing efficiency, a testament to the reputation that Kelly has forged as a creative offensive mastermind. According to Cincinnati officials, only one other team, Eastern Michigan, has used five quarterbacks this season. It is 2-8.

    Starting the season, Cincinnati’s Tony Pike was considered the Bearcats’ third option at quarterback. If last year’s starter, Ben Mauk, had been granted a sixth year of eligibility, Pike would have been fourth string. Now Kelly is calling Pike the league’s best quarterback.

    Pike has thrown for 16 touchdowns, with just 5 interceptions, and has been perhaps most impressive with his improvisational ability. Pike is 6 feet 6 inches, and Kelly described him as a “backburner” recruit. He came from a local high school and flew under the radar because he was so skinny. He has filled out to 225 pounds and has proved to be a top-flight Big East quarterback.

    “Now when the N.F.L. scouts come by our practices to look at other players, they’re asking about the 6-foot-6 quarterback,” Kelly said. “He’s starting to look like an N.F.L. prospect.”

    But Kelly said that the unsung hero of the program has been Dustin Grutza, who came in during the fourth quarter against Louisville and led the Bearcats on a 72-yard touchdown drive that helped them earn a 28-20 victory. (Pike had left the game with a bruised sternum, Kelly said, and is expected to start against Pittsburgh on Saturday.)

    Grutza broke his leg in Cincinnati’s loss at Oklahoma on Sept. 6 and has remained an integral part of the team throughout his rehabilitation.

    “He’s really our inspiration,” Kelly said. “He comes in against Louisville and drives us 72 yards with four screws in his leg. He’s still only about 70 percent. Every team has that inspirational story, he’s that guy for us.”

    But the real inspirational leader may be Kelly. John Widecan, an assistant athletic director for football operations who has worked with Cincinnati football for 20 years, said Kelly’s abilities as a leader have shone this season.

    Widecan said the team believed in Kelly’s “next man in” philosophy, meaning that the team has as much faith in the backups as the starters.

    “Coach Kelly is positive, and he gets us all to believe,” Widecan said.

    That belief manifested with a raucous celebration at Louisville on Saturday night, as the Bearcats hosted a keg party of sorts. The two longtime rivals play for a trophy called the Keg of Nails, which Cincinnati had not won in so long — since 2002 — that Kelly and his players laughed at the out-of-date Bearcat logo on it.

    That victory has helped Kelly become into one of the front-runners to replace Phillip Fulmer for the soon-to-be-vacant job at Tennessee.

    Kelly knows that distractions can upend a campaign — be it football or political. And he said that he and his team are locked in on their finishing kick.

    “When you’re winning and having success, your name is going to be thrown around,” he said. “I’m focused totally on our football team. We want to win a Big East championship.”

    A strong finish would mean that Kelly and the Bearcats would have completed a historic campaign of their own.
    Barry Larkin - HOF, 2012

    Put an end to the Lost Decade.

  4. #18
    The Boss dougdirt's Avatar
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    Re: #19 UC vs. #20 Pitt - Major Big East Championship Implications

    I bought my tickets earlier today. 35 bucks each for 3 of them plus the 8 dollar fee on all three. I was holding out trying to find better tickets but wasn't having much luck finding anything good for under $60, so I went ahead and got some in the corner of the endzone for $35. I have been slacking on going to games this year as opposed to last year for a few reasons, but there is no reason anyone shouldn't be at the game if they have the money and are a UC fan.

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    SERP Emeritus paintmered's Avatar
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    Re: #19 UC vs. #20 Pitt - Major Big East Championship Implications

    Saturday is a Ring of Red game so wear red.
    What if this wasn't a rhetorical question?

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    Re: #19 UC vs. #20 Pitt - Major Big East Championship Implications

    $35 is pretty cheap people, especially since this is the biggest game in the history of UC football. Try going to a game up in Columbus for $35, it ain't gonna happen unless they're having a terrible year and they're playing Northwesteastern School of Computer Technology. Buy your tickets while you still can, the atmosphere Saturday night will totally be worth it. And I wouldn't worry too much about your seat location, Nippert is small enough that there's not really a bad seat in that place.

