Thursday, December 31, 2009

Sugar Bowl Blog

My blog has been temporarily moved to the New Orleans Sugar Bowl page.
Here is the link to my blog on our Road to the Sugar Bowl page.

Monday, December 21, 2009

I Hope...

I hope Mike Thomas has promised Jeff Quinn and U.C.'s interim coaching staff fat bonus checks if they win the Sugar Bowl. With Quinn taking the Buffalo job, it would be human nature for him to spend more time getting himself well positioned for his first head coaching job rather than the team he'll leave behind. I know Quinn and company want to do right by the U.C. players, but they also have to worry about their own futures. But there's nothing like a little, or a lot, of cash to help keep your eye on the prize!

I hope the Bengals I saw Sunday in San Diego is the Bengals team I'll see during the final two weeks of the regular season. Yes, they lost, but they played well against one of the hottest teams in the league. I thought Carson Palmer was terrific in the fourth quarter. And that quarterback draw? SWEET!

I hope officials never end another game like the one in Indianapolis Saturday at Hinkle Fieldhouse. Butler had just scored the go ahead basket against Xavier with 1.2 seconds left. Then someone realized the clock had stopped inadvertently during the flurry just before Butler scored the basket. It took 12 minutes to figure it out, and then they decided since the clock had stopped for 1.3 seconds, the game was over. Unless it's blatant, going back to split hairs like that is a crock.

I hope the Reds find a left fielder who can produce 20 home runs and 51 RBI in 281 at bats. That's what Jonny Gomes produced last season after starting the season in Louisville. (I'm still trying to figure out how Gomes didn't make the club out of spring training)

I hope the family of Chris Henry can find peace and understanding during this difficult time. The same goes for every family grieving the loss of a loved one.

I hope everyone has a joyous and Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. I think this past year has given local fans more to cheer than jeer and I hope it gets even better in 2010.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Greatest Cincinnati Sign Ever!

This one simple sign did something that I'm not sure anything has done before. It had U.C. and Xavier fans sympathizing for each other ON THE NIGHT OF THE CROSSTOWN SHOOTOUT!

The Crosstown Shootout deserved to be an instant classic. There was little or no hype, and I think the fact it was on a Sunday night during the NFL season played into that. Please play it in the middle of the week when it can be a showcase. At any rate, once the ball went up the players reminded us why we love this game: it was a "war on the floor"! The kids on both teams played their butts off. The skirmishes were unfortunate, but it reminded me of the days when this thing was nasty. Huggins and Gillen turned it into the city's own cold war with detente nowhere to be found. U.C. players pronouncing it "Eggs-zavier" in pregame news conferences while Xavier players claimed it was "just another game." Sunday night proved it will never be "just another game", and reminded us the city is very fortunate to have the Crosstown Shootout.

The U.C. coaching search should be concluded by the end of the week. A.D. Mike Thomas surely started calling back-channels the minute Brian Kelly failed to guarantee he would coach the Sugar Bowl.

You don't hire a guy for any other reason than he is the best man for the job. But U.C. could throw quite a curve ball at Kelly by hiring Jeff Quinn.

The Bengals better show up in San Diego. Their first playoff caliber test was a disaster in Minnesota. Another one of those against a playoff caliber Chargers team makes it seem foolish to think they could do any damage in the playoffs.

It seems opposing defenses have no respect for anything down the field for the Bengals. No wonder, they haven't completed a pass over 20 yards in two of the past three games. The only passes over 20 yards in that time span were the three against the Lions last week, all three to Ochocinco. The longest during the past three games is the 36 yard td from Carson to Ocho against Detroit. It's almost like teams play red zone defense anywhere on the field, and it's tough to throw into that kind of coverage. Carson Palmer claims he's fine physically. If so, it's time to show it.
Either receivers can't get open, Carson isn't right, the Bengals have zero speed that needs to be respected, or horror of horrors, all of the above!

Friday, December 11, 2009

It's Never Easy, But I've Seen Better Exits

On a day U.C. sold it's allotment of Sugar Bowl tickets, on a day U.C. celebrated an undefeated football season, and on a day electrifying wide receiver and return man Mardy Gilyard hoisted a team MVP trophy, all of the attention went to the proverbial "elephant in the room." The elephant being the head coaching situation. For a guy who practiced politics, I'm not sure Brian Kelly could have been more clumsy in the way he left his undefeated team behind. It's almost like he was taking advice from Tiger Woods' publicist. Sure, he had hoped to be able to keep a lid in things and tell his players first about his departure. He certainly did the right thing Monday by telling them firsthand he was going to listen to Notre Dame's offer. But it really got away from him Thursday. He had to know as soon as a deal was done it would start to seep out. It always does. Reports were seeping out of South Bend by late afternoon. Kelly had to know those reports were true. That very second he owed it to his team to tell them, and if that meant right before the banquet, so be it. Instead, players sat through the banquet while the rest of the world outside was learning Kelly was a goner and the undefeated Bearcats no longer had a head coach. It was very odd before the banquet to see young men giving interviews about the situation, the speculation, and the "elephant in the room" while their highly paid 47 year old coach with all of the answers walked in with a police escort but nary a word to say. I have no doubt Brian was sworn to secrecy by Notre Dame. That became apparent when, after the banquet, just moments after telling his players the news, he appeared on ESPN and would not admit he had accepted the job. It was numbing to watch. It would have been more numbing to witness him slipping out the back, without a single comment to the heathen media he chastised two and half years earlier for not covering his team properly. No question, Kelly did great work at U.C. and the program is much better off because of him. He set the bar high. But he left one thing behind that any coach will be able to improve upon: making a better exit.

