Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Ben Mauk’s Wake

I am borderline obsessed with David Simon’s “The Wire” which concluded this past year. One of my favorite all time scenes in “The Wire” involved a Policeman’s wake for Officer Ray Cole. A policeman’s wake was basically all the fellow officers celebrating the accomplishments of their comrade prior to his funeral. In “The Wire” they would take the body of the officer and place it in the middle of the pool table at the bar and all have drinks to celebrate his life. If you want to see what I am talking about Ray Cole’s wake is available courtesy of youtube.

Today Ben Mauk was denied a sixth year of eligibility for the fifth time. I am inclined to officially give up hope (as if I hadn’t a long time ago) for another season of watching Ben play. Ben is inclined to continue to fight and by all means I hope he shoves it in the NCAA’s face, but I am content to move on with my Bearcats. Still I think with the death of Ben Mauk’s career with Cincinnati it is now time to celebrate what he offered. In “The Wire” they always play “The Body of a Young American” by The Pogues as Sergeant Jay Landsman articulates all the accomplishments and failings of said officer. In that spirit here is my celebration of Ben Mauk.

The Cadillac stood by the house
And the yanks they were within
And the tinker boys they hissed advice
'Hot-wire her with a pin'

To the last 6 months where Ben just sat idly. If the NCAA cared at all about their athletes they would have wrapped this up months ago. Ben clearly believed he had a case and they clearly should have given him a chance to find out the answer long before now, when the season is already 1 week in. The NCAA needs to start hearing these cases earlier so that the player can know after his or her 5th year of eligibility and can move on with his or her life.

We turned and shook as we had a look
In the room where the dead men lay
So big Jim Dwyer made his last trip
To the shores where his father's laid

To Ben’s last effort with the NCAA, which recently failed. He forced the NCAA to at least listen to him in person by being stubborn and standing up for himself. He should be commended for his efforts, for the strength of his resolve and the fight he had in him. It was the same fight that caused him to play hard on the football field every week despite the pins going up his arm, the multiple surgeries and the soreness he experienced week in and week out. Ben Mauk was a fighter, so who should be surprised that he is fighting the NCAA to the end. Ben still continues to fight. It is what makes him so great.

Fifteen minutes later
We had our first taste of whiskey
There was uncles giving lectures
On ancient Irish history
The men all started telling jokes
And the women they got frisky
At five o'clock in the evening
Every bastard there was piskey

To all the drinking I’ll be doing this weekend toasting to Ben Mauk and all he did for UC last year (and lucky for me I’ll be with Bearcat fans in Norman, Oklahoma…GO BEARCATS!!!) Ben led the Bearcats to their first 10 win season since the 1960’s. They finished number 17 in the country, they won their Bowl game, and they sold out Nippert. The University is on its way up and Ben Mauk played an important part in that.

Fare thee well going away
There's nothing left to say
Farewell to New York City boys
To Boston and PA
He took them out
With a well-aimed clout
He was often heard to say
I'm a free born man of the USA

To Ben’s continued fight with the NCAA. Ben is “a free born man of the USA,” and he should continue the fight as long as he sees fit. There is no way he will play for the Bearcats this season. He will not be hitting the road with the Cats. It is farewell to Oklahoma, UConn and West Virginia, but his fight lives on and maybe he can make the NCAA defend its actions in court.

He fought the champ in Pittsburgh
And he slashed him to the ground
He took on Tiny Tartanella
And it only went one round

To the fast start of 2007. Behind the play of Ben Mauk the Bearcats jumped on teams like they never have before. I remember we used to watch the Cats struggle against lesser opponents, but against Oregon State, Marshall and SD State Ben Mauk and the Cats gave them little chance to even think they could be in the game. When the Bearcats were considerably better than their opponents they knew how to assert themselves.

He never had no time for reds
For drink or dice or whores
And he never threw a fight
Unless the fight was right
So they sent him to the war

Ben was a gamer, always ready for war as the scar on his throwing arm will always prove. If he had to throw a lighter ball all week so as to not kill his arm, he would do it. If he needed to run and take a hit to get a first down, he was ready to go. When the Bearcats fell behind 17 to 7 in Piscataway last season, Mauk led them to 21 third quarter points to take the game away. His heart could not be denied.

Fare the well gone away
There's nothing left to say
With a slainte Joe and Erin go
My love's in Amerikay
The calling of the rosary
Spanish wind from far away
I'm a free born man of the USA

Though his time in a UC uniform is over Mauk will always be a Bearcat. He will join the ranks of Antwan Peak, Tinker Keck, Robert Tate, David Small, Brad Jackson, LaDarius Vann, Brent Celek, Haruki Nakurmura and all the other Bearcats that have helped bring this program to where it is today and will be a part of the great things to come.

This morning on the harbor
When I said goodbye to you
I remember how I swore
That I'd come back to you one day
And as the sunset came to meet
The evening on the hill
I told you I'd always love
I always did and I always will

As Bearcat fans we will always remember and love Ben Mauk for all these things: for his warrior mentality, for his ability to consistently evade the rush, for his persistence, his fight, for his leadership and for the wins he helped the Bearcats achieve. Ben, you will be missed.

Fare thee well gone away
There's nothing left to say
'cept to say adieu
To your eyes as blue
As the water in the bay
And to big Jim Dwyer
The man of wire
Who was often heard to say
I'm a free born man of the USA

I’m a free born man of the USA and like Ben Mauk I chose to be a Bearcat.

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