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This fall could be a huge opportunity for Cincinnati Bearcats football

<a href="">The Orange Bowl put UC football on the map, but 2011 will be different</a>
The Orange Bowl put UC football on the map, but 2011 will be different

With less than three weeks until the Bearcats' opener against Austin Peay, there seems to be signs of excitement towards Bearcats football and quite the opposite towards Bengals football. This blog entry is somewhat of a reaction to Paul Daugherty's article in the Cincinnati Enquirer titled 'I don't hear buzz for UC football'. My personal vendetta against the Enquirer aside, this article might be the most ironic piece of writing I've ever read. I'm more than aware that this will go probably go on deaf ears over there but when I joined this blog a few months ago it was put my opinion on paper (so to speak) and have my voice be heard. If he really wants to hear some buzz he should listen to this blog, Bearcat Lair, Bearcats Blog, or any of the message boards. Anyways, I've heard it over and over again that the Bearcats should have already grabbed fans, corporations, and media attention from the Bengals during the Brian Kelly era but I think 2011 is when this change will really begin. Before that I should explain a brief history of the Bengals franchise.

In 2000 Cincinnati (well, Bengals owner Mike Brown) was blessed with a brand new, state of the art football stadium. It was promised by Mike Brown that it would help bring championships to the city. In 2003, after yet another 1st overall draft pick, the Bengals also promised championships with their shiny new quarterback Carson Palmer. In addition, the hiring of Marvin Lewis with the promise of a more disciplined, hard working team seemed like a breath of fresh air to Bengals fans. Needless to say, they have failed to deliver on all accounts. But Bengals fans have continued to come out in droves since these events occurred and while Bearcat interest and attendance is up since joining the Big East, UC hasn't made much of a dent in drawing frustrated fans away from the Bengals. Well I believe that's all about to change.

Let's first look at the regular season records of the two teams since 2005, UC's first year in a BCS conference:





11 - 5

4 - 7


8 - 8

7 - 5


7 - 9

9 - 3


4 - 11 - 1

11 - 2


10 - 6

12 - 0


4 - 12

4 - 8

For the Bengals, this timeframe from 2005 marks Carson Palmer's prime as he took Cincinnati to its first playoff game in the Mike Brown era. When compared to the Cincinnati Bearcats, the records since 2005 were very similar year to year. The main difference in favor of UC are 2007 and 2008 when the Bearcats were just starting to make headlines on the gridiron and the Bengals appeared to fall back to old form. But there was still hope out of Bengals fans that they could still bring home Lombardi Trophies with Carson Palmer at the helm. After first round quarterback busts of Akili Smith and David Klinger, Palmer was seen as a god among men when he took the field. Even though he never returned to the form that held him in the same esteem as Peyton Manning and Tom Brady before his injury in the 2005 playoffs, there was always some hope in the back of the minds of Bengals fans that he could maybe find his old ways.

What makes 2011 different? Well, Carson Palmer is now gone. He was basically the last shining hope for the Bengals franchise to show the fans that they could scrap together some semblance of a professional football team. Since Boomer Esiason was traded, the Cincinnati Bengals had been trying out anyone with a solid throwing arm at that position for a decade and got no where until Palmer fell into their lap in 2003. Palmer, so fed up with the organization and even though he had millions of dollars left on his contract, retired. Management, stubborn in their ways, did nothing to bring him back. Now there's a real feeling among Bengals fans that Mike Brown has yet again screwed the pooch and his reign as the owner of that franchise will continue an era of poor management decisions, listless performances out of the players, and rare winning seasons. You can read all about this kind of stuff at Who Dey Revolution, who do a great job summarizing the frustration of the last twenty years for Bengals fans.

Furthermore Cincinnati Bengals fans can't turn to the hope that Carson Palmer could possibly return to pre-2005 form. Even more so, finding someone with his talent (even Andrew Luck) probably isn't going to happen with Mike Brown running the show nor will it make much a difference in the long term for the franchise. The NFL is inherently a cyclical league. Teams have losing seasons and are presented with higher draft picks. After a couple of years of rebuilding they start having winning seasons until those higher drafted players start moving on to other teams. Then the team starts losing again. Rinse-and-repeat. Not for the Bengals, though. Aside from the rare Carson Palmer pickup, this franchise has been synonymous with the phrase 'poor drafts'. They always seek the ticket-selling playmakers rather than building a team the right way (see: the Patriots). That's reflected in the 115 - 206 - 1 record compiled by the Bengals since Mike Brown took over. In general Bengals fans are starting to realize that golden children like Palmer are few and far between in this organization and hope for winning seasons and championships if they do grab one go right out the door when Mike Brown is your team's owner.

