What you are reading was not written in 2014. It is an actual blog entry written the morning of March 15th, 2021, probably the first entry of its kind since sometime in 2019, when for reasons that aren't worth getting into, I sorta stopped crafting (lol) daily entries.
I'm attempting a relaunch, which I've been pining to do since the calendar flipped. Given that sites like this aren't close to as prominent as they were 10-12 years ago, it is admittedly an odd time to start populating this space again, but I have my reasons for doing so, many of which aren't worth getting into, some of which I'll touch on in the coming weeks.
These won't be long entries. In fact, most will be nothing more than a few quick thoughts, some of which I'll elaborate on during the radio show, a few of which probably won't fit the format of the radio show, and a handful of which probably aren't what I feel like putting on Twitter. I don't think most of them will be particularly groundbreaking or that thought-provoking. A lot of them will be short jumping off points for what we'll spend more time on during my three hours in the afternoon. Some of them will just be so that I have them on the record somewhere for my own edification.
Speaking of Twitter, which I'm on @MoEgger1530, my love/hate relationship with that particular platform is a big reason why I'm doing this. More on that some other time.
For now, here are some very brief lukewarm takes...
*The Bearcats were never going to beat Houston. They wouldn't beat Houston if they played ten more times. That is not a knock on this year's UC team, but more of a reflection of something that a few fans might be loathe to admit:
The Coogs are really, really good.
There's a huge gap in talent, size, physicality, and experience between Kelvin Sampson's team and John Brannen's. Houston is what UC used to be, and hopefully one day soon, will be again.
*That said, Friday and Saturday were a blast. The AAC semifinal win over Wichita State was as gutsy of a performance as I've seen, the apex of what's been a mostly encouraging second half of the season, in which the Cats went 9-4.
*I watched UC fans fight with each other on Twitter for a few minutes after yesterday's beatdown. There were two competing camps: Fans on one side who seem to think that there's no chance John Brannen can get the program back to prominence and the ones pointing spears at them who think everything is a-okay.
I'm not necessarily in the middle, leaning closer to feeling encouraged by the way the Bearcats coalesced late in the season. There was a lot to like about watching the young guys play, and while each of those dudes has to take major steps forward, there is a foundation worth building on.
And John Brannen was hired by UC because of his track record. His track record at NKU consisted of a nine-win season before he turned the Norse perennial league title contenders. It's a track record I defer to.
At the same time, this is a hugely critical offseason. More long-term pieces are needed, but some instant difference-makers must find their way to Clifton if UC is going to substantially close the gap between itself and the current AAC gold standard. They need an alpha on the wing and more athleticism in the frontcourt, and for next year's team to be drastically better, a lot of new pieces need to be blended together quickly with the returning guys. Not an easy task - and I'm wary of the insistence that everything will be fine because of the hundreds of players available in the transfer portal - but not an impossible one either.
*I was asked by Jake Ryle on WCPO's Sports of All Sports last night about the legacy of this season's UC and XU squads.
A short version of my answer: Ask me in a year. If this season proves to be a springboard for something bigger for the Bearcats, then 2020-'21 gets remembered fondly.
For Travis Steele's team, it's hard to shake the feeling of being underwhelmed, not so much because the Musketeers didn't make The Dance, but because the end-of-season meltdown was disturbingly similar to last year's. The idea when Steele took over for Chris Mack was that after a one year hiccup, XU hoops would return to being a March regular, and if not back to competing for a top seed in the tournament, at least on very solid footing.
Instead, the program feels like its wobbling a bit. If Steele gets things back on track next season, my guess is that this year gets attributed to an odd mix of players playing in an odd mix of a season. If we're talking about the Muskies being on the outside looking in once again, I think this season simply gets thrown into a larger discussion about what the next steps for XU should be.
*Selection Sunday was predictably unfulfilling, like watching someone else open up their Christmas gifts. The tournament will be great. Always is, always will be. But when you've grown accustomed to spending the day counting down the minutes until 6:00, then spending the night staring at a bracket convincing yourself that your team can make a run, the whole process just leaves you feeling empty. There's a better than average chance that, regardless of where your rooting interest resides, you can relate.
*The next seven weeks will determine whether or not Joe Burrow will be equipped to save the Cincinnati Bengals, and ultimately, what happens in the coming days will invalidate or give ammunition to those who wondered if the Bengals are truly capable of/interested in winning while Burrow's here. I could spend the entire day writing about free agency possibilities. We have all week. Here are two basic thoughts...
1) I will gladly nod along if the Bengals pay a premium for Joe Thuney.
2) If I was Kevin Zeitler and a team in a better position to win a title offered me a deal, I would relish the chance to tell the Bengals to pound sand.
*It seems like every time I glance at what's going on in Goodyear, a Reds pitcher is dealing with discomfort, a tweak, or in Sonny Gray's case a back issue that could keep him from starting the season on the active roster. Amir Garrett and Lucas Sims have yet to pitch in Cactus League games.
You could dwell on that, or you could read a piece I wrote for Cincinnati People about drinking beer in the summer Arizona sun, and my somewhat new outlook.
*Yes, the relaunched blog will be used by me to promote me. Along those lines....here are bullet points I've typed to myself for today's radio show....
WHO HAD THE BETTER SEASON….UC OR XU?
INTEREST IN TOURNEY WHEN TEAM NOT IN?
GLASS HALF FULL OR HALF EMPTY FOR UC FANS?
BENGALS FREE AGENCY….PLAYERS HAVE TO WANT TO PLAY HERE...ZEITLER TO BALTIMORE....FREE AGENCY QUANTITY V. QUALITY
REDS….THE NEWS HASN’T BEEN GOOD
THE PERSON WHO’S PAYING CLOSEST ATTENTION IS JOE BURROW (REMEMBER, WHAT EVERYONE WAS SAYING LAST YEAR?)
CHRIS HOLTMAN….BEST ADVICE FROM MOM?
Yes, I type to myself in all caps. We'll add to these things, and elaborate on them, today at 3:05 on ESPN1530.
Follow me on Twitter:@MoEgger1530.