Dan Hoard is awesome. I know it, you know it, America knows it. An example of his awesomeness is that he let me interview him not once, not twice, but three times. On top of being incredibly nice, he was incredibly busy. He called UC football. He called UC basketball. He called the Bengals. He did it all, and did it all very well. There is a reason that he's a pro's pro. I've met him a couple of times when I went to UC. He was as nice in person as he is on twitter and email. As you can tell, I could say nice things about him all day long, but let's get to his words. Thanks, Dan. Be sure to read his words in his column on Go Bearcats and on twitter.
You are going to notice the football questions are typical Bearcat Blog high quality. The basketball questions were asked the week of the Crosstown Shootout, so they are a bit (very much) dated. Some of the same principals apply though. Mr Hoard answered them like a champ anyway, because he's awesome. Questions in bold.
How much fun was it to call Cincinnati football this season?
Every season is fun because it's a great job and I love the guys that I work with, but I can honestly say that this was one of the most enjoyable. This year's team was picked to finish fifth in the Big East and wound up with 10 wins, a share of the conference title, and a Liberty Bowl victory. Plus, victories in their traveling trophy games with Miami, Louisville, and Pitt. Pretty incredible when you think about it.
Would you say this is the most talented senior class, NFL prospect wise or in general, that UC has maybe ever had?
It's certainly up there. In terms up the draft, it will be hard to match the six players taken in 2009 including two that will be in the NFL for a long time in Connor Barwin and Kevin Huber. But this year's group was certainly special, and the trio of Zach Collaros, JK Schaffer, and Isaiah Pead have been tremendous ambassadors for the program.
What were a couple of your favorite moments of the season?
The last minute TD drive to beat USF and Ralph David Abernathy IV's kick return TD in the Liberty Bowl share the top spot. Close behind would be the wins over Syracuse and Pitt since they are leaving the Big East. I'm still ticked-off at my Alma mater.
Now that everything with Butch Jones seems locked down, what type of season do you expect in 2012?
I think the team will be among the best in the Big East. There's obviously a question mark at quarterback, although I liked what I saw from the Legaux/Luallen combo at the end of the year, but there is a ton of young talent on both sides of the ball and an excellent coaching staff. If West Virginia is still in the league it will be the obvious favorite next year, but if WVU is able to break its contract with the league and leave early, all bets are off.
How much are you looking forward to calling December Big East games in San Diego in a couple of years?
Quite honestly, not as much as I'm looking forward to going to Boise, Idaho. I really enjoyed my previous trips there for the Humanitarian Bowl and UC basketball, and I think it was a tremendous coup for the Big East to add Boise State to the league. I'm not sure that the coaching staff shares my excitement in facing the Broncos on their blue turf.
On the basketball front, this has been a very disappointing start considering most thought UC would be 7-0 going into the Shootout. Without saying scoring droughts because that's the next question, What do you think is the biggest glaring difference between this season and last?
Having an experienced bench. Last year, there wasn't much of a drop-off when Mick brought in subs because they were seniors who were tough and knew what they were doing. This year's group is probably more talented individually, but it takes time to understand the offense and defense. It's a million times more complicated than playing high school ball and it takes time to learn.
Obviously the offense has been a giant issue. UC has had long droughts this season, 5 of 6 minutes and numerous more of 3-4 minutes. Two part question. What is causing this ineptness? What can be done to fix it?
In the interest of full disclosure, you sent me these questions before the Crosstown Shootout so I have the good fortune of knowing what can be done to fix it. The Bearcats have been much more effective offensively since being forced to go to a 4-guard offense. They are getting better shots and wasting less time on the 35-second clock. They key now is to probe the defense with dribble penetration and not just take the first available 3-pointer. I have no problem shooting a high number of threes as long as they are open because this team has guys that can make them, but it's important to force the defense into bad positions by attacking with the dribble.
The one guy on the team who has raised his offensive game another level is Sean Kilpatrick What growth have you seen from him this season?
I think his biggest area of growth has been on defense. He was terrific on offense last year but frequently looked lost on defense. He's much better on that end of the court this year. I think he'll be a first-team All Big East player before his career is finished.
The bench has given 2 good performances this season in the Mbodj 12 point Miami game and when Guyn scored 10 that one time, do you think anyone, including Justin Jackson, can be reliable?
Every guy on the bench has had his moments, including the three guys you mentioned, plus Jeremiah Davis III, Jermaine Sanders, and Kelvin Gaines. I think this is one of those years where Mick is going to have to mix-and-match and go with the hot hand. Fortunately, he has a bunch of options and they're getting better and better with experience.
How crazy has it been calling UC games and Bengals games this season? Are there times when you play Angry Birds on your iPad to get your mind off announcing?
The travel was challenging a few times, but it was an absolute blast and I can't adequately express my gratitude to the Bengals and UC for allowing me to do both (not to mention my wife Peg). It certainly beats working for a living and I am already looking forward to next September. And while I do have Angry Birds on my iPad, I have never played it. Five-year-old Sam Hoard, on the other hand, appears to be an Angry Birds savant.
Real quick, just how awesome is AJ Green?
He's the real deal. A tremendous player with none of the diva wide receiver baggage. I'll admit that I thought it was a mistake to take a receiver with the fourth pick in the draft, but I'm happy to have been so wrong. A.J. was a sensational pick who is only going to keep getting better.
To close, is there a good untold Chuck Machock story you can share?
Just one? I'm not sure if this qualifies as "untold" but I'll go with it anyway. A few years ago, UC was playing Dayton when Oliver Purnell was the Flyers' head coach and Chuck pointed out on the broadcast that he reminded him of a famous actor. When I asked him what actor he was referring to, Chuck said, "I can't remember his name, but he was in that movie where the guy drives an old broad to the grocery store. I think it was called, 'Going For A Ride With Miss Mockingbird.'" So if you hear references to Morgan Freeman and Driving Miss Daisy when UC plays DePaul this year, you'll know why.
Like I said before the interview, awesome. Dan Hoard is a very nice man. He's got an incredibly hectic schedule, and yet he took the time to sit down and answer a bunch of questions from some guy that has a UC blog. He could have just ignored me, but he went above and beyond. He's an example of someone you respect and are fond of their work who turn out to be even better. When someone asks me about Dan Hoard, the first thing I'll say is that he's great and the second is he's very nice. Be sure to read his stuff over at Go Bearcats and follow him on twitter. A thousand thanks to Mr Dan Hoard.