UC Football

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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A Highlight of the Rick Minter Era

»Posted by on Jul 17, 2013 in UC Football | 0 comments

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...

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Favorite UC Football Games

»Posted by on Jul 11, 2013 in UC Football | 1 comment

Okay, now it’s time to reveal some of my favorite college games I have seen at Nippert Stadium (I don’t use the term “the nip” because I am the anti-cool). My first game was in 1975 at the old Riverfront Stadium (sounds kind of dated doesn’t it?) When the Bearcats played nationally-ranked Maryland. Brief history lessons to some of our younger readers in the 1970s the ‘Cats had to play some or all of their home games downtown because Nippert was being renovated. And also Maryland for years was a national power a long time ago, not the perennial doormats they are now. The Bearcats, heavy underdogs as I recall, played the Terrapins very tough but wound up losing a 21-19 heartbreaker. I had a blast. Seeing the band run down the stairs for the first time was flat-out awesome!!! From then on I would ask my father that I wanted to go anytime his schedule would permit it. My next game was in 1976 or 1977 when nationally-ranked Temple came into Nippert and we won (yes younger readers, Temple used to be nationally-ranked as well)!!! That I believe was my first game at Nippert, and I love it even more than the first one because the venue was smaller and more intimate. As much fun as I had, that was the last UC game I would see for more than 20 years. School, work commitments and other things going on prevented me from going to a college game. That all changed in 1999 when Ron Dayne came to town. My dad and I had a Saturday free and he said let’s go down to Clifton and see the future Heisman trophy winner and Rose Bowl MVP. For those who can remember we won 17-12 in one of the biggest upsets of the year. Dayne was magnificent, gaining 231 yards in 28 carries. His backup, Michael Bennett (who also played in the NFL) ran wild as well. We had no answer for them. Wisconsin kept committing costly penalties and made others errors and we capitalized. Indeed, their go ahead touchdown was called back on a false start penalty and I believe Dayne fumbled at the goal line. It was an amazing win. To watch the students storm the field and carry the goal posts out on Vine Street is one of my cherished memories. To this day Dayne is the only Heisman trophy winner I saw in person. He was a stud, as was Bennett. Those teams headed in opposite directions after the game. Wisconsin I believe didn’t lose again and won the Big Ten and Rose Bowl. UC finished 3-8 that year and is still one of the most baffling teams I have ever witnessed. They started the year losing to then 1-AA Troy State at home, beat Kent and then Wisconsin and only won one more game that year. That was the Victory Bell over Miami 52-42. Miami was nationally-ranked that year and had record breaking running back Travis Prentiss, who set a number of NCAA records that year. The Bearcats had some real talent on offense and defense and a solid kicking game, but somehow it did not translate to wins. The next year the basically same core of guys won enough to play in the Motor City Bowl the next year. Well it’s suffice to say that that got me hooked and I didn’t miss another home game for the next 7 years. It was fun, it really was. That 1999 and 2000 teams had Deontay Kenner at QB and one of my favorite UC players ever in Center Doug Rosfeld, a local product who went to Moeller. He was a rare TWO year captain who played his butt off every snap, whether the team was playing well or not and if they were playing in front of 10,000 in Clifton or 100,000 at Ohio State. 2000 was the year I first saw Army play in person. That was when they were in C-USA for football only and it used to be a league game. To sit next to the Army brass was quite a humbling experience, and we showed them a courtesy we really didn’t show any other visiting fans (I think the reader can figure out why). UC won easily, but I remember the Cadets removing their helmets and singing their fight song to their crowd after the game. It was very moving, and it’s one of the great traditions of College Football. Wow, this has really revealed some warm memories. UC football is great. My next installment will be the Purdue game of 2001. This was my...

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Football Attendance Observation

»Posted by on Jul 8, 2013 in UC Football | 0 comments

Time for the second installment of one of my great passions: The University of Cincinnati Football program. Today I will give some more thoughts, opinions from my years of watching and following Bearcat Football. From 2000 to 2006 I was a season ticket holder, and I loved every minute of it. Like I said in my last post I never missed a game and had to leave early only once due to a previous engagement. I came in the brutal September heat, driving rainstorms and bitter cold in November and December. Most of the time my seats were in the upper deck with about 10 other dedicated UC fans. I got to know them very well and they became close friends of mine. I also got to meet some great opposing fans from Louisville, West Virginia, and Miami of Ohio to name a few. They were great people and really made the whole experience that much more enjoyable. I had a real blast in the upper deck. Some of the people I sat with were the greatest, most creative fans in the world. I say this because they did not come to the game after drinking too much tailgating and then coming in swearing every other word. This kind of behavior gets real old real fast, and I would rather not be around it. Oh, I was no angel either. I did some of this myself, and was not proud of it. I quickly realized that wasn’t tolerated, and didn’t do it anymore. Rather, it was more of thinking, creative effort. You see, some games in the mid-2000s were played in less than half-full stadiums (I’ll address the attendance issue later) and when we yelled something the whole stadium could hear us. We would yell at cheerleaders, mascots, and the opposing band. Anything to liven up the TV timeouts. Nothing vulgar mind you. Just something to do. One of my favorite memories was during the UAB game one year where one of their players had to, ahem, relieve himself during the game. He went behind the scoreboard and when he emerged we razzed him unmercifully. We asked him if he washed his hands among other things. Keep in mind the stadium was about half full and no doubt he could here every word we said. He didn’t look up at us but I know he could here every word we said. I’m sure he was really pissed, and if he could he would’ve come up and rang all of our necks!! In retrospect I wouldn’t have blamed him. Another team had a twister board like contraption of 11 spots, I guess to signify who was on special teams. We let them know how dorky that was. Like I said it was all in fun, and it was made fun because all of us made it a point to keep a lot of vulgar talk out of it. There was some unfortunately. We weren’t angels. But for the most part we kept it clean, and for that we can be very proud of how we represented ourselves and the university. This brings us to the issue of attendance. Anybody who has followed UC football over the years knows the Bearcats have had trouble drawing fans. In my seven years there I remember only one sellout (2001 season opener against Purdue) and only two or three games where they had 30,000 or more. The situation got better when the current Notre Dame Coach was here but has seemed to level off in recent years. The low point was in 2004 on a rainy Saturday night. The week before the Bearcats had lost to Army (my second favorite team), breaking the Cadets’ then 25 game losing streak. It was Dantonio’s first year and that loss I believe dropped us to 3-4 with a very good Memphis team coming into town. I remember eating my traditional pre-game Larosa’s pizza in one of the tents, and I was the only person in there!! Just myself and some University Policeman. I bet there weren’t 5,000 people in the stadium that night. Fortunately we won (48-10 I believe, over a team that was in first or close to it in the C-USA), turned our season around and went to a bowl game. What do I think should be done about it? Well, after much consideration, I simply do not know. If I had the answer I would request a meeting with the President, Athletic Director and Coach Tuberville. Cincinnati is pro football, pro baseball, and high school football town. Bearcat Football is behind them. Don’t get me wrong, I root for...

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