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Cincinnati Bearcats Football is Back

136 days. That is how long the Bearcats have been out of our lives. Though, lets be honest, they never really leave our lives. They are always there in one form or another, but this is a far more visceral form. The players have reported and are on campus as of yesterday. The first practice of 2013 is tomorrow, the team moves to higher ground on Friday, and the pads come out on Saturday.

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Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

The 2013 season is going to be fascinating. There are so many storylines to digest. It is the first year of the Tommy Tuberville era, and so far he has aced the non football portion of the job. He managed to pull in an acceptable first class, despite the drama. He has managed to completely ensnare the local media, and more impressively he has done that without beating people into the ground with his impressive CV. He is always available, and is always good for an insight, which is a welcome change from the cliche ridden false modesty/bravado of the Butch Jones era.That was all well done, but it is also over. Now Tubs and his staff now has to go out and win games.

They inherited the personnel to do it. Going back to last summer I thought that this year would be the year for UC to make some serious waves. 2012 was about getting the core of this team experience and exposure. All that happened, and they won a ton of games. I am on record saying that this team merits the kind of expectations that the 2008 team had. I find the 2012 season to be somewhat similar to what the 2007 team went through, at least as the narrative aspect of this goes. This is an experienced team, of the 68 players listed on the Bearcats Belk Bowl depth chart 49 of them return. The expectations that are being whispered about are earned, this is a team that can make a big run.

It is the Bearcats first year in the American, and the only season where the Bearcats will have an automatic birth to the BCS, should they win the conference outright. That is a simple thing to say, but it is a difficult thing to do. That process might be the most interesting storyline of all. For the first time in a while, UC will have a team to chase.

For most of UC's rise from newcomer to top dog of the Big East the Bearcats were chasing West Virginia.* They were the measuring stick, to the coaches and to the players. When UC finally beat WVU, in Morgantown of all places, the reaction was on par with winning the conference, even though WVU finished the year 3rd in the conference. Since that night every UC team since has carried itself like it is the bully on the block. That changes this year, the Bearcats are decidedly in a chase position. Most of this team has never been in this position, particularly the young guns. The reaction to that fact is going to be fascinating to watch.

*Thanks to some handy Kragthorping

Settle in Bearcats, this is going to be a very interesting four months.