    That being said day one of the longest week ever is almost over. Only four more of these to go, and tomorrow we get a basketball game to give us a slight distraction.

  7. #21
    Playoffs Cyclone792's Avatar
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    Re: #19 UC vs. #20 Pitt - Major Big East Championship Implications

    http://news.cincinnati.com/article/2.../1060/NEWS0104

    For a city that just slogged through an eighth straight losing Reds season and is still mired in the muck of another Bengals debacle, the University of Cincinnati football team’s quest for a BCS bowl berth is a breath of fresh air.

    If the 19th-ranked Bearcats (8-2, 4-1 Big East) beat No. 20 Pittsburgh on Saturday at Nippert Stadium and follow that with a win over lowly Syracuse the following week, they will win the Big East championship and head to a BCS bowl game for the first time in the long, often tortuous history of the UC program.

    It’s something that many fans never thought possible, but that UC coach Brian Kelly predicts will become the norm.

    “It’s where we want to go to each and every year,” Kelly said.

    The Bearcats have won three in a row, putting them a half-game ahead of Pitt and West Virginia, which stand at 3-1 in the Big East.

    “It’s obvious that Cincinnati is the team to beat,” said Pitt coach Dave Wannstedt.

    During the past two weeks the Bearcats have gone on the road to defeat West Virginia and Louisville, two teams they had not beaten since joining the Big East in 2005. Now they face a Pitt team that they have never beaten in seven previous tries.

    “This is uncharted territory since the middle of the season,” Kelly said.

    The Bearcats have arrived at a place that would have been hard to envision 10 years ago when they were toiling with moderate success in Conference USA.

    In 1998, UC went 2-9 under head coach Rick Minter on the heels of an 8-4 season in 1997 and an appearance in the inaugural Humanitarian Bowl in Boise, Idaho.

    That bowl game was made possible only because then-athletic director Bob Goin promised that the UC basketball team would play a game at Boise State.

    Goin’s thinking was that a bowl game – any bowl game – for a program that had not played in one in 47 years might serve as the catalyst to lift the program to new heights. In fact, it was the first of seven bowl appearances in an 11-year span for UC.

    But playing in the Humanitarian Bowl, Motor City Bowl or the International Bowl pales in comparison with the prestige that would come with a BCS bowl appearance.

    If UC fans appear a little giddy over the prospect of playing in the Orange Bowl, they should be forgiven. This has been a long time coming.

    When Florida coach Urban Meyer visited a UC practice last spring and told reporters that when he played at UC in 1984 the program was Division I in name only, some former players felt slighted.

    But in many respects, Meyer was right. Back then, the Bearcats did not have a league affiliation. Their facilities were substandard. Their locker room was underneath the stadium, split into two rooms, neither of which was big enough to hold the entire team.

    Crowds were small. Media coverage was sparse and television exposure was practically non-existent.

    UC officials had a difficult time getting a handle on what they wanted the program to be. They tried playing a national schedule for large financial payouts, but more often than not those games resulted in lopsided defeats that did nothing to excite fans in Cincinnati.

    There were plenty of dark days: A 40-21 loss to Division I-AA Indiana State before about 5,000 fans in the spacious Hoosier Dome in Indianapolis; a 56-0 loss at No. 2 Miami in 1989; an 81-0 loss at Penn State in 1991.

    Back then, it appeared that football would never gain traction at UC.

    Tim Murphy turned the program in the right direction when he took over for Dave Currey in 1989 with the program on NCAA probation and rebuilt it to produce an 8-3 season in 1993 before leaving for Harvard.

    But that 8-3 season did not get the Bearcats into a bowl game.

    The situation improved when UC helped form Conference USA in 1996, giving the Bearcats automatic tie-ins to minor bowl games.

    Eventually they reached a level of respectability under Minter that prompted the Big East to offer them membership after Miami, Virginia Tech and Boston College left for the Atlantic Coast Conference.

