9 depressing Cincinnati sports moments to take your mind off Sunday's crushing defeats

As we so often say, there's always next year...
Posted at 12:10 PM, Mar 19, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-19 12:41:38-04

CINCINNATI -- Not two weeks ago, the Queen City ranked high among the best cities in America for college hoops fans. Survey us now, and you'd likely get a wholly different response.

It didn't take long for the No. 1 seeded Xavier Musketeers and the No. 2 seeded Cincinnati Bearcats to crumble into crushing upsets on Sunday, leaving Cincinnati fans to retreat into our all-too-familiar refrain: "There's always next year."

Before we throw this pair of heartbreaking defeats onto the sky-high pile of upsets snatched away from Cincinnati teams at the last minute and move on, why not wallow in the misery of what it means to be a diehard fan here in the Tri-State for just a little bit longer?

Let this look back at eight more insane local sports let-downs take your mind off Sunday's cluster (in no particular order).

1. Super Bowl XXIII in 1988 was horrific enough for the Bengals that it brings our list not one, but three calamitous let-downs.

First, there's running back Stanley Wilson. He'd been suspended 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 mystery was solved shortly after when coach Jim Anderson found Wilson high on cocaine on his hotel room's bathroom floor, ending his football career.

“When I told the team Stanley wasn’t going to play, he’d gotten back into the stuff, I remember them throwing their playbooks on the ground and putting their heads in their hands,” Wyche said. “They knew Stanley was more vulnerable than I did. The guys in the locker room generally know more than the coach does, but they weren’t expecting this, certainly the night before (the game)."

2. Kicking off Super Bowl XXIII without Wilson was rough enough, but the San Francisco 49ers hoisted the anchor of the Bengals' defense, nose tackle Tim Krumrie, out of commission just eight minutes in.

Never before has a leg looked more like limp spaghetti than when Krumrie's got snagged on loose turf while tackling running back Roger Craig. He shattered both his tibia and fibula in what is one of the most gruesome-looking bits of video 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 hold a 13-6 lead going into the fourth quarter.

And cue the Cincinnati crumble.

Joe Montana and his 49ers marched 92 yards down the field to score the winning touchdown with just 34 seconds left on the clock, leaving Cincinnati to mutter a collective, "There's always next year."

4. Miami University was just seconds from a national men's hockey championship when disaster struck in 2009. The team had enjoyed a 10-year climb into a national powerhouse under Head Coach Enrico Blasi leading up to its first NCAA Frozen Four appearance on Easter weekend.

The RedHawks surged ahead of favorite Boston University to a 3-1 lead with less than 60 seconds to go. Then it all fell apart. The Terriers scored twice, sending the match into an improbable overtime. Seven agonizing minutes later, Miami defender Kevin Roeder slid across the ice, giving up his body to protect the goal in a plan destined to backfire. The puck deflected off him, straight over goalie Cody Reichard into the net.

"We RedHawks fans tried to talk ourselves happy in the days afterwards," wrote Miami fan Charlie LaPlante. "This was supposed to be our rebuilding year, after all. Wasn't it just fantastic to have made it this far? Next year we're going to destroy the field! -- but it was a futile effort."

5. The Reds offer incredible fodder for a list like this, but let's begin with Pete Rose's ban from the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

Baseball's all-time hits leader wasn't feeling the love from Cooperstown in June 2017 as they upheld their lifetime ban, but Great American Ball Park unveiled a gravity-defying statue of the tattered legend sliding into home the same weekend the Reds inducted him into their own Hall of Fame, Cooperstown be damned.

6. In 2012, the Reds had a legitimate shot at winning the National League Championship Series and, dare we say it, a World Series, when a bit of horsing around in batting practice and a series of miscues unraveled everything.

Ace starter Johnny Cueto lasted just six pitches in Game 1 against the San Francisco Giants after pulling his oblique in batting practice. They salvaged it and won the first two games, but Game 4 is where Cueto really could have shined as the Giants tied up the series.

It all went downhill from there, and a train of losing seasons have followed. In fact, let's just tack them onto the nearly three decades of depression resulting from the Reds not winning a post-season game since the early 1990s.

7. Let's get back to the Bengals, whose 2005 team snapped the franchise's 14-year streak of losing seasons. The second snap came in their Wild Card playoff game versus the Pittsburgh Steelers -- Carson Palmer's knee.

As fans cheered the quarterback's first pass, a 66-yard rocket to Chris Henry, former Bengal Kimo von Oelhoffen hit Palmer low, ending his season with a torn ACL.

"It sounded like a gunshot, man, because it was right by my ear," von Oelhoffen told Cincy Jungle. "I knew right off it was gone, and you don't want that, so that can be overwhelming ... It's tough."

The Bengals ended up losing the game 31-17 behind backup quarterback Jon Kitna. You’ve got to think the game could have gone the other way if Palmer wasn’t hurt.

8. Although we've tried, who can forget when the Bengals came up short (again) in 2015's Wild Card Round with a 26-10 loss to the Indianapolis Colts? In fact, they set an NFL record fourth loss in a row during an opening round playoff game.

"It's kind of like missing a field goal that you feel you should have hit," said kicker Mike Nugent, who set a Bengals record with a 57-yarder for one of their few bright spots.

The Associated Press offered no sympathy in its writeup, snarkily clapping back that it's more like slipping and falling without getting the kick off. And as much as we wish it were fake news, that below-the-belt punch simply wasn't.

9. Let's wind up where we started. We mostly forgot the Bearcat and Musketeers' crosstown rivalry in our elation that two Cincinnati teams were in the Big Dance. They shared Top 10 rankings, outright conference titles, high seeds and good feelings all around. Then came Sunday. In just four hours' time, both teams relinquished double-digit leads and sent Cincinnati's high hopes crashing to the ground. 

Time to lick our wounds because hope springs eternal for next year, Cincinnati sports fans.

Which disappointing Cincinnati sports moments did we miss? Let us know on our Facebook page.

Greg Noble, John Fay and Ryan Clark contributed reporting to this article.