You're Ben Mauk. In high school, you called your own plays, led your team to back-to-back state championships and obliterated national passing records by accounting for more than 7,900 total yards and throwing 76 touchdown passes as a senior. Still, you were kind of small and just an OK recruit who wound up at bottom-dwelling Wake Forest. There, you redshirted in 2003 -- because of complications from a broken leg? -- then tied the school record for longest touchdown pass on the first snap of your career and made a strong bid for the full-time starting job by the end of the 2004 season. You continued to share the job through 2005, until, with a firm grasp on the position as a fourth-year junior, you went down for the season in the first game of 2006, watched as your back-up led Wake to the best season in school history, and decided to transfer home to Ohio. On your behalf, the NCAA waived the mandated transfer year, and as a full-time starter for the first time in your career, you set school records for passing yards and touchdowns while leading Cincinnati to its first finish in the final polls, ever. Still, the NFL was not all that interested.
Blitzers, Ben Mauk can elude -- unlike the NCAA, at least you know when they're coming.
- - -
The NCAA denied your appeal for a sixth year once, then denied it again after spring practice. You are persistent, if lacking the appropriate documentation to classify the initial redshirt season in 2003 as a medical hardship, instead of the ordinary dues-paying. Late last week, your coach told the Cincinnati Enquirer you'd know by the end of this week about your status for the upcoming season, which for UC starts with practice next Friday. At the end of another week, not so much:
A little more than a week before the University of Cincinnati begins football practice on Aug. 1, the Bearcats' once and maybe future quarterback still doesn't know if the NCAA will grant him a sixth year to complete his four years of eligibility.
He doesn't even know when the teleconference that will give him the forum to plead his case to the Student-Athlete Reinstatement Committee will be held.
Mauk said he doesn't sit around agonizing over what's going to happen. But he would like to have his status resolved.
"I think it would benefit me because now I'm missing out on some job opportunities," Mauk said. "I don't know what to tell employers that are inquiring about what I'm going to do."
- - -
If I was Ben Mauk, and I had succeeded wildly at football at every opportunity but had little interest from the pros, I would sit around and agonize over what's going to happen. Or if I was Brian Kelly, ex-sometimes-starter Dustin Grutza or ex-Weisenstein's monster Demetrius Jones, whose immediate futures all hinge on whether Mauk returns, or generally anyone tangibly or just emotionally associated with Cincinnati football, I'd be agonizing over what's going to happen. But maybe, in addition to frustrating (for opponents, anyway) gamesmanship and perseverance, Mauk has record-breaking reserves of patience, as well.