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The Case For Keeping The Battle For The Victory A Home and Home

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Around about this time every year the Cincinnati Bearcats take on the Miami RedHawks in a game that has been ongoing annual tradition for 105 years, give or take a World War. It is also around this time that Bearcat fans wonder what value is in it for them going forward. There is a strain of thought that the Bearcats should abandon the game. Its not something that I subscribe to.

I will fully admit that my desire to keep the rivalry going has something to do with sentiment. The first college football game that I ever saw in person was the Battle for the Bell in 1997 in Oxford. You could only imagine the impact that game had on me, as a pre teen, sitting in the Miami student section thanks to my sisters lapse in judgement. I should really thank my sister for that day, and my future wife will learn to curse her for it. The funny thing is that when I remember that day one thing doesn't come back, who won or who lost.* I am sure that there are thousands of Bearcats who have similar memories, experiences and sentiments stemming from this game. That's one reason to keep the series going.

* I have since found out that it was the Bearcats who prevailed 34-31

The other is that there is really no alternative for the Bearcats to go out and find another suitable game in the non conference. It is hard enough for this program to get home and home series from decent programs, and that is with just three spots to fill. Putting that fourth one up for grabs is not going result in the Bearcats getting teams from power 5 conferences to agree to home and home's series. The Bearcats are perfectly capable of getting one or two of those games a year, but expecting them to fill the non conference slate like that is far fetched. It's far more likely that the bulk of the Bearcats non conference slate would be filled with a bunch of mid tier schools of similar footprint. Continuing to play Miami home and home isn't what is stopping the Bearcats from getting every season filled with quality opponents.

With that in mind, I do think that it is time for the Bearcats to rethink how they go about scheduling in the nonconference. But I absolutely think that the Bearcats should continue the series with Miami, in its current home and home format with one tweak. It should be the season opener each and every year.

The reasoning is simple, it brings more excitement and anticipation to the game than currently exists. All the people bitching and complaining about how this game doesn't do it for them would shut up, immediately. How can you not be excited for the first game of the season, and not just that, but the first game of the season with a cool trophy and a lot of history. What's not to like?

The detractors will say that the Bearcats are losing out on gate revenues by having the RedHawks host on the odd years, that is true if you make some leaps in logic. That line of thought only holds up if it can be proven for a fact that the only thing keeping the Bearcats from hosting 8 home games a year is that bi-annual trek up US 127 (hint: it can't). There are two really simple reason's to keep going to Oxford every other year.

It is a manageable road game, and thus a good early barometer for the Bearcats on those years when they travel to Oxford. There is a widening gulf between the Bearcats and the RedHawks on the field, but this game means something to both teams and brings the best out of both of them. There is something to be said about throwing a team into a difficult situation early in the year just to see how they respond to adversity.

The other reason to keep the home and home is that the bi-annual trips to Oxford is one of the few traditions that the Bearcats have as a nouveau riche travelling program. We are all relatively new to this aspect of football fandom, and the 2007 game against Miami was the first time that the Bearcats really travelled en masse to an away football game. That has happened every other year since, and it has become on of my favorite traditions with UC football.

There is a future for the Battle for the Victory Bell, its just a matter of the reconfiguring the circumstances to make the game work for all parties. Making it the season opener would appear to check most of the boxes involved.