This week has come to an end and what a week it was. Some classic competition was on display all week, plus the NBA and NHL playoffs and MLB regular season games. See what I did there? The competition I’m talking about is the first round of the Favorite Cincinnati Bearcat Football Player Since 1997 Tournament, which comes to an end today with the Butch Jones region. Let’s get to the updated bracket.
Something that has me curious in this tournament is how much professional football success will impact voting. For younger Bearcats fans, players like Connor Barwin and Brent Celek may be more recognizable for their work in the NFL rather than as Bearcats. That’s why it was heartening to see Mardy Gilyard easily beat Travis Kelce. That’s nothing against Kelce. He was a ton of fun in college and has been great for the Kansas City Chiefs, but Gilyard might just be the most electric player in program history, let alone the last 20 years. People clearly haven’t forgotten.
Meanwhile, Barwin and Celek both breezed into the second round as well. Barwin got 93 percent of the votes in his matchup with Andrew Gantz, who transferred to Northern Illinois and was facing an uphill battle as it was. Tony Pike also got 93 percent of the votes in his matchup, which might have gone differently if Silverberry Mouhon lived up to the potential he flashed during his spectacular 2013 campaign. Armon Binns also crushed his opponent, with 90 percent of the vote. Methinks that catch against Pitt is going to carry him far.
The most competitive contest of this region was between Anthony McClung and Brendon Kay. McClung narrowly won with 53 percent of the vote. This was destined to be close because both players are heavyweights in program history, with Kay 10th in all-time passing yards and McClung sixth in receiving yards.
Round Two Matchups
Tony Pike vs. Connor Barwin
Pike is one of only six quarterbacks in school history to throw for 5,000 yards while his teammate Barwin was a first-team All-Big East defensive end in 2008. Both players were excellent that season, with Barwin recording 11 sacks and Pike throwing for 2,407 yards and 19 touchdowns for an 11-win Cincinnati team. The next year, Pike threw that famous touchdown against Pitt. If Binns is riding on that, then Pike should get a boost as well.
Parker Ehinger vs. Anthony McClung
I have a feeling McClung will get through a bit easier here. That’s not to say Ehinger wasn’t great for the Bearcats. After all, he was a first-team All-American Athletic Conference lineman, but even the biggest fans of the trenches can’t deny how great McClung was to watch in the open field.
Brent Celek vs. Mardy Gilyard
Gilyard already defeated one tight end. Celek was an underappreciated player both in college and the NFL, but he had only 1,135 yards in his career at UC. Gilyard had more than that in his senior season alone.
Armons Binns vs. Tion Green
In case you forgot.
This will be a tough one for Green to take.
That’s enough discussion for now. Its voting time.