Saturday night Butch Jones hosted a night of Bearcat football for about a hundred members of his 1200 Club at the Higher Ground Conference & Retreat Center in West Harrison, Indiana. Members of the organization have donated $1,200 to the Bearcat football program, and in exchange they receive exclusive opportunities not available to the general fan. The evening consisted of a steak dinner, a presentation from Coach Jones, the opportunity to sit in on a position meeting and the chance to watch the 2011 Bearcats scrimmage for about two hours.
Bob Mayer and Mark Inzetta along with their wives were two of the 1200 Club members that were willing to make the two+ hour drive to Camp Higher Ground from their homes in Columbus, Ohio. They were also members last year and didn’t want to miss the event.
“Until you’ve been here, you just don’t realize what these young guys go through and how much work the coaches do,” said Mayer. “We attended the linebacker meeting, and the coaches were explaining everything they’re going to do tonight as well as technique and things like that. It’s amazing.”
Although the 1969 Cincinnati graduate has been a Bearcat football fan since his days on campus, he explained how the 1200 Club’s benefits have given him a better understanding of the inner workings of the program.
“I think being able to get a look behind the scenes is maybe the best factor of the 1200 Club,” said Mayer. “If you’re just a fan that sits down to watch a game whether at home or in the stadium, you don’t realize everything that goes into this, and it’s incredible to see.”
Jones started the 1200 Club to supplement a football budget that lags behind many of the programs the Bearcats face. With about 180 to 185 members this year, proceeds from the organization are in the neighborhood of $250,000, but like most good head coaches, Jones is always thinking of ways to improve.
“There’s a new level to the 1200 Club,” said Mayer. “Coach Jones said he has started a ‘Captain’s Club’ within the 1200 Club. It’s $12,000 a year, and they already have eight members.”
Mayer said one of the primary expenditures for the club this year would be the purchase of a couple of ten passenger golf carts.
“Coach Jones said that some of the families of the recruits that visit can’t necessarily walk around campus so the golf carts will be used to assist those families in seeing everything UC has to offer.”
Inzetta was also very complimentary about the club.
“It’s very worthwhile,” he said. “You get a lot of inside information and a connection to the coaches and the players. Nothing takes you by surprise in terms of preparation, and you feel like a part of the program.”
The 1973 Cincinnati graduate has been supporting the football program for years, but getting this inside view has made him an even more rabid supporter of Bearcat football.
“This is the first time that I feel like I understand everything about the program,” said Inzetta. “And having that understanding helps my enthusiasm for the program.”
In addition to the Camp Higher Ground outing, there are many more perks yet to come. Members will be able to take part in an exclusive conference call with Coach Jones on Thursday, August 25 where they will be able to ask all the questions. They can also request a sideline pass for access onto the field 20 minutes prior a UC home game, and club members will have a reception at Montgomery Inn prior to the Coach Jones Radio Show on Wednesday, October 5. The 2011 premium gift is an adidas crew neck sweatshirt for men and a white adidas clima-lite sideline jacket for women. In the past, there has also been access to the press box for the UC spring game and private socials with the Bearcat football staff.
Although Inzetta enjoys all those privileges, they aren’t the only reason he’s a member.
“There’s also an altruistic reason to join,” he said. “If you really want to see Bearcat football succeed, this is something you can do to help this program become one of the premier programs in the country.”
In addition to purchasing the golf carts, proceeds from this year’s memberships will go toward replenishing food and beverages for the fuel station, team room upgrades, a game day locker room project in the spring and enhancing the football recruiting budget.
Cincinnati football fans can become members of the 1200 Club by contacting Keith Pantling at 513-556-0597 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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