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Will You Be There? - V4 - Cincinnati Bearcats (via CincinnatiBearcats)
Big East Blue Ribbon previews - Big East Blog - ESPN
I don't subscribe to ESPN's Insider service (and neither should you) but here's a snippet of their analysis of Cincinnati heading into the 2011 season. Overall, it hits on all key points we've been drilling into your head since last year. The Big East still has the most parity of any of the AQ conferences so if the Bearcats could just be a little better in 2011 than they were in 2010, they could easily finish in the top half of the conference and go bowling. I think we saw last year that, while getting blown out in some games, if one or two plays would have gone differently, the games could have had a different outcomes, and we could have been watching UC in a bowl game in December. Chazz's redzone pick against Syracuse and Zach's redzone pick against UConn come to mind. To the Syracuse instance, in particular, the Bearcats were getting after Ryan Nassib with well designed blitzes that the Orange's heralded O-Line couldn't pick up. That pick by Chazz really killed any mojo the team had and it seemed like in the second half the team just lost all of its heart.
In Depth: Lawson's Wheel of Success
I've never participated in a college-level strength and conditioning program and if I was, I'm sure I would be dead after only a few days working under Dave Lawson, let alone a full year. This article shows his emphasis on running, from the wide receivers to the offensive lineman, which makes sense considering how fast the spread offense tends to get up the field both between and during plays. I'm not sure what goes on in day-to-day workouts, but it seemed like last season the team was just wiped out by the second half of ball games and I'd be curious to see if Lawson's program was a partial reason for that. He readily admits that the team was a bit resistant to his techniques last year, like they were with the rest of the staff. Winning two Big East titles under one system and then doing things differently under a new system will do that. Hopefully in 2011, the coaches are more accustomed to the players so they know how hard to push them and the players understand the program better.
Top Tennessee running back Brian Kimbrow signs with Vanderbilt | National Football Post
Don't know if you heard but Brian Kimbrow and other Tennessee prospects chose Vanderbilt over Cincinnati and Auburn. Mississippi State and Notre Dame came in late but the race was ultimately between Vandy, UC, and Auburn. Commodores coach James Franklin must be doing something right because he's putting together a very good class down there in Nashville. Of course, these recruits haven't seen them get rolled by the rest of the SEC yet so we'll see if any of them stay solid commits through the fall.
Around the BEast
Impact game: West Virginia vs. USF - Big East Blog - ESPN
South Florida and West Virginia are a lot of people's picks to finish atop the conference at the end of the season, as well they should. USF looked to be clicking during the second half of last season and even beat Clemson in their bowl game. Plus they return a lot of talent and it seems like Skip Holtz has really gotten his message across to the Bulls. The Mountaineers, well, you know, have an intimidating defense again and finally have a coach who knows how to run a proper offense. So, look for this to be a great game next season. On top of that, it's the regular season finale, and could wind up being the defacto Big East championship game like UC-Pitt was in 2009.
Around the Nation
RealClearSports - Top 10 Most Despised Owners of All Time - Top 10 Most Despised Owners of All Time
Be they the most hated owners by their own fanbase or because they simply run some of the most successful organizations in sports history, here is the list of the top 10 most hated owners in sports. For those of you who live in Cincinnati and at least mildly pay attention to the circus at Paul Brown Stadium every fall, Mike Brown makes the list at #5. You know he's not among the most successful owners in sports (at least from a winning standpoint), so I think you know which category he falls in.
RealClearSports - Top 10 Winningest Owners in Sports - Top 10 Winningest Owners
And here's the list of the top 10 winningest owners in all of sports. Like I mentioned before, you might see some cross-over between both lists.