    Now UC is on the verge of accomplishing what once was considered all but impossible at a school where officials once had to fight off faculty cries for the abolition of football.

    “It’ll be exciting that we’re in this but we want this to be old hat,” Kelly said. “This is something that you can count on each year in November, that Cincinnati will be competing for a Big East championship.”
    Barry Larkin - HOF, 2012

    Put an end to the Lost Decade.

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    Re: #19 UC vs. #20 Pitt - Major Big East Championship Implications

    I really can't believe the isn't sold out yet. I'm not a UC fan but I would love to go if only I didn't live in Chicago and it wasn't OSU-scUM gameday!!
    because at the end of the day, they still are the Chicago Cubs, and they will figure out a way to screw this whole thing up--Marty B.

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    SERP Emeritus paintmered's Avatar
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    Re: #19 UC vs. #20 Pitt - Major Big East Championship Implications

    Quote Originally Posted by OSUredsFAN View Post
    I really can't believe the isn't sold out yet. I'm not a UC fan but I would love to go if only I didn't live in Chicago and it wasn't OSU-scUM gameday!!
    The tickets remaining are primarily from the allotment returned from Pitt. Assuming this city gets their act together (big assumption), the game will sell out.

    It's very frustrating to see twice the capacity of Nippert flock to the river to watch a team play a game of no consequence week-in and week-out when we're barely going to sell out the most important game in program history.

    I'm actually curious to know how many people in the greater Cincinnati area are aware of this game.
    Last edited by paintmered; 11-17-2008 at 10:43 PM.
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  10. #24
    The Boss dougdirt's Avatar
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    Re: #19 UC vs. #20 Pitt - Major Big East Championship Implications

    paintmered, the game will sell out. The thing I worry about though is that we win the BE this year, but lose a lot of key players to graduation and the draft and aren't as good as last year and a lot of people jump ship.

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    Re: #19 UC vs. #20 Pitt - Major Big East Championship Implications

    The game will sell-out, no doubt in my mind.
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    Re: #19 UC vs. #20 Pitt - Major Big East Championship Implications

    Quote Originally Posted by paintmered View Post
    The tickets remaining are primarily from the allotment returned from Pitt. Assuming this city gets their act together (big assumption), the game will sell out.

    It's very frustrating to see twice the capacity of Nippert flock to the river to watch a team play a game of no consequence week-in and week-out when we're barely going to sell out the most important game in program history.

    I'm actually curious to know how many people in the greater Cincinnati area are aware of this game.
    I never said the game won't sell out. I just can't believe that it isn't already. I also find it hard that PITT had 3-4,000 tickets, yet returned that many.
    because at the end of the day, they still are the Chicago Cubs, and they will figure out a way to screw this whole thing up--Marty B.

    2013 record:
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  13. #27
    SERP Emeritus paintmered's Avatar
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    Re: #19 UC vs. #20 Pitt - Major Big East Championship Implications

    Quote Originally Posted by OSUredsFAN View Post
    I never said the game won't sell out. I just can't believe that it isn't already. I also find it hard that PITT had 3-4,000 tickets, yet returned that many.
    I think WVU used all of their allotment last year, but that's the only time I can remember visiting tickets not being returned since UC joined the Big East.
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  14. #28
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    Re: #19 UC vs. #20 Pitt - Major Big East Championship Implications

    The game will sell out. There should be a huge walk-up crowd.

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    Re: #19 UC vs. #20 Pitt - Major Big East Championship Implications

    I emailed Bill Koch, and he said that they expect a sellout by Wednsday.

  16. #30
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    Re: #19 UC vs. #20 Pitt - Major Big East Championship Implications

    Quote Originally Posted by dougdirt View Post
    paintmered, the game will sell out. The thing I worry about though is that we win the BE this year, but lose a lot of key players to graduation and the draft and aren't as good as last year and a lot of people jump ship.
    Well, if you keep showing progress, you're only going to re-load instead of re-build.

    Congrats to the Bearcats. It's a good thing for the city and university.
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