Monday, December 7, 2009

U.C. Needs Another Big Comeback, This Time To Keep Kelly

There have been bigger upsets, but this one would be along the lines of Joe Namath and the Jets beating the Colts in the Super Bowl. There have been bigger come from behind wins, the Bearcats erasing of a 21 point deficit at Pitt Saturday immediately comes to mind. Now the U.C. administration faces a similar deficit, and I'm not sure what they can do. Should the reports be true, Brian Kelly will meet with Notre Dame about the coaching position. That would make him the first to meet with them about filling the large leather chair Charlie Weis left behind. Believe me, if they had met with anyone else in the past week, we would hear about it. It's possible Stoops, Meyer, and others gave the Irish a big fat no through the back channels. But as far as anyone knows, Kelly is the first to sit down and listen to the Notre Dame pitch. That's a problem for U.C. Unless both parties are ultra-interested, it doesn't reach this point. Sure, there have been some times in the past where it's made it to this point and the candidate turned down the job. Guys have even accepted a position, then turned around a day later and went running back to their previous post. But I cannot believe Notre Dame would get to this point with Kelly if the Irish didn't think it was practically a lock that Kelly will take the job. No program wants to go through that embarrassment, especially Notre Dame given the string of missteps that program has made over the last 15 years. You know Notre Dame has reached out and taken the temperature of Kelly's interest. Apparently that interest in strong enough that Kelly would not guarantee he would be coaching in the Sugar Bowl. That's a shame, and a topic for another post. It's time for Mike Thomas to pull his best Tony Pike and Mardy Gilyard. But unlike Saturday in Pittsburgh, I think it's too late in the game for this comeback.

BTW, should Kelly go, then he goes. U.C. should find its man and start out with that guy coaching in the Sugar Bowl. As much as he has meant to the program, it is not the University of Brian Kelly. He doesn't get to call all of the shots. Cut the string and find your man. Plus it's a nice little plum to attract the new guy.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Willy Taveras or Brian Kelly? Hmmmmmm.

On November 7, against Navy, an onside kick by Notre Dame bounced out of bounds, and essentially bounced Charlie Weis through the arms of "Touchdown Jesus", over the Golden Dome, and into the next phase of his professional career. Since that day more than a dozen names have been linked to the Notre Dame coaching position. Billick, Dungy, Fitzgerald, Ferentz, Gruden, Harbaugh, Johnson, Meyer, Patterson, and Peterson are ten of the names already mentioned for a position that didn't exist until Monday afternoon. No wonder U.C. head coach Brian Kelly calls this the "silly season." Oh yeah, Kelly. That's the guy this posting is all about. It seems to me that Notre Dame is coming down to BK and BS. NOT THAT BS, although there's plenty of that kind of BS to go around. I'm talking about Bob Stoops. I have some knowledge, but not enough to say it will be one of those two guys. I do have enough knowledge to say this, and I quote:
"U.C. needs to get a new deal finalized with Kelly ASAP. I know he just signed a contract in June, and it stinks that college coaching contracts mean nothing these days, but that's the current landscape of big-time collegiate football. Make BK the highest paid coach in the Big East Conference. Just as important, make his staff the highest paid bunch of hard working, successful, assistant coaches in the Big East and continue the commitment to facilities. Do it before Saturday and your problem is solved. Make this a preemptive strike before the other schools have an opportunity to make a run at the guy who has made your football team relevant. That's right, I said schools. Plural. Because if you think Notre Dame is the only school coming after your guy, you are wrong."
None of that stuff in quotations is secret. The U.C. administration knows it. So why is this so hard? Think of it this way: The money the Reds paid Willy Tavares in 2009 ($2,250,000) would cover the salary of the highest paid coach in the Big East in 2009. I repeat: A lead off hitter with an on base percentage of .275 in 2009 made more money than a football coach who found a way to sellout Nippert Stadium and make U.C. football a part of the national conversation. Not to pick on Willy (or the Reds obvious overpayment), but who do you think is more valuable to the local sporting landscape? This is much easier than recovering that onside kick that that spelled the end for Weis.

Here is the USA Today database on NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision Coaches Salaries. I'm glad they don't do this for sportscasters. You guys would howl at the pittance I make, and I'm probably still overpaid!