|Cincinnati Bearcats football|
|Athletic director||John Cunningham|
|Head coach||Luke Fickell |
4th season, 29-13 (.690)
|Past conferences||Independent (1885-1909)|
Big East (2005-2012)
|Bowl record||10–10 (.500)|
|Conference titles||15 (BAC: 2, MAC: 4, MVC: 2, C-USA: 1, Big East: 4, AAC: 2)|
|Colors||Red and Black|
|Fight song||"Cheer Cincinnati"|
|Marching band||University of Cincinnati Bearcat Bands|
The Cincinnati Bearcats football program represents the University of Cincinnati in college football. They compete at the NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision level as members of the American Athletic Conference, and have played their home games in historic Nippert Stadium since 1924. The Bearcats have an all-time record of over .500 as of 2018, having reached their 600th program victory in 2017. The team has had a bit of a resurgence in the past few years, going 98-56 since 2006, along with 9 bowl game appearances, 5 conference titles, three BCS/NY6 Bowl berths, and 22 NFL Draft selections.
The Bearcat football program is one of the nation's oldest, having fielded a team as early as 1885. In 1888, Cincinnati played Miami in the first intercollegiate football game held within the state of Ohio. That began a rivalry which today ranks as the eighth-oldest and 11th-longest running in NCAA Division I college football.
Robert Burch served as Cincinnati's head coach from 1909-1911, compiling a record of 16-8-2. It was during his tenure that Cincinnati joined the Ohio Athletic Conference, where they would remain until 1927.
In March 1927, George Babcock was hired as a professor of athletics and physical training at the University of Cincinnati. From 1927 to 1930, he was the head football coach of the Bearcats football, compiling a 12-21-3 record.
Sid Gillman, a member of the College and National Football League hall of fame shrines, was the architect of one of the top eras of Cincinnati football history. He directed the Bearcats to three conference titles and a pair of bowl game appearances during his six seasons (1949-54) before leaving for the professional ranks. Cincinnati, with Gillman developing the passing offenses which would make him successful in the pro ranks, became known for its aerial attack in the early 1950s.
George Blackburn served as the Bearcats' head coach from 1955-1960, compiling a 25-27-6 record. It was during Blackburn's tenure, in 1957, that the Bearcats joined the Missouri Valley Conference, where they would remain until 1969.
Chuck Studley left UMass and became the Bearcats' 25th head football coach. Under Studley's tutelage, the Bearcats won two conference championships in 1963 and 1964, However, Studley's teams struggled in his other four seasons and Studley was replaced after the 1966 season.
Oklahoma assistant coach Homer Rice was hired as Studley's replacement. After accepting the head coaching position at Cincinnati, Oklahoma's coach Jim McKenzie died of a massive heart attack. Upon Jim's death, Oklahoma's athletic director and president called Homer Rice to request that he return to replace Jim as head coach at Oklahoma. He had already hired his staff at Cincinnati and turned down the Oklahoma job to stay committed to his staff at Cincinnati. Rice compiled an 8-10-1 record in his two seasons at Cincinnati.
In 1968, the Bearcats were the nation's top passing team. Quarterback Greg Cook was the NCAA's total offense leader with receiver/kicker Jim O'Brien the national scoring champ. A year later, Cook earned Rookie of the Year honors as a Cincinnati Bengal. Two years later, O'Brien kicked the game-winning field goal for the Baltimore Colts in the Super Bowl.
Ray Callahan was promoted from assistant coach to head coach after Rice's departure. After a 4-6 campaign in his first season, Callahan's Bearcats posted back to back 7-4 records in 1970 and 1971. However, a 2-9 season in 1972 ended his tenure at Cincinnati.
UC's fortunes turned around under head coach Tony Mason, who led the Bearcats for four seasons and compiled a 25-19 record. Mason's Bearcats started slow, but enjoyed an 8-3 campaign in 1976, after which Mason was offered the head coaching position at Arizona, which he accepted.
Ohio State assistant coach Ralph Staub was hired as Mason's replacement, and the Bearcats stumbled mightily. Staub's Bearcats posted records of 5-4-2, 5-6, 2-9 and 2-9 for a total of 14-28-2. Staub was fired following the 1980 season.
Staub was replaced by Mike Gottfried, who had been head coach at Murray State the previous four seasons. Gottfried was able to improve UC's fortunes, posting back-to-back 6-5 records in 1981 and 1982, however, Gottfried left UC for the head coaching position at Kansas after just two seasons. Gottfried's record at UC is 12-10.
