In this episode of "What Might Scott Add To The Pre-Bowl Hype", I've been asked to describe the Top 10 plays of the decade.
Again, I draw from first-hand experience having seen in person nearly every UC game since 1994. During my UC radio tenure (1994-2007) I was at 166 straight games and since then I've caught most. While I've seen some thrilling plays from way back (Brad Jackson forcing a Nod Washington fumble at the goal line as UC beat Miami in triple OT; Jackson again tormenting Virginia Tech on their own field; the early Humanitarian Bowl offense; Tinker Keck punt returns; Bobby Fuller knocking the ball out of Ron Dayne's hands in UC's 17-12 upset of #9 Wisconsin; UC having Ohio State on the ropes 17-3 in Columbus) those all came in the 90s.
So, since 2000, here's the best I've got for you and you can pretend you hear the tympani in the background with David Letterman reading the list....
TOP 10 PLAYS OF THE DECADE
10 2002- Tyjuan Hagler's sack of Timmy Chang in Hawaii which was ruled roughing the passer and then shown numerous times on the Jumbotron inciting the Warrior fans in a game that ended with bottles and drinks being thrown on the field at the Bearcats as they left. Hawaii hung onto win 20-19. UC AD Bob Goin vowed never to return. Under Mike Thomas, the Bearcats returned six years later.
9 2001-Gino Guidugli to Jon Olinger on UC's final drive as they pull out a 36-34 win to become bowl eligible at Memphis. The Bearcats had an improbable 4th and 20-something completion to Olinger deep in their own territory. Guidugli and "Jonny O" kept hooking up until they got in the endzone. There was a basketball game coinciding with the football game we were doing and I'm told the arena erupted in Cincinnati when Olinger hauled in the pass for the go-ahead score in the final seconds.
8 2000-Jason Mammarelli's 45-yard field goal as time expires to beat Syracuse 12-10 in what was then called "an upset". "Mammo" was a kickoff specialist who could nail 70-yard field goals before games. This was his first ever Bearcat field goal and I still can hear Dan Hoard calling it in my headphones, "Shneyderov to snap, Coppola is the holder...." the rest is a blur as Nippert went nuts!
7 2002- George Murray dropping a sure TD pass (actually two) from Gino Guidugli at Paul Brown Stadium in what would have been a defeat of Ohio State that could've kept the Buckeyes from the national championship game. Sure, the play wasn't made, but those final moments are as memorable to long-time Bearcat fans as any. OSU mysteriously hasn't been back to town since.
6 2007-Ryan Manalac's INT at Rutgers to seal a hard fought game against the 21st-ranked Knights. This was the pick that inspired radio color analyst Jim Kelly's historic Meg Ryan imitation, "Yes, yes,yes!"
5 2009-Mardy Gilyard's kickoff return at Pitt that brought the Bearcats back to life after being down 21 points. Mardy decided he wasn't ready to lose and that kick-started UC to victory in this "Instant Classic".
4 2001-Gino Guidugli to Tye Keith for the winning TD against Army in his college debut. 31-41 for 311 yards isn't too bad in your college debut. Again, I can hear Dan Hoard, "Gino Guidugli is a miracle worker!" Adam Hoover left the game injured and the 18-year-old freshman came in and racked those numbers up in a little over three quarters. For trivia buffs, he RAN the ball on his first-ever snap.
3 2008-Tony Pike to Kazzeem Alli in OT to win at West Virginia after amazingly allowing the Mountaineers 13 points in the final 1:11 to tie the game. One of my sons was at the game in the stands and had walked out when UC appeared to have the game in hand at 20-7. Next thing you know, fans are sprinting from the parking lots back into Milan Puskar Stadium. WVU actually took the 23-20 lead in OT, so they scored 16 unanswered points before Pike found Alli all alone in the right corner of the endzone.
3 2006-Nick Davila's TD pass to Brent Celek which resulted in Celek rambling 83 yards and over most of Rutgers in UC's big upset of the then #7 Scarlet Knights. This is the game that got UC football into the national spotlight. DeAngelo Smith also had an 84-yard INT return that night, but it was Celek's bulldozing run after the catch that stands out in this landmark Bearcat win.
1 2009-Tony Pike's touchdown pass to Armon Binns at Pitt to tie the game at 44 after UC had trailed 31-10 in the second quarter. Pike looked so bad in the first half that I really thought Brian Kelly should pull him in favor of Zach Collaros. However, Kelly makes a gazillion more dollars than me for a reason and Pike was able to deliver this key strike to Binns and excite Bearcat fans nationwide.