Bearcats vs. Longhorns in first round. It’s on.
I’m undecided if it’s my worst nightmare or a dream come true that my Cincinnati Bearcats are meeting the Texas Longhorns in the first round of the NCAA tournament. There is one thing, however, I do know for sure: this recent development is not going to do anything for my New Year’s resolution to stop rolling my eyes so much.
It’s been barely 18 hours since the brackets were announced, and already, I’ve had three text message exchanges and a couple of rounds of tweets that end with, “Whatever, Richie.”
Yes, Richie, as in my friend Richard Justice, a columnist for MLB.com and an unapologetic UT loyalist. Richie loves him some Longhorns and likes to explain as much, in detail, to anyone who will listen. (For the record, I’m not one of those people.)
Apparently, UT has a good-looking campus, a strong curriculum and a powerhouse athletic department. That’s according to anyone who attended the school, including its biggest champion, Richard Justice, who has an odd and slightly dysfunctional fixation with Mack Brown and gets all teary-eyed when he hears the first three notes of UT’s fight song. He also gets quite defensive about his school, quite frankly, which I find somewhat endearing and a little strange for a guy at his advanced age.
Me? I’m not as overly sensitive about my alma mater. Attempts by friends and colleagues to needle me about the Bearcats leave most disappointed. (Them: “Nice football team you’ve got there.” Me: “During my four years of undergrad, they won six games. People used to say, ‘Wait, you guys have a football team?’” Them: “Ha ha, your basketball coach got fired.” Me: “Huggins? Shoulda canned him five years ago.” Them: “Your basketball team had a zero percent graduation rate.” Me: “So? They went to the Final Four my junior year. What did I care if they didn’t go to class? I had fun.”)
You get the drift. I’m loyal to my school but not irrationally so, and I can even look back at the 2010 Sugar Bowl and take pride in the fact that the Bearcats were Tebowed, before Tebowed was even an adjective and a verb. That’s something, no?
So while I’ve always had a realistic, calm and at times sedate view of my alma mater that most cannot identify with, I do still love my Bearcats. I might not stay up nights studying the names of every student who’s ever graced the campus as Richard is known to do with his ‘Horns, but I can rattle off some rather famous UC alums who have made this graduate pret-tay, pret-tay, pret-tay proud to be a Bearcat:
Red Sox infielder Kevin Youkilis.
Basketball Hall of Famer Oscar Robertson.
Texans linebacker and master tweeter Connor Barwin.
Hall of Fame pitcher Sandy Koufax (who attended UC on a basketball scholarship).
Retired NBA star Nick Van Exel.
A couple of beauty contest winners.
Some guy who was a really popular soap opera actor in the 1950s.
UT and UC will meet in the very first round of the tournament. The turn of events has left me feeling giddy, and bold.
So I challenged Richard to a friendly wager. We don’t have a lot of time on this, of course, seeing one of those teams won’t make it through the weekend. We had to act quickly, and after some back and forth, we’ve settled on something that will be just painful and humiliating enough for the loser without crossing any inappropriate lines (Richard’s request, not mine).
The loser has to wear a t-shirt from the winner’s school, and sing the fight song of that school, live, on the air, during one of Richard’s shows on 1560 The Game. Photos and, hopefully, audio, will be tweeted and blogged so that everyone can watch and listen to
Richard the loser wallow in defeat in front of a large, and viral, audience.
Meanwhile, when I return from Florida in a few weeks, I will dive into my closet and search for a nice, comfy UC t-shirt that will bring out the color of Richard’s eyes. The t-shirt section of my closet, which has piled quite high after moves from two dorm rooms to four college apartments to two Houston apartments and finally, my house, is in chronological order: 93 Astros t-shirts, sitting on top of 12 or so UC t-shirts, sitting on top of a bunch of old t-shirts I borrowed from friends in high school and never returned.
So it’s on. Never mind that I don’t know any of the words of UC’s fight song. I’ll Google it.
No, I don’t have it memorized.