Amazing photo lifted from Palestra.net
That incredible picture up there is to remind our readers that there are, in fact, two college football teams playing in the Sugar Bowl and one of them isn't named Florida. Cincinnati, if you recall, is the team without a coach being coached by a guy who's about to leave to coach somewhere else.
Speaking of coaches and coaching, who's coaching Florida? Meyer resigned and came back (which "experts" say he can totally do if he gets treatment for his health conditions) but he's not going to be coaching in the Sugar Bowl because of his leave of absence. That leaves this guy with the task of coaching Florida in a game no one seems to want to coach in and is fast on track to falling into irrelevancy among the bevy of bowl games around the corner.
But back to the matter of Cincinnati and how the media is covering them (or rather, how the media isn't covering them). Even a Google News search for "Sugar Bowl Cincinnati football" turns up more Florida stories. Urban Meyer has stolen the Sugar Bowl from more than just his players, he's stolen it from the Bowl itself. Unless some eight-overtime insta-classic thriller befalls the game, this will probably be remembered as the "Meyer Bowl".
Hit the jump for a long recap of the Cincinnati press conference this morning, because Florida news is everywhere else you look.
PRESS CONFERENCE QUOTES
Monday, Dec. 28, 2009, 8:30 a.m.
Defensive Coordinator Bob Diaco
Opening Statement: Its been an honor to be a part of the Bearcat program and to be at the Sugar Bowl here in New Orleans. Its been a magical season so far, and were very excited to have the opportunity to play what looks on tape to be one of the best offensive teams in the country. Were looking forward to the challenge. The hospitality from the folks at Tulane University and at our hotel has been great, and were looking forward to the rest of the week in preparation for the game.
How would you compare the stability of your team and program versus Floridas given the events of the weekend? Before our last game, coach (Brian) Kelly used a term to describe the senior class which permeates to the rest of the team, and that is perseverance. When you have a group of seniors that each have an unbelievable story, whether they were quarterbacks that never played or players that were at other institutions, that didnt just melt away when things changed. The character and fortitude that was built didnt just melt away. All kudos and credit goes to our players who are rock solid and overcame some obstacles and went back to business as usual. I cant speak for Florida because I dont know their team, but Id assume their situation is similar.
What kind of challenges does Tim Tebow present as a dual threat quarterback? What you dont hear a lot of is how really large and physical he is. The offense creates challenges based on what they do with him and there are multiple options on each play. He creates a tackling challenge with an inside and outside option on every play. The innovative offense, coupled with his physical presence, creates a system and fundamental challenge for our players in particular. Throwing the ball, he has a very strong arm, is an accurate passer and has a cast of players that can really make plays. He definitely presents a strong challenge for us.
When you have a player that commits to a University and a program, how do you explain to him when he asks why his coach left him? My opinion is that these players, and the ones being recruited right now, need to shift their emphasis away from the bright lights, what the football complex looks like, the shoe contracts and on and on. Make your decision based on if football ended tomorrow, where you would like to go to school. Where could you see yourself walking on campus, going into class and getting an education, and make your decision based on that. At the end of the day, if youve operated like that and under those parameters, then the player is in the right place and the conversation never happens.
Aaron Webster, Defensive Back
What was it like watching the Urban Meyer situation unfold? It was just on television so much you couldnt avoid it. It was a sad day for college football just because he (Meyer) is such a good coach. But like I told my teammates we are not going out there to play sympathy football, we are going out there to win the game. All the stuff from the media and outside of football we just cant afford to worry about the external stuff.
Is there any talk that the situation with Coach Meyer has whipped the Florida team into shape?
I mean yeah there is talk that this has given them the motivation for the game, but there is also talk that we became motivated when our coach left us. All of the outside stuff is good, but at the end of the day when youre out on that field none of that stuff is going to matter. You are going out there to play football and right when those first snaps hit you are going to do what youve been doing or youre going to something different.
Are you guys over the Brian Kelly stuff yet?
