Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Where Will U.C. Them Next?

con·ster·na·tion   [kon-ster-ney-shuhn] noun
a sudden, alarming amazement or dread that results in utter confusion; dismay.
(the feeling of hardcore u.c. fans since Syracuse and Pitt defected to A.C.C.)

Consternation is running rampant among the U.C. crowd these days. Check a message board and you will see that conference realignment is the big buzz. The same thing happens at the U.C. football games. Where will U.C. end up when the "haves" of the college football world decide who will become the "have nots"? It appears U.C. is down to a couple of scenarios: A Hail Mary invitation to the Big 12 or remain in a reconstituted Big East. As crazy as it would be to compete in a conference with Texas and Oklahoma, I feel a reconstituted Big East with Louisville and West Virginia is the best scenario for the Bearcats. Should the Cardinals and Mountaineers get invites to the Big 12, U.C. has to close the eyes, tap the shoes, cross the fingers, and pray the Bearcats get an invitation too. Without the 'Ville and WVU, there won't be enough left for the Big East to configure a strong enough conference to remain an automatic qualifier in the BCS. Should U.C. go to the Big 12, I worry about recruiting. With several schools from Texas in the Big 12, I can't imagine U.C. will be pulling major talent out of that state. Meanwhile, do kids in U.C.'s recruiting hotbeds of Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, and Florida want to play in the Big 12? The more I think about it the more I convince myself that recruiting would be fine. But with the bulk of U.C.'s recruiting coming in Big Ten territory, games at Iowa State, Kansas, and K-State might be a tough sell. Certainly having Louisville and West Virginia as partners in the conference would help. Still, to me, it feels too much like an outpost. Plus it would not be as smooth of a path to a BCS bowl game. U.C. has proven it can compete with the schools in the Big East. The Bearcats have come a long ways in five short years of BCS football. That's why the timing of this conference shakeup is so bad for the 'cats. Another five years like the past five and I have little doubt U.C. would be filling Nippert Stadium on a regular basis, and filling PBS for the big games, making U.C. an attractive BCS player . Why such little doubt? Students are going to the games these days. That breeds an alumni base that sees U.C. football games as "thee" thing to do on Saturdays in the fall. Many say it was the Brian Kelly factor that put U.C. on the map. Kelly did a great job creating buzz and he backed it up with winning. He is reviled for the way he left, but U.C. fans need to understand that Kelly's big way of thinking showed Cincinnati that it can done at U.C. But without the BCS carrot dangling in front of a city that considers itself major league, even Kelly would have had trouble getting overflow crowds. That's why another five years in the Big East would have solidified the football program and there wouldn't be this consternation every time an earthquake hits the conference landscape. I think it could be done in the Big 12, but I know it can be done in the Big East. But only if the Big East keeps the automatic qualifier.

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