Cincinnati Bearcats, 10/24/2014, 7pm
Final Score: Bearcats 31 – Bulls 17
Attendance: 30,024 (Paul Brown Stadium)
Weather: Clear and Cool, 60’s;
Ticket Price: $22 Scalper – Face $39; Parking $10
“Wait, this isn’t Nippert” by Tree
The Cincinnati Bearcats play at Nippert Stadium on campus. Unfortunately, Nippert was undergoing a renovation so the Bearcats were playing at the home of the Bengals, Paul Brown Stadium. I did get to talk to several sets of fans tailgating before the game, all of whom consistently raved about Nippert. Apparently the stadium is sunk into the ground in a design similar to that of Michigan. Per the fans, there is not a bad seat in the house. Additionally, they sell beer at the stadium and there’s a bar right next to the stadium. In fact, if they built a new stadium, the university would have lost the right to sell alcohol or so I was told. Hence, the renovation rather than a new build. Because Nippert is on campus, which is in the middle of Cincinnati proper, there is no centralized tailgating on campus. Some traditions include having paratrooper deliver the game ball and the band entering the stadium from the top of the stands. Based on the enthusiasm and the genuine friendliness of the fans, I plan on making a return visit just to get the full Nippert experience.
Despite not being at the normal site, my experience at Paul Brown Stadium was enjoyable. Most of the Bengal signage was covered up with Bearcat paraphernalia, except for a garish “Bengals” end zone. There was some good tailgating right outside the stadium and I had a good time with the Cincinnati fans. I was told that I should be able to get a ticket dirt cheap, $5 or less. I walked around the entrance of the stadium in hopes of finding a fan looking to drop a ticket rather than a professional scalper. Unable to find any fans, I went to up to one of the scalpers. He was an older gentleman, too old to be trying to scalp tickets for a game with mediocre demand. He said he had tickets on the 50 yard line that were $40 dollar face value. I offered $20 and he countered with $25. I passed and immediately another scalper started to make me an offer for a cheap ticket. Gramps came right back to me and said “$22 – c’mon you’re just buying me a copy of coffee.” That was a great pitch and I caved. I considered it a social bonus that was well deserved. While the seats weren’t exactly 50 yard line, they were close and very good. I was quite happy with the purchase. The concessions at Paul Brown were of the standard variety. At least I was able to pick up a $5.50 Cincinnati souvenir cup for my collection. I could have upgraded to a Bengals cup with free refills for $2 more, but I am not sure I could drink anything from a Bungles cup.
Considering the site of the game, I thought the number of fans was pretty good. The student body was visible but not particularly vocal. I did notice one consistent cheer which started with “Oh Oh” and finished with a “UC” along with some waving of the hand in there as well. The Bearcat band was very good and I enjoyed their half time performance.
I had heard good things about the city of Cincinnati so I was looking forward to the visit. It was easy to get to the stadium from the interstate. It was a pleasant surprise after the long drive from Blacksburg. Cincinnati has done a nice job putting their major arenas and stadiums downtown on the Ohio River. Parking was plentiful and I was looking to tailgate. Unfortunately the signage for the lot next to the stadium was a little weak. It said parking passes only which I did not have. I also heard a police officer tell the guy in front of me the same thing. So much to my frustration, I couldn’t park in the tailgate lot. I drove a further bit down the road, finding a lot for $10 cheaper a few blocks down. Much to my chagrin, I saw on my walk to the stadium that the main lot was indeed taking cash. I should have been tailgating. The city was nice and views of the Ohio river were very picturesque. After the game, I spent the night at my niece’s house and she reinforced how nice the city is. She also noted that traffic is generally not that bad, even in rush hour.
The Cincinnati program is one of the oldest in the country. The program, with the exception of some bad years in the late ‘80’s, has been pretty solid. And in recent years some teams have been to BCS bowls. However, 2014 was a down year for the Bearcats, but not as bad as the South Florida Bulls who came limping in with a losing record.
The Bulls got the ball first and on their second play, threw an interception. The Bearcats responded by driving the length of field and scoring a touchdown. It was pretty much the story for the entire game. Cincinnati’s offense dominated by the air in the first half and when their starting QB got hurt at the start of the second, they dominated by the run. South Florida was really never in the game.
At the end of half time, a UC fraternity, Sigma Sigma, was “tapping” new inductees. I believe it was a society for individuals who had positively contributed to the University and was supposed to be an honor. Unfortunately, someone had not clued in the individuals being tapped because the majority of them were either not there or did not want to be recognized by the prestigious(?) society. It was comical to see name after name called without the individual coming out of the student section. It reminded me of the old Groucho Marx line: “I don’t want to belong to any club that would have me as a member.”
I was told repeatedly that high school football is as big as college football in the Cincinnati area. Accordingly, attendance to a Friday night Bearcat game may be a bit under attended. However, based on the enthusiasm of the fans and alumni I talked with, a game at Nippert is an exciting one. The climate of the area is generally mild enough to comfortably enjoy games outside through October. I could completely see the value of doing a long weekend in Cincinnati – grabbing a high school game on Friday night and then the Bearcats on Saturday. It may not be a must see, but it certainly demands some serious consideration for any real college football fan.