Thus after a long, drawn out rant about the franchise I had been following since 1996, I come to the flip side of the story- How this plays out for the Cincinnati Bearcats. On the gridiron, the football team is expecting a much improved year and are determined to prove that 2010's 4 - 8 performance was an anomaly. I'm predicting a four-win swing that will jettison the Bearcats to the top half of the conference. There's a lot get excited about- The defensive line should be among the best in the Big East, explosive playmakers like Zach Collaros, Isaiah Pead, and D.J. Woods all return with the experience of a year in Butch Jones's system under their belts, there is much more depth at linebacker, more experience in the secondary, and the schedule is lighter. They're still the explosive offense that Brian Kelly dazzled us with during his tenure here so they can draw the casual fans because of the excitement of the gameplay.

Finally, going back to the comparison to the Cincinnati Bengals, the Bearcats are improving their relationship with the city of Cincinnati each and every day. The differences are night and day. The Bengals continuously alienate themselves from their fans and greedily gobble whatever they can from the city of Cincinnati and Hamilton county. The Bearcats embrace the city of Cincinnati with open arms and their athletes readily volunteer around the city. The Bengals are a drain on their community. The University of Cincinnati acts to improve their community. The Bengals have plenty of money but do little to invest in championship football. The Bearcats do what they can on a small budget to make improvements to their athletic programs.

The treatment of the Bengals towards their fans and this city is starting to get old and when the Bengals and Bearcats compete for fans in the city I think more Bengals fans, as they leave their loyalties behind start backing the Bearcats. It is absolutely crucial for Cincinnati's athletic department to capitalize on this opportunity (looking at you UC marketing). While teams like Ohio State, Notre Dame, Kentucky, and Xavier all have thousands of fans in the city of Cincinnati, none of those carry the NAME of the city or actively go out and build a relationship with the city like the University of Cincinnati. Former athletic director Mike Thomas didn't exactly instill confidence in establishing those contacts but if President Williams makes the right hire, there is no better time than now to have a schmoozer of an AD to really sell the above positive aspects of UC. It would definitely go a long way to have a man or woman that is familiar with fund raising and fan interaction and could capitalize on a solid football season out of the Bearcats when the Bizarro-Bearcats (the Bengals) are likely to have one of the most horrid seasons in franchise history.


Represent The "C" (via catattack4)

Imagine if the Bearcats beat the traditional SEC power Tennessee (while down last year) this season. What if in 2012 Cincinnati takes down either Virginia Tech or Ohio State (especially Ohio State) on the road in 2012? What if they win at least 8 games in both years and Coach Jones signs a contract extension keeping him at Cincinnati through 2016 or 2017? What if at the same time, the Bengals don't win more than 4 games in 2011 and 2012 and again ask the city to make upgrades to Paul Brown Stadium. What if they rehire Marvin Lewis after such horrible seasons? What if the fans don't come out to see the Bengals and Mike Brown moves the team to Los Angeles (the city has already approved of a stadium)? Leaving PBS vacant, what if the Bearcats moved in with capacity pushing out the seams in Nippert stadium, place the same field turf that is on Carson Field at their new venue, move the Ring of Honor to PBS, and are able to fill out 60-65,000 fans each home game?

Ok I got a little carried away there. The last few points were probably a pipedream but the first few about both the Bearcats and Bengals are very real possibilities. The Bengals are going to be a train wreck for the next few years and the Bearcats, if they can show marked improvements in 2011 and hold onto Jones, could prove that they will become mainstays in BCS football. Pride in Bengaldom is at an all time low and even Gold Star Chili is asking Bengals fans if they should continue their sponsorship with the franchise. When push comes to shove, it's up to Cincinnati be it with a splash athletic director higher or simply winning games consistently year-in and year-out to not squander this opportunity.