Notre Dame has found its new head football coach.  Cincinnati head man Brian Kelly will be the Fighting Irish’s new leading man after accepting an offer just eight days after saying on a radio show in the Queen City that he planned to stay with the Bearcats for the foreseeable future. Apparently, eight days was all he could foresee.

Understandably, Kelly’s decision did not sit well with his now former charges.  Cincinnati is undefeated and scheduled to play Florida in the Sugar Bowl on New Year’s Day.  Kelly had just led the Bearcats to their best season in the school’s history, and many players were not pleased that Kelly had led them this far just to leave them before the biggest game in the program’s history (Kelly began work at Notre Dame this afternoon.  UC offensive coordinator Jeff Quinn will be the head coach of the Bearcats in the Sugar Bowl.) Kelly told his team about his decision at the team’s banquet last night, but by the time he told the players, the news had already broken nationwide.  The players were nonplussed, to say the least.

“He went for the money,” Bearcats wide receiver Mardy Gilyard told The Associated Press. “I’m fairly disgusted with the situation, that they let it last this long.”

“We already knew what he was going to say. We weren’t giving him a round of applause or anything,” tight end Ben Guidugli said. “It’s like somebody turned their back on us. We brought this whole thing this far. We’ve come this far. To have someone walk out now is disappointing.”

But as disappointed as the players are, this decision was an easy one for Kelly.  Just think about this: Cincinnati just went undefeated and they are not playing for the national championship.  That would never happen to a Notre Dame team that managed to navigate the regular season without losing.  (more…)


Well, college football’s regular season, save for the annual Army-Navy game, came to an end on Saturday.  Five teams in Division I finished the year undefeated, and two of them — Alabama and Texas — will play in the Bowl Championship Series National Championship game on January 7 in Pasadena, Calif.  The other three — Cincinnati, Texas Christian, and Boise State — all received nice parting gifts (Cincinnati was invited to play Florida in the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans, while TCU and Boise State will play each other in the Fiesta Bowl), but will not be a part of the national title picture.

We really don’t have a problem with those three teams being excluded.  After all, only two teams can play in the national championship game, and Alabama and Texas are probably the two most deserving.  But pardon us if we cannot get too excited about the game itself.  First off, the game is a month away, which is one of the true travesties of the bowl system.  After weeks of seeing teams play every weekend, they now have to wait 30 days before playing the biggest game of the year.  Secondly, Texas has no been playing all that well for the last several weeks.  Saturday night’s win over Nebraska in the Big 12 title game had an exciting finish that was preceded by 59 minutes and 59 seconds of truly awful offensive football (Texas kicker Hunter Lawrence kicked the game-winning field goal with one second remaining on the clock to give the Longhorns a 13-12 win). Third, Alabama is probably the least sexy top-ranked team we have seen in a long time.  Their defense is fantastic, but their offense is not exactly powerful.  In fact, outside of tailback Mark Ingram (pictured above and our favorite to win the Heisman Trophy), there is very little to write home about on the offensive side of the ball.

But the main reason that we can’t get too terribly excited about this match-up is because it seems so pre-ordained.   (more…)

In 1992, the Southeastern Conference added the University of Arkansas, giving the league 12 teams.  The SEC then divided itself into two divisions, and created a need for a an SEC championship game.  And for the majority of those 17 seasons, at least one team has entered that game with a legitimate shot at playing in the national championship game.  This year, for the second straight season, both teams enter the game with the knowledge that if they win they will play for the national championship in January.  And once again, those two teams are Alabama and Florida.  But there are other games on the docket this weekend as well, including a full slate of NFL games.  Here is what’s on tap for this weekend.

1. The SEC Championship Game is at 4 p.m. on Saturday and will be must see viewing for any college football fan.  Tim Tebow (top left) and the Florida Gators will be taking on Mark Ingram (top right) and the Alabama Crimson Tide for the SEC title as well as a spot in the national championship game.  These two teams met in the SEC title game last year, with Florida pulling out the victory and securing a place in the national title game (a game they eventually won against Oklahoma). Alabama has been waiting for a full year to avenge that loss, and we think they’ll do just that.  But it should be a good game down in Atlanta on Saturday.

