The invite of a lifetime. That's what it felt like when UC received an offer to join the Big East in November. The move, scheduled for the 2005-06 season, begs many questions, and "Cincinnati Horizons" sat down with athletics director Bob Goin to discuss what may well become his legacy.
1. A good deal of behind-the-scenes maneuvering occurred to get this done. How close did UC come to getting left out of the Big East?
What scared me was that when this thing (the Big-East expansion) first broke, the University of Cincinnati wasn't on their radar screen. My job was to have the Big East do due diligence on this university.
And they did that. They took a look at our research, at our academics and at our comprehensive program. They saw that we are complying with Title IX. They saw that we are making a commitment to new facilities, and all of a sudden, we became more and more logical. There was no question that I had some indigestion when this thing first started. I sure didn't want us to be left out.
2. UC fans have gotten used to the idea that the men's basketball program is a near shoo-in as C-USA champions. With this move to the Big East, a conference title is no longer a lock for UC. Are Bearcat fans ready for that?
They better get ready for arguably the best basketball conference in college -- game in and game out. There are going to be very few years where teams run the table, I'll tell you that. When you've got to go to Syracuse, Connecticut, West Virginia, Pitt, Georgetown, Villanova, Providence, Marquette and Louisville -- whoa, you better buckle up every night. In this league, it will not be a disgrace to finish second or third or fourth on occasion because you are still going to go to the NCAA Tournament.
3. Coach Huggins has said this move won't have an enormous impact on UC basketball because the program is already of national prominence. Do you agree?
For Bobby and our basketball program, I think it will widen our recruiting base. You are playing Big East basketball, and once the media starts telling everybody about the best basketball league in the country, that is going to get even more attention.
4. UC football obviously stands to gain the most from this jump, but is it also facing the biggest challenge?
Football is going to certainly show improvement, and we are going to be playing for some major bowls. When you recruit to the Big East, you are singing a different song when you go into a home. We are going to be playing in a major Bowl Championship Series league. That has a big impact.
So for young men and women in our Greater Cincinnati area, there would be hardly a reason for them to leave. You have Ohio State in the Big Ten, and now you have Cincinnati in the Big East. I think we can go up a level and get some of the best men and women athletes in our Greater Cincinnati area. You start getting some of those, and I'll take our chances to compete against anybody.