In 2007 the Cincinnati Bearcats won 10 games for the first time since 1951, finishing 10-3 with a victory in the PapaJohns.com bowl. It was a highly successful season with the team also appearing in the AP top 25 poll for the first time since 1954. Back in 2007 Cincinnati was a member of the old Big East conference. Read more about the 5 years before and 5 years since the destruction of the football conference.
The Bearcats quarterback that season was graduate transfer Ben Mauk. I was fortunate enough to have the chance to speak with former Cincinnati QB about his time in Cincinnati.
Mike: What made you choose Cincinnati over some of the other options when you decided to leave Wake Forest before the 2007 season?
Ben: I chose Cincinnati because Ohio is a football state. I monitored their success in 2006 and wanted to be a part of it when I realized I could transfer upon graduating. Cincinnati is only about 2.5 hours from my hometown (Kenton, OH), and I wanted to be close to home in the event i wasn’t fully healthy at the start of the season.
Mike: Well, fortunately you were healthy!! Having completed 61% of your passes, becoming the third QB in UC history to throw for 3,000+ yards (3,121) and 31 touchdowns (tied 9th on all time list) and only 9 interceptions.
That year was Brian Kelly’s first year as UC head coach. After 2006, Mark Dantonio left for Michigan State and UC opted to replace him with Kelly, who was the head coach at Central Michigan. Did you enjoy playing for coach Kelly?
Ben: I loved playing for Brian Kelly. He was the right coach at the right time for UC. His support and faith in me in 2007 meant more to me than I think even he knows. I’d do anything for Coach Kelly; he is a winner and a master of getting the most out of his team.
Mike: You only attended UC for one year, but it was a highly successful one year. What would you say is your favorite UC memory?
Ben: My favorite UC memory was coming on the field against Louisville to a sold out Nippert Stadium. I was told that no one came to UC games, but always believed Cincinnati is a championship city; if you win, the people will come, and they did in 2007.
Mike: I was told that too! I was a sophomore in 2007 and I remember that Louisville game like it was yesterday. I felt very much at home that day, inside a packed Nippert Stadium and a crazy atmosphere.
What was your favorite career moment, either UC or at Wake Forest?
Ben: My favorite career moment was coming back from injuring my throwing arm and shoulder and being back in my home state once again to play a game that I love. To have that opportunity taken away was difficult, but to make a comeback at Cincinnati was well worth the pain and suffering.
Mike: I know after college you dabbled into arena football a little bit (we’ll touch on that in a second) but what are you up to now?
Ben: Well first and most importantly, I am recently engaged to Amanda Haywood and will be a step father to two girls, Hannah and Harper, come next May. On top of that, I am teaching and coaching high school football at Glendale High School in Springfield, MO with my father and younger brother. I love being able to spend time with my family and enjoy the memories we are able to make together.
Mike: Congrats! That’s very exciting news about your family. With everything you went through with the arm injury and whatever other bumps and bruises you endured throughout your career – how are you feeling now?
Ben: I still feel like I could go play, but after a day worth of throwing, I’m ready to put the cleats back up and grab my coaching visor/whistle.
Mike: Back to the arena football part of your career, I dug up this old picture of you and I at a Cincinnati Commandos game back in 2009. Those games were awesome to attend. How was the experience as a player?
Ben: I enjoyed every second of it. Being able to come back and play in Cincinnati, at the Gardens, with former teammates was a lot if fun. Again, Cincinnati is a city of Champions, and it was a thrill to win it all.
Mike: Thank you so much for the time. Ben. I really appreciate the time. And thanks to everyone who checked out this interview. Stay tuned for my interviews in the future!!