2. The SEC championship is not the only game on the schedule this weekend, as the Big 12, ACC, and Big East will all have their champions crowned on Saturday as well.  In the Big East, Cincinnati will take on Pittsburgh with the winner likely going to the Rose Bowl, although the Bearcats still have an outside chance at playing for the national championship.  Texas will take on Nebraska in the Big 12 title game.  A win by the Longhorns would put them into the national championship game against the winner of the Alabama-Florida tilt.  And finally Georgia Tech will take on Clemson in the ACC championship game. (more…)

When the line-up for the Maui Invitational was announced this summer, all the attention was focused on Wisconsin, Arizona, Vanderbilt, Gonzaga and Maryland.  Mick Cronin’s Cincinnati Bearcats were thought of more as an also-ran who would be lucky to get out of the draw with a win against a team not named Chaminade.

But we have been high on Cincinnati since the preseason, and the Bearcats now have two very impressive wins (Vanderbilt and Maryland) under their belt as they head into tonight’s championship game against Gonzaga.  Big man Yancy Gates (pictured) has been the breakout star of the event thus far, but the Bearcats have all the pieces to be a lethal team in the Big East.  They have Gates, who is a rebounding machine with great touch from outside.  They have Devonta Vaughn, a preseason All-Big East selection that has led the Bearcats in scoring each of the last two seasons.  And they also added Lance Stephenson, a player that has the most pure talent of any freshman in the conference if he keeps his head in the game.  Stephenson has a reputation for being a hothead and something of a prima donna, and it will be interesting to see how he handles playing second fiddle to Gates in the media.  If Cronin can keep Stephenson from blowing up, the Bearcats could be playing well into March.

Other Thanksgiving Tournament Thoughts

The preseason NIT semifinals are tonight at Madison Square Garden, and the organizers of the event are all but praying that Duke and Connecticut are able to dispatch Arizona State and LSU, respectively, to set up the championship game they have been gunning for since announcing the brackets.  Last year, the goal was to get UCLA and Duke into the final, but Michigan crashed the party by upsetting the Bruins on Thanksgiving Eve and then topping the Blue Devils in the championship.  The best chance for an upset is the LSU-UConn tilt.  The Huskies were less-than-impressive in beating Hofstra to get to the Garden.

Other potentially intriguing games include: Washington State and Oklahoma at the Great Alaska Shootout, assuming both teams reach the finals as expected, Kentucky vs. Stanford at the Cancun Classic title game, and Michigan State vs. Florida at the Legends Classic in Atlantic City.



In all honesty, there are very few must-see events on the sporting calendar on Saturday. There is some college football action, but nothing to write home about.  So if you want to do anything with your sports fan we strongly suggest that you do so tomorrow.  The NFL returns on Sunday, and we all know that means.  Add in the fact that the Colts ad Patriots will be going at it on Sunday night, and we would urge you to make alternate plans for Sunday night. Here’s our guide to what’s on tap.

1. The Indianapolis Colts and the New England Patriots have played each other every year for the last seven years, and the two winningest teams on the decade will renew hostilities on Sunday night.  This rivalry features the two best quarterbacks in the league, bar none, in Indianapolis’ Peyton Manning and New England’s Thomas Edward Brady Jr. The Colts enter this game unbeaten at 8-0, while the Patriot are 6-2, but have won their last three games.  This one should be very entertaining.  Don’t expect your average sports fan to be doing anything else on Sunday night.  It’s a good thing the Mad Men finale was last week.

2. If the Colts-Pats game is the main event on Sunday night, the NFL does have a few rather interesting games on the undercard in the afternoon.  The Cincinnati Bengals will travel to Pittsburgh to face the defending champion Steelers at 1 p.m. in a game that will determine the leader in the AFC North.  The Philadelphia Eagles, fresh off a terrible loss to the Dallas Cowboys, will travel to the west coast to face the suddenly resurgent San Diego Chargers.  And the Dallas Cowboys will square off against the reeling Green Bay Packers in Wisconsin.

