The American Athletic Conference did something cruel yesterday. It released a highlight reel video celebrating the 2015-16 season in AAC athletics. If you've already seen it, you know it was not a kind walk through memory park for anyone with a soft spot for the Cincinnati Bearcats. If you haven't seen it, then save yourself and allow me to carry the burden of reliving some haunting nightmares.
00:00-00:39 - Montage time! A lot of huddles and pre-game warmups including a shot of Cincinnati's swim team dancing in a big circle before a meet and Troy Caupain dribbling in slow motion. Not too bad.
00:40 - Then I'm blindsided by an alley-oop from SMU against Cincinnati in Fifth Third. The assault on my eye sockets is made even more excruciating because it is SHOWN IN SLOW MOTION!
1:00 - No choice but to respect the double play turned by Tulane's middle infield. There's a number of reasons the Green Wave was nationally ranked, and having a shortstop (Stephen Alemais) that can backhand a ball from behind second and flip it to the base in one motion is one of the big ones.
1:13 - Watching Memphis seal the deal against then No. 13 Ole Miss isn't great because it was done by a conference rival. However, having programs in the AAC win against teams from the Power 5 conferences certainly helps elevate the prestige of the still new league. A begrudging golf clap goes to the Tigers.
1:25 - Mike Trout ain't got nothing on USF's Juli Weber, who is shown scraping her cleats against the center field fence as she closes on a fly ball rocket. Sure, it wasn't a play made by a Bearcat, but running catches at the wall are dope no matter how you slice it.
1:39 - AGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH. I knew it was coming, but I still wasn't prepared for it. If you can't guess, this is the point of the program where the Hail Mary buzzer beater by one Jalen Adams just about kills UC. Making matters even worse, the AAC included Kevin Johnson's huge three, effectively making me relive the roller coaster of those 20 or so seconds. From "Bad shot by Troy" to "They got the rebound, OK reset, wait what are you doing, KJ?!" to "Oh my God KJ splashed it!" before finally ending with "No way. Are you serious? How did that go in!?"
Deep breath. We soldier on
2:04 - Oh good, more UConn celebrations.
2:05 - And yet another team winning something, this time its Houston's football crown, with video of Tom Herman holding up the AAC title trophy. That cuts deep coming from a guy originally from Cincinnati.
2:21-2:30 - A few of the players picked in the NFL Draft from the AAC are mentioned, but no Chris Moore anywhere. Just Paxton Lynch and William Jackson III. It admittedly makes sense, as those guys were taken in the first round and Moore went in the fourth.
2:30 - Memphis and Temple played in a game that tied for the longest in women's college basketball history. That's pretty neat. Temple lost in that one (100-97). Bearcat fans can certainly commiserate with the Owls on enduring a grueling multi-overtime marathon only to fall short.
2:50 - More UConn, this time celebrating the dominance of Breanna Stewart and the Huskies' run to yet another national title in women's basketball.
3:06 - A cool moment from the NFL Draft as Navy's Keenan Reynolds is selected 182nd overall by the Baltimore Ravens. (Same team that drafted Chris Moore. No big deal).
3:17 - Good God. Another UConn celebration?! Baseball this time.
3:22 - FINALLY, CINCINNATI GETS SOME SHINE. Kelly Latimer buries the PK that clinched the AAC title for UC in women's soccer.
3:28 - More UConn, as the top three picks in this year's WNBA Draft came out of Storrs. Its tough writing nice stuff about UConn, but it is extremely impressive how dominant that program is and how talented the players that come out of there are.
3:45 - Once again, I tuck my Bearcat-colored shades away to appreciate Travis Watkins' walkoff three-run home run that capped a five-run ninth inning and sent East Carolina to its first NCAA Regional Final since 2011.
3:45- Close- More montage, mainly of folks lifting trophies (UC at 4:11!) and then we fade to black.
So, what did we learn from this endeavor? Well, first off, UConn is having far too much fun. Second, the AAC is slowly coming into its own. And lastly, there were definitely things to be happy about at UC this year, but 2016-17 needs to be a year of redemption.
If after reading all that you'd still like to experience the video for yourself, here you go.