With Luke Fickell staying at Cincinnati, Bearcats would be wise to make his stay more comfortable

first_imgHe is betting on his own ability, on the advantages inherent at Cincinnati and what he has done — both to revive and enhance it — by passing on greater immediate wealth.MORE: Five best coaching candidates to replace Mark DantonioNow it is time for the university to do something bold, as well: to offer Fickell the kind of security that might delay his departure until only the best promotion becomes available to him. The Bearcats are never going to be able to afford Power 5 money unless they somehow end up in a Power 5 conference. They can, though, afford to pay Cincinnati money for a longer period of time — a decade, say — and give the current Bearcats football coach the security of knowing he’ll at least be the future Bearcats football coach.That is one of the only fears of a coach in this situation: What if I turn down this money and I get a bad break or a bad boss and they fire me here? At least if I go there and get canned I’ll have made all that money.That’s why there are so few Mark Fews.Cincinnati has a new athletic director, John Cunningham, who would be wise not to make the same decisions as his predecessor. Fickell took over a program that had consistently ranked with the best in its league, even as it morphed from Conference USA to the Big East to the American, until Tommy Tuberville came to town and burned it all to the ground.No, sorry. That’s not the best metaphor to use; burning it down would have required some effort.Mark Dantonio built the foundation nearly 20 years ago with his recruiting. Then Brian Kelly made Cincinnatians care about the Bearcats through the force of his personality and the team’s success. It peaked a decade ago with a perfect regular season and Big East title.Fickell restored that degree of success in just three seasons, with an appearance in the 2019 AAC championship game and Birmingham Bowl victory over Boston College. Most of the starters from that squad remain. That’s one reason Fickell does, too. He knows if this goes right, there will be more opportunities next winter.Michigan State has been a fine football program, even playing in the 2015 College Football Playoff. Only a Spartan would deny, though, it is the fourth-best job in its own division. Life in the Big Ten East means not only trying to catch the Ohio State steam train — but having to rush past Penn State and Michigan to get there.MORE: 2019 college football coach carousel No one knows what college football head coaching jobs might open following the 2020 season. There might be several more advantaged than MSU. Or not. That’s another gamble Fickell is taking.Cincinnati, though, should remain for him a sure thing. That’s where the longterm extension becomes a factor — not to guarantee he will remain a Bearcat for a decade, but to assure him that option remains.Fickell should move on from Cincinnati when he wants to, not when he needs to. Establishing the difference may be up to the Cincinnati administration. Luke Fickell has earned the luxury of patience. He rebuilt Cincinnati football into something extraordinary, and so he can wait comfortably until an extraordinary opportunity is presented to him.This does not mean it is an easy game to play. When Fickell said no at some point over the weekend to the nice people at Michigan State offering to make him even wealthier than he already is, he took a path many coaches with comparable talent and achievement were not bold enough to make.last_img read more


