The Bearcat’s biggest fan stands just a well-coiffed hair shy of 5-foot-2 and has been a UC follower since 1959, when one of the football team’s scholarship players offered to share his textbooks with her.
“You take the notes,” he slyly told her. “And we can share the book.”
The unlikely duo earned extra credit for their music appreciation class by ushering events, eventually began dating, and graduated from UC together in 1961. In a whirlwind weekend, they married the day after they graduated, and drove off to Green Bay to begin their lives the day after that. My parents, Ron and Peggy Kostelnik, were married for 32 years before my dad died in 1993.
Prior to that, he enjoyed a nine-year NFL career and then found success in business, she taught English at the high school, then college level and together they raised four kids.
Through all of that and beyond, my mom has cheered for her beloved Bearcats. She even sponsors a scholarship in she and my dad’s name and enjoys learning all about the recipient each year.
This season has been, in her words, “delightful,” as the Bearcats rolled to an undefeated record. She has watched every game and enthusastically offers astute post-game statistical analysis to anyone who will listen.
Which is why the college football ranking system rankled her with increasing ferocity throughout the year.
“Are you kidding me?” she greeted me one morning when I answered her phone call. “How is Ohio State ranked higher then we are? We are UNDEFEATED!”
She vigorously waved away any explanations about strength of schedule or Power Five conferences. “We haven’t lost a game! This is ridiculous!”
Imagine, then, how thrilled Grandma Peggy was Saturday afternoon when the University of Cincinnati beat Houston 35-20 to win the American Athletic Conference title. They will take on the reigning national champion Alabama in Arlington, Texas on New Year’s Eve day in the Cotton Bowl and the winner of that game will play the winner of the Orange Bowl (Michigan or Georgia) to determine the college football champion.
“I see the line has us 14-point underdogs,” Grandma Peggy said yesterday. “But, if we play the way we did in the third quarter on Saturday, I think we have a great shot!”