Cincinnati and Miami (OH) have met on the Football fields of Southwestern Ohio every year since 1988 save two, 1943 and 1944 when the Bearcats disbanded their program for World War II. But if changes aren't made behind the scenes the games could come to a close.
I am not one to question the Miami-Cincinnati rivalry. I like the Battle for the Victory Bell. I am not a card carrying member of the part of the Cinicnnati fan base that wants to see the game end. I want it to continue, but is definitely time to rethink the game, and its place on the schedule.
The current arrangement is not doing UC any favors, and is in place until 2015. Its a simple home and home. I have no problem with playing at Miami. It's any easy trip for the team, and the fans, to a place that has become, in essence, Nippert West. But the cost of that is that UC doesn't make any money off that trip. The Bearcats pretty easily sell their allotment, but the demand from UC fans far outpaces whatever that allotment is, usually 3,000 or so. The rest of the Bearcats that want to go to the pseudo home game have to pay Miami to do it.
Brad Bates and the Miami athletic department are loathe to change anything in terms with the ticketing situations, nor should they. The UC game makes money for them, a lot of money, for Miami at least. Since the capacity of Yager Stadium was reduced to its current level of around 24,00o there have been three games with attendance of 20,000 or more, and two of them were UC games.
It works for them, and it sort of works for the Bearcats as well. Not working? The television situation. Every game that is played at a MAC home stadium gets thrown into the MAC's inventory of games that they can offer to be broadcast by either ESPN, or the MAC network. If they don't get picked up by either, the games are then farmed out to ESPN3 for broadcast.
The end result is that just two of the last seven games have been broadcast in any sense. WKRC-12 broadcast the game in 2007 and FSN Ohio carried the game statewide on Saturday, and I know it was statewide because I got it up here in North Central Ohio.
Lastly there is the question of where all of this game fits into the bigger picture for UC. Cincinnati is one of the top 20 to 30 programs in the country right now. The sustained success, 47 wins in 5 years, four 10 win seasons in five, BCS bowls, etc have put a ton of distance between the Bearcats and the Redhawks. But its not time to stop playing the game, its time to find a new place in season for the game.
For a really, really long time this game was played in November or December. From 1911 through 1975 the game was always played in November. In the years since the game has become more of a September fixture. My idea for the future of this series is to open the season with the Battle for the Bell. As far as I am concerned the series can still be home and home, but the TV rights should go to Fox Sports Ohio or, god willing, the Big East's new TV overlord. Miami desperately wants to keep the game as is, home and home, and they certainly wouldn't turn down TV appearances. This can work. It would be a great way to start the season. It works for Kentucky and Louisville, not to mention Colorado and Colorado State, why can't it work for Cincinnati and Miami?