Sports Today: To rival or not to rival? That is the question for Bengals-Steelers

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Sports Today: To rival or not to rival? That is the question for Bengals-Steelers

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Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis was quite happy after Carlos Dunlap made against the Ravens in a 27-10 win over the Ravens on Jan. 1 in Paul Brown Stadium. He was quite pleased as well over the weekend when he made a fancy putt from off a green in a celebrity golf tournament in Lake Tahoe.

Rivalry, what rivalry?  

That was the general reaction of the two most visible Cincinnati Bengals to speak to reporters Tuesday.  

Andy Dalton kicked it off, and Marvin Lewis took it to the house during their press conferences that bookended the weekly open locker room session.  

In between, there was some evidence to support each side. 

Chris Smith, a first-year Bengal from North Carolina by way of Arkansas (and the Jaguars), said he was surprised to learn what a big deal it is. 

George Iloka, a career Bengal who also grew up nowhere near here, probably put it best when he described the teams not as brothers but estranged cousins

The often insightful Iloka also admitted outside factors are at play here. Animosity between the fans and media hype are big factors in this becoming a game that gets circled on the calendar. 

I’d add CBS ain’t putting it on at 4:25 p.m. instead of 1 for no reason, either.

Dalton is from Texas and rarely seems to show much emotion about anything. 

Lewis is from Western Pennsylvania, coached at Pitt and for the Steelers. He’s built the Bengals into a team good enough for Pittsburgh to care about beating. He knows the real story, which is why in between claiming it’s just another game he admitted taking the young guys in the locker room to school on what to expect Sunday in Pittsburgh. 

Is it just another game or more than that when the Bengals and Steelers play? 

Does it matter?  

Probably.  

If players take a different mindset into it, they might do things out of character.  Or they might do things in character they spend the rest of the year trying to avoid.  

And that might be good, but it seems to more often be bad, at least for the Bengals. 

Pittsburgh winning this game more often than not helps those on that side of the border (and the Black and Gold faithful who have infiltrated our region) dismiss Cincinnati as just another team, and there is going to be somewhat of an inferiority complex around here until the results get reversed more than occasionally. 

Whatever respect might have been earned in late 2012 was certainly flushed away in January 2016, if not before. 

The Steelers have been where the Bengals want to be, and that adds some juice no matter where each team is located. 

When you’re the team that usually wins this game, it’s easier to go in clear of mind. 

When you’re the one that more often loses, it’s easier to get off track. 

(Just ask Ohio State fans about the John Cooper era compared to Jim Tressel’s.) 

That’s something the Bengals are going to keep fighting until they do something to take control of the narrative. 

That won’t happen on Wednesdays or Thursdays, of course. 

That’s what Sundays are for… 

Anthony Grant has a lot of options when it comes to lineups for his first Dayton Flyers basketball team. 

We’ve got 10 scholarship guys who will be available. That always plays itself out during the course of the season. We’ll have to mix and match. I think we’ve got some versatility with guys who can play multiple positions. We’ll try to take advantage of that as well and find a combination of guys — whether it’s a starting unit or different combinations we’ll play over the course of the game — that we feel gives us the best chance to be the best version of ourselves over the 40-minute game.

What lineup do you want to see most?... 

Today congratulations are in order for Middletown’s Vincent Edwards. 

The Purdue senior was named to the 10-man preseason All-Big Ten squad. 

The league also announced in the future it will play 20 conference games in men’s basketball while making sure Indiana-Purdue, Michigan-Michigan State and Illinois-Northwestern will be assured of two meetings per season every season. 

Other teams will play teams in their region more often, though it is unclear what that means exactly... 

Speaking of local high schoolers and college, I had the chance to visit Wayne High School this week and talk to L’Christian “Blue” Smith. 

The Ohio State commit admitted feeling some mixed emotions as a big Senior Night game against Springfield looms this Friday. 

Ohio State verbal commit Blue Smith is looking forward to a strong ending to his career at Wayne and ahead to being a Buckeye.

In case you missed it, we’re debating on our Reds fans Facebook page the merits of MLB expansion and some minor realignment. 

Check out the story and let us know what you think! 

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