I have been trying to put up a post looking at the Battle for the Victory Bell for a couple of days and haven't gotten it done. The problem? It is very, very difficult to really look forward to a game with Miami anymore. The Redskins(hawks) just aren't on UC's level anymore. Since UC moved to the Big East in 2005 Miami has won one game, the 2005 game. The average score in that period of time, Miami 19.4 UC 33.8.
Once upon a time Miami and UC were pretty even in terms of talent level, that is certainly not the case anymore. Since the young players that featured so prominently in that 2005 game, Terril Byrd, Mike Mickens and the like came of age UC has had a definitive edge in terms of talent from top to bottom. Under Brian Kelly the gap became a chasm. 5 or 10 years ago UC and Miami battled for most of the same recruits, now? Not so much. In 2008 Miami signed three prospects that had UC offers in hand; Andy Cruse, Dan Green and Zac Dysert. They didn't sign any last year. Miami is recruiting at a lower level than UC is at this point, has been since roughly 2007, and that trend is holding pretty solidly at this point. Rivals National Recruiting Rankings for the last five recruiting cycles
Miami: 2006; 91st, 2007; 76th, 2008; 84th, 2009; 88th, 2010; 106th
Cincinnati: 2006; 108th, 2007; 89th, 2008; 67th, 2009; 60th, 2010; 59th
Bottom line, UC and Miami have not been recruiting the same kind of players the past few years. Miami is battling MAC and Sunbelt if not lower programs for most of their recruits. UC is recruiting a higher caliber player than Miami and that is showing up on the field, last year was a pretty prime example, though any of the previous battles for the bell substitute seamlessly without compromising the point.
This year Miami has some bright spots, chief among them Zac Dysert, and should be much more competitive in the MAC. But on paper they don't have what it takes in terms of depth or talent to come into Nippert and walk away with a result. From now on the Miami game will not define success, it will define failure. In the past a win against Miami could be grounds for the declaration of a successful season, regardless of the other results during the course of a season. But that is not the case anymore, nor should it be. UC fans should expect to remain holders of the bell every time its contested. Losing to Miami in the future will be grounds for legitimate anger and/or panic.
So there is my very poor attempt at previewing the Miami game. Or titled more accurately, why the Miami game is now, and will be, an assumed win. So we'll just keep this then.