Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Signing Madness and More..

Wednesday is signing day for college football, and in Cincinnati the past month has been a wild one. There will more than 40 local players signing Division One offers. My cohort Andy Pierce has the number at 44 and counting. Here is Andy's latest list at our High School Playbook web site. U.C. still has an impressive list of locals ready to sign, but the list has changed since Brian Kelly left. The shame is the defections of Jibreel Black, Luke Massa, Dominique Brown, and possibly Preston Brown, will leave the impression that U.C. was poached in a big way. There is no doubt some of the losses hurt, if not on the field, then perhaps in terms of perception. But will the perception override the reality that U.C. still kept eight or so kids in the fold? For the casual fan, probably. Any time there is a coaching change, you will lose recruits. Who knows? If Kelly stays, U.C. still may have lost some players. It happens. I still think this will be a good class, maybe an excellent one, but U.C. still has to recruit twice as hard to win the battles. The excitement of sold out games at Nippert Stadium in November dissolve into glitzy recruiting trips and oversold promises in January. That's where the U.C. football program still has some ground to make up. That's where the practice fields and the indoor facility come into play. That's where the expansion of Nippert Stadium can play a role. Selling the city and the employment opportunities is a plus, but not something an 18 year old is all that interested in. Mom and Dad might like it, but the kid likes being told he can practice indoors during February to hone his skills for the next level. U.C. is getting closer, thanks to some new facilities and a great run of coaches who have worked their butts off recruiting. The Lindner Center and the Big East have greased the skids. The practice fields will be the next step. More steps need to be taken in a never-ending world of keeping up with the Joneses, or in this case, the Buckeyes and the Spartans and the Wolverines and the Mountaineers and on and on it goes. The people of Cincinnati have tasted college football success, and it was sweet, Sugar Bowl sweet. Are the people and boosters willing to taste more?

By the way, I met the Reds new shortstop yesterday, Orlando Cabrera. He seems like a good guy with a nice sense of humor and sounds like a guy who loves to play the game. He's well aware there are skeptics who believe a 35 year old shortstop is one or two bad plays away from a rocking chair. he laughed about it and said even his mom tells him he is old for a shortstop. But he said his mom and wife stay on him to make sure he works out and eats right in the offseason so he can keep up with all of the young bucks playing the position. He also said he would change his name to Juan Ocho if it helps him fit in with Cincinnati. His good humor and well-natured ways are already a hit in my corner of the world. Now let's see him play.

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