Which College Football Team Has The Biggest Fan Base Are the Glory Days for Cincinnati Bearcat Football Over?

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Are the Glory Days for Cincinnati Bearcat Football Over?

Let’s face it, we’re living in the glory years of UC football.

Yes, there are some die-hards (all 12 of you) who might argue that UC has a storied past that goes back to Sid Gillman and Greg Cook, but trust me, no die-hard college football fan thinks about UC football historically. However, UC football has had a pretty decent run in recent years and briefly caught the nation’s attention in 2009 with Brian Kelly’s magical run that briefly put them in the national title picture (until Virginia Tech pummeled them in the Orange Bowl) . That success, along with several 10-plus win seasons and several Big East championships (2011 would have been Big East championship #3 if Zach Colloros hadn’t been injured), put UC football on the map, to say the least. Again, no one is losing sleep in Tuscaloosa or Norman, but UC football is at least in the conversation.

So with all this success and a university administration seemingly committed to maintaining success, why does the future look so bleak for UC football?

Well, where do we start…

Like everything in life, it all comes down to the Benjamins. Follow the money and you will have your answers.

UC’s recent rise is tied to its affiliation with the Big East Conference. Argue if you want the weak sauce that the Big East should never have had automatic BCS status (a very valid argument, btw!), but since it did, it put UC in position to make its mark in ’08 and ’09 and set it up for future success – IF the conference can survive and maintain its status as one of the six BCS conferences with an automatic berth in the championship series and all the revenue and prestige that comes with it.

However, all indications over the past year point to the Big East NOT retaining this preferred status (save for one saving grace, which I’ll get to in a moment). The college football realignment cesspool that exposed all BCS members to be nothing more than greedy money whores with no loyalty to traditional conference rivals and partners (Missouri to the SEC, Syracuse to the ACC) left an already challenging Big East extremely vulnerable to loss.

I won’t bore you with the arcane details of how the BCS determines its conferences to assign automatic qualifying statuses (it’s in my head a lot – wicked writers get confused easily), but needless to say, the Big East isn’t looking very good. In its desperation to add some teeth and bolster its competitive credentials after losing Syracuse, West Virginia and Pitt, adding Boise State certainly helps, but according to ESPN BCS guru Brad Edwards, adding the Broncos still won’t be enough to meet the murky criteria set by BHS . Adding minor league starters UCF, Memphis, Houston, San Diego State, SMU and Navy doesn’t do any good either.

Further complicating the situation is the BCS’s latest venture to create the much-coveted College Football Playoff (college football fans will be sorely disappointed at how little it solves). While all the details have yet to be worked out, a couple of questions are already in place, and again the Big East is not in an enviable position. The playoffs will be tied to major bowls, and while the Big 10, Pac 12, Big 12, SEC and ACC have aligned with major bowls for their champion, the Big East has no landing spot for its title holder.

So goes the Big East, so goes UC football.

What used to be UC’s biggest strength (a BCS conference with automatic qualifier status, a national stage and weak competition that always made them contenders) is now their biggest burden. And UC can’t do much about it. With its small, dated stadium, lack of historical significance and relatively small fan base, UC won’t get a get-out-of-jail-free card like VVU, Pitt and The Cuse and get another conference call.

UC is stuck.

But, well, all is not completely lost for UC and the Big East. While it’s an infusion of minor leaguers and Boise State doesn’t exactly win hearts, it has one variable highly coveted by the pimps who run college football — it creates a lot of potential eyeballs in the form of TV markets in its disjointed, ridiculous geographic footprint.

While Houston, SDSU and SMU could be considered homecoming fodder for many BCS schools, combined with Rutgers, UConn, South Florida and Cincinnati, the Big East potentially has a ton of potential TV receivers to get TV rights holders hot and bothered about. After all, isn’t that what the fucking conference realignment frenzy is all about anyway?

While most football fans in these big Big East markets have no idea where these teams even play, something tells me that the BCS could find room for the potential TV sets — and some of the revenue — the Big East potentially commands.

Like I said, follow the Benjamins and all will be revealed.

At least UC better hope.

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