On Saturday the Cincinnati Enquirer published an article laced with quotes from UC head coach Mick Cronin. The headline was appropriate, “Mick Cronin needs UC, fans to step it up”, and it also made sense considering quite frankly the Enquirer preys on a storyline like that. Additionally it was released on Saturday, just hours before the Bearcats’ first home game in a week and a half. So on the surface you could make the argument that it was used to drive fan interest and implore them to show up at Fifth Third Arena when UC hosted Rutgers Saturday night.
But that wasn’t the most intriguing portion of the story. No, snippets like this:
There are issues the public doesn’t notice, he says, seemingly small items that are crucial to a program’s rise and fall. Private jet use, for instance. Coaches he competes against for players routinely use private planes. It allows them to leave practice, attend a recruit’s high school game, and be home in time for the 11 o’clock news.
And this caught my attention:
His biggest worry is the gym. Cronin has pushed hard for a renovation of US Bank Arena, to become UC’s home floor. “We need an arena,’’ he says. “I gotta get (fans) off the couch. We’re already winning, so that piece is in place. We need the facilities.’’
For the first time since the great US Bank v. Fifth Third Arena debate began, Mick Cronin is vehemently putting his support in one camp over the other. Surprisingly, despite a long history of coaching at The Shoe that dates back to the 1990’s, the UC head coach appears firmly in favor of moving the program downtown. Perhaps he understands that integrating with the city of Cincinnati is easier with Bearcats basketball playing in US Bank Arena. Or maybe he knows that renovating that arena is a more fiscally responsible option for UC than Fifth Third.
Regardless of the reason, the fact that Mick has firmly backed one venue over the other, and that venue isn’t his current home court, is very, very interesting.
Additionally, it seems his frustrations over the lack of support from his school have hit the public forum. Who knows how long those frustrations have been brewing internally at the University of Cincinnati but given that he vocalized it now makes me think they have been festering for a while.
Daugherty in the article mentions the “the urgency to keep up with the football Joneses has left basketball behind“. He couldn’t be more right. With UC football getting essentially a brand new $80 million football stadium, all the basketball team has received in the last year are a few banners and sound-proof panels in the practice gym.
If you were Mick Cronin, wouldn’t you be a little be sour, too? Especially considering his loyalty to UC is second to none?
So yes I understand his perspective. He wants to be shown some love in the same manner as Tuberville and the football program. I get that and after what’s he’s done for Bearcats basketball he more than deserves a renovated arena, a larger budget, and a private plane like other top tier programs in the Tri-State area.
But those additions are coming. Believe you me, Whit Babcock’s task list in 2014 is chalk full of basketball-related items. Whether those plans are implemented this year or sometime in the next several years is unknown. I’m sure Mick would be fine waiting for full fledged renovations of Fifth Third or US Bank Arena if he got a private plane or a few hundred thousand dollars in his budget in 2014.
At the same time, though, Whit needs to put a plan together to either provide Mick with a brand new arena either on-campus or downtown. That will keep the UC head coach happy as he watches the new Nippert Stadium press box rise across from the Lindner Center. And in all likelihood revenues from those renovations will help fund any construction done to UC’s basketball arena. How much of the costs they would cover and how long construction would last is a huge unknown. Regardless of all of that, Mick Cronin deserves to be shown a clear cut plan from his boss on how he intends to address UC basketball’s growing arena problem. Otherwise he might not be such a good “team player” for much longer.