CINCINNATI – Less than two weeks ago, Queen City was one of America’s best cities for college fans. If you ask us now, you will likely get a very different answer.
It wasn’t long before the number 1 Xavier Musketeers and the number 2 Cincinnati Bearcats fell apart into crushing resentments on Sunday and the Cincinnati fans could retreat to our all-too-familiar chorus: “There’s always next year.”
The #bearcats blow 22 points and lose to Nevada. Welcome to Chapter 22 of the horror story “What It Is To Be A Cincinnati Sports Fan”
– Nick Lachey (@NickLachey) March 19, 2018
Before we toss that pair of heartbreaking last-minute defeats onto the sky-high pile of surprises withdrawn from the Cincinnati teams and move on, why not wallow in the misery of what it means to be a die-hard fan here in the Tri-State a little longer?
Let this look back at eight more wacky local sports disappointments that are taking your mind off the Sunday cluster (in no particular order).
1. Super Bowl XXIII in 1988 was so dire for the Bengals that it brought not one but three disastrous disappointments to our list.
First, Stanley Wilson runs back. He had been banned twice for drug use and missed two full seasons, but head coach Sam Wyche was surprised when he missed a team meeting the night before the game. The puzzle was solved shortly afterwards when coach Jim Anderson found Wilson on the bathroom floor of his hotel room high in cocaine, ending his football career.
“When I told the team Stanley wasn’t going to play, he was back in the stuff. I remember them throwing their game books on the floor and putting their heads in their hands,” said Wyche. “They knew Stanley was more vulnerable than me. The guys in the locker room generally know more than the coach, but they didn’t expect that, even the night before (the game). “
2. The start of Super Bowl XXIII without Wilson was tough enough, but the San Francisco 49ers lifted Bengals defense anchor, nose tackle Tim Krumrie, out of service in just eight minutes.
Never before has a leg looked like limp spaghetti, as if Krumrie got caught on loose grass while running Roger Craig back. He shattered both his tibia and fibula in one of the cruellest videos in sports history.
3. And then the grand finale of Super Bowl XXIII’s terrible trifecta would be “The Drive”. Even without Krumrie and Wilson, the Bengals managed to maintain a 13-6 lead in the fourth quarter.
And bring up the Cincinnati Sprinkles.
Joe Montana and his 49ers marched 92 yards across the field to score the winning touchdown with just 34 seconds left on the clock. Cincinnati a collective muttered, “There’s always next year.”
4th Miami University was seconds from a national men’s hockey championship when a disaster struck in 2009. The team had experienced a 10-year ascent into a national powerhouse under head coach Enrico Blasi, which led to their first appearance at NCAA Frozen Four over the Easter weekend.
The RedHawks took a 3-1 lead in less than 60 seconds over Boston University favorites. Then everything fell apart. The Terriers scored two goals and put the match in an unlikely overtime. Seven excruciating minutes later, Miami defender Kevin Roeder slipped across the ice, abandoning his body to protect the goal in a plan that was supposed to backfire. The puck was deflected from him, directly into the net via goalkeeper Cody Reichard.
“We RedHawks fans tried to make ourselves happy in the days that followed,” wrote Miami fan Charlie LaPlante. “After all, this should be our year of rebuilding. Wasn’t it fantastic to have made it this far? Next year we will destroy the field! – but it was a wasted effort.”
5. The Reds make incredible fodder for a list like this one, but let’s start with Pete Rose’s ban from the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
All-time baseball leaders didn’t feel the love of Cooperstown in June 2017 when they upheld their life-long ban, but the Great American Ball Park unveiled an anti-gravity statue of the ragged legend that made it home the same weekend the Reds introduced it to slipped their own Hall of Fame, Cooperstown, be damned.
6th In 2012, the Reds had a legitimate attempt to win the National League Championship Series and, as we may say, a World Series, when a bit of frolic in punch training and a series of mistakes unraveled it.
Ace starter Johnny Cueto only passed six pitches in Game 1 against the San Francisco Giants after pulling his incline in punch training. They saved it and won the first two games, but Cueto could really have shone in Game 4 when the Giants tied the streak.
From then on it went downhill and a train followed with seasonal losses. Let’s just trace it back to the nearly three decades of Depression that stemmed from the Reds not having won a postseason game since the early 1990s.
7th Let’s get back to the Bengals, whose team from 2005 put the franchise company’s 14-year streak of seasonal losses behind them behind them. The second blow came in their wild card playoff game against the Pittsburgh Steelers – Carson Palmer’s knee.
As fans cheered the quarterback’s first pass, a 66-yard missile hit Chris Henry, former Bengal Kimo von Oelhoffen, Palmer Low and ended his season with a torn ACL.
“It sounded like a shot, man, because it was right in my ear,” von Oelhoffen told Cincy Jungle. “I knew immediately it was gone, and you don’t want that, so this can be overwhelming … It’s tough.”
The Bengals lost the game 31-17 behind backup quarterback Jon Kitna. You have to think the game could have gone the other way if Palmer hadn’t been injured.
8th. Though we’ve tried, who can forget when the Bengals came up short (again) in the 2015 Wild Card round with a 26-10 loss to the Indianapolis Colts? In fact, they posted a fourth consecutive NFL record loss during an opening round playoff game.
“It’s like missing a field goal you think should have hit it,” said kicker Mike Nugent, who set a Bengals record with a 57-yarder for one of his few bright spots.
The Associated Press showed no sympathy in their report and gave a snappy clap that it’s more like slipping and falling without getting stumbled. And as much as we wish it was false news, it just wasn’t the case.
9. Let’s land where we started. We largely forgot about the Bearcat-Musketeer rivalry in our high spirits that two Cincinnati teams were in big dance. They shared top 10 placements, direct conference titles, high seeds, and good feelings. Then came Sunday. In just four hours, both teams gave up double-digit leads and dropped Cincinnati’s high hopes.
Time to lick our wounds because the hope for next year is eternal, Cincinnati sports fans.
What disappointing Cincinnati sports moments did we miss? Let us know on our Facebook page.
Greg Noble, John Fay, and Ryan Clark contributed to this article.