A Trip Down Memory Lane – Bill Poland

»Posted by on Aug 19, 2013 in UC Football | 0 comments

Loyal reader(s): I am back. This week I will spotlight some of the local players U.C. has had who came from local high schools. I will start with one of my favorites: Elder High School from Price Hill. Being an east-sider I had heard about Elder all of my life. On this side of town all of the public schools live in the shadow of Moeller (Oh, congrats on the football and baseball state titles). Back in the 70s and 80s the Moeller shadow was quite large, although I don’t think it’s as prominent now as it was back then. So I would hear about the stories about The Pit and the Elder Purple Monster and thought it was kind of cool but never really paid much attention to it. Things changed as I got older and start attending high school games again. Since I am a small-school guy I would really only get to see Elder, Colerain, Moe and St. Xavier the first weekend of the season in the Skyline Showdown. These guys would either play each other or some out of town teams. This is when I got my first taste of Elder Football, and it was frankly awesome. Their entire huge fan base clad in purple, with grads all of the way back to the 20s!! I would also see them in the post-season where their fans would see me in a blue and gold jacket and think I was from Moeller (It wasn’t)!!! Then in 2001 a friend of mine got tickets for the Elder-Warren Harding game at the pit. My first time to The Pit. All I could say was WOW. I had never seen anything like that. With the large grill right behind the end zone. The passion. The intensity. It was nothing like I had ever seen before, and it was great. There is one similar stadium that I had been too and that was Reading, in terms of the concrete seats, but they had seats only on one side. It was just an incredible atmosphere. The fans we sat with couldn’t have been nicer. It was also the first time I saw one of my favorite players who would ever wear a Bearcat uniform: Bill Poland. Elder won big that day 24-14, holding future Ohio State Buckeye Maurice Claret to about 50 yards rushing. Poland was terrific with his receiving and blocking. The next year Elder won its first state football title. I remember that team fondly, and it was not just the state championship. They opened that year against Dixie Heights in the Skyline game. Dixie Heights was the home team and was responsible for the chain crew. Those guys didn’t show up, so the linesman recruited me and my friends to do the chains. We were on the Elder side, and in 16 years of doing the chains I never had an easier game. The coaches told the players do not cross the yellow line on the sidelines, and NOT ONCE, NOT ONCE did any of the Elder players cross that line. It was the only game I ever worked where that happened. Anyway, back to Poland. Not only was he a great football player, but he could really play basketball as well. When he was a senior they were playing Withrow in the first round of the tournament. Withrow was 20-0 and ranked #1 in the city I believe. Well, Elder (who was 11-9, last in the G.C.L.) beat them 60-55. Poland had a tip-in dunk that was one of the best plays I’ve ever seen a high school kid make. I remember it to this day. My jaw hit the floor, and the whole building just exploded. Even Withrow fans roared in their approval. Just a truly athletic play. Poland was a great athlete, and when I heard he signed with the Bearcats I could not have been happier. Bill had a fine career with the Bearcats from 2003-2006. While he didn’t have great numbers he was always in the receiver rotation and made his share of drive-sustaining catches. I remember his most significant play in a Bearcat Uniform. Rutgers 2006 on the Brent Celek 83 yard T.D. reception. It was Bill Poland HUSTLING, HUSTLING down and making TWO, TWO key blocks on one play. That one play really defines who Bill Poland was as a football player. Someone who played his butt off every snap and who put the team’s needs ahead of his own. I think his greatest legacy is that he was the first Elder guy to go back to U.C. and started a long line of Elder players...