Vanderbilt offensive coordinator Watson Brown, brother of legendary coach Mack Brown, replaced Gottfried but he too, left after only a short period of time. Brown's 1983 squad posted a 4-6-1 record. Brown resigned after the 1983 season to accept the position of head football coach at Rice.
Long Beach State head coach Dave Currey was hired as Brown's replacement, and the Bearcats' struggles returned. Currey failed to post a single winning season as UC's head coach and, after a 3-8 campaign in 1988, Currey resigned under pressure.
Maine head coach Tim Murphy was hired to replace Currey in 1989. Despite one-win seasons in both of his first two seasons, Murphy was able to slowly but surely turn things around for the Bearcats, compiling an 8-3 record in 1993.
Notre Dame defensive coordinator Rick Minter was selected as the Bearcats head coach after Murphy's departure. Minter's Bearcats enjoyed mild success, reaching four bowl games (winning one) and posting six winning seasons in Minter's ten-season tenure. It was during Minter's tenure that Cincinnati joined Conference USA, where they would remain until 2004. Minter remained UC's head coach until after the 2003 season, when he was fired following a 5-7 season. Minter left UC with a 53-63-1 record.
Ohio State defensive coordinator Mark Dantonio was named head coach at Cincinnati on December 23, 2003. Dantonio became the first head coach in 23 years to lead the school to a winning season in his first season at UC. The Bearcats' 7-5 record included a 5-3 record in Conference USA, which was good enough for a second-place finish. The Bearcats finished the season on a winning note with a 32-14 win over Marshall in the PlainsCapital Fort Worth Bowl.
During Dantonio's time at UC, he led the Bearcats to a bowl game victory and directed the team's transition into the Big East Conference in 2005, where they would remain until 2012. As head coach, Dantonio had 15 players earn all-conference honors and 25 received conference academic recognition. Dantonio's Bearcats posted a 4-7 mark in 2005 which was followed by an 8-5 campaign in 2006.
This section may be too long to read and navigate comfortably. (February 2018)
Central Michigan head coach Brian Kelly was named as the Bearcats head coach on December 3, 2006, following the departure of Mark Dantonio. In an unusual move, Cincinnati elected not to appoint an interim coach and asked Kelly to assume his duties immediately by coaching the Bearcats in their bowl game. Central Michigan was also preparing for a bowl appearance, so while Kelly was in Cincinnati preparing the Bearcats, much of his staff remained at Central Michigan to coach the Chippewas. Following Central Michigan's 31-14 win in the Motor City Bowl on December 26, most of his staff joined him in Cincinnati, where they went on to coach Cincinnati to a 27-24 victory over Western Michigan University in that year's International Bowl on January 6. Cincinnati's victory gave Kelly the unique distinction of having defeated the same team twice in a season as coach of two teams (Central Michigan had defeated Western Michigan 31-7 earlier that season).
In his first full season, Kelly led Cincinnati to a competitive position in the Big East; the Bearcats' second ever 10-win season (its first since 1949); and a Top 25 ranking. On December 5, 2007, Kelly was named Big East Coach of the Year after leading the Bearcats to a 9-3 record. Coach Kelly later led the Bearcats to a 31-21 victory in the PapaJohns.com Bowl over Southern Miss.
In 2008, Kelly led Cincinnati to its first ever outright Big East title with key wins over West Virginia and Pittsburgh. The Bearcats had never defeated either team in Big East conference play. Kelly also became the first coach to win all three of the Bearcats' traveling trophies-- the Victory Bell (Miami [OH]), the Keg of Nails (Louisville), and the River City Rivalry Trophy (Pitt). The Bearcats played in the Orange Bowl versus the ACC champion, Virginia Tech on January 1, 2009 but lost 20-7 to finish the season 11-3.
After beginning the 2009 season unranked in all polls, Kelly's Bearcats reeled off 12 straight victories and finished the regular season undefeated. Going into the bowl season, they were ranked No. 3 in the BCS Standings and faced the Florida Gators in the Sugar Bowl. Kelly did not coach the team in the 51-24 loss to Florida because he accepted the head football coaching position at Notre Dame.
Among the honors that Cincinnati football achieved in 2009 was the highest academic rating among teams in the top 10 of the BCS standings, according to the 2009 Graduation Success Rates, released Wednesday, November 18, by the NCAA. Cincinnati, which was fifth in the BCS standings, checked in with a 75 percent NCAA graduation rate and a 71 percent federal government rate, the only team in the BCS top 10 to surpass the 70 percent plateau in both.
Kelly finished his tenure at Cincinnati with a 34-6 record.
