Each week, we’ll examine schools that could potentially join the ACC at some point if/when the conference decides that 14 isn’t good enough. While it appears that conferences (ACC, and SEC soon) are content with 14 for now, any moves by conference cornerstone programs could cause even more shifting. With that in mind, we wanted to take a look at how each potential addition stacks up.
This week’s resume: Cincinnati Bearcats
School: University of Cincinnati
Team nickname: Bearcats
Location: Cincinnati, Ohio
Current League: Big East
Year Established in FBS: 1885
2011 W-L: 7-1
Overall W-L: 559-554-51 (incl. all games)
National Titles: 0
Bowls: 12 (2 BCS)
The Good: While never consistently good at football, Cincinnati did play in the state of Ohio’s first intercollegiate football game (versus Miami (OH), a rivalry that continues today). As has been the case with most ACC expansion nominees, the school’s current Big East membership allows them to continue rivalries with Syracuse and Pittsburgh, as well as cultivate new ones with potential partner Notre Dame (perceived to be the only way Cincy would garner an invite).Of late, Cincinnati football has enjoyed the best run of success in program history, playing in seven bowls in the last 10 seasons, winning three of those. Taking home back-to-back Big East titles in 2008 and 2009, the Bearcats have also played in two BCS games, and finished the 2009 regular season undefeated.
The Bad: Though we’ll avoid harping too much on the past, before 1997, Cincinnati had only appeared in three bowl games (in over 100 years of football). Their home field, Nippert Stadium, only sits 31,500 fans and is rarely full. Not only in competition with the NFL’s Cincinnati Bengals, they also vie for fans with the University of Louisville — and seem to lose pretty resoundingly in a city that has been steadily shrinking in population over the past 30 years. Academically, the school is well outside the top 100 (number 143), another big factor in the ACC likely ignoring them. As mentioned above, the Bearcats only real shot as an expansion candidate lies in the conference possibly wanting another Midwest team to pair with Notre Dame. Also, in the two BCS games the team played in, they were thumped pretty resoundingly.
Our Vote: While it can be argued (successfully), that when looking at the past decade, Cincinnati actually brings the most football value of all the expansion candidates we’ve looked at so far, there’s also not much else going for them. Plus, as we discussed several times already, they fail to fit in geographically unless Notre Dame is brought into the fold. Academics are another problem, since the ACC has taken such a strong stance to bring only the best institutions aboard. But if the other options (outlined in the links below) are all cut off — a real possibility — we could see the Bearcats added even in spite of all the negative factors weighing against them.