The past year has been called many things. But it seems like a lot of those things have been negative (unless you are a Chicago Cubs fan, then good on you).
For the Cincinnati Bearcats, there has been no shortage of heartbreak and disappointment, but that doesn’t mean its been all rain clouds. So let’s jump in the old time machine and take a look back at the last 12 months in Bearcat country.
The beginning of 2016 featured a hunt for a new offensive coordinator after an exodus of sorts by the UC staff. Eddie Gran left for Kentucky to take on the role of OC. Quarterback coach Darin Hinshaw followed with Gran, leaving the cabinet empty for a clear choice to run the offense. Enter former Miami Dolphin OC Zac Taylor who made Tommy Tuberville’s job easy by filling the role left by both Gran and Hinshaw. We all know how that turned out, but more on that later.
While the football staff was being adjusted, the men’s basketball team went 6-2 to start the American Athletic Conference slate, while the football team added JUCO transfer Davin Pierce, who would play for the Bearcats in the fall.
As the recruiting craziness settled down, we heard the first real thunderclaps of the 2016 Big 12 expansion saga. That would be a storm that stretched far beyond the winter and take us deep into the summer.
The Bearcats continued to play well on the hardwood as all this was going on, producing a 5-2 record during the 29-day month. Optimism was high for Troy Caupain and company as March approached.
Maybe we should just skip this month. Nothing really happened. Nothing at all.
Why are you still here? Skip ahead to April. Baseball is in April. And warmer weather and and...
In March two things happened. First there was this.
Then there was this.
Let’s just move on.
For as bad as March was, April provided some solace. The men’s basketball team got an infusion of talent with the addition of Sacred Heart transfer Cane Broome. Broome didn’t have to worry about playing for a new head coach either as Mick Cronin signed an extension after flirting with UNLV. Tommy Tuberville also got an extension, but his didn’t end up being one that stuck. (Again, more on that later).
The month ended with some good news for Bearcats who were no longer student athletes, as Parker Ehinger and Chris Moore were taken in the NFL Draft.
It was in May that the surprising baseball team finally started to earn some of the spotlight. Led by aces Andrew Zellner (who was named first-team all-conference) and J.T. Perez, the Bearcats were right in the thick of things in the AAC title chase. Although they stumbled down the stretch and lost their two games in the AAC tourney, their 13-10-1 record in league play was a noticeably stronger result than year’s past.
The biggest news to break concerning the University of Cincinnati had a lot more to do with the university as a whole rather than the athletic department. President Santa Ono left UC in favor of the University of British Columbia. Even if the effects of Ono’s departure reached beyond the locker room, we couldn’t help but wonder what his leaving meant for UC and its chances at Big 12 expansion.
As the summer moved on, things were cold on the Bearcat front, which is expected in the summer months. However, the heat turned way up on Big 12 expansion, with rumors flying from Denver to Hartford about whether the league would add teams, what teams would get such an invite and what it all meant for college sports in general. At DTD, we examined which team should join up with UC should the invite come through and we even thought expansion was closer to happening than it appeared.
Big 12 expansion continued to dominate the news cycle as every drab and dribble of news was gobbled up, thrown together with a headline and put out on the interwebs. Takes were hot and frequent and momentum continued to appear on track for a bigger Big 12. There was even confirmation that the league contacted teams, including UC, and that UC called (well wrote) back.
Meanwhile, the 2016 football season loomed as Tommy Tuberville and company got set to make up for a disappointing 2015 campaign. We knew at DTD that the 2016 season would be critical to Tuberville’s future at UC and one of the major developments in the early going was the naming of Hayden Moore as starting quarterback.
UC was still in the running for the Big 12 when the Bearcats played their first football game of 2016 on the first of the month. The results were less than stellar, as they barely escaped against Tennessee-Martin, even if the 28-7 score makes it look like a bigger win than it was.
By the end of the month the team was 3-1, but cracks were showing. Heck, we couldn’t even figure out what was going on at quarterback.
It was during the 10th month of the year that the Tuberville’s team began to spiral out of control. A 1-3 month included a dreary 20-9 loss to UConn and called into even harsher light the ineffective offensive game plan. It was during this month that UC’s infamous touchdown drought got started, as Devin Gray’s touchdown reception in the second quarter against Temple would be the last touchdown the Bearcats would score until the fourth quarter of their Nov. 18 game against Memphis.
October was also rough because it ended the Big 12 expansion saga on a sour note as the league decided not to expand, forcing DTD and UC fans around the globe to retire the #Big12Confirmed hashtag.
Thanks goodness basketball came back, allowing us all to ignore the pathetic offensive showing from the football team each weekend, that was until the Bearcats ran right with Tulsa before falling in overtime in the regular season finale. After a 4-8 season, we wondered who might replace him if Tuberville were let go. Little did we know that such a situation was just days from coming to fruition.
On the basketball side, powered by a massive start by Kyle Washington, the Bearcats jumped out to a 4-1 record and set themselves up nicely for a Dec. 1 date with Iowa State.
December was actually a pretty great month for Bearcats of all types. Mick Cronin led his team to a road upset of then No. 19 Iowa State on the first of the month to get things started.
Then, to the glee of many, Tuberville resigned as head coach, beginning a coaching search that had us dreaming of Charlie Strong, PJ Fleck and Neal Brown before UC eventually settled on Ohio State defensive coordinator Luke Fickell.
In the weeks since the basketball team has continued to play well, picking up a victory in its conference opener this past Wednesday while an apparent offensive coordinator for Fickell has surfaced.
It has certainly been an eventful year here at Down the Drive and we’d like to thank you for reading and following along with us all year. Happy New Year to you and yours and we’ll see you back here in 2017 for all the Bearcat coverage you can handle.