first_img5 Money Won LEWIS AND CLUBHOUSE RIDE IN SYNC TOMORROW 0 42% $77,391 Richard Baltas37 2 Mike Smith19 JockeyMts 4 ITM% 3 Win% ITM% $259,379 6 Michael McCarthy12 9 33% 1st 43% 14% 45% 11 31% 1 3 6 STREAKING FASHIONABLY FAST EYES 5TH STRAIGHT Drayden Van Dyke36 10 $106,431 1    33% 3 43% 44% Joel Rosario61 13 $79,215 1 22% 15 58% 5 1 3 $561,249 41% $284,877 4 LATEST CONTENT FROM XBTV:FEATURES:XBTV Friday: What to Watch for at Santa Anita Park on January 17th, 2020A Candid Conversation With Hall of Fame Trainer Richard Mandella: Part 2 of 2 42% Bob Baffert26 Mario Gutierrez27 17% $730,740 SANTA ANITA STATISTICS BAY AREA’S STEVE SPECHT READY, WILLING, ‘ABEL’ 55% $497,242 18% 2nd CALIFORNIA’S LEADING PROPONENT: ALEXANDER THE GREATA day of racing which showcases California-breds without a Nick Alexander owned or bred horse would be rare indeed these days, like an NFL game without a single review.Not to worry Saturday when the 77-year-old native of Santa Monica has three horses he owns and bred entered on Santa Anita’s nine-race program featuring runners from the Golden State: Desmond Doss in the $250,000 Unusual Heat Turf Classic presented by City National Bank; Just Grazed Me in the $150,000 Sunshine Millions Filly & Mare Turf Sprint; and Lieutenant Dan in the $150,000 Donald Valpredo California Cup Sprint.They are three of five stakes tomorrow focusing on California-bred runners, the others being the $200,000 California Cup Derby and the $150,000 Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Turf Sprint.Desmond Doss, Just Grazed Me and Lieutenant Dan were all sired by Alexander’s prolific homebred gray stud Grazen, who stands at Nick’s Horse Haven Farm in Santa Ynez for $6,000 live foal.“Grazen is 14 now,” said Alexander, Chairman of the Thoroughbred Owners of California (TOC). “He set a personal record year last year when his offspring won nine stakes, including two graded stakes. S Y Sky won the Monrovia and Just Grazed Me won the Ken Maddy, both Grade III’s.“Desmond won a turf sprint at 5 ½ furlongs last out on Jan. 5. He ran there because that’s all there was. We know he’s a two-turn horse so we didn’t expect him to win; we just expected him to pass a few horses and get something out of it. He surprised us and mowed ’em down (getting up by a head at odds of nearly 8-1).” The gray four-year-old’s prior three races were at a mile or longer.Desmond Doss is named for the United States Army corporal who served as a combat medic with an infantry company in World War II, distinguishing himself in the Battle of Okinawa by saving 75 men, becoming the only conscientious objector to receive the Medal of Honor for his actions during the war. His remarkably heroic life has been the subject of books and the gripping 2016 film, Hacksaw Ridge.Saturday is more than just a day at the races for Alexander, who resides on his 280-acre Santa Ynez ranch where he is an active and enthusiastic hands-on participant, from the birth of foals to their racing days, preferring to thrive on the highs and shun the lows.“I was very, very lucky that my children were able to take over my (automobile) business and allow me to retire relatively early so I could spend full time at the ranch,” said Alexander, who graduated from Pasadena High School and spent two years at USC before he began hawking four-wheeled vehicles and later four-legged Thoroughbreds.“The ranch life is what I enjoy most, staying up all night waiting for a mare to foal, seeing that little guy stand up and nurse. You’re there for those moments, then you see them get weaned, you break them, send them off to the race track and hope they do well.“You’re never sure which ones are going to succeed and which ones aren’t. Horses are incredible animals. They teach you patience and humility and they’re so much fun to be around. They’re family. We raise our own feed, so I’ve become a pretty decent farmer besides being a horse lover. We raise alfalfa and oats . . . I enjoy that part of it, too.“The amazing thing is sometimes it’s the more modest mares that produce your most successful race horses. Of the ones we have entered Saturday, Lieutenant Dan is out of mare (Excusabull) I think I paid $10,000 for. Just Grazed Me is out of a mare (Fairway Road) that was given to me by some people who raced but didn’t breed.“When the mare was done racing, they didn’t want to put her in a sale; they just gave her to me and she produced Just Grazed Me, who’s a graded stakes winner.