In ancient times, I covered college football in Texas, which is like covering cheese in the Netherlands. Occasionally, I’d make a trip just across the border to Oklahoma. Once, I was in Norman to do a long, preseason feature on Sooners LB Brian Bosworth. You might remember him.
We spent a few days together. We tooled around town in his brand new Corvette. When we visited the Sooners workout facility, which was state of the art, The Boz pointed out the vehicles owned by players currently pumping iron inside the facility. Let’s just say the rides weren’t beaters.
Fast-forward a few years later, spring of 1988. Paul Brown is giving me a tour of Spinney Field, where the Bengals practiced. To put it mildly, Spinney was a dungeon. Junior high weight room, moldy indoor-outdoor carpet on the floor, steel cage lockers, one 20-inch TV bolted to a back wall.
I’d seen nicer locker rooms as a 10th-grade wrestler in a public high school.
I’m thinking of that contrast now. Why did the college facility sparkle while the pro place smelled? Literally.
The answer then was the same as it is now, only in completely different ways.
Name, Image, Likeness is changing everything. It’s changing everything so fast, only the most nimble (and well funded) have a prayer of staying in front of it.
Oklahoma had great facilities because it wanted to wow recruits. That notion now is as yesterday as, well, yesterday. As the great Dan Wetzel writes on Yahoo! sports,
“Forget dropping $500,000 on some video boards inside a recruiting lounge that may or may not impress a wide-swath of recruits. Just give the very best recruit the $500,000 directly. If he doesn’t want it, move onto the next best recruit. And so on.’’
So, essentially, all that upgrading UC and a million other schools have done with their facilities . . . is now obsolete?
That’s a stretch, sure. A big one. The Bearcats badly needed the Lindner Center, the Sheakley Athletics Center and a redone Nippert and Fifth Third. But if a big goal is to woo football players . . . if they knew then what we know now, how might the massive dollars been re-apportioned?
“It’s totally changed recruiting,” Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin told Wetzel. “I joke all the time about it. Facilities and all that. Go ahead and build facilities and these great weight rooms and training rooms but you ain’t gonna have any good players in them if you don’t have NIL money. I don’t care who the coach is or how hard you recruit, that is not going to win over money.”
That’s why NFL weight rooms don’t look like Oklahoma’s weight room. When the league wants to impress a free agent, it throws money directly.
Wetzel: “The efficient, direct dollar is favorable for schools that have fewer dollars. It matters less where you can afford passive recruiting efforts such as sending recruiting letters via FedEx rather than the mail or erecting billboards in a prospect’s hometown or renovate the recruiting lounge every three years. The inefficient dollar benefits the schools that have money to waste.’’
So if you’re a striving, aspirational football program such as UC’s – without the tall cash piles of some of your peers -- how do you pivot to deal with this new and dizzying sea change?
I have a call into Bearcats AD John Cunningham.
Now, then . . .
THE ONLY PLAYER CAPABLE OF bumping the Reds gate now is pitching this afternoon, likely in the rain. Sure, you might take your son or daughter to see Joey Votto, in the same way your dad took you to see Pete in 1986. Maybe your child is that rare species of kid, the sort that still loves baseball for baseball, in which case the game is enough.
If not, well, Hunter Greene is now the only compelling reason for a casual Reds fan to show up at the Small Park. He’s must-see. If he’s on today at 12:35, if he’s surgically spotting that slider, well, no telling how many Cubs he might K.
He’s thoughtful, humble, mature for his 22 years. Greene seems capable of wearing the hero suit. Elegantly. Unless the Club can put a team around him, he’s possibly the next Mario Soto.
IF YOU HAVEN’T YET, PLEASE watch the Steve Kerr video, reacting to the Uvalde massacre. It’s as clear an Everyman anguish as I’ve heard.
Kerr: “I ask you, Mitch McConnell, all of you senators who refuse to do anything about the violence, school shootings, supermarket shootings, I ask you: Are you going to put your own desire for power ahead of the lives of our children and our elderly and our churchgoers? Because that’s what it looks like. That’s what we do every week.”
Kerr isn’t you or me. Terrorists assassinated his father in 1984. Kerr’s dad was the president of the American University of Beirut. Kerr was a student/point guard at the University of Arizona at the time.
In writing Wednesday of the butchering of 10-year-olds, I kept politics out of it. This is too big for petty politics. The blood on your hands is still red, no matter your side of the aisle. Dems take blood money from the NRA and gun manufacturers, too.
