Tuesday, November 24, 2009

College Hoops Capital Again

Wow! What a difference a week makes with Mick Cronin's crew. Last Monday night looked like the second half of the DePaul game last March in Madison Square Garden. This Monday night looked like a team that will be playing somewhere beyond Madison Square Garden next March. And that somewhere is the NCAA tournament. It's great to see the team look this good this early. If Ibrahima Thomas is as good as Mick says, adding him to the mix will make this team very dangerous. With Xavier, Kentucky, Dayton, Ohio State, Louisville, and U.C., (heck, throw in Butler too!)the tri-state area is challenging ACC country again. In fact, find me seven schools anywhere in the world that are clustered that close together and provide the kind of basketball we have in this area. I'm too tired to check on it, but I'll bet it doesn't exist. Man, I wish we could get them all together for a holiday tournament.

Take A Deep Breath Bengals Fans

Step back from the ledge, think a couple of happy thoughts, and then say it out loud: "The Bengals are not the 2007 New England Patriots!" I hate to break it to you, but it's true. The Bengals are not perfect. I didn't like what I saw Sunday either. An opening touchdown drive was marred by several mental mistakes leading to silly penalties. That was a clue that the Bengals were not going to be at their best Sunday in Oakland. They looked like a poor excuse for a playoff team. But here's the deal: every team outside of the 2007 Patriots and the 1972 Dolphins have clunkers in their system. Nobody wants to admit that, but it's true. Look around the league every week and you see teams coming off a two or three game stretch of impressive performances just stink it up on "any given Sunday." I don't know why it happens, but it does. Maybe it's biorhythms. The older I get, and the more I see things happen like what happened to the Bengals on Sunday, the more I believe in biorhythms. The Bengals are good, but they aren't great. Not yet. But they are a playoff team. So let's stop with the "Return of The 2002 Bungles" talk and remember that hiccups occur in the NFL. The Bengals will gulp a glass of water this week while holding their breath and take care of business the next two weeks. (If they don't, please horse-collar me and keep me from jumping off the ledge)

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Alabama vs Chattanooga.... WHY?

It drives me bonkers when I see some of these elite college football programs playing teams from lower divisions in November. What a waste of everyone's time. Today's waste is Alabama hosting Chattanooga. The only positive out of this game is the nice payday for the Chattanooga program. That's all well and good, but please, play these lower division teams in September. In fact, I wish there was a rule: No lower division teams on the schedule past September 30. If you do, you are penalized at least one spot, heck let's make it three spots, in the BCS Standings. Get these cruddy games out of the way early. The Tide has played an excellent schedule, but this game at this point is a joke. From the beginning of October you should play the big boys and leave these exhibition type of games far behind.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Sorry Charlie

When an athletic director says a decision on a coach will come at the end of the season, that's not a good sign. At least not a good sign for the coach. Such is the predicament of Notre Dame football coach Charlie Weis. All signs, including a disappointing record, point to the demise of the Weis era in South Bend. So it's going to be a hectic month chasing Notre Dame rumors, which have already been swirling for a couple of weeks. Bob Stoops and Urban Meyer have already been the target of rumors in printed daily newspapers. The list of potential candidates on the Internet is in the twenties, with UC's Brian Kelly at, or near, the head of the pack. Here's a link to Kelly addressing the Notre Dame situation on the Dan Patrick Show Thursday. It's just a shade more than halfway through the clip. It might actually be some encouraging audio for U.C. fans worried about Kelly's departure. At least one internet blogger thinks Kelly should STAY at U.C. Here's a link to a blog written by former UConn defensive lineman Rob Lunn.

I understand why Zach Collaros appearing before a judge is something that needs to be reported, but let's hope it ends here and now. Trying to get into a bar with a fake id 6 months before your 21st birthday is somewhere in the bottom .01% of crimes committed in the city on a daily basis. But kids, please, do what the judge tells ya!

Even though I'm still not sold on the Larry Johnson signing, I'm very curious to see how he performs in a Bengals uniform. It's looking like we'll get a peak this weekend in Oakland. With a two-year contract signed back in March, Benson should not feel overly threatened by any of this. LJ will certainly be motivated since he's auditioning for a new contract and probably new team in 2010.

Xavier gets one more tuneup before playing a team that might make the Musketeers break a sweat. The X-Men play Sacred-Heart Saturday night at the Cintas Center. I didn't know much about Sacred Heart either, so here's a link to the Pioneers basketball page. Sacred Heart lost to Fordham the other night, snapping a 12-game losing streak for Fordham.

The tuneups are over for the U.C. basketball team, The Bearcats face Vanderbilt Monday evening at 5:30 p.m. in the Maui Invitational. The Commodores broke 90 in their first two games.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

I hope he means what he says and says what he means. During his news conference at PBS Tuesday, Larry Johnson seemed like a guy who has learned a lesson or two. But he could have been stronger in condemning some of his past transgressions. To lay some of it on Kansas City being a small market and that anything he says will be blown into "mythical proportions" is quite weak. I still think there were better options for the Bengals if they are that concerned about the Benson workload. I don't mind Leonard and Scott each getting 8 or so carries a game to take the load off Ced. But the Bengals are willing to gamble that LJ will recapture a part of his past on-field success while leaving behind his off-field troubles. If my team is having a playoff season, I let someone else take that gamble. I'm all for second chances, but I am not thrilled about the timing of this one.

