The success of the Bearcats has stayed in town as now another team full of young men "representing the C" is in the post season.
No, it's not near as glamorous as winning the Big East football title and appearing in the Orange Bowl and the Sugar Bowl, but at the Cincinnati Gardens in Roselawn, the Commandos play for the Continental Indoor Football League title Saturday night.
CIFL? Well, yeah, it's not quite the big time. But, the team is littered with Bearcat tradition, pride and talent and has a 10-1 record to show for it. Their stars have been the former UC tandem of Ben Mauk and Dominick Goodman. Goodman has since moved on to play outdoors for a team in Germany, but Mauk has hung around to finish what he started.
Commandos coach Billy Back looks smarter and smarter every weekend because of Mauk's loyalty.
"When we came to the Gardens, the first thing that they said was a good name to have would be Ben Mauk," said Back. "I played him in flag football at Game Time training center and I thought, 'perfect!' I talked to Goodie (Dominick Goodman) about it, Goodie called Mauk as I did and he said he'd like to try it."
The experiment has worked well and Back claims Mauk has attracted interest because of it. Apparently, he hasn't taken Cleveland up on an offer to come to camp because of his commitment to the Commandos. Others have noticed as well (New Orleans and Buffalo) and Back thinks Mauk could be a "Drew Brees" if only someone would give him the chance.
Meantime, his presence is appreciated by the handful of other former Bearcats on the roster. Notably, starting running back Greg Moore and offensive lineman Khalil El-Amin.
"It's exactly (the same offense)!" said El-Amin. "Especially with Mauk being back there, dropping back and picking up plays. It feels exactly like the offense we ran at UC. Fast-paced offense, high, up-tempo, no-huddle offense--so, it's pretty much all the same for us."
Plus, having so many from one team brings great chemistry. And, the ability to "freelance" if you will--if you call using old Bearcat plays "freelancing".
"We find ourselves calling some of those plays," said Moore. "We'll just be in a no-huddle tempo and Ben will just like call one of the old plays. Everyone will be like, 'Alright!' because everyone will be out there already knowing what they're doing."
In addition to Mauk, Moore and El-Amin, the Commandos employ linebacker Torry Cornett, Tyjuan Jones (who played at UC and transferred to Eastern Kentucky), offensive lineman Frank Straub, defensive lineman Terrill Byrd and 31-year-old Ray Jackson, your "elder statesman Bearcat".
"Hey man, it's great," said a smiling Jackson. "I get to come out there with these young guys. They know that I'm in the tradition of UC too. Some of these guys that went to UC, watched me when I was at UC and they were in high school. It's kind of surreal to hear them say, 'We watched you when you were in college,'. It's a good feeling to have an impact on some of the players that play on this team."
Jackson is best known as part of the "Mac and Jack" attack under Rick Minter as he pounded the football in the backfield along with DeMarco McCleskey. Now after stints with the Bengals, the Titans, the Swarm and these Commandos, Jackson plays the role of mentor while backing up fellow Bearcat Greg Moore.
Just like Commandos coach Billy Back thinks Ben Mauk can give it a go in the NFL, Jackson thinks some on this team could give it a run outdoors--Moore in particular.
"I think they're real close," said Jackson. "I play with Mauk and especially Greg Moore. I look at Greg Moore, since he plays my position, and I just see him as a younger me. He should be in the NFL somewhere playing."
Anyway, for now, these Bearcats play one more time at the Gardens Saturday night against the Wisconsin Wolfpack. The Commandos beat them 48-26 with Mauk and Goodman in April, then suffered their only loss at the end of May at Wisconsin when Mauk missed the game injured.
(picture courtesy Cincinnati Commandos)
If you've forgotten what the former Bearcat #9 can do at quarterback (which is amazingly similar to what Zach Collaros is doing now) you might want to show some support to some of the 'Cats still "representing" in the "C".