Before all the bowls were announced Sunday night, there were days of speculation about what teams would be playing in what bowls. Thursday night Cincinnati knew their options were down to four bowls, Belk Bowl, Russell Athletic Bowl, Pinstripe Bowl or a BCS Bowl. Losing to Louisville took their bowl options down to two games, Belk and Pinstripe.
As a Bearcat fan, you look at the two potential bowls and right away you know which bowl game you want to go to. The Pinstripe Bowl was adamant about getting Notre Dame to play there. A Notre Dame team coached by ex-Cincinnati coach Brian Kelly. Instantly everyone wanted that game, a matchup in the Bronx against arguably the most hated man in recent UC sports next to Nancy Zimpher.
Sure, not many of the students left at UC remember Brian Kelly, some of us 5 years and seniors certainly do, he provided us with some of the best years of UC football then ripped our hearts out, spit in our faces and rolled into South Bend. A redemption game against Kelly would have closed my college career perfectly.
Unfortunately, Notre Dame has an immense amount of pull and swaying power that resulted in the Pinstripe Bowl selecting the Rutgers Scarlet Knights after Notre Dame seemingly refused to play in the Pinstripe Bowl against Cincinnati. Instead Cincinnati is headed back to the Belk Bowl for the second straight year.
The Pinstripe Bowl is considered a lower bowl than the Belk Bowl but surely Cincinnati fans would have traveled just as well to New York. A game against Notre Dame would attract better than North Carolina even though Cincinnati notoriously travels very well to bowl games.
It is understandable why Brian Kelly would not want to play his old school. Sure none of the kids on the roster played for him but they remember who he is and how he left. After being embarrassed in the BCS National Championship last season by Alabama, an embarrassing loss to “little” Cincinnati may hurt Kelly’s and Notre Dame’s ego even more.
Notre Dame is (8-4) this season, while Cincinnati is (9-3) both teams had higher expectations than the Pinstripe Bowl, but if you want a story line and a talked about game you would have allowed the Pinstripe Bowl to select Cincinnati.
End of the day Brian Kelly is scared of Cincinnati, he is scared to lose to Cincinnati. Cincinnati may not get respect from the media but they apparently have the respect of Brian Kelly and Notre Dame.
UPDATE: Yes we know the Belk Bowl gets to offer before the Pinstripe Bowl. Yes we know UC accepted the Belk invite before the Pinstripe offered anyone. Yes we know the Belk Bowl goes to AAC #3. Did Notre Dame say anything official regarding Cincinnati? No. The article is based off of people surrounding the program and the overall feeling coming from the Notre Dame program.