Friday, January 28, 2011

PDoc Cannot Let Huggs v Zimph Go

The Cincinnati vs. West Virginia game is here again and once again Paul Daugherty has a message for all of you Bearcat fans who still love Bob Huggins and have stopped supporting the Bearcats because of the way he was dismissed from the program... build a bridge and get the fuck over it. Sadly Pdoc seems to not want to take his own advice.

You go to UC message boards and you do not see fans rehashing the Huggins dismissal. I talk to my Bearcat fan friends these days and none of the talk is on Nancy Zimpher (may she get what is coming to her some day) or the Huggins dismissal, but on topics related to the basketball team. They talk about how UC is playing, on whether UC can make the tournament, on the horrid non-conference strength of schedule, on the ridiculously strong Big East schedule, on avoiding a late season collapse, on the inconsistency of half court offense, the huge shot made by Yancy Gates against St Johns, the tremendous defensive effort night in and night out...the list goes on and on, but these are the topics among UC fans.

In the spirit of Pdoc's hypocrisy and in honor of the great writers who once graced here are my thoughts on Daugherty's latest printed atrocity.

Doc: Why the Bob Huggins Nostalgia?

By Paul Daugherty • • January 28, 2011

Mick Cronin, bless him, did the proper fawning again. His knees must ache from all that genuflecting. UC wouldn’t be in the Big East without Bob Huggins, according to the Bearcats basketball coach. Football and academics played a big role, too, but OK. We get it Pdoc... Huggins was not the ONLY reason UC was asked to join the Big East. Bob Goin being incredibly proactive in seeking membership and pushing forward varsity village was also instrumental, but Mick is not saying anything we do not already know when crediting Huggins. UC did not have a special program in any other sports and though I think UC academics have long been undervalued nationally they were not bringing new credibility to the Big East with their academics. Yea they had to show the conference these areas were strengths, but the selling point for the Bearcat program was its top 15 basketball program.

Meantime, fans who wouldn’t walk across the yard to attend the Rutgers game Wednesday night (attendance: 6,400 or so) will sell out Fifth Third Arena Saturday (13,176), to watch the University of Huggs, even as the game is no more vital to the Bearcats’ tournament interests. Yes, Huggins coming back is and will always be a big deal to Bearcat fans. He earned that much with both his success and loyalty to the Bearcat program. Still Rutgers and a West Virginia team that was in the final four and won the Big East tournament last season is not an apples to apples comparison. Here is a quick list of reasons this game would be a much bigger sell (not even factoring in Huggins).

      1. WVU was a final four team last year while Rutgers was sitting at home

      2. WVU is a tournament team nearly every year. When was the last time Rutgers made the NCAA tournament? Anyone?

      3. Rutgers game was 9 PM on a weeknight, WVU game is 8 PM on a Saturday

      4. WVU is a top 20 team according to the RPI and either the 3rd or 4th best team that will come to the Shoe this year.

I would argue that getting another top 25 RPI win is far more vital to UC's tournament interests than beating not only is Doc's inept comparison between the WVU game and the Rutgers game asinine to begin with his point of their relevance to UC's tournament interests is wrong.

Two years ago, UC feted Huggins in a brief pregame ceremony. One object was to honor a guy who meant a lot to a lot of people around here, in the basketball program and elsewhere. He richly deserved the recognition.

The bigger motive was to try, please God, to close a book. It was the retirement party that would allow everyone to move on. It didn’t work. At least not among the faithful. (Or faithless, depending on your side of the fence.) I do not necessarily buy that this was the bigger motive though I am sure giving Bearcat fans a deserved sense of closure with a coach who they invested so much in was a huge factor (and rightfully so). As to it not working... by what standard Doc? I was thankful I was able to give Huggs the standing ovation before the game he so richly deserved and yet at tipoff every Bearcat fan was cheering heartily for the University of Cincinnati. After the win UC was in prime position to get a tournament bid and I would argue if the complete collapse had not occurred down the stretch you may have seen attendance start to build sooner rather than later.