On December 16, 2009, Central Michigan head coach Butch Jones was named head coach of the Cincinnati Bearcats. The hiring was an odd coincidence, as Jones had also replaced Brian Kelly as head coach at Central Michigan.
Jones led the Bearcats to records of 4-8 in 2010 and 10-3 in 2011, including a Big East championship, a Liberty Bowl victory over Vanderbilt, and he was named Big East Coach of the Year. Also in 2011, Cincinnati was the only program to win both its conference championship as well as the league's team academic award.
Jones led the Bearcats to a 9-3 regular season record in 2012, leading them to the Belk Bowl in Charlotte to play against Duke University, a game Cincinnati won. Twenty days prior to the bowl game, on December 7, 2012, Jones announced to the team that he would be resigning to accept the job as head football coach at Tennessee, after declining offers from Colorado, Purdue, and others.
On December 8, 2012, Texas Tech head coach Tommy Tuberville, formerly head coach at Ole Miss and Auburn accepted the head coaching position at Cincinnati with a $2.2 million contract. Cincinnati's athletic director, Whit Babcock, had previously worked with Tuberville at Auburn; the two have been friends for several years. On December 9 an article in the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal pointed out that Cincinnati is only 30 miles from Guilford, Indiana, home of Tuberville's wife, Suzanne.
In 2013, his first season with Cincinnati, Tuberville led the Bearcats into the American Athletic Conference with an overall record of 9-4 and a 6-2 conference record. His 2014 team was also 9-4 overall, but this time earned an American Athletic Conference co-championship by virtue of their 7-1 league mark. Both years also saw bowl losses, in 2013 to North Carolina and 2014 to Virginia Tech. After a 7-5 season in 2015 the Bearcats were defeated by San Diego State 42-7 in the Hawai'i Bowl
On December 10, 2016 Ohio State defensive coordinator/associate head coach Luke Fickell was named UC's head coach, replacing Tuberville. Fickell had also served as Ohio State's head coach during the 2011 season after a scandal forced out previous coach Jim Tressel.
During the 2017 season the Bearcats compiled a record of 4-8. The 2018 season saw a much improved team, with the Bearcats finishing with a 11-2 (6-2 AAC) record, and winning the Military Bowl against Virginia Tech. The 11-win season was only the third such season in the history of the program. Fickell was given the AAC Coach of the Year honor for the season.
Under Fickell's direction in 2019, the Bearcats won the AAC East Division and played in the AAC Championship. The Bearcats won the Birmingham Bowl, their 2nd straight bowl win and finished the 2019 campaign with its 2nd consecutive 11 win season.
Fickell built on the success of the 2019 season, with the 2020 campaign producing his best yet result despite a season mired with COVID-19 cancellations and postponements. The Bearcats returned to the AAC Championship game, this time defeating Tulsa to end the regular season with an undefeated record. Fickell returned the Bearcats to a NY6 bowl, losing a close game to Georgia in the Peach Bowl.
Cincinnati has been both an independent and affiliated with multiple conferences.:102
Cincinnati has won 15 conference championships, nine outright and six shared.
|Season||Conference||Coach||Conf. Record||Overall Record|
|1933+||Buckeye Athletic Association||Dana M. King||3-1||7-2|
|1934||Buckeye Athletic Association||Dana M. King||2-0-1||6-2-1|
|1947||Mid-American Conference||Ray Nolting||3-1||7-3|
|1949||Mid-American Conference||Sid Gillman||4-0||7-4|
|1951||Mid-American Conference||Sid Gillman||3-0||10-1|
|1952||Mid-American Conference||Sid Gillman||3-0||8-1-1|
|1963+||Missouri Valley Conference||Chuck Studley||3-1||6-4|
|1964||Missouri Valley Conference||Chuck Studley||4-0||8-2|
|2002+||Conference USA||Rick Minter||6-2||7-7|
|2008||Big East Conference||Brian Kelly||6-1||11-3|
|2009||Big East Conference||Brian Kelly||7-0||12-1|
|2011+||Big East Conference||Butch Jones||5-2||10-3|
|2012+||Big East Conference||Butch Jones||5-2||10-3|
|2014+||American Athletic Conference||Tommy Tuberville||7-1||9-4|
|2020||American Athletic Conference||Luke Fickell||9-0||9-0|
|Season||Conference||Division||Coach||Conf. Record||Overall Record||Opponent||CG result|
|2019||American Athletic Conference||East||Luke Fickell||7-1||10-3||Memphis||L 24-29|
The Bearcats have participated in 20 postseason bowl games, with a record of 10-10. The program's first postseason games were by the 1897 Cincinnati football team, which played in two games in New Orleans in January 1898.