A few readers suggested the trite and true: Better mental health care, for one.
Absolutely. All for it. Why can’t we do both? Better care, fewer guns. They don’t seem to be at cross purposes, do they?
Stats misrepresent the issue, you told me.
Well, yes and no. Stats are bendable. They’re the Gumby of logic. My stats say countries with tough gun restrictions have fewer gun deaths. But really, what does all our talking matter? Kids are still dead. Kids will still die. Maybe next time, it’ll be your child. Or mine.
Make schools fortresses, you said. Teach teachers how to shoot people.
No thanks. The solution to a gun problem isn’t more guns. If you have a drinking problem, is the solution more alcohol? You really want your kids going to a school that’s an armed camp? That’s what a “free’’ society looks like?
We have to, as Zac Taylor would put it, change the culture. Make owning a gun a privilege, not a right. You have to earn it. Be sane and responsible, submit to a background check, take a safety course, get a permit. It’s easier to get a gun than a driver’s license. If you’re 18 in Texas, it’s easier to buy a gun than a beer. That’s ridiculous.
When the mental health levy appears on your ballot, X the box. When your local, state and federal pols consistently vote against rational and stricter gun rules, vote them out of office. If they continue to take gun money, vote them out of office. God help them if they say, “This isn’t the right time’’ to talk about it.
It doesn’t take courage to vote the cowards out.
AND NOW . . .
Michelle skates and eats, but possibly not at the same time.
Roller Skate Alert ~ Pop up roller rink (brought to you by Frisch’s) is happening for the summer and the kickoff is Friday at the Court Street Plaza. The first 50 people get free admission and skate rental. Dj’s, Cincinnati Rollergirls, food samples and the chance to show off your skate moves! Starts Friday 4-8, Sat & Sun 12-8 Mon 12-6 then the 9,000 square foot rink will open on select dates through October.
Taste of Cincinnati ~ Nothing says Memorial Day weekend in Cincy more than “The Taste” . There will be over 30 live music acts, 18 food trucks and 36 restaurants all lining 5th street Saturday & Sunday 11-11, Monday 11-9.
Free Yoga (donation based) ~ Enjoy a little stretch and fresh air on the rooftop of The Summit Hotel Saturdays 9-10am now through September 24th. Open to all ages and skill levels and bring your own mat.
Drinks ~ Symposium Cincinnati is a great new spot in Walnut Hills that will wet your whistle from coffee in the morning to craft cocktails at night. Great vibe and has indoor and outdoor seating! 2835 Woodburn
Did you say you wanted more Taste details? FunMaster David:
The Taste of Cincinnati, after three long years, makes its triumphant return to 5th Street beginning this Saturday.
Highlights of the event include a Taste of Findlay Market, beer gardens at First Financial Plaza and P&G Gardens, and Rhinegeist Food Truck Alley, Food vendors include Alfio's Buon Cibo, Empanadas Aqui, Mama Bear's Mac, Mazunte, Sweets and Meats, and many more. The list of the other 48 vendors as well as an entertainment schedule can be found at tasteofcincinnati.com.
If you have an event you'd like to submit, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Imbiber Dave salutes the Naval Academy, in his own, unique way.
Had some fun meetings in Annapolis and DC this week. Completely accidentally, we planned this get together during Commissioning Week at the US Naval Academy.
There’s nothing quite like having to “hold that thought” while four Blue Angels fly overhead and ruin any possibility of hearing your colleague. Definitely one of my favorite things.
Needless to say we were all ready for Happy Hour, and Forward Brewing turned out to be an ideal spot. Located a short walk from the harbor, this nano brewery had an amazing food menu and excellent beer. I was able to sample several, but there were some standouts I would definitely order again.
The Annapolis Boat dry hopped Kolsch was crisp with a bit of citrus without being bitter. The Oak and Stone Helles was as the name suggests stored in oak and had an amazing malty quality without being overly sweet. Finally, the Dubh Dorcha Irish Stout was superb. Definitely could be a session beer, but had an intense flavor and balance for being so light on the ABV.
Walking the cobblestone streets and seeing scores of Midshipmen
TUNE O' THE DAY . . . Garage, from one of its master practitioners
This article originally appeared on Cincinnati Enquirer: Name, Image and Likeness changing things for Cincinnati Bearcats