Monthly Archives: August 2009

Questions answered

(9:15 p.m.): WEST HARRISON, Ind. – With a week to play before UC kicks off its season with a jaunt northeast to face Rutgers, BK seems pretty pleased with how his squad has come together.

That’s what the past few weeks at Higher Ground have taught him.

“We feel we’ve developed the depth necessary to be Big East champs,” he said. “We had a lot of question marks coming in. We had some players that we thought could be Big East caliber, but we really didn’t know until we got the pads on and started to compete. Now, we can see we’ve got some pretty good depth over what we’ve done the past couple weeks.”

Read the rest here.

Revels a microcosm

(10:43 a.m.): WEST HARRISON, Ind. – That’s what I think anyway. The knock you no doubt have heard about UC’s football team – one of the major reasons the Bearcats aren’t ranked in either preseason poll – is because they lost 10 defensive starters from last season.

I don’t buy the premise that this will be a huge problem. The season before last, UC had to replace about half of its defensive starters – while adding a defensive end in Connor Barwin who had spent his college career playing tight end, a safety in Brandon Underwood who had flamed out at Ohio State and a linebacker in Torry Cornett who previously had played basketball at Prairie View A&M – and the Bearcats were just fine.

They were more than fine, in fact. In total defense and scoring defense, they ranked in the top quarter of the country’s squads, and they led the Big East in sacks.

Read the rest here.

Silly answers to silly questions

(9:03 a.m.): WEST HARRISON, Ind. – At times during the UC football training camp at Higher Ground this year, I’ve been in kind of a silly/stupid mood – I always seem to get that like when I’m done eating my body weight in the cafeteria – and I decided to ask some silly/stupid questions to some members of the team.

I did the same thing last year during Media Day when I asked some Bearcats who their favorite teammate was and why. Here were the results of that poll (scroll to the bottom of the post).

Here were my questions this year: 1) Who is the funniest player on the team? 2) Who is the scariest player on the squad, the guy you wouldn’t want to meet in a dark alley? 3) What’s the one question/concern you have about this year’s team?

Read the rest here.

Sometimes I hate boxing

Paulie Malignaggi is one of my favorite boxers to watch. He’s not well known in the mainstream. He’s got almost no power in his brittle hands. He’s a pure boxer in an age when the mainstream fan doesn’t normally like to watch purveyors of the sweet science.

Yes, I can see why you would hate him.

He’s obnoxious while promoting a fight. He wears deplorable dreadlocks in the ring. He sported ridiculous trunks last Saturday. He’s brash and outspoken and there’s almost no chance of a knockout if you happen to catch him on TV.

But I love him. I’ve never not been entertained watching Malignaggi fight. He’s an underdog whenever he takes on a top-flight opponent, and because he has very little punching power, he has to be perfect in each round to win it. Especially when he’s fighting a Miguel Cotto or a Ricky Hatton – neither of whom could dispose of him before the 10th round in their victories against him.

Last weekend, Malignaggi traveled to Houston to face hometown hero Juan Diaz, a very good boxer in his own right. Malignaggi could foresee what was to happen. He was fighting a boxer in the opponent’s hometown in front of a Texas referee (Laurence Cole) while two Texas judges (Gale Van Hoy and Raul Caiz Sr.) and an Oklahoma judge (David Sutherland) scored it. Malignaggi is a 140-pound fighter, and he struggles to make that weight. This bout was contracted at 138 1/2 pounds. It was contested in a small ring, another strike against a mover and shaker like Malignaggi.

In an interview with HBO analyst Max Kellerman before the fight, Malignaggi said the deck was stacked against him, that he fought against having Van Hoy and Caiz at ringside, that the original contract with a neutral judge had not been honored. He knew, because he’s no knockout artist, that he was in trouble. The old boxing axiom about a fighter needing to knock out his opponent to get a draw from the hometown judges certainly applied here.

Then, Malignaggi went out and fought one of the best fights of his life. And you know what? He lost. Unanimously. In the judgment of two Texans and an official from the next state over. This is why boxing sucks sometimes.

