It is the off season now, officially. And that means its time for some definitely possibly pointless experimentation. The first Guinea-pig is the jump off. Let me know if this works for you or not.
The only real news yesterday was that Fordham has replaced TCU on the Bearcats 2012 Football schedule. That of course wraps up the 2012 schedule for the Bearcats. Being honest the schedule sucks. I don't think it is a stretch to say that. But the simple fact of the matter is that when TCU and WVU bolted for the Big 12 UC was always going to be stuck. The simple fact of the matter is that UC is a nouveau riche program. One that many established powers have limited interest in getting on the schedule in the first place. When you combine that with the shortened time frame to get a game and it made this the most likely outcome.
From everything I heard UC tried, desperately, to get another respectable team on the docket but couldn't make it happen and thus had to settle. One of the sticking points was that Whit Babcock insisted on a 7th home game. In recent years UC has played 6 home games as a matter of course. The 2010 season was an exception. But getting a BCS or even a C-USA type team to come in on this short of notice wasn't likely. So the Bearcats had to settle for Fordham, a second FCS opponent. Of course that means that Butch and Co. will need to win 7 games to go bowling instead of the customary 6. But that shouldn't be an issue. Or at least it isn't for me, sitting here in March. It could be in November, but that's a topic for November.
Continuing with Football
All of the talk so far has been about the QB's in the battle to replace Zach Collaros but that isn't settled. Nor do I expect it to be by the end of spring practice. Far more relevant to me at this point settles on efforts to get play makers on the field and in position to make plays, particularly on offense. The biggest news in this regard is moving Jordan Luallen into a hybrid role. Part QB, part RB, part H-back. Luallen is a tremendous athlete, but he isn't a full time QB. Not in this system. Getting him on the field more often gives the defense something else to think about.
Another guy making noise is, no surprise, Ralph Abernathy IV. The UC offense was dynamic last year because Isaiah Pead was so dynamic that simply having him on the field as often as UC did sowed the seeds of confusion in the defense. This year to create the same confusion Mike Bajakian will have to throw more at the defense in terms of personnel groupings to create the same effect. Luallen and Abernathy's performances in the first part of spring ensures that they will probably be a part of those groupings.
The other thing on defense is the performance of Trenier Orr who has drawn rave reviews as a corner. Orr is a redshirt freshman. Corner is already a position of strength with three players coming back with at least 10 career starts.*
But the emergence of Orr has allowed the staff to play around with some of the corners deepish in the depth chart. One of the moves is moving Adrian Witty to safety where he injects a ton of athleticism and coverage ability to safety group that isn't exactly long on both. Or at least wasn't last year. Witty is smallish for a safety but his speed, (part of the Florida 4x100 state title team at Deerfield Beach with Denard Robinson in 2009) gives him nearly limitless range. Oh and for a small guy he can it, remember. Its an interesting move, and one that could work well.
Shifting gears to Basketball recruiting Chris Obekpa visited St. John's this weekend. Obekpa's visit certainly caught me by surprise. And you can bet that Steve Lavin sold the hell out of New York City to the young man. But, and this is the key, the visit passed without Obekpa committing to the Johnies. For what its worth the steady buzz from the New York area, even from St. John's fans is that Obekpa will be a Bearcat. But that is just talk and innuendo. Until he signs and fires up the fax machine to send it to Clifton nothing is certain. But I am cautiously optimistic at this point. How about some Obpeka highlights to start your day.
Anyone care to talk about Harrison Barnes? OK, I'll go. One of the more unnerving aspects of modern high school/college basketball (the two are essentially the same thing at this point) is the obsession with kids and their "brands." And its not so much in the way that some kids go about building their brand. By being self aware, attentive, conscientious, and constantly aware of the fact that they are under the microscope at all times. That self awareness leads to a kind of focus and attention to detail that is a positive thing in life. And I say this as someone who never had focus in high school.
The problem is that a brand is a tool to sell things not necessarily people, though more and more that is the case, particularly in sports. But the selling isn't the problem. The problem is that when a kid talks of himself in those terms he is setting the terms on which his performance will be judged. Now there is nothing wrong with, in military terms, setting the terms of an engagement. In fact it is usually prim and proper to do just that. Because, in theory, being the one who sets the terms means that you alone have a greater understanding of the probabilities of any given outcome. Again in theory.
In the human sense selling a brand is really selling a minimum set of expectations. For most people building a brand is the same thing is building a resume. Its building a set of expectations that hopefully surpasses the minimum set of expectations an employer has for a given position. But when it comes to kids playing a game having a brand is a hindrance as much as a help. Because the brand sets the expectations on which a given athlete will be measured. And that's where Harrison Barnes went wrong. He set the standard on which he would be judged and fell short of those standards. In a vacuum Barnes is the farthest thing from a bust. He is an immensely talented young guy who's game never really fit into the college arena for whatever reason. But because he fell short of the expectations he set, publicly, for all of us his draft stock is tumbling.
Video of Interest
78 minutes in the life (and near death) of Fabrice Muam which is just unreal when you think about it...Do you have enough Tim Tebow in your life of course you don't...The Women's Lacrosse team opens up Big East play against Louisville...and finally lets all laugh at the Illinois people who thought that Mike Thomas was going to be a good Big 10 Athletic Director hahahaha.