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No. 3 Cincinnati navigating tough schedule with ease, but it won’t matter come playoff time


CINCINNATI – One autumn day a couple of a long time in the past, the late Beano Prepare dinner discovered himself inside Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis, Maryland, residence of the U.S. Naval Academy. Prepare dinner was a school soccer analyst on the time, reasonably well-known and a really humorous man. He was on the town to touch upon a Navy soccer recreation.

Earlier than Beano settled into his press field perch, he took a second to admire the view. The façade beneath the second deck caught his eye. It was engraved with the names of world-changing battles fought by the Navy and Marines.

Wake, Coral Sea, Halfway, Savo Island …

Beano scanned all of them. “Helluva schedule,’’ he determined.

After the third-ranked Bearcats pushed again Navy 27-20 on Saturday, it is arduous to see them as something however heavy favorites the remainder of the 12 months. No. 19 SMU (6-0) may give the Bearcats a recreation. However the recreation is at Nippert and nobody is placing the Mustangs in the identical uncommon air as UC.

Helluva schedule?

UC has by no means been so near the mountaintop or so near falling off. The Bearcats are constructed for this second: Elite protection, senior quarterback shoving his method into high draft decide standing, wins at Indiana and Notre Dame. The Bearcats didn’t must make the painstaking crawl to the Prime 10. They’ve been there all 12 months.

They’ve completed all the pieces proper however be within the correct convention.

Perhaps it’s within the by-laws. Does the NCAA guide say “any faculty that’s not a member of the Energy 5 will without end be barred from competing for a nationwide championship? Meaning you, eternally striving arriviste out of your little ol’ Soup of 5 convention.”

Bearcats tight finish Josh Whyle (proper) celebrates with large receiver Tre Tucker after scoring a primary quarter landing towards the Midshipmen.

This is smart nowhere. Besides within the British Royal Household and actually, who’d need these folks on this soccer crew? It’s school athletics’ very personal glass ceiling. The playoff system is a caste system in excessive definition. Who you affiliate with means greater than who you might be.

The Bearcats are on a crash course with historical past and with deciding what’s truthful and what’s foregone. A poor man can develop as much as be president, however a soccer crew with all the right credentials can’t win a nationwide championship. Solely in America.

This very doubtless will occur. A crew taking part in its finest soccer because it began taking part in soccer in 1885 will probably be informed that’s not adequate. The apparent follow-up to that verdict will probably be, “then why are we taking part in?”

Cincinnati Bearcats quarterback Desmond Ridder (9) walks onto the field before the NCAA football game between the Cincinnati Bearcats and the Notre Dame Fighting Irish on Saturday, Oct. 2, 2021, at Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend, Ind.

Cincinnati Bearcats quarterback Desmond Ridder (9) walks onto the sphere earlier than the NCAA soccer recreation between the Cincinnati Bearcats and the Notre Dame Combating Irish on Saturday, Oct. 2, 2021, at Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend, Ind.

Don’t feed us one thing existential or philosophical that you simply learn in a ebook. On the mountaintop, there’s successful and there’s nothing else. The very best UC can do is be within the middle of the 12-team playoff revolution to come back. Which does the Bearcats no good now.

There are methods UC can do the inconceivable. They offer me a headache. They boil all the way down to this: UC finishes 13-0 and each different contender loses at the least as soon as. Besides unbeaten No. 1 Georgia and, probably, No. 2 and unbeaten Oklahoma. The Bulldogs and Sooners must lose twice.

Clarify all of the permutations, win fabulous prizes.

No Soup of 5 member has made the four-team playoffs within the seven years they’ve been held. No Soup of 5 member has completed higher than eighth within the playoff rankings. Solely 4 have made the highest 12. After its 13-0 season of 2017 that included a victory over No. 7 Auburn within the Peach Bowl, Central Florida proclaimed itself nationwide champion. Good strive. The playoff committee ranked UCF twelfth.

In the meantime, 20 of the 28 playoff spots have gone to 4 groups: Alabama (six), Clemson (six), Ohio State (4) and Oklahoma (4). Somebody hand Alabama the tiara and get it over with.

The purpose isn’t that Cincinnati has a wonderful shot at a playoff spot or a nationwide title. The purpose is Cincinnati has earned the fitting to compete for these spots. “A possibility to pound the desk,” Bearcats coach Luke Fickell known as it.

Is that an excessive amount of to ask?

Properly, yeah. It kinda is. Not less than in the interim. School soccer isn’t fairly prepared for its Halfway Island.

This text initially appeared on Cincinnati Enquirer: Why Cincinnati’s historic school soccer run will not win championship



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