Huggins has moved on. He put West Virginia in the Final Four last year. Do you think he sits in his Morgantown mansion pining for Clifton? He’s somebody else’s hero now. Fair enough and Bearcat fans have not been pining for Huggins, what they have been pining for is NCAA tournament basketball.

He reminisces when asked. He harbors some bitterness for how the breakup was handled. He doesn’t carry a torch for his old job. If he did, he couldn’t do his new one.

Nancy Zimpher has moved on. Do you believe Zimpher – who made UC a better school, by the way – is concerned with what you think about her now? It’s possible she wrings her hands each night as she tucks herself in, grieving over the tickets not sold because of festering local anger. But I kind of doubt it.

Please find a new Cruella. My favorite part of the Doc bullshit article we get every year is the way he tries to bate Bearcat fans and make them feel guilty for hating Zimpher. Doc always sided with Zimpher in the Huggs/Zim saga and part of the reason I think he brings this up every year just to throw it into UC fans faces.

The Huggs-vs.-Zim show has closed, ladies and gentlemen. Have a safe ride home. Tip your bartenders and waitresses. Doc you're several years late on this. The Huggs v Zim show closed in 2005 and yet for some reason you find the need to rehash it every God damn year. Follow your own advice. Tip your bartenders and waitresses? Doc you've been beating this dead horse for 6 years now...nearly everyone is over it but you.

Why all this ongoing, destructive nostalgia? The only destructive nostalgia is the drivel you and the other talking heads try to sell us every year at this time.

You still don’t go to UC basketball games because of what happened six years ago? Really? This seems like as good a time as any to talk about attendance. Yes many long time UC fans dropped their tickets to UC basketball after the Huggins dismissal. They were upset with how the program was being run, they were upset that not only did the administration ditch a beloved coach, but that it gave the UC basketball program a self imposed death penalty.

The irony is this is the exact attitude that Daugherty wants Bengals fans to use. He asks them to protest with their pocket books and to not buy a failing product. Hell, he wrote as much in his January 15 column about being addicted to the Bengals. To add to the irony the Bengals have made the playoffs twice in the five year span since Huggins was fired. The Bearcats have not been to the tournament.

Doc wants you to believe that attendance is bad because Bearcat fans cannot get over the Huggins firing. That is good for his narrative. It allows him to write the same bullcrap article every year in some form or another. The reason attendance is not back at UC is very simple.

  1. UC has not been to the NCAA tournament in five years.

  2. UC played an absolutely abysmal non-conference schedule with very few appealing games

  3. The economy has been poor and fans are more selective with their dollars

  4. Even with success it takes time to build back the fan base. Yes UC is 18-3 right now and ideally more fans would be attending games, but the fact is many UC fans have not been following the program as they did when UC was making the tournament every year. As a result they do not have the attachment to the players, staff and program that was there when it was successful. Huggins did not build the program overnight...the fans did not immediately sell out night after night (and he had the luxury of a brand new arena).

    The fact is that if the Bearcats continue to win, if they finish strong this season (which they have not done when in very good position the last two years) that will start really bringing the fans back. When the program gets back to winning consistently the fans will come.

    You’re going Saturday, because of the. . . visiting coach? No doubt Huggins is part of the draw, but we are also going to see a top 20 RPI team who made the final four last year. We are going to hopefully see a good game and see the Bearcats get another quality win.

    How self defeating. How utterly useless, in a very Cincinnati way. Yes how awful that the Bearcats sell out what ultimately is a huge game in the Big East.

    We live in our rearview mirrors here, sometimes. We glorify our past. Things are never as good as they were in 1975. P-e-e-e-te!! Way to get a nonsense Pete Rose reference in the article which in this context is a terrible analogy. I guess the point you are trying to make is that both Rose and Huggins are flawed heroes. Isn't everyone?

