Today's "Focus on the Fans" takes a look at Jeff Carletti. BCI recently met with Jeff at a Bearcat baseball game.
Jeff Carletti (better known around campus as JC) has always been a Cincinnati guy. His parents met while students at UC, and JC graduated from Cincinnati with a Communication Arts degree in 1981. But his love affair with the hometown college was born a long time ago in a place not that far away. JC explained, "My father started taking me to Saturday afternoon games at Nippert when I was 6 or 7 years old. I probably spent more time running around and tossing a football in the air than anything else, but as I got to 10 or 11, I was watching Greg Cook play every Saturday. His senior year the Bearcats led the nation in offense. It was just so exciting watching Cook and Jim O'Brien and Tom Rossley. Even though I was young, I knew two things. I wanted to go to St. X High School and the University of Cincinnati. After attending St. X in the G.C.L., I had an incredible pride in my institution. I didn't see any reason it should be any different at the University of Cincinnati."
That love affair continued after graduation. JC worked for P & G for a few years but longed to return to Clifton. He noticed there weren't any Bearcat themed bars around the campus, and thought he could return to the place he loved. "One of the voids in Clifton was there were no bars with a UC feel about them. I thought owning a bar would be fun, and I could make some money at the same time. In 1985, I opened JC's Bearcat Tavern. I had it for ten years before selling it. Now it's Jersey Mike's Subs."
San Jamar, a manufacturer of commercial food products, now employs JC as a business development manager for its east region, but his heart is still in Clifton. In 2002, JC saw every Bearcat game both home and away. He even got a free parking spot at Houston when he was confused as a Bearcat coach. "I was with Gino's dad, Dave Guidugli. We both had Bearcat hats and shirts and were going to tailgate with some friends. We pulled up to a parking attendant and asked how much to park. The attendant said coaches park free so we just pulled into the lot. The funny thing was our hats and shirts didn‘t even match."
I know a lot of people consider themselves "diehards," but JC has the credentials to prove it. Since 1976, JC has not missed a Bearcat home football game although keeping the streak has not always been easy. JC explained. "It was the Syracuse game in 2000. I had a close first cousin, Amy, getting married that evening. I sort of figured nothing was going to mess up this streak of mine, and the game would probably be over by halftime. A Saturday evening wedding protocol calls for black tie so I wore my tuxedo to the game. The game was by no means a blowout, and Jason Mammarelli kicked a 47 yard field goal at the end to win the game 12-10 for the Bearcats. At this point I've totally missed the wedding, and I'm late for the reception. I know I'm in a lot of trouble. I was with Joe Hice, and he still knew a few people from his playing days to get us into the locker room area. We're looking for Mammarelli to get him to sign a ball for my cousin. At one point we walked into an office and a lady is sitting there looking at my tux. I just said, 'Bond, James Bond.' But we finally found Jason, and he signed the ball, 'To Amy, you were here in spirit. The kick was for you.' I finally got to the reception and all eyes were on me so I just walked up to Amy and gave her the ball."
A typical fall Saturday for JC means tailgating, and no body does it better. He explained that the process starts 5 or 6 weeks before the first game and an includes an extensive game plan. "I have to check the grill and other equipment to make sure they are in working condition, and I look at the schedule to prepare a menu on a spreadsheet. For example, an October game might have a Oktoberfest theme with brats, metts, potato pancakes and sauerkraut. Other tailgates might have chili or stew that are prepared the night before. It usually takes me about 45 minutes to pack the car, and I try to get to the parking lot at least 4 hours before kickoff." Items that go into the car include 2 Bearcat card tables, 8 Bearcat chairs, 1 grill, 3 or 4 coolers, Bearcat lawn chairs, a Bearcat plastic cup dispenser, a Bearcat paper towel dispenser, a stereo boom box, a television, and the main course. JC laughed at the thought of his driving to the game. "I look like the Clampetts."
This Bearcat fan also has his own publication with about 175 subscribers. "The Cat Letter started as a letter writing campaign about five years ago to the Cincinnati Enquirer for ignoring UC football. Now Michael Perry is the sports editor, and he's done a good job. But I still write the Cat Letter and include whatever information I come across about the next week's game."
As if this isn't enough to qualify this guy for "Fan of the Decade," there's more. JC also runs a golf outing each year. He wants the proceeds to go to UC. This year's event will be held at Walden Ponds. It's a four man scramble that will include greens fees, cart, practice range balls, souvenirs, drink tickets, prizes, and dinner. The cost has not been finalized, but he's expecting it to be in the $85-$90 range. If interested in this event, email JC at email@example.com. He's also hoping to get a member of the football staff to talk at the event.
Congratulations to JC Carletti for being BCI's very first subject of "Focus on the Fans."