3. When the best game on the college football schedule is a match-up between Texas Christian and Utah, you know that this is not a banner week on the collegiate gridiron.  But still, there are a few games this weekend that could get in the way of your best laid plans.  Tonight, Cincinnati will put its unbeaten record on the line when the Bearcats face West Virginia at 8 p.m.  This is the beginning of a brutal final stretch for Cincy as they play both the Mountaineers and number 12 Pitt in their final three games, with a home date against pesky Illinois sandwiched between those two league contests.  Speaking of Pitt, they wil go up against Notre Dame on Saturday night in a game that may very well determine the future of Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis. (more…)

*Mar 21 - 00:05*

The University of Cincinnati’s basketball program has been wandering in the wilderness ever since former head coach Bob Huggins was dismissed in August of 2005 after a year-long battle with then UC president Nancy Zimpher.  Huggins had returned the Bearcats to prominence, leading Cincinnati to the Final Four in 2002, the first of 14 consecutive trips to the NCAA tournament under Huggins watch.

But since Huggins’ ouster, the Bearcats have not been to the NCAA tournament.  Mick Cronin took over the program in 2007, and the Bearcats have been respectable under his watch.  But UC fans expect greatness from their charges, not mere competitiveness, and while Cronin and the Bearcats have struggled, Huggins has re-emerged as the coach of Big East rival West Virginia, taking the Mountaineers into the NCAA tournament each of the last two seasons.  Cincinnati needed to make a splash in recruiting in order to catapult themselves back to relevance, not only in the Big East, but nationally.

Enter Lance Stephenson, the highly-touted yet controversial guard from Coney Island’s famed Lincoln High School (Sebastian Telfair, Stephon Marbury and Jesus Shuttlesworth are all Lincoln alums.) Stephenson was one of the most sought after players in the country entering his senior season, but questions arose as to his eligibility to play at the collegiate level.  Most of the questions surrounded whether his amateur status had been compromised by an MTV2 documentary series called Born Ready (Stephenson’s nickname), which chronicled his life in Coney Island, and whether he had received improper benefits by going on a few unofficial college visits.  Powerhouses like Kansas and Maryland backed off of recruiting Stephenson, as did hometown school St. John’s, fearing that the signing of the 6-5 guard would trigger an NCAA investigation not only into his eligibility but also into the program that had signed him.  Stephenson was without a school until July of this year, when Cincinnati inked the high school phenom to a scholarship.  (more…)


This much is clear.  If Florida and Alabama win out until the Southeastern Conference championship game, and Texas wins the rest of their games as well, the Longhorns will face the SEC champion in the national championship game.

But a loss by any of those teams, particularly Texas, would open up opportunities for several other teams currently on the outside of the national championship race.  In addition to Texas, Florida, and Alabama, Iowa, Cincinnati, Texas Christian, and Boise State are also undefeated.  After their shocking thumping of USC on Saturday night, Oregon is currently the highest-ranked team with a loss. And the team that Oregon lost to this season was quarterback Kellen Moore (pictured) and Boise State.

So say Texas loses to Texas A&M or Kansas or any of the teams left on their schedule.  Florida and Alabama have to play each other, so one of them will lose.  Next in line would be either Iowa or Cincinnati.  Iowa has made a habit of winning close games, and they are only three games away from completing a perfect season.  But one of those games is at Ohio State, and although this has not been a banner year for the Buckeyes, we think they have a damn good shot at beating the Hawkeyes in Columbus.  Cincinnati has had a great year, and we have wondered about their national championship aspirations before, but their two biggest challenges of the season (home to West Virginia on the Nov. 13 and at Pittsburgh on Dec. 5.) still loom on the schedule.

So say Iowa and Cincinnati both lose.  Then things get interesting. (more…)