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I was born on the west side of Cincinnati so you could say I was born into being a Bearcats fan. With a dad and older brother already cheering for UC when I was born, it was basically a no brainer for myself to cheer for the Bearcats. We all come from totally different walks of life, but it is very cool to know that people you have never known and will probably never meet, have the same passion for the Cincinnati Bearcats.
The time period when I became a Bearcats fan was around the 2002 to 2004 time frame. I would have been about nine or 10 years old when I started watching sports on a regular basis, and in my household that meant the Bearcats were on almost every night. I can remember guys like Eric Hicks, Jason Maxiell, Field Williams and, my personal favorite, James White putting on big performance at Fifth Third Arena in my young age. Unfortunately those UC teams never really made any big March Madness runs or anything like that, but they were fun to watch. also became a huge fan of coach Bob Huggins. He was the first coach that I even knew the name of, and I can remember being so pissed off when he resigned in 2005. That was my first heartbreak as a UC fan, and unfortunately for me, it would not be my last.
While we are on the topic of heartbreak, how about we dive into the 2009 football season. Maybe one of the most fun seasons of football I have ever watched, turned into an implosion. I can remember Tony Pike playing like a Heisman candidate, Armon Binns game winning catch against Pittsburgh (greatest moment ever), Mardy Gilyard's crazy speed and big play ability, and much much more. I can vividly remember Head coach Brian Kelly quitting before we played Florida and Tim Tebow in the Sugar Bowl. I though it wouldn't matter, I though the Bearcats could shock the world but boy was I wrong. We got flat out stomped 51-24 and could have lost by a lot more if the Gators hadn't taken their foot off the gas. But with the bad, comes the good.
The good I am talking about is the Mick Cronin basketball era that we currently live in. That aggressive defensive edge that the Bearcats are now known for which has gotten them into March Madness seven years in a row and counting. Let's not forget that Sean Kilpatrick's greatness all happened under the leadership of Cronin. I could write a book on how fun SK23 was to watch, so I will keep it simple and tell you to watch some highlight videos of the guy. Yeah, basketball has been very good to us as of late. Luckily we are still in the great Cronin era, which presents a lot of possibilities with the young studs the Bearcats have right now.
These are the big moments in my Bearcats fandom. I know I left out a lot of small stuff like the Butch Jones and Tuberville eras and the endless possibilities that our newest coach Luke Fickell could bring to the program, but I could go on and on for days about all the things that make me love (and sometimes hate) UC athletics. I have been and will forever be a true fan of the University of Cincinnati, and I hope all of you are too, though the good times and even the bad.
I became a UC fan in March 1992 as I watched the Nick Van Exel-led Cincinnati Bearcats make it to the Final Four. It was the first year that I filled out an NCAA Tournament bracket. Cincinnati was the one team that I picked for the Final Four that actually made it to Minneapolis. I have been a loyal supporter from afar ever since.
J. Scott Sewell
I grew up just across the river in Covington, Kentucky. My formative years coincided with the Bearcats run to the Final Four in 1992, and then the career of my favorite UC player of all time, Danny Fortson. Fortson still is the best player I've ever watched in a UC uniform. He was an above average defender, excellent free-throw shooter, and one of the best rebounders I've ever watched. He shot 62 percent in 1996-97 and I believe he had the chance for a Karl Malone type career if he ended up in the right situation.
Many have questioned why I'd be a Cincinnati fan while living in Kentucky, but it's important to note that Lexington is 90 miles away and Cincinnati was right across the river. The Bearcats were my hometown team, and I just happened to live in the state of Kentucky. Plus, Kentucky fans are the #&%** worst.
I owe my Cincinnati fanhood to the 2011-12 men’s basketball team. Specifically, I owe it to Yancy Gates. A lifelong Big East fan, I was not entirely sold on the new additions from Conference USA in 2005, but I leaned toward the Bearcats early on and the red and black color palette stayed with me for several years. But in 2011, when I broke out and started writing professionally about college sports, specifically covering the Big East, I was lucky enough to follow along as the Bearcats went to the Sweet 16.
When Gates scored 23 points in an upset win against Georgetown in the Big East Tournament, 18 in the stunner against No. 2 Syracuse and
put together 15 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks in the first round against Texas, a player I had enjoyed covering all season took a step forward in my eyes and became one of my favorite college players ever. He also happened to play for what would become one of my favorite teams ever. Dion Dixon, Sean Kilpatrick, Justin Jackson and a young Octavius Ellis made up a roster I’d go to war with any time. Plus, while most people were put off by UC’s eclectic uniforms that year, and in the years after, I absolutely loved them and continue to, especially this year’s 1992 Final Four throwbacks.
After 2012 my fanhood continued to run hand-in-hand with my professional career as I continued to cover the Big East, then the American Athletic Conference before zeroing in on Cincinnati with Down the Drive. I may have grown up in Albany, New York, gone to college in Philadelphia and rooted for Boston sports all my life (family roots), but UC will always hold a big part of my sports fanhood.
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