But why whisper? Why hedge your bets? Is there really anything wrong with saying I think my team will be good? I just don't see that being an issue. Thats why I want today, the start of the first American Athletic Conference media day to state the case.
I generally avoid making big pronouncements about seasons before they start. The variables that go into a team or a season could be stacked a mile high. Any alteration to those innumerable variables changes the outcome in small and often imperceptible ways. Small changes to a system as complex as a football team have ways of compounding and rebounding and destroying the best laid plans. A suspension here, a sprained knee there, all have real, and completely unknowable effects.
All that being said, and against my better judgment, I have a prediction to make. On Thursday, December 5th, when the Lousiville Cardinals make their final visit to the Old Nippert, (and perhaps their final visit to Nippert in any iteration) the conference title, and the corresponding BCS Bowl Bid will be at stake. If you ask me to advocate for my prediction the defense is simple.
The Cincinnati Bearcats win football games. UC does not have the biggest fan base, they certainly don't have the most generous fan base, or the most money. Year after year, coach after coach, Cincinnati wins. The only people on the roster who haven't been apart of multiple 10+ win, conference winning squads are the transfers and the freshmen (both true and red shirt varieties). If, as your old high school coach surely shouted at some point, "winning breeds winners," then UC should keep winning. But for me its more than that.
The buy in from the leaders of these Bearcats has been phenomenal, and that is a huge asset in any transition year. The lack of buy in to Butch Jones and his regime was a problem from the start. The leaders of the 2010 team were just not having it. It was not a huge problem early, but that combined with the lack of depth torpedoed what appeared to be a promising team. That will not be an issue this year. That combined with the ample talent, several key guys with chips on their shoulders (most from the previous staff, some just in general). Don't forget the galvanizing effect the season long coronation of Louisville will have on this team and these guys. Oh and they have a coach who has been around the block a time or three. The potential is there for this team to really break out and have a monster year. Its not that hard to create a scenario in which this team goes to a BCS bowl. So why doesn't Bearcat Nation embrace the possibility instead of whispering about it like dissidents in Panem*. Take it to the streets people.
*That will be the first and only Hunger Games reference on Down The Drive. Promise.**
** No promise.