The Way We’ve Always Done It rules the day. If you don’t like it here – and why on earth wouldn’t you? -- there’s the door. I’ve lived here 22 years and I’ve never understood our thinking. I only understand how it has affected our community. We’re not better for all the past-clinging. It keeps us from being as good as we can be. WTF is he talking about? “If you don't like it here there is the door.” Who are we showing the door? Are you going all the way back to the NZ references? Respecting the past and being loyal to those who were loyal to you and busted their ass for your school is not clinging to the past. It is being a fan. No one would ever confuse you with a Bearcat fan so maybe it is impossible for you to understand.

How can we move on when we’re always looking back? Some of us can walk and chew gum at the same time.

Do you cruise the highway staring at your rearview mirror? No, but I damn sure do use my rearview mirror...nevermind...why am I getting sucked into nonsensical analogy after nonsensical analogy?

Part of the reason Fifth Third Arena’s upper bowl looks like the mouth on a Halloween pumpkin is because the basketball team hasn’t won enough. Understood. Ok, because the first half of your article makes it seem like you do not understand. Glad to see you are not completely ignorant. This is the essence of why UC attendance has suffered. Glad to see Doc is finally ready to tackle the real issue. Part of it is because we choose to live in the rearview mirror. That’s not fair. Worse, it’s corrosive. Wait that's it? That's all the time we get on the issue that actually drives attendance for nearly every program across the country. One minor acknowledge and immediately Doc gets back to focusing on the minor issue of people liking Huggs. I'm sure there is a tiny percentage where Doc's point may be true, but if the team wins consistently, if Cronin turns UC into the perennial top 15 program they were under Huggins...this minority will be impossibly hard to find.

This is no shot at Huggins. He deserves the respect we’ve afforded him. But enough is enough. It isn’t 1975, or 1992. Johnny Bench is 61 years old, Nick Van Exel is retired from the NBA. Huggins isn’t coming back. Somehow, the Final Four has survived UC’s 19-year absence. No one is arguing this point Doc. Yes the date is January 28, 2010 (at least at the time I am writing this).

“It is Huggins who’s selling (Saturday’s) game out,’’ says UC archivist Kevin Grace. Grace is a student of city history, sports and otherwise. He doesn’t agree that we spend excessive time looking behind, but acknowledges it’s a reason for Huggins’ ongoing hold on the local affections. “He doesn’t have a good team, but he does have a larger than life personality. People are going because Huggins is Huggins.’’ I'm glad we got Grace's basketball insight to tell us WVU is not a good team (top 20 RPI mind you, but not a good team), but what Doc neatly glosses over here is the fact that the history “expert” Doc brings in to lend credence to his article about Cincinnati spending an excessive amount of time looking backwards DISAGREES with Doc's assertion that Cincinnati spends an excessive amount of time looking backwards. Way to lend credence to your position Doc.

Grace believes that a return to the NCAA tournament is all UC needs for its fans to cease romanticizing the past. “Let’s face it, the Big East is professional sports,’’ Grace says. “Pro sports fans want a winner.’’ Nail on the head...winning is how we get the fans back to the Shoe (and you know a better economy would help as well).

I’d suggest Cronin and his group of quasi-amateurs could win it all, and there would still be a large local voice mumbling about the way Zimpher dealt with Huggins. That local voice mumbling would be none other than Paul Daugherty. It’s how we are around here. You are a walking, hypocritical testament to that.

We’re the same people who, on the day Great American Ball Park opened, booed Carl Lindner and cheered Marge Schott. We still slide headfirst in support of Pete Rose. And we still love Huggs, which would be OK if it didn’t come at the expense of the progress happening now in the home offices of Fifth Third Arena. Well good... it is OK because loving Huggs does not affect the progress down at Fifth Third Arena. It does not in the least.

“It doesn’t reflect the community at large,’’ Kevin Grace insists. I wonder how many people Doc tried to find that would agree with his take before he finally settled on someone who seemed to believe the complete opposite. Great reporting as always Doc.

Man, I hope not. Somehow I do not quite buy this... I really cannot wait to read Huggs/zimph part 6 from you this time next year.

1 comment:

Kmac said...

Damn right Raines!