Despite the fact the Columbus area is considered Ohio State country, there is a small group of loyal Bearcat supporters in the suburbs that don their red and black hats on weekends and ride south to support the University of Cincinnati. Some have dubbed this group "The Columbus Posse" because of their willingness to go anywhere to find their men-Bearcat football players. But these tough hombres are more than just a random group with a common interest; they're also family.
The University of Cincinnati has served as a conduit for the Mayer family to remain a tight knit group. Bob Mayer graduated from UC in 1969 with a degree in accounting and weaned his three boys at Nippert Stadium. "This started years ago when we still lived down here in the early 80's. We'd come to games at Nippert and sit in the end zone and eat LaRosa's pizza. There weren't a lot of people around so we could spread out, and it was Dad and his three boys. It was a great time."
However, this group is not exclusive to just the Mayer family. Along the way, they adopted a Bearcat uncle, Mark Inzetta. Mark is also a Bearcat grad (accounting degree in 1977) and played lacrosse at UC until Title 9 eliminated the program, but the elimination of the game he loved didn't soften his affection for his University. In fact, like the Mayers, Mark exposed his children to Bearcat football at an early age. "I went to a UC football game my first weekend on campus and loved it. I love the atmosphere at Nippert and have been bringing my kids since they were little. My daughter will graduate from UC this year."
For road trips, the posse usually consists of Bob, Mark and Bob's three adult sons-Rob, Brian and Mike. Rob is the eldest at 34-years-old, and 29-year-old Mike is the youngest, but occasionally three generations of Mayers attend games when Rob brings his 6-year-old son, Corey. Rob is a Kentucky Wesleyan grad and played baseball there, but it's clear where his heart lies. "This is what I do. I'm a Bearcat fan for life. I don't go to bars; I come to these games instead."
BCI found The Columbus Posse in their usual spot, tailgating in the Corry parking lot, before the home opener against EMU and asked about their thoughts on a football boycott due to the basketball situation. Bob Mayer said, "I'm not a boycotter in a lot of walks of life. I don't see a reason to boycott the University because a coach was fired or terminated or left. I'd define myself as a Bearcat, and I'll always be a Bearcat. This place helped me get to where I am today (a vice-president at Wendy's), and it's a part of me. Mark Inzetta's response was very similar, "I think it would be grossly unfair to ask the football players and the staff to pay the penalty for a problem some have with the administration or athletic department. It's not fair, and it's not the way to do it." Rob Mayer made the posse's response unanimous, "I don't like the decision made by the administration, but it will not deter me from attending games and supporting UC. The situation certainly could have been handled better, but there is no reason to boycott football."
The group is preparing to ride to Penn State next week, and Inzetta is particularly optimistic. "I think it's about time for the next major upset of Penn State so we're heading up there next weekend to see it in person."
Which trip was their most memorable? Bob chose their trip to New York last year. "I'd choose West Point but not from a football standpoint. My brother is a lieutenant colonel in the army on active duty, and I have a lot of respect for those people and what they go through. Just seeing West Point and those cadets and how they act was stirring. They‘re the backbone of our country."
Despite being the adopted family member, Inzetta couldn't resist having a little fun with one of the boys. "Bob's done a great job raising his sons. They're great guys, and I love traveling with them. Rob sometimes is pretty selfish, and I wouldn't want to share a room with him. But by and large they're good guys."
If you live anywhere near Columbus, look for the dust trail heading East next Friday because The Columbus Posse will once again be heading out to find their guys, and Bearcat football is glad they are.