“You never know. Sometimes the expensive mares or the mares that are great on the race track aren’t as good as broodmares, so there’s a lot of unexpected good news and unexpected bad news.”But for Nick Alexander, the glass always seems half full.The Unusual Heat Turf Classic, race six of nine with a 12:30 p.m. first post time: Ward ‘n Jerry, Umberto Rispoli, 5-2; Cono, Mario Gutierrez, 15-1; Accountability, Rafael Bejarano, 15-1; The Hunted, Tiago Pereira, 9-5; Wound Tight, Abel Cedillo, 5-1; Desmond Doss, Drayden Van Dyke, 5-1; Mobou, Victor Espinoza, 20-1; and Ashleyluvssugar, Flavien Prat, 7-2.The Filly & Mare Turf Sprint, race three: Just Grazed Me, Geovanni Franco, 6-5; Into Rissa, Tiago Pereira, 50-1; Stealthediamonds, Agapito Delgadillo, 5-2; Show It N Moe It, Rafael Bejarano, 9-2; Apache Princess, Flavien Prat, 3-1; Lakerball, Abel Cedillo, 12-1; and Lippy, Mario Gutierrez, 20-1.The Cal Cup Sprint, race five: Baja Sur, Juan Hernandez, 5-2; Fashionably Fast, Tiago Pereira, 9-5; Oliver, Abel Cedillo, 4-1; Heck Yeah, Flavien Prat, 6-1; Brandothebartender, Umberto Rispoli, 15-1; Lieutenant Dan, Drayden Van Dyke, 7-2; and League of Shadows, Ruben Fuentes, 30-1.LEWIS HOPES KARMA IS KING ON SATURDAYTrainer Craig Lewis might have karma going for him Saturday when he sends out Club Aspen in the $200,000 California Cup Derby and Warren’s Showtime in the $200,000 California Cup Oaks.Both runners drew post position five and both runners will be ridden by apprentice Jorge Velez, a budding star from the Island Nation of Puerto Rico that has produced a plethora of riding greats from Angel Cordero Jr. to the Ortiz brothers, Irad Jr. and Jose.Both horses have the same sire, the “now” stallion Clubhouse Ride, standing this year for $3,500 live foal at Legacy Ranch in Clements, CA.“I don’t have any current update on his figures,” Lewis said of Clubhouse Ride, a 12-year-old son of Candy Ride who won five of 43 starts including two victories in the Grade II Californian Stakes, one at Hollywood Park and one at Santa Anita. He earned $1,341,132.“I can just tell you this,” Lewis continued. “His stats are shockingly good. He’s really hot. I thought he’d be good but he’s exceeded expectations by far. It’s pretty exciting.”No jockey but Velez has ridden Club Aspen and Warren’s Showtime in their combined 12 career starts. The 21-year-old native of Bayaman, Puerto Rico, won the King Glorious on Club Aspen at Los Alamitos and the Surfer Girl on Warren’s Showtime at Santa Anita.“Jorge is very familiar with both horses,” said 72-year-old Los Angeles native Lewis,conditioner of Warren’s Showtime for breeder Benjamin Warren, who owns the chestnut filly with his wife, Sally.Lewis trains Club Aspen for his older brother, Larry, for whom the 1995 Santa Anita Derby winner Larry the Legend was named.“My brother Larry is Larry the Legend,” Craig emphasized. “He managed the Long Beach Little League team that became the first one from the United States to win the international World Series two years in a row back in the early 1990’s. It had never been done before and hasn’t been done since.“Both horses are coming up to their races well,” added Lewis, currently supervising 20 head. “The only caveat with Showtime is I had to miss a little time with her and she might be a tad short, but as far as soundness and mental condition, she’s a very nice filly.“We hope everything goes our way,” continued the worldly Lewis, who holds a bachelor’s degree from Cal-Berkeley and studied law at Pacific Coast College, “but in horse racing, a little luck always helps.”The Cal Cup Derby, race seven: Bettor Trip Nick, Catalino Martinez, 5-2; Dapper, Geovanni Franco, 20-1; Sacred Rider, Abel Cedillo, 12-1; Summer Fire, Mike Smith, 6-1; Club Aspen, Jorge Velez, 3-1; Rookie Mistake, Mario Gutierrez, 8-1; Indian Peak, Juan Hernandez, 10-1; Fast Enough, Tiago Pereira, 6-1; and Big Returns, Ruben Fuentes, 5-1.The Cal Cup Oaks, race eight: Almost a Factor, Flavien Prat, 6-1; Wise Rachel, Juan Hernandez, 10-1; Bulletproof One, Ruben Fuentes, 8-1; Been Studying Her, Mike Smith, 4-1; Warren’s Showtime, Jorge Velez, 3-1; Smokin Hot Bobbie, Rafael Bejarano, 20-1; Midnight Sunrise, Geovanni Franco, 20-1; Homehome, Mario Gutierrez, 15-1; Smiling Shirlee, Umberto Rispoli, 10-1; Cholula Lips, Tyler Baze, 6-1; California Kook, Drayden Van Dyke, 10-1; and Warrior’s Moon, Abel Cedillo, 6-1.SPECHT, CEDILLO REUNITE IN CALIFORNIA DERBYWith Santa Anita putting up big bucks for Cal-breds tomorrow, Steve Specht is making his annual pilgrimage from his Bay Area headquarters in a bid to pick up a shekel or two.Specht sends out Sacred Rider in the California Cup Derby with former Bay Area stalwart Abel Cedillo in the irons.