Every day there are three things, none worth devoting an individual post to, but each worth at least mentioning.
1) The Bearcats. I linked last night to an excellent piece on UC hoops done by Matt Norlander of CBS. It explores the reasons why, nationally, the Cats toil in relative anonymity. It also highlights the obstacles that Mick Cronin has had to overcome to build a program that's become such a March mainstay.
And it explores what the Bearcats can do to get more respect, namely win big....
The solution is simple, yet hard.
"It's on us," Cronin said. "We have to get the job done in March."
This could be the March that Bearcats fans have been waiting so long for. For the first time in Cronin's tenure, he can put five players on the floor with a natural ability to score. Cincinnati's averaging 78 points per game -- and they're still top-10 defensively in both points allowed per game and points per possession. This team has a mix of young stars (Jarron Cumberland) and veteran studs (Troy Caupain).
This should be the season Cincy's reputation gets an upgrade. It starts with winning the American. Then getting a good seed, like a No. 2 or No. 3, is next. From there, an easier path to the second weekend. The final factor is a deep tournament run. If the Bearcats can link all these achievements together this season, the program will inevitably get the widespread respect it deserves.
I talked about this a little bit this week on my radio show. This March will be different for the Bearcats. UC has gone into each of the previous six NCAA Tournaments with very little pressure to actually, you know, win. They've played to their seed in five of their six appearances under Mick Cronin - only getting upset in 2014 when a gassed UC team was beaten in the first round by Harvard. They lost to eventual champion UConn in 2011, an excellent, Final Four-bound Ohio State team in 2012, and an historically good Kentucky team two years ago.
For the first time in a while, there's going to be some legit external pressure for Cincinnati to make a run.
That's a good thing, by the way.
And if they can win a few games in March - and I'll devote space to whether they have the pieces necessary to do so - the acclaim that UC basketball should be getting more of, will come their way.
2) Bronson's back. I wrote about his return to the Reds earlier this week, the main points being that there's no downside to giving him a chance this spring and that I'm rooting like hell for him to do well in Goodyear.
I've often said as the Reds have slowly turned the page from one era to the next that there's little room for emotion or sentimentality when it comes to big-picture decision-making, but there is room for those things, on a smaller level, during a rebuild.
Especially if sentiment isn't getting in way of larger, more important, goals.
Is Bronson being given a chance because of what he's meant in the past to the Cincinnati Reds? Undeniably.
Is that a bad thing? No.
This team could use a feel-good story, and we could all use something besides guessing this season's loss total to focus on once games of catch start being played in Arizona. Bronson Arroyo's comeback attempt is more interesting than most of what will play out during spring training, and if it gives us reasons to remember what he meant during what was a really fun time to be a Reds fan and pay a little closer attention to what's happening as the Reds prep for the season, then I'm all in.
3) Super Bore. While I think the game on Sunday itself could be fantastic, this year's week leading up to the Super Bowl has been weird.
Part of it is that, collectively, we're a little preoccupied trying to figure out what to make of what's happening to our country. Part of it is that there's some Patriots fatigue. And a big part of it is that, well, there really aren't any great storylines emerging from Houston.
What I've gathered from reading and watching this week...
*Brady doesn't want to talk about his friendship with the President.
*Belichick is good at taking the other team's best player away.
*Deflategate happened and the trophy presentation could get awkward.
*No one knows any Atlanta Falcon except for Matt Ryan, and no one really knows that much about him.
That's it. Last year's storylines were pseudo-interest. Manning's last game. Newton's ascension and people's dislike of him. Two years ago, though, we had Deflategate, the mother of all "let's pretend to be mad about this" scandals that sports often thrive on. I said two years ago that for as unreasonable as that whole mess was, it was good for the game. It created characters, generated even more interest than there already was, and had people talking about football (and footballs) for two straight weeks.
Know what I'd kill to see people outraged over right now?
Radio Show: Lance is taking a couple of vacation days this week, so I'm in for him tonight on 700WLW from 6:00 until 9:00. James Rapien will handle my afternoon duties today on ESPN1530.