Varsity Village Rant

Over the course of any week many questions can arise around a university or athletic program at a major college. Bearcat Insider has been looking at a way to talk about the tough questions around the University of Cincinnati and its athletic program. What we came up with is the "Varsity Village Rant". How did we come up with name? The crown jewel and center of the Bearcats athletic program is Varsity Village, we've added our rants and will be looking for yours.

Each week Jeremy, Tim, Casey and Dave will answer a few questions that surround the University of Cincinnati and UC Athletics. Those will then be posted for our premium members to view and respond to in a special link on the Bearcat Insider Members Board.

Here are the Rants for the week of July 4th, 2005.


1. Did the Big East want UC because of Basketball or Football?


CASEY: I do not really think that is a fair question to ask, as I think neither sport can really be separated from one another at this point. Call it a cop out, but the storied history of UC basketball and the bright future of Bearcat football have both had an impact on this decision.  I guess if you look at it from my perspective, Bearcat basketball and Bob Huggins made UC football.  If UC had a terrible legacy of performance on the hardwood, it would not have received all the media attention or post-season success and being sponsored by Nike, would many of these athletes ever really have heard of UC before?  What would have separated UC from any MAC team? The success of individual Bearcats and the program as a whole made the athletic department look to expand upon its already rich athletic endeavors.  That is why Coach Dantonio found UC to be a lucrative place to be.  With Coach Dantonio under raps, and the program on the rise, the Big East saw UC as a potentially great program. 

However, with that being said, the Big East has always been a great basketball conference.  Needless to say, those teams in that conference did not need another HOOP powerhouse.  What they needed was BCS security and a conference championship game to secure a BCS bowl in the future.  While the acquisition of UC as a member alone would not do that, the addition of an up-and-coming program is a very important thing to have.  While they need "bodies" to attract the BCS committee, if they aren't overwhelmed by the names being added then who cares how many teams the Big East would have.  Basketball is great and one of the Big East's greatest assets, but football ultimately pays the bills.  

JEREMY: Well basketball certainly is the main event in the national media's eyes; I think the clincher for the Big East may have been the potential that the Football program has in the long run.  The Basketball team is the big catch now, but I think in their eyes the football team can eventually be a top 25 program.

TIM: According to the Big East commissioner, the Big East wanted UC for a variety of reasons.  I think the Bearcat basketball program was attractive, but as Mike T. said-they already have great basketball in the Big East.

DAVE: Having been following Big East Football for the past five years it's my belief football was the card that helped UC become a member of the Big East. Basketball has been the staple of the conference and with the leaving of Miami, Virginia Tech and Boston College; the Big East needed football teams to keep the conference from losing the "Big Paydays" that come from bowl games. So I feel the Big East wanted football more than basketball, and got an added advantage with the success of UC hoops.


2. Did the protesters prove a point during the Big East Celebration?


CASEY: To me protests are a waste of time.  They give your cause recognition and a minute or two on the news, but the people in charge never really take notice.  In this case, however, it is clear that the city is behind Coach Huggins.  The President and Athletic Director do not want to look bad in front of the Commissioner down the road, so alienating tons of fans might not be the school's best interest.  Either way though, their voice were heard, whether it was appropriate or not is another story.  I think that was an opportunistic move on their behalf and the city got to see (either on the news or in person) the support they have for their Coach and how the University has to take notice of the wants and needs of the fans.

JEREMY: No, they just made UC look bad, they are going to do what they want.  And it's not going to be what the protestors want.

TIM: Absolutely not!  The mob mentality of booing as a member of a crowd is somewhat cowardly in my opinion.  The protestors that Casey spoke to when writing his story about the events didn't even want to be identified.  I think that says a lot.

DAVE: I feel they made their voices heard, but beside that I feel it went on deaf ears. The choice has been made and nothing is going to change it. Do I feel President Zimpher took UC fans for granted? Yes! I think she knew getting rid of Coach Huggins would not be an easy thing to do, but I don't think she felt he was going to put up a fight to stay. I feel if the money had been there at the begging we wouldn't be having this discussion now. He would have been fired and a new coaching staff would be in place.


3. Will Coach Huggins stay the full two years?


CASEY: I think he will.  I mean, the Big East is a great basketball conference and Huggins has already turned down great opportunities to stay here.  With the opportunity he has and the roster he builds year-in and year-out, it would be foolish to walk away from this.  It is a great resume builder if nothing else.  Success, maybe even a conference championship or two, will go a long way in landing him toward landing him a new job. 

JEREMY: He will be one and done, the athletic department has been in a financial crunch.  After their first Big East payday Huggins final year will be bought out.

TIM: I think much of Coach Huggins' future at UC depends on the players he's recruited.  If they can stay out of trouble, I think his chances of staying at UC increase greatly.  Lately they haven't helped at all.

DAVE: I can't see how... Recruiting is already being hurt and will not get any better a year from now. As I said in my response to question number two, if the money was there to begin with he would be gone. The money will be there a year from now after UC gets their first check from the Big East bowl games. I look for him to be gone after next season either on his own or by him being forced out for the last year.


4. Will Coach Huggins see his contract renewed?


CASEY: I think he will be back.  I mean, the fans want him.  You saw the backlash at Indiana when they let Knight go, and you saw how Texas Tech rallied behind him, I think UC does not want to make a choice that could ultimate cause their University (which is trying to build character) to gain a black eye for an unwarranted decision on their behalf.  The President knows the public's desire to have Coach back; I think she just wants to make it appear like UC will not stand for the bad press they have been receiving in recent years and months because of the basketball team.  Moving into a new conference, the school knows that they are being watched by the powers that be.  They don't want to look bad in front of their new partners.  I think that the University will offer Huggins a new contract, whether or not he will accept will be the interesting things.  

JEREMY: Nope, one more year for Hugs.  I just worry about who will be his replacement.  They need an established coach.  Not an assistant.

TIM: Refer to my answer in Question 3

DAVE: As much as I would like for this to all end and start having some great positive news on the hoop recruiting front, I don't see a new contract in the future for the Bearcats Head Coach. If there was going to be I feel it would have been done during the Big East Celebration to the delight of UC fans. It wasn't and so I don't feel one is ever coming Coach Huggins way.

Total Access Pass Members of Bearcat Insider can post their views on these questions on the Bearcat Insider Members Board.

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