U.C. fans hoping that some of the other undefeated teams lose down the home stretch of the regular season can forget about it happening to Texas this weekend. Kansas plays the Longhorns this Saturday night and it appears things are blowing up for Mangino and the Jayhawks.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Larry Johnson? Really?

What an interesting move, the Bengals signing Larry Johnson for the stretch run. I'll tell you straight up that with the knowledge I have, I wouldn't do it. I don't know the guy, but his production of late doesn't merit taking any chances to upset a nice, serene, playoff-bound team. I wasn't against the Cedric Benson signing because Benson's track record wasn't nearly as troublesome. Plus Ced was/is much younger, he's not cruising around on legs that already have major NFL mileage on them. I'm aware of the expert analysis: Scouts were saying Johnson still has some mileage left, and the former NFL types on television saying Johnson still has it despite his 2.9 yards per carry this season. They all claim the Chiefs are terrible (true) and the KC offensive line is brutal. (they would know better than I) Then I see Jamaal Charles run for 103 yards behind that line Sunday in Oakland. So put me in the extremely skeptical category on this one. It's nice to see a bold move by the Bengals during a stretch run, but I'm convinced this bold move is not worth the effort.

The Larry Johnson ordeal overshadowed an excellent move by the Reds. Bringing back catcher Ramon Hernandez at a reduced rate is good news. The guy is a gamer, he's clutch, and he handles the pitchers well. He gives the Reds a legitimate big-league player at a critical position.

U.C. looked like a basketball team still finding its way. That's expected at this point in the season. These guys play year-round, so you wouldn't think they would have to knock the rust off. But playing together the way a coach wants you to play together is a little different than pickup games and summer leagues.

It's been debated, reviewed, and scrutinized more than Nicholas Cage's tax return, but I still am not convinced beyond a doubt that the Isiah Pead touchdown Friday night was legit. Based on what I saw on television, and based on the still-frames I've seen on the Internet, I could not have come to the same conclusion as the replay ref. The ref has the ability to freeze, slow, and turn the video inside out, but I'm pretty sure he has the same angles I saw on television. If that camera is not straight down the goal line, and I mean straight, not two feet one way or the other, it's just not conclusive enough to make the call. But being an old Bearcat and seeing how things have gone for UC teams over the last 40 years or more, maybe it's about time the 'Cats catch a break or two.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Too Much Football? Never!

After a weekend chock-full of football, I'm watching the Steelers on MNF and getting ready for another weekend of high school, college, and NFL ball. This past weekend may have been the best ever for football in Cincinnati. All of the high school playoffs, the national stage for UC, and the Bengals and Ravens in a key AFC North tilt. My only complaint: my job got in the way and I had to watch far too much action on television instead of being there. For all of those guys I hear say "it's a hassle going to the game with traffic, parking, the crowds. I'd rather stay home and watch it on television with my bathroom, my beer...." Well guys, you just aren't real fans in George's book. In fact, you are wimps and whiners. If you can't afford it, I get it. But if it's not a financial hardship, I don't get it. I'll take end zone seats with the noise and the buzz and the excitement of being there over a tv screen any day. Unless the game is airing on WLWT. In that case, please stay home and watch.

The Bengals are still getting quality play from an offensive line that appeared to be a weakness coming into the season. I paid particular close attention to the offensive line in the first half of the Ravens game and the line was excellent. Even when the Ravens were firing blitzes up the middle with you know who, the interior line was up to the task. Who woulda thunk it? The line is becoming a strength and center Kyle Cook deserves some serious credit for that.

What's more surprising than the Bengals having a solid offensive line? The Bearcats having a quarterback controversy/situation. I'm not sure how you sit Collaros at this point unless Pike is 100 percent. Even then, it would be tough. But I will say this: I saw West Virginia play Colorado earlier this season and before falling apart with 3 picks, Cody Hawkins was a having a good time against that West Virginia secondary. I was thinking "man, Pike will kill these guys." After seeing Collaros throw that ball to Armon Binns against UConn the other night, I'm thinking "man, Collaros will kill West Virginia." UConn's Cody Endres toasted the Mountaineers for 378 yards 3 weeks ago.

I almost forgot. The UC game Saturday night against UConn pulled in a local television rating of 22.1, which means 22.1% of the television households in greater Cincy were tuned into the game. That is a big number. Our General Manager asked Friday if we thought it would go over or under 21. (wow, he was close!) I picked the over but I wasn't confident. I was the only one in our group to take the over. The Ohio State/Penn State game pulled a 8.8 (not bad at all), while Notre Dame/Navy did a 3.1. The Bengals on Sunday did it's usual number of the mid to upper 30's, averaging out to a 34.5 for the time period. I checked ratings of hit shows throughout the week and didn't see anything close. (14.8 for a 15 minute time period was the biggest number i saw) But maybe the regular programs are in reruns, I don't know. If it's not a sporting event, news shows, or history/military channel type stuff, I don't watch it. I'm not real interested in whether Kim Kardashian's dad cut his mullet or if some large person lost 3 more pounds than another large person. By the way, the final World Series game between the Yanks and Phillies pulled in a local rating of 11.3, which isn't bad.

And another thing. If NBC already has the Notre Dame home package, could the Peacocks please expand their Saturday programming to include a Big East Game of the Week? Maybe they could couple it with a Mountain West/WAC package so NBC can do regional telecasts and have something more to offer on weekends besides bull riding and time slots for infomercials.