|1946||Ray Nolting||Sun Bowl||Virginia Tech||W 18-6|
|1949||Sid Gillman||Glass Bowl||Toledo||W 33-13|
|1950||Sid Gillman||Sun Bowl||West Texas State||L 13-14|
|1997||Rick Minter||Humanitarian Bowl||Utah State||W 35-19|
|2000||Rick Minter||Motor City Bowl||Marshall||L 14-25|
|2001||Rick Minter||Motor City Bowl||Toledo||L 16-23|
|2002||Rick Minter||New Orleans Bowl||North Texas||L 19-24|
|2004||Mark Dantonio||Fort Worth Bowl||Marshall||W 32-14|
|2006||Brian Kelly||International Bowl||Western Michigan||W 27-24|
|2007||Brian Kelly||PapaJohns.com Bowl||Southern Miss||W 31-21|
|2008||Brian Kelly||Orange Bowl||Virginia Tech||L 7-20|
|2009||Jeff Quinn (interim)||Sugar Bowl||Florida||L 24-51|
|2011||Butch Jones||Liberty Bowl||Vanderbilt||W 31-24|
|2012||Steve Stripling (interim)||Belk Bowl||Duke||W 48-34|
|2013||Tommy Tuberville||Belk Bowl||North Carolina||L 17-39|
|2014||Tommy Tuberville||Military Bowl||Virginia Tech||L 17-33|
|2015||Tommy Tuberville||Hawaii Bowl||San Diego State||L 7-42|
|2018||Luke Fickell||Military Bowl||Virginia Tech||W 35-31|
|2019||Luke Fickell||Birmingham Bowl||Boston College||W 38-6|
|2020||Luke Fickell||Peach Bowl||Georgia||L 21-24|
Cincinnati and Memphis have played a total of 36 times across a number of conferences. After the establishment of the American Athletic Conference in 2013, the series was renewed from the days of Conference USA. Most notably, in the 2019 season the two teams would face off twice in consecutive weeks, with both games being hosted by Memphis. The second game would be the 2019 American Athletic Conference Football Championship Game in which the Tigers would beat the Bearcats for the second straight week.
The Victory Bell is the trophy awarded to the winner of the American college football rivalry game played by the Cincinnati and Miami (OH). The Victory Bell is the oldest current non-conference college football rivalry in the United States (though the teams were conference rivals for a few years in the late 1940s and early 1950s).
The Bearcats and RedHawks (formerly the Redskins) square off each fall for the famed Victory Bell. The first game in the series, played on December 8, 1888 in Oxford, Ohio, was the first college football game played in the state of Ohio. The original bell hung in Miami's Harrison Hall (Old Main) near the site of the first game and was used to ring in Miami victories. The traveling trophy tradition began in the 1890s when some Cincinnati fans "borrowed" the bell. The bell went to the winner of the annual game for the next forty years until it mysteriously disappeared in the 1930s. The original bell reappeared in 1946 and is on display in the lobby of Miami's Murstein Alumni Center. The trophy is a replica of the original bell and is kept in the possession of the winning team each year. One side of the bell is painted black with white numbers showing Cincinnati's victories, while the other side is white with red numbers showing Miami's victories. Ties are indicated on the top of the red yoke in white numbers.
The Keg of Nails is the name of the rivalry between Cincinnati and Louisville. The rivalry has stretched over the span of four conferences from the Missouri Valley Conference, to the Metro Conference to Conference USA, and more recently in the Big East Conference, which in 2013 was renamed to the American Athletic Conference. It is believed to be the oldest rivalry for the Louisville football team and the second oldest for Cincinnati, only behind the annual game with the Miami RedHawks.
The trophy is a replica of a keg used to ship nails. The exchange is believed to have been initiated by fraternity chapters on the UC and U of L campuses, signifying that the winning players in the game were "tough as nails."
The present keg is actually a replacement for the original award, which was misplaced by Louisville, lost during some construction of office facilities. It is adorned with the logos of both schools and the scores of the series games.
The River City Rivalry is the name of the rivalry between Cincinnati and Pittsburgh. The rivalry itself was relatively brief, played annually from 2005, during which season the rivalry trophy was introduced. Before the rivalry was titled, the two teams played each other in 1921, 1922, 1979, and 1981. The rivalry went on hiatus, like many others throughout the country, in the aftermath of the 2010-13 NCAA conference realignment, which left the programs in separate leagues. However, the two teams are scheduled to meet in a home-and-home series for the 2023 and 2024 seasons.
