It’s what he does, it’s what he has always done, and will always do. To wit.
Because of the new league affiliation, one of the major questions surrounding the program is whether - once the newness of Tuberville wears off - fans will continue to show up to watch the Bearcats play SMU, Memphis and Central Florida in the same numbers they did for West Virginia, Pitt and Syracuse. And what about next year when Louisville and Rutgers are gone, replaced by East Carolina, Tulane and Tulsa?
But here's the thing, NO ONE was asking that question before. Not a soul in the world, and certainly not this week. It is the first game week of the season, every fan in Bearcat Nation is filled with that usual mixture of pure, unadulterated excitement mixed with a steady undercurrent of fear of the unknown. My questions of the moment are about whether or not Deyshawn Bond will play to scratch against Bruce Gaston, about how the new look defensive line will hold up, about what Eddie Gran's offense will look like, or how much blitzing Art Kaufman will do on passing downs.
Whether or not the Bearcats will continue to draw fans in a new conference, with a lot of old faces is the farthest thing from my mind. At this point in time I could honestly care less what conference Cincinnati plays in. They could be back in the MAC like it’s the 40's and all I would care about is that the Bearcats are two days from playing football again. I know that I am not alone on this.
The problem isn't really with Koch, he is more emblematic of a prevailing world view that is very common among the old guard of the Cincinnati media. The men, and it is all men, that shape opinions in Cincinnati behind closed doors are all very conservative, in the sense that they think they were put on earth to resist change, whatever it may be.
In this case it doesn't take long to see what Koch thinks should be resisted, the renovation of Nippert Stadium. He doesn't cover football anyone, at least officially, he doesn't tweet* so he hasn't been able to make his feelings known. At least he is not as dumb about this as another old Cincinnati based reporter, so that’s something. But it’s not, I know that the prevailing opinion of Nippert being renovated is just as condescending and negative in newsrooms throughout the city. Because anything that's good has to be made negative, immediately. It is a literal race to the bottom.
Back in July of 2007 Brian Kelly made a splash at his first Big East media days by lighting into the TV stations and, most of all, The Enquirer for not even bothering to send their beat writer to Providence for two days of golf, lobster and a little football talk. Shortly after that story broke a who's who of the local media descended upon the Western & Southern Open. The story was met with laughter and guffaws among the old white guys who just had a cannon shot whizz across their bows. The first question collectively asked by them was one of shock "who the fuck does this guy think he is?" The second was of condescension "does he know what team he coaches?" I know this happened because one of my college classmates interned at the Western & Southern Open for three summers, he was in the press area for it all.
They laughed, the Bearcats won a lot of games and they all decided that they should all probably cover UC football now. You know, just in case BK got a national platform to call them lazy hacks. The next year the local media outlets sent two newspapermen and a couple of TV crews. The coverage has changed, mostly for the better, but the underlying attitude of that select group of media members has not changed. They still see UC as a basketball season the strung together a lucky half a decade, (because that happens all the time in football). They eagerly await the days when they can go back to not having to devote resources to cover Bearcats football, and most of them are convinced that that fateful day is on the horizon. A representative sample.
To make it all work, UC must dominate its opponents in the AAC and play enough quality non-conference opponents at home to keep casual fans – and UC students - interested. That’s Tuberville’s charge as he takes over the program.
Again, a thought that there is absolutely NO ONE else is having, but now is a perfect time to ask questions about a hypothetical situation four or five years in the future. This the equivalent of calling into question the depth of the United States national team for the 2018 World Cup in Russia. Who the hell cares? There is an actual World Cup in 9 months! In Brazil! And the US is playing freaking fantastic soccer! Who cares about 2018? NO ONE.
What these guys don't get is that football is part of the culture at the University of Cincinnati. Not just a little part either. It dominates the social calendar on campus, completely. It eclipses everything else for the majority of students. Fall at UC is just like it is at any other football school, built around football. There are tens of thousands of alums like myself who came to know Cincinnati as a football school. To the world at large that might not be true, but in Clifton that is inescapable, and the group of people for whom that statement is true grows every year.
But how would they know? How would Bill Koch know that? The only time he goes on campus is when there is a game or a press conference. I have never once seen him take two minutes to talk to a fan. From my experience, and those of a couple others I asked, he has never answered an email*, . All of which is odd for a guy who seems to love nothing more than to make grand, sweeping statements about the character of a group of people he has no interaction with.
*granted it has been a while since I felt the need to email him
I know that Koch went to UC, and has been in the media either at the old Post or the Enquirer for most of the time since he graduated in the 70's. Once upon a time he wrote columns, then the newspaper industry was destroyed by the Internet the Post consolidated with the Enquirer, then the Enquirer shed even more jobs so that Bill Koch "columnist" became Bill Koch beat reporter. Its not his fault, he had to become a beat writer so that he could keep his job. And he hates it; clearly. He hates it so much that he can't help but to slam his opinion into every single thing he writes, even when he is no longer paid for having an opinion.
There is a reason Koch was taken off the football beat, and his piece from yesterday clearly illustrates why. His job now is to cover the news about the Bearcats, just the news. I have no problem with journalists being negative, as Koch so often is, so long as what they are covering is a negative subject. I had no problem with Koch back in 2010, because his tone matched the results on the field. But this time of unbridled excitement and optimism doesn't call for the same tired old narrative about how UC football is not sustainable. This level might not be sustainable for 30 years, but UC is close to making it a decade.
Unfortunately for those of us who can only turn to the enquirer for UC news because the pay services are a luxury we can't afford Koch will be in our lives for the foreseeable future. Apparently you can't get fired from a newspaper for displaying as much contempt for your subject as Koch has in the last half a dozen years. That’s a shame, but we are all clearly in a run out the clock situation.