I scored the fight for Malignaggi 115-113, as did HBO’s unofficial ringside observer Harold Lederman. It was close either way, and Caiz thought so too with his 115-113 scorecard victory for Diaz. Sutherland had it 116-112. Van Hoy had it an almost unbelievable 118-110.

When he heard the decision, Malignaggi nodded, because it’s what he expected. It’s what I expected as well. The hometown fighter with the hometown judges usually gets the victory, deserved or not. Malignaggi was upset after the fight – deservedly so – and he acted like an uncensored baby in the postfight interview. The Houston crowd booed every second of his tirade.

But that’s OK. I enjoy watching him fight, I laugh when he talks trash and I hope he gets another chance on a major TV card. He’s a pure boxer, and that’s what I enjoy the most. He lost to a pretty good fighter on Saturday, yet Malignaggi continued to prove he’s world class inside the ring. But he’s a boxer, and this is what happens sometimes.

“Boxing is full of shit, man,” he yelled after the fight. “I used to love this sport. Boxing is full of shit every fucking fight.”

Yep. Sometimes, it seems that way.

Rutgers continues to weigh heavy

(1:38 p.m.): WEST HARRISON, Ind. – This year’s UC football camp has been just a bit different. It’s been a little faster, a little more frenetic with just a little more energy. That’s the way it’s had to be. The Bearcats, after all, aren’t opening the season against a Southeast Missouri State squad or an Eastern Kentucky team or some other Division I-AA opponent who’s looking for a nice paycheck.

No, Rutgers is first on the list in a nationally-televised game, and nobody here is underestimating the importance of the season-opener.

Read the rest here.

Couple things

No. 1, the Bearcats Rising kickoff/book signing is Thursday at Joseph-Beth at 7 p.m. The special guests scheduled to appear are former QBs Dustin Grutza and Don McMillan.

No. 2, I’ll be in studio with Mo Egger next Monday at 1530 Homer at 5 p.m. Mo said he’s giddy about it. I feel the same way.

Back to regularly-scheduled programming.

Nice story from the Cincy Enquirer

Thanks much to John Erardi for the complimentary story about Bearcats Rising. enquirer-bearcats rising

Carey continues to adjust

(11:18 a.m.): Sometimes, UC senior linebacker Craig Carey misses playing quarterback. He’ll look over to the other side of the field where the Bearcats signal-callers are working on their five-step drops and their throwing techniques, and he’ll wistfully remember his days lining up under center.

Those days, though, seem long ago.

To refresh: after playing as a tight end his junior year at Elder High, he was pretty good as quarterback his senior season, completing 55.6 percent of his passes, gaining 2,382 yards of total offense, setting the school record with 396 passing yards in a game, and tossing seven touchdowns.

Read the rest here.

Higher Ground or bust

(6:05 p.m.): In his first year as head coach, Brian Kelly was a little unsure of the Higher Ground Conference and Retreat Center (or is it the Retreat and Conference Center? I’m always confused about that. Perhaps I should have looked it up.). He didn’t know if leaving campus for east Indiana was the right move. He didn’t know if going from the known to the unknown was good for the Bearcats.

You probably don’t remember reading this story from the Aug. 13, 2007 edition of the late, great Cincinnati Post. But the headline says it all: Retreat to Higher Ground could be Cats’ last.

Read the rest of the story here.

Bearcats practice update 08-13

(2:49 p.m.): The Bearcats set a new record this morning. They practiced 33 periods (five minutes a piece) at Nippert today, the longest ever workout in the Brian Kelly era. They started at 10 a.m. and finished at 1 p.m. That is not a short amount of time.

It was long and pretty warm. But, with the exception of a few players (senior receiver Mardy “With a ‘D’” Gilyard and sophomore running back Isaiah Pead were two I saw fighting through cramps), the Bearcats seemed pretty well-hydrated and well-conditioned.

The first thing Gilyard thought when he heard the team was going to practice for so long: “I thought I left all that behind.”

Read the rest here.