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Thursday, December 14, 2006

A Signal the Democrats and Bearcats are Back?

CINCINNATI (TDB) -- There is one observation today. Maybe it is a sign from the TV gods that the Dems are about to ride really, really high in Columbus again after Gov.-elect Ted Strickland's victory. On ESPN-U last night, the announcers covering the University of Cincinnati-Xavier University crosstown shootout basketball game kept referring to U.C's arena as, "The Shoe." That is the old name. It is actually Fifth Third Arena.

For years, U.C.'s Bearcats played in The Shoemaker Center, which honored a legislative powerbroker, Myrl Shoemaker, whose clout opened the taps for vast sums of money to pour into the university after it was absored into the state college system a generation ago. Shoemaker was a baron in the Ohio House when the late Speaker Vern Riffe ran things, and Shoemaker' presence on the 1982 gubernatorial ticket with Dick Celeste helped the state's last Democratic governor slog through a tough primary and then win the office.

Shoemaker was from a rural section of the Appalachian region of Ohio, as is Strickland. Shoemaker valued education above all else -- and that's why he looked out for the University of Cincinnati's interests. He died in office as lieutenant governor, and nobody who has held that office before or since really has had the kind of raw muscle in his own right to make things happen.

His name graced the arena for years as the Bearcats became a national basketball power under former Coach Bob Huggins. But eventually Shoemaker faded away in the mania for selling naming rights to venues built with public money.

By the way, the Bearcats upset XU's Musketeers last night at "The Shoe." Will it be Shoemaker's place when the Dems are in power? Will the Bearcats return to their winning ways under Strickland's governorship?

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