The emotional Roller Coaster that is the 2010 UC Football season rolls on. Just 5 more games left, and there is still no telling how this will all end up. So far this year I have had to dramatically alter my perspective on this team, and perhaps more importantly this program, three times already. There was a pretty strong bout of outright despair in the wake of the Fresno State game because the team that took the field in the Valley was one that I scarcely recognized from the past three years at least, and even the last year or two of the Dantonio era. They played slow, without passion, no energy, the entire team looked bad.
I contemplated that the Fresno State game would signify the next slide into obscurity for the program, fulfilling the pattern, some would say destiny of the Bearcat Football Program which has a long and profound history of long, agonizing journeys through the wilderness of Football relevance, punctuated by brief periods of extraordinarily brilliant performance. For the last 100 years of UC Football that has been the story. 40 or 45 years of average to below average play with 5 years of elevated performances. That's the history, and I though the first game of this year would be the first in the next 40 years of the wilderness.
Then came the Oklahoma game and in the wake of that I changed my thought process on the team again. For the first time since 2002 UC stood toe to toe with one of the blue bloods of the sport and pushed them to the absolute brink. There are a handful of programs, maybe 10 at the most, where beating them is always going to be a big deal, regardless of how good or bad they are that season. Beating an Oklahoma puts a program on the proverbial map, ask Boise State. UC was close, oh so close to pulling that off. Because of that game, and the subsequent route of Miami (Ohio). My faith in this 2010 Bearcats Football team was restored, but perhaps more importantly my faith in the program was maintained.
The last two weeks have kind of galvanized my thought process on this team, and the program in general. This years team is capable of any performance. They can play as high or as low as they want to. I have been of the opinion recently that UC is talented enough to beat any team on the schedule, but they are also young enough and inconsistent enough to lose to any of them. It isn't to the point where they aren't really playing an opponent every week, where they are battling themselves to find a modicum of consistency, of identity, but that general idea is not too far wrong. Because of that my confidence interval in the team not only varies from week to week, but it also swings between high and low, on a play by play basis. That play to play variation is why this year has been a grind at times and a blast at others.
But while the USF game was pull your hair out crazy, it also crystallized, for the last time, I hope, my position on the team and the program. The rest of the year is going to suck, hard. There is a very real possibility that UC could go bowl-less for the first time since 2005, which would end the longest bowl streak in program history and deprive a very young team of 15 practices that they could desperately use. I am pretty sure that UC will lose at least one game it should lose and beat a team it shouldn't. The manic nature of the season so far, and the games to come seems to be overshadowing what appears to be a positive future for the program. This year has shown the two directions in which the program can move from here. It can either fall back from whence it came or it can carve out a niche not at the top, but within a few days march of the top for the foreseeable future. Of the two the later is most likely to me. And there are some pretty compelling reasons for staking out that position. Interest in the program is at an all time high, despite the poor record the attendance record will be broken for the 3rd straight season, recruiting is as good, or better, than it was under Kelly and perhaps most importantly from my perspective UC football has become an entrenched member of the Queen City Sports Pantheon. All of those things bode well for the future of the program, whatever may come of the rest of the year.