“The horse is starting to figure things out,” Specht said of the Lucky Pulpit gelding owned and bred by long-time clients and supporters of the Cal-bred program, Mr. and Mrs. Larry Williams. “He’s becoming more mature and has run pretty well his last few starts.“Last time (third behind Indian Peak at Golden Gate Fields on Dec. 27) he just got outrun by that horse trained by Quinn Howey pretty handily down the lane. I beat him a couple times before but Howey’s horse had trouble in those races. He got out in the clear the other day and rolled by me pretty good.“My horse has run on dirt and the other horse hasn’t, so that could give us an advantage, although Howey’s horse might love dirt more than the turf or synthetic, so who knows? Sacred Rider tries hard and has kind of figured things out lately, so if he can get a decent trip, we should be OK.”Specht and Cedillo are having a reunion of sorts in the race.“I pretty much started him riding,” Steve recalled. “He was galloping horses for (retired trainer) Greg Gilchrist and he told me Cedillo would be all right, give him a shot. He won quite a few races for me up north.”FASHIONABLY FAST HAS ACT TOGETHER FOR CAL CUP SPRINTFashionably Fast seeks his fifth straight victory and his third stakes in a row Saturday in the Donald Valpredo California Cup Sprint.The five-year-old Lucky Pulpit gelding will once again be ridden by Tiago Pereira, who has been aboard in 13 of his 14 starts, winning five. “He’s doing well, no excuses,” said Dean Pederson, who trains Fashionably Fast for owner Harris Farms (also the breeder), Per Antonsen and John Nicoletti. “He’s always been a talented horse but mentally, he wasn’t there.“His last couple of races he’s behaved himself pretty well in the paddock, and he schooled good this week. It’s just been a case of maturity.”FINISH LINES: Chris St. Claire, owner of California-bred claiming horse turned graded stakes winner Queen Bee to You will be Tom Quigley‘s guest Saturday, while private clocker and bloodstock agent Gary Young will do honors Sunday, both days at 11:20 a.m. in the XBTV studio . . . Santa Anita offers Dollar Day on the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday card Monday when first post time is 12:30 p.m. Hot dogs will be on sale for $2 and beer and soda for a buck apiece . . . If there is no single ticket winner in today’s 20 cent Rainbow Pick Six Jackpot, Santa Anita will guarantee $1 million in the Jackpot pool Saturday.  Also, $500,000 will be guaranteed in Saturday’s Late Pick 4 . . .Santa Anita’s Paddock Captain John Shear was honored after today’s third race on the occasion of his 99th birthday which he celebrates today. Ninety-nine is just a number to the positive thinking and ever active Shear, remindful of these words from the late Satchel Paige, who at 42 was the oldest rookie in Major League baseball history: “Age is a question of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, age don’t matter.” 2 (Current Through Sunday, Jan. 12) 1 9 22% 73% Philip D’Amato28 Flavien Prat42 28% 2nd 25% Money Won Abel Cedillo65 1st 4 10 Ruben Fuentes18 3 3rd Richard Mandella13 1 2 35% 2 Doug O’Neill33 25% A Candid Conversation With Hall of Fame Trainer Richard Mandella: Part 1 of 2Beloved Santa Anita Paddock Captain John Shear Turns 99 Years Old on January 17thWORKOUTS:Bolo (Gaines) 1-16-20Mucho Gusto (Baffert) 1-16-20Bold Endeavor (Papaprodromou) 1-16-20Mystic Flight (Ellis) 1-16-20Tiny Tina (Outside) and Malakai Moxie (D’Amato) 1-14-20High Velocity (Inside) (Baffert) 1-14-20Legends of War (O’ Neill) 1-13-20Desmond Doss (Outside) and Lucky Long Legs (D’Amato) 1-13-20 Steve Knapp12 ALEXANDER FRONT AND CENTER ON CAL CUP DAY 19% 5 4 $485,014 Win% 26% 4 12% 2 2 3 33% 83% 11% 5 4 62% 1 28% $339,465 5 0 5 $210,452 $591,780 62% $301,908 Jeff Bonde6 Craig Anthony Lewis11 4 $525,342 50% 2 TrainerSts $181,391 3 $609,682 0 1 54% Umberto Rispoli22 3rd 0 42% 7 27% 7 8 7 Peter Miller24 15 5 $1,006,032 25% $106,560last_img read more