The Paddlewheel Trophy is the rivalry trophy that was created in 2005 when the Bearcats joined the Big East Conference to which the Pittsburgh Panthers already belonged. The trophy is designed and named in honor the historic link between the cities from the days in the 19th and early-20th centuries when Paddle wheel-powered boats traveled between the two cities along the Ohio River.
The 2009 match-up between Cincinnati and Pittsburgh was described by one national columnist as the most "fascinating game I've ever seen." The game functioned as a Big East championship game, with Cincinnati entering first in the conference, and Pittsburgh at second. Additionally, the Bearcats entered the game undefeated and trying to earn a spot in the BCS National Championship Game, while the 9-2 Panthers were trying to secure their first BCS bowl since the 2004 season. The Panthers had an early 31-10 lead, however, the ensuing kickoff was returned for a touchdown by Mardy Gilyard to make it a 31-17 game at halftime. Cincinnati completed the comeback, tying the game at 38 late in the 4th quarter. Pittsburgh running back Dion Lewis scored a touchdown with 1:36 left in the game, but a mishandled snap by Andrew Janocko prevented the Panthers from converting the extra point. The Bearcats then drove down the field and scored on a 29-yard touchdown pass from Tony Pike to Armon Binns with 33 seconds left. Bearcats kicker Jake Rodgers converted the extra point attempt, and Cincinnati held on to win 45-44. Following the game, Cincinnati rose to a No. 3 ranking in the final BCS standing while Pitt dropped to No. 17. The game has been described as "one of the most crushing losses in the history of Pitt football."
Cincinnati and Xavier would first play in 1918, but the series would not become an annual event until 1946. The game would be played each year at Cincinnati's Nippert Stadium as the venue had a larger capacity to accommodate the cross city showdown compared to Xavier's Corcoran Stadium. The series, and Xavier's football program, would come to a close after the 1973 series. Cincinnati leads the historic series, 18-12.
|Frank Cavanaugh||Head Coach||1954||1898|||
|George Little||Head Coach||1955||1914-1915|||
|Sid Gillman||Head Coach||1989||1949-1954|||
Nippert Stadium has been home to the Bearcats football team in rudimentary form since 1901, and as a complete stadium since 1924, making it the fourth oldest playing site and fifth oldest stadium in college football. Nippert has earned a reputation as a tough place to play. One national columnist, visiting the sold-out Keg of Nails rivalry game in 2013, described Nippert Stadium as a "quaint bowl of angry noise sitting under the gaze of remarkable architecture" and went on to compare it to a "baby Death Valley" (referring to LSU's notoriously intimidating Tiger Stadium). In 2012, USA Today called Nippert Stadium the best football venue in what was then the Big East Conference. UC boasted a 14-game home winning streak at Nippert, during a stretch dating from 2008-2010. The stadium received an $86 million renovation for the 2015 season, which was completed just in time for the Bearcats home opener on September 5. The Bearcats played their 2014 home games at Paul Brown Stadium.
|Mike Boone||RB||Minnesota Vikings|
|Cortez Broughton||DT||Los Angeles Chargers|
|Marquise Copeland+||DT||Los Angeles Rams|
|Korey Cunningham||OT||New England Patriots|
|Josiah Deguara||TE||Green Bay Packers|
|Johnny Holton+||WR||New York Giants|
|Kevin Huber||P||Cincinnati Bengals|
|Jason Kelce||C||Philadelphia Eagles|
|Travis Kelce||TE||Kansas City Chiefs|
|Chris Moore||WR||Baltimore Ravens|
|Justin Murray||OT||Arizona Cardinals|
|Linden Stephens+||CB||Seattle Seahawks|
|Michael Warren II+||RB||Philadelphia Eagles|
|Eric Wilson||LB||Minnesota Vikings|
|Derek Wolfe||DE||Baltimore Ravens|
+ Indicates player is on practice squad
|Kevin Brown II||LB||Ottawa Redblacks|
|Zach Collaros||QB||Winnipeg Blue Bombers|
|Hayden Moore||QB||Hamilton Tiger-Cats|
Announced schedules as of January 12, 2021.
|Miami (OH)||at Arkansas||Eastern Kentucky||Pittsburgh||Miami (OH)||Boston College||at Miami (OH)||Boise State|
|at Pittsburgh||at Miami (OH)||Nebraska||at Ohio||at Boston College||Miami (OH)|
|at Indiana||vs Miami (OH)
|Miami (OH)||at Western Michigan||at Western Kentucky||vs Miami (OH)
|Indiana||at NC State||Western Kentucky|