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Pre Season 2013

»Posted by on Aug 12, 2013 in UC Football | 0 comments

All righty loyal reader(s), time for another installment of U.C. Football.  First off I have read a couple of postings about the preseason drills in Indiana and the results have been nothing but favorable.  I believe the Enquirer posted an article about the Tuberville effect and how the opening game with Purdue is sold out or about to be, as happened last time when the Boilermakers came to town in 2001. Now let’s finish our discussion on fans.  Now I have heard reports about fans abusing players, coaches and on-field personnel.  I have no doubt that this goes on, and it’s shameful.  This should not happen, and players and coaches have every right to be upset about this.  Booing and criticizing their performance is one thing, but to listen to comments about family and other non-football related issues is way out of bounds. The crew where I used to sit certainly did our share of razzing, but I never thought we stepped over any lines or anything.  We weren’t perfect.  I swore at players and officials.  I am not proud of that and I deeply regret it.  But I thought we policed ourselves, which is why it never got out of hand. We all knew where the line was, and didn’t over-step it.  If someone had (and I don’t remember any incidents) we would have told that person that comment was not acceptable and don’t do it again.  I would advise fans if you are sitting somewhere and people are getting too rowdy to go get an usher AND a police officer(s).  Usually this will solve the problem.  Again, it’s too bad that this goes on, and it goes on everywhere, but it can usually be dealt with in a civil manner. One player I did not talk about from the Gino/Trent Cole years was Richard Hall, another one of my all-time favorites.  I actually knew of Richard long before U.C. as I watched him play for Wyoming High School and Coach Bernie Barre.  He simply was one of the best high school running backs I have ever seen.  He was strong, fast, and he ran HARD.  Real hard. What I remember most about him was although he was much more talented than his opposition he never coasted or played down to his level of competition.  Just a great, hard-nosed athlete.  He set a lot of records in High School, one of which I think was the total touchdowns scored mark.  The guy ran for like 7,000 yards in THREE years and was a great basketball player as well.  He had the work ethic and the charisma where he would just carry teams on his back and will them to victory.  After High School he signed with Ohio State but that didn’t work out.  He came back to U.C. and had a fine career.  I think he may have rushed for 1,000 yards in his senior year.  I have not kept up with him since he left school but I hope he’s doing well.  One of my all-time favorites. The Bearcats began 2005 minus Gidugli, Cole, Hall and bunch of others.  Dustin Grutza, a redshirt freshman, took over at QB.  The Cats struggled to a 4-7 record, losing the final three.  One of those was a nationally televised 38-0 loss to West Virginia, who had Pat White who wound up breaking a lot of Mountaineer records.  This was my second time dealing with Mountaineer fans, which was a rather interesting experience. The first time was 2000 or 2001 when we lost when Groza award winner Jonathan Ruffin’s game-ending field goal hit off the crossbar and we lost.  I remember they had a lot of fans at both games.  They traveled very well back then.  I wonder if they still do now that they are in the Big 12 and have to go half-way across the country for away games.  A lot of them were very excitable, and some of them told me that they liked coming here because we were one of the few stadiums that served beer. My lasting memory of 38-0 game was halftime when I went down to use the rest room and all the lines were packed full of Mountaineer fans waiting to use the rest room or get beer!!  I mean you literally could not move anywhere.  I had never seen anything like it.  I had to wait until mid third quarter before I could do anything.  Their fans were like any others:  some obnoxious, but they had a few that were really nice and I sat with them the entire fourth quarter. They even invited me to Morgantown...

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Commitment to UC Football

»Posted by on Aug 12, 2013 in UC Football | 0 comments

Okay loyal reader(s) I’m back!!!  Yayy!!!  I left off with our season-changing 49-10 (I mistakenly called it 48 in my last post) over Memphis in 2004.  We went on to win three more in a row to get bowl eligible.  We then lost to Louisville in the only game Gino missed in his career due to injury but came back to beat Marshall 32-14 in the New Orleans Bowl. I vividly remember the day of the New Orleans Bowl because we had a huge snowstorm in Cincinnati and I spent two hours shoveling snow just to get out of my driveway!!  I remember watching that bowl game on ESPN and just feeling a huge sense of pride for the players and coaches and the great feeling I had to be a part of it no matter how small it was. You see readers I was extremely proud of the fact that I did not give up on this team.  The players, coaches, administrators, other staff and fans did not give up either and I’m glad we have that in common.  Guys, I had a choice that rainy night in October.  I could have stayed at home or gone to a sports bar and watched the SEC or whatever and stayed dry. But when I bought my season tickets in August I made a commitment to stick with this team through the good times and bad.  The fact that I fulfilled my commitment was one of my proudest achievements throughout my tenure as a season ticket holder.  I’ve previously stated that I never missed a home game between 2000 and 2007 and had to leave early only once (Rhode Island in 2003).  Back then Bearcat Football was one of my top social priorities.  Every August in those years when I would get my notice for season ticket renewal I would ask do I have the time and money to do this.  Will my work schedule permit me time to go?  Were there any other issues that would prevent me from getting season tickets? If I could answer these questions in a positive manner then I would head down to the ticket office or send in my application and get my tickets.  I would then let friends and family knows that these five or six days in the fall I would be in Clifton and if they needed anything they knew where to find me.  I must say that my friends and family were most supportive during this time, and for that I am always truly and forever grateful. Doing this was also a valuable life lesson as well.  I was raised and truly believe that barring any unforeseen circumstances you always fulfill your obligations and commitments, whether they are of a social, personal or a business nature.  It is just what productive citizens do.  You feel better about yourself, and people will truly respect you whether they agree with you or not.  This commitment to commitments has really benefited me in all other areas of my life as well.  It has added to my personal, social and business relationships in a very positive manner.   For this I have Bearcat Football to thank for this, and in the future no matter what I am doing or where I am UC football will always have a special place in my heart. I would now like to offer some opinions on fans in the sports world.  I am going to focus on fans that attend live major sporting events, such as D1 college football or basketball or professional sports such as the NFL, NBA or MLB.  I get irritated to no end when I hear media types or players, coaches or other people comment on how fans need to act. I get offended when these people criticize fans for not being loud enough, for leaving early, for not going, or for not acting in a way that pleases them.  I have two words for these people.  STOP IT.  STOP IT NOW!!!  What a lot of these people at times lose sight of the fact that without fans that their lives would simply not exist.  A lot of these fans have had to make sacrifices, sometimes major sacrifices, to get tickets and pay for parking and concessions that are really out of their price range. But they do it because they love their sport and their team.  It is a huge part of their lives, and when those “culturally significant” don’t respect that, I have a real big problem with that.  I am talking about the types that make a significant living in the sports world, primarily professional athletes,...

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