Opinion | Cincinnati Bearcats need a bigger challenge than AAC | Sports

The University of Cincinnati soccer team defeated the University of Houston 38-10 at Nippert Stadium in Cincinnati on Saturday, November 7, 2020.

Eight years ago, the University of Cincinnati left the Big East Conference to attend the American Athletic Conference. Since then, the Bearcats have met some and disappointed others while consistently viewing the dominant conferences from the outside.

Joining the AAC was not an advancement for Bearcat athletics, it was an agreement. The original Big East had fallen apart, making way for the new conference without football. A settlement that resulted in even more disappointing seasons, more coach dropouts and a domino effect due to championship deficits.

UC has served as a stepping stone for players and coaches to set their records before moving elsewhere. Head coaches Brian Kelly (soccer) and Mick Cronin (basketball) moved to Notre Dame and UCLA after successfully running the Bearcat programs.

If Cincinnati is attending another conference, recruiting can become an easier winning strategy that makes the Bearcats a long-term competitor.

When Cincinnati finally got access to the AAC, countless schools and conferences would enjoy the benefits of the Bearcat competition.

Teams like West Virginia University would feel less isolated if a regional competitor like Cincinnati joined the Big 12, potentially leading the conference to live up to its numerical name.

If the 2020 football season had proven anything, Cincinnati could have used a resumé boosting game against Big 12 opponents like Oklahoma or Iowa State, both of which ended up in the top 10 despite two and three losses respectively.

How about the Big Ten? Regionally, competition and business would benefit from an annual matchup between the Ohioans: Cincinnati versus Ohio State University.

Television networks would be one of the many beneficiaries of Bearcat athletics, which larger teams play. Cincinnati’s Peach Bowl appearance against the University of Georgia in early 2021 was the most watched (8.727 million) New Years six-bowl game with a group of five teams.

If the late Crosstown Tip Off War is a sign of this, Cincinnati is surpassing a passionate and loyal fan base that supports the move to a larger conference.

Despite convincing arguments, Cincinnati is the most deserving school to be admitted to a major conference, as it can shoot at all sports cylinders. Cincinnati basketball has made the top 20 three times in the past decade, while Bearcat Football has made the top 25 four times.

Not only are Cincinnati’s TV-dominant teams doing well, UC volleyball also made a run for the NCAA Sweet Sixteen tournament in its 2019 season.

The disappointing caveat is that if Cincinnati or a school joins a dominant conference, the loss of that team will prevent further serious consideration. However, dominant teams repeatedly have to forego their losses as they are expected to be successful.

There is a fiscal reality that must be accepted when discussing the reorientation of the conference. Is it ethical that Cincinnati had to cut its men’s football program while the Clemson University football program has an entire village for its players?

No? Perhaps it’s fair that the University of Alabama soccer team has an air-conditioned room for players’ shoes. Still, Cincinnati’s locker room renovations had to be cut after the athletics department only closed a profitable 2020 fiscal year. The current layout of the NCAA conference contains neither regional equality nor tax fairness.

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