When it first happened we werent really worried about it. He made his decision. Right now we are worried about the people who are here what we are here to do.
Andre Revels, Linebacker
What are your emotions like heading into Fridays game? We are taking in everything pretty well, the city and bowl personnel have been pretty hospitable. Weve been to some great places and done some great things so far and its just building up to the first of January and this game we are going to play. Its going to be a great time.
How are you guys planning on defending Tim Tebow and the rest of the Florida Gator offense?
The great secret that we have for this game is to tackle (Tim) Tebow and the rest of the Florida Gators. Thats our great secret and game plan to tackle.
Are there any distractions for you heading into the game?
Everybodys locked into the game. Our distraction heading into the game happened a couple of weeks ago (with Brian Kelly leaving) so that has come and gone. The only thing on our minds is to go out there and win the Sugar Bowl.
Is the size of Floridas O-line something you notice?
If you look at their roster and you see those big boys, thats the first thing you notice, but I cant lie, every week I say Wow, thats a big line.
Is playing a player like Tebow a source of motivation?
Everybody has different motivators. Some people its playing in the Sugar Bowl, some people its going undefeated, some people its playing Tebow. I think its a combination of everything.
Is Cincinnati excited for a chance to get more respect from voters/media?
I really cant answer that, because I really dont care. All I do is tackle people
JK Schaffer, Linebacker
What are your emotions like heading into Fridays game?
Emotions are very high for me. Its been nothing but excitement since weve found out we were playing in the Sugar Bowl against Florida. The whole city (Cincinnati), and the whole team is excited. We are practicing with a lot of energy and really looking forward to the game Friday.
Does Cincinnati have something to prove in this Sugar Bowl and to the country to show what Big East football and Cincinnati football is all about?
This game, especially, we feel like we have something to prove to a whole lot of people. We are going to try and take it to them. Weve tried to do this every single game, but this one means a lot more.
Your last game against Pitt was a wild game. What were the emotions like on the sideline from being down 31-10 to when you guys kicked the winning field goal?
It was absolutely crazy. We were down 21 points about to head into halftime. The defense got together and talked about how we need to stop their offense a few times as our offense can score. If we hold them to a few three-and-outs then we would give our offense a chance to win the game. We just had to fight for it and that is just what we did.
Alex Daniels, DE:
Does it help Cincinnati that more attention is on Florida this week?
All the attention should be on Florida this week. Theyve got one of the greatest players ever to play the game. Theyve got an awesome coach thats going through a problem right now. We just feel like, it doesnt matter because we still have to play on Saturday or, Friday Whatever day it is we play. Its always like that for us every week. We always get overlooked, so we really dont feel like thats a problem.
Has Brian Kelly leaving for Notre Dame been a distraction for Cincinnati?
Everybody has distractions. Its just how you deal with it as a mature group. Dealing with the situation we had a couple weeks ago, we feel like we have it nipped in the bud. Everybody felt like it was the best decision for him (Brian Kelly) as a professional, but as a team right now we all came together even better to really understand that we still have a goal to be 13-0. We have a chance to play the defending national champions in Florida, and one of the arguably greatest players in college football in Tim Tebow. We dont care if a dog is coaching us, wed go out there and play hard.
Brad Jones, CB:
Does it help Cincinnati that more attention is on Florida this week?
Its been the same way all season. Weve had doubters all season, but were 12-0 for a reason. Were pretty good, theyre pretty good, so were just going to let things settle on the field.
Has Cincinnatis defense ready for Floridas offense?
I think were prepared. We have a wealth of knowledge. Weve studied a lot of game tape, and its the Sugar Bowl. We have to come ready to play and bring our A game. We want to go out there, run fast, hit hard, play Cincinnati football and just go out there and get it done.
How has the football program been received recently at a traditional basketball school?
Its crazy. The excitement and the buzz about the program keeps growing. Its Ohio, and Ohio loves football, and Ohio loves winners. People couldnt be happier for us. Weve been getting a lot of support and people are happy to see a winning team in Cincinnati.