It takes a lot of nerve for someone to tell you how to act. And it's with that understanding that I'm continuing to type on this keyboard right now.
Let me get this out of the way: I don't like Xavier. Never have, never will. I hated their holier than thou attitude in the 90s to 2000s, and I hate their we're in the Big East and you're not attitudes now.
But there's one thing I feel compelled to write about when it comes to this year's Shootout Week - and it's how to carry that emotion throughout the next three days so that you don't end up looking like an idiot in front of coworkers or friends.
On the surface, it may seem like things aren't exactly going the way UC fans would like right now. Stuck in the AAC. Two excruciating losses to ECU and Tulane. Head coach remains sidelined with a health issue. Team looks gassed.
But there's plenty to be excited about, so brag about what you can brag about, right?
Feel a little resentment. One of my favorite things in sports is rivalries. They make contests more memorable than your average run-of-the-mill games. And they give you something to look forward to every year. I mean, at any point this past season were you looking ahead to a game against Tulane in February? No - but I'm sure you knew when the Xavier game was. And with rivalries come resentment; it's natural.
Act like this is UC's only rivalry. Yeah, the Bearcats are currently stuck in a conference that doesn't afford many of their traditional rivalries. But Xavier isn't the only game ripe with anticipation. The contests with UConn over the last 5 years have that relationship heating up. And, let's be honest - we have more recent history with Louisville in football and basketball than we do with the Muskies in Norwood. It's a nice game on both schedules right now, but it's not the only game one can claim is a 'rivalry'.
Talk some trash. What fun is a rivalry if you can't spit a little venom at the opposing team's fanbase? There's only one set of jerseys that have the name of the city sprawled across them - and that means XU will always be little brother. And unfortunately for them, we have a successful football program, more graduates and fans throughout the city, and the region's largest employer. All things they'll never be able to top. Add in the All-Americans, Hall of Famers, Final Fours, National Championships, and it's really not even close.
Brag about the overall series record. That's something Miami Redhawk fans do whenever they talk about the football series with Cincinnati. Yes, the Bearcats have won more games than the Musketeers over the last 100 years, but unless you were alive to see every one of 'em, it sounds petty. We live in a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately culture, and over the last 10 years XU owns a 6-4 advantage - including last year's 17 point drubbing.
Build up anticipation. The last week or so of Bearcat basketball hasn't been fun, I get it, so it's easy to feel like hope is lost. But, admit it, if UC wins on Wednesday you'll forget both Tulane and ECU and start going over win/loss scenarios the rest of the way. Plus a win on Wednesday probably puts the Bearcats comfortably on the right side of the bubble. That makes this game all the more important - so the let anticipation build up.
Be that obnoxious fan. Every school - and I mean EVERY SCHOOL - has a group of fringe fans that are so ridiculous and so clueless that you have to immediately assume every fan of that institution must be the same. You know who I'm talking about; don't be that guy.
The brawl a few years put both universities in a bad light. But one school took an immediate and candid response while the other wishes they had handled it in a similar manner. My advice: let certain fans continue to carry that flame.
You don't have to walk the middle ground all week; just don't be a jerk. And if the undesired happens - and the Bearcats somehow lose at... ah to hell with it; that won't happen, so don't worry about it.