Since I know all of my loyal readers have been breathlessly waiting for the last couple of days to hear the answer to the question I posed at the end of my last post, there’s one game I want to comment on before I get to the Purdue game. I was thinking of a game we played against Southern Miss, who was a national power at the time. This game it turns out I believe was the season-finale of 2000. It was bone-chilling cold, and as I remember a storm hit parts of Cincinnati that week knocking out the power in many homes around the area. In addition to being cold, as I remember Southern Miss (Brett Favre’s alma mater) got off to a big lead, and a lot of the crowd left early. A few hearty souls stayed, and the ‘Cats staged a miraculous comeback and won the game!!! This was the team led by Deontay Kenner and Doug Rosfeld, their last home games. After the game the team invited the crowd onto the field to celebrate the win and to hear that they had been invited to the Motor City Bowl in Detroit!!! A truly awesome and special event. Those players had as much heart and guts as any team I have ever seen, and will always be one of my favorite bearcat teams. They went from 3-8 the previous year to 7-4 and wound up tied for second in Conference USA (I just googled that. Technology is great, isn’t it?).
This is one of the highlights of the Rick Minter era. I will always have a soft spot for Coach Minter. That man was as loyal as they come, and he really worked hard to make the Bearcats a top 20 program. I really believe he laid the foundation for the success the program has had the last 10 years. The 3 coaches who followed him had a better winning percentage, and have since gone on to “higher profile” programs. But these guys didn’t match Coach Minter’s dedication and commitment to UC football, and I will always really, really respect him for that. It was the right move for the school and Coach Minter to go their separate ways after the 2003 season. The results of the last nine years bear that out. Last I heard Coach Minter was the Defensive Coordinator at Kentucky. I will always hold him in high regard and wish him continued success throughout the rest of his coaching career. He will always be my favorite UC Football Coach. Oh, and among his assistant coaches he had were Mike Tomlin, Rex Ryan and John Harbaugh. They have gone on to have very successful NFL careers as we all know.
You know, I forgot to mention another 2000 game that was very prominent. UC beat Syracuse 12-10 on a Jason Mammerelli 50 yard field goal in the closing moments. A truly great game. This was a game that I was introduced to Dwight Freeney, their All-American Defensive End. This guy was simply one of the two best college football players I have ever seen in person. He was constantly in our backfield, and the biggest reason we struggled offensively that game. We simply couldn’t block the guy. Most NFL teams for about 10 years couldn’t block him either. A truly special player. Well, we couldn’t move the ball, but the Defense stepped up and we put ourselves in position to win the game. As I remember Mammerelli was our kickoff guy who only attempted longer field goals because he had cannon for a leg. He really came through for us that day.
I know I promised to get to the Purdue game but I have to leave right now. I will answer the question I posed in my last installment. Guidugli was NOT the only true freshman to start that game for the Bearcats. The answer is Doug Monaghan, a safety who played locally at Colerain and wound up being a four-year starter for the Bearcats and had a fine career. His highlight was intercepting a pass in the end zone late in the fourth quarter to beat TCU. Gotta go now. Have another installment next week.