Cincinnati is starved for a winner. The Bengals and Reds have made the playoffs a total of two times — one each — in the last 36 combined seasons. Yes, an entire generation has grown up thinking our two major professional sports franchises are hopeless bottom-feeders unable to compete due to a mix of ineptitude and small-market inequalities. And while XU’s and UC’s basketball teams have picked up the slack over the last 18 years, neither has been able to capture the city’s undivided affection for obvious reasons: each fan base largely hates the other, and, ultimately, this is football town. Enter Brian Kelly and the 2008 Cincinnati Bearcats football team, which seemingly overnight reignited the passions of long-deprived local sports freaks. There’s already a book documenting the transformation: Former Cincinnati Post/current freelance reporter Josh Katzowitz looks at the team’s rise from Big East also-rans to Orange Bowl participants in Bearcat Rising: Rags to Division I Riches: How a Gridiron Minority Bludgeons Its Way Into the Big Time. Of course, the question now is whether Kelly and Co. can continue the renaissance and become a consistently competitive outfit. An eager city awaits the answer. Katzowitz discusses and signs his book 7 p.m. Thursday at Joseph-Beth Booksellers.
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