Monday, September 23, 2002

UC coach won't forget 'near upset'


Ohio State loss prime case of coulda, woulda, shoulda

By Michael Perry mperry@enquirer.com
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Rick Minter was so exhausted, he couldn't help but fall asleep in the early hours of Sunday morning. The hard part was waking up.

        “The sun came up - I think,” the University of Cincinnati football coach said. “But I went over and shut the blinds, anyway.”

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        Minter watched film of his Bearcats' 23-19 loss to No. 6 Ohio State just hours after the game ended, before he headed off to tape his weekly coach's show.

        He saw highlights on ESPN when he returned home. He couldn't help but think about what might have been.

        “The sad reality of it is, when the day has come and gone, it will go down as just one of those near upsets of a top-10 team,” Minter said. “We could have been the toast of the nation by winning that ballgame.

        “I'm just replaying every play. It's not that you don't do that every week, because you do. But it will be in our minds for a while. We know how to put closure to this one and move on to the next one, but in the years to come, we'll look back and say, "We had a chance to beat Ohio State.' I know I will.”

        UC finished the game with 23 running plays, its fewest in the regular season since it had 21 at Penn State on Oct.8, 1988 (it ran just 20 times in last year's Motor City Bowl).

        The Bearcats threw four passes in the final minute from the OSU 15-yard line. The first three were incomplete. The last one was intercepted in the end zone. UC turned over the ball on each of its last three possessions.

        “We just fell a few plays short of probably the biggest win in the history of the program,” Minter said.

        UC athletic director Bob Goin said he believes the series with Ohio State won't come to a halt after the fourth game of this current contract in 2006. He even thinks the Buckeyes will play UC again in Cincinnati.

        “I think you'll see Ohio State back in here, and it won't be 70 years,” Goin said. “I base that on some preliminary discussions we had with them.”

        OSU athletic director Andy Geiger said Sunday that he would not rule out a return to Cincinnati.

        “(Associate athletic director) Archie Griffin does our scheduling, but Bob and I have talked,” Geiger said. “There are conversations about games in the future, but there is nothing definite. Ohio State probably has less visibility in Cincinnati than in any other part of Ohio, and I think it's good for us to be there.”

        The schools didn't play from 1931 until 1999. They hadn't played in Cincinnati since 1911.

        Saturday's game drew 66,319 fans, a city record for any sporting event. Goin said UC officials might look into facing another opponent at Paul Brown Stadium, but it would have to be the right situation.

        “I don't want to play a game at Paul Brown Stadium with 25,000 or 30,000 people there,” Goin said. “It's got to be an opponent that people will rally around. I'm not real sure an Oklahoma would do the same thing. I'm not sure UCLA would do the same thing.”

       



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