On Thursday night's podcast, we were joined by multiple guests. The last of those guests was Dan Hoard, the voice of the Cincinnati Bengals on the Bengals Radio Network, as well as the voice of the Cincinnati Bearcats football and basketball. We talked about his thoughts on the team through the first seven games and how busy he is between calling the play-by-play of the Bearcats football team on Saturday and the Bengals on Sunday.
If you want to listen, you can do so here.
If you missed it though, here's how the interview went down.
Jason: Dan, this is your first year calling the Bengals games, how have you liked it so far? I mean, it has been a pretty exciting year.
Dan: (laughing) Yeah, my timing was good, wasn't it? It's been tremendous. It would have been honestly if they were 2-5. It's the NFL and it's a dream come true, but 5-2 has been great, it's a very likable team and it doesn't get much better than working with Dave Lapham.
Jason: Was it a pretty easy transition to make going from calling college games to the NFL?
Dan: Honestly, it was more difficult than I thought it would be. I figured football is football, and in many ways it is, but there's still a little bit of a learning curve involved. I had done University of Cincinnati teams for so long that it really comes pretty naturally at this point, but working with a new partner, obviously knowing all the new personell, making sure I don't confuse one guy for the other. I had more stumbles than I was comfortable with early on but I think I'm finding my rhythm now.
Jason: You call plays for the University of Cincinnati football team and the Bengals football team. Are there any Bearcats right now that you've been watching when you call the games that you wouldn't mind seeing in stripes next year?
Dan: Absolutely. Isaiah Pead would be at the top of the list. He's Cincinnati's running back, No. 23. I think he definitely has a bright NFL future. The last time I checked I think Mel Kiper had him ranked third among senior college football running backs. So he's going to play in the NFL somewhere and I wouldn't mind if it were with the Bengals. Other than that, I think Derek Wolfe, a big defensive tackle, No. 95 for UC, has a likely NFL future, he's having an excellent senior year. And then J.K. Schaffer, their middle linebacker. He's one of those guys who won't be a high draft pick. He doesn't score well necessarily on the measurables, I don't think he necessarily can run a great 40 and he's not huge and yet I wouldn't be surprised if he had a lengthy NFL career because he's just one of those guys who manages to make plays.
Jason: Through the first seven games of the season, what would you say the Bengals' biggest strength and their biggest weakness is?
Dan: Biggest strength is the play of the defensive line. I think those guys have been great from the beginning. You never know which one of those guys on any given day is going to step up and make plays, whether it's Carlos Dunlap, as was the case last weekend against Seattle, or Geno Atkins, from the Jacksonville game a few weeks ago. Those guys have really been consistant throughout.
The Biggest weakness would probably be the play of the secondary, although they've been pretty good for the most part. But they've had their moments where they've been a little shaky and I guess if I had to identify one thing that would be the biggest concern, that would be it.
Dave: This is your first year taking over there, among the Bengals players that you're able to have interactions with so far during your rookie season here, who are the most accessible and who are the ones you're able to get the most and best information from?
Dan: That's a great question. The ones that you can go to almost any day that are helpful and allows you to do your job better. The guys at the top of that list are probably Andrew Whitworth, who is great, Chris Crocker, who is excellent, Thomas Howard has been really, really good, Carlos Dunlap is really, really good. Those guys would probably be at the top of the list. On the flip side, maybe Brandon Tate would be a guy that's kind of difficult. It's not because he's reluctant or unwilling, but I think the time he spent playing for Bill Belichick has hurt us in Cincinnati because he will use that coach speak no matter what you ask him.
Anthony: Since you get to talk to these guys, what is your feeling on the makeup of this team that's different from teams in the past?
Dan: Well, I think it's what everyone has been hearing since the beginning of the season. It is a "we" locker room as opposed to a "me" locker room. Now I must tell you that Chad Ochocinco is one of my all-time favorite athletes. When I was working at the FOX affiliate at Cincinnati, we had Chad on our TV station every Sunday night. I developed a pretty good friendship with him and I will always love him as one of my all-time favorite Bengals players. But the fact of the matter is, the team is better without him, right now. They're better off without T.O. They're better off without Carson Palmer. All of the things that have been said by others, I think are true. I think this is a team that has put away all of those distractions, they're focused on one goal and the proof is in the pudding. They would not be 5-2 with the atmosphere that they had last year.
Joe: Give us a little perspective on what your weekends are like. If the Bearcats play on Saturday, do you call that game and hop on a plane and go to where the Bengals play if it's a road game? What are your weekends like?
Dan: Well it all depends on where each team is playing, but this week is a fairly challenging one. The Bearcats play at Pitt at 7:00 on Saturday night. The Bengals play at Nashville at 4:00 on Sunday afternoon, which is 3:00 Nashville time. So for this week's game, I will drive with a couple of colleagues from Cincinnati to Pittsburgh at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday and do the game at 7 p.m. Fortunately, one of Cincinnati's big boosters who travels to the games in a private plane has been nice enough to let me fly back to Cincinnati with him after the game. Then I will get in my car and begin driving to Nashville. My feeling is I will still be wired from the Bearcats game and I won't be able to get much sleep if I go home so I'm better off if I drive at least a portion of the way before I get tired and then I can go the rest of the way Sunday morning. So that's the way it's going to be this weekend, but it changes every week, and whatever is required for me to be at both places, that's what I have to do.
Jason: The Bearcats play at Pitt this weekend and the Bengals are at Tennessee. How do you feel about both of those games?
Dan: Well both of the games scare me, as most road games do, especially road games against decent opponents, both Pitt and Tennessee are both pretty good. I do think the Bearcats will win on Saturday. Pitt is 4-4 this year. They have a new head coach in Todd Graham, who was at Tulsa for the last several years. They just lost maybe the best running back in the country, Ray Graham, for the season with a knee injury. I think they are going through the same things this year that UC went through last year, when the Bearcats were going through their coaching transition.
The Bengals on Sunday, certainly I think they can win. I have a little bit of a bad feeling, but really the only reason why I have a bad feeling is because sooner or later they're bound to lose some road games. I mean to be 3-1 on the road with a rookie quarterback is almost unheard of. Tennessee it pretty good. They're 4-3 and you figure that sooner or later, Chris Johnson is bound to have a pretty good game. I hope it's not this weekend but for all those reasons I'm a little leery about this game.
Jason: Last question: Who is your MVP of the Bengals through the first seven games of the season?
Dan: I've got to go with Andy Dalton, largely because of the nature of the position. You can't be any good in the NFL, or in any level of football, unless you get decent quarterback play. But for a guy to do what he's doing as a rookie, it really is unbelievable. When people asked me how they were going to be before the season, I said well a rookie quarterback is bound to have his ups and downs. He's going to have some terrible games and hopefully as the season progresses he'll be pretty good. Well, he's been better than pretty good from day one. So, I'll give it to Andy Dalton for that reason.