CINCINNATI — Tri-State native Gino Guidugli loves what he does and where he does it. Cincinnati's quarterbacks coach continues to succeed at his alma mater, helping lead the Bearcats to an undefeated regular season.
The team defeated East Carolina 35-13 Friday, finishing the year with a 12-0 record and a chance at the College Football Playoff. Guidugli knows something about playing on a great team — he led Highlands High School to two state championships before playing at UC from 2001 to 2004.
"Love this place," Guidugli said.
Guidugli is not just a Bearcat through and through; he owned several of the school's passing and total offense records.
"Rick Minter gave me a chance early in my career as a true freshman to lead offense," Guidugli said. "[I'm] fortunate to play with great players that allowed me to be successful."
His focus now is helping quarterback Desmond Ridder break his records 20 years later, continuing the success now connected to University of Cincinnati sports.
"I just love when you turn the TV on and every sports show that comes across the TV you see that C-Paw," Guidugli said.
Earlier this month, Ridder threw his 79th touchdown pass to tight end Josh Whyle — surpassing the 78 scoring passes Guidugli had when he played. The beat on the drum after Ridder's record-breaking touchdown was more like an echo through time for the only other Bearcat who had those kind of numbers.
"I'm just proud of him as a player, person and leader," Guidugli said. "It stings to lose the record, but that it's him makes it all worthwhile."
Ridder understands he did not break that record alone, saying he had a lot of teammates, coaches and trainers helping him along the way. He describes Guidugli as a father figure or big brother.
"Me knowing that he's played here and gone through some of the things that I've gone through in football and life," the fellow Kentucky native said, "you know, I think that's a connection every coach and player should have."
When he began coaching in 2010, Guidugli said he always knew he wanted to return home — hoping to have an impact similar to the one his coaches had on him.
"That was always the thing I wanted to do, get back to Cincinnati," Guidugli said. "This place was really special to me, and I wanted to give back just like the coaches did when I played here."
Ridder's outlook on playing in front of the fans at Nippert Stadium appears to mirror Guidugli's.
"Love 'em," Ridder said. "Wouldn't trade 'em for anything else. No place I'd rather be."