Finding an identity for UB

There’s a diamond in the rough in the WNY sports scene that has the potential to become one of the preeminent pieces of the athletic community in the region. It’s a team simultaneously fighting for the attention of WNY sports fans and a larger identity crisis.

As the years have ticked by, UB has battled an increasing difficult fight in an attempt to gain relevance on a regional and national level – specifically in the cash cow sports of basketball and football. As the 2013-14 athletics calendar heats up, UB’s newest facelift will be in full view.

One of Danny White’s first steps in his role as AD has been to usher in the use of New York as the most prominent branding feature for the school’s athletics team. Instead of focusing on being the University at Buffalo Bulls, they will be the State University of NEW YORK at Buffalo Bulls. The change has been welcomed with varying reviews, although the angle makes perfect sense.

In practice, I don’t think the change has been well executed. The big New York font on the football uniforms and Alumni Arena court looks awkward and doesn’t play very well on the eyes. While I support the thinking behind this type of rebranding, I’m not sure it is going to work as planned. Continue reading

#JointheStampede for UB football

I recently decided that the level of interest and respect that UB football gets in Buffalo needs to change. While there is little potential to have a big-time college program here in Buffalo, having UB become a well-respected organization would be a great addition for all of Western New York.

Truthfully, Bulls football should fall in right behind the Sabres and Bills as Buffalo’s third most popular sports team. The Bandits certainly have more of a fanbase and deserve the level of fandom they get. So, maybe UB football should be fourth in terms of public opinion, but no worse.

Often at work, I sit alone with my principles (gold star if you get that movie reference) and I got to thinking that maybe some more love from social media could lay the groundwork to grow UB’s fanbase.

I was thinking something similar to the #BillsMafia, but different in many ways. Creating a grassroots effort to expose more potential fans to the team and simply raise awareness is pretty much what I’m talking about. This doesn’t need to be as incendiary as the Bills Mafia, nor does it need to have the same mission, so to speak.

While I’m totally open to any suggestions people can come up with, I’m thinking the #BuffaloStampede to start, unless someone has a much cooler idea. Using a hashtag like #BuffaloStampede and #JointheStampede would be a great way to start. Hopefully this isn’t a totally stupid idea and it gains a little steam.

Anyone who thinks this is interesting, the dumbest idea ever or who simply has some thoughts on this idea should let me know. Tweet me, email me or leave a comment.

UPDATE: It appears as if the UB SB Nation blog, Bull Run tags with #ThunderThrough, so perhaps that should be the hashtag moving forward.

Might a new UB stadium spark something bigger?

I was previously inspired to write about UB’s football program due to my desire to see a true Division 1 college team in my hometown. The Bulls were close at one time, but still have some work to do.

During the time I spent thinking about that previous post, Brian Koziol and Mike Harrington were discussing the Big East’s hope for a 14th team. Their conversation evolved into a discussion over UB’s stadium and the shortcomings the building has.

Upgrade me, please.

UB Stadium is just about 20 years old and has a much younger, albeit unimpressive, addition on the north and south ends. It its current state – replete with Jacksonville-style trap advertisements on the north end – the stadium holds just over 29,000 people. That is an average number for a stadium that houses a team whose fan base is quite small. Filling it, however is a completely different problem. As detailed in that previous post, in-roads need to be made to establish the legitimacy of the Bulls in the Buffalo sports market. Truthfully, this team should be no lower than third in priority behind the Bills and Sabres. This is a DI football team that seems to get equivalent treatment to a double-A baseball by many.

Improving non-conference competition and providing your head coach the appropriate amount of time to build the program are vital parts of taking UB to the next level But if the digs aren’t up to snuff, big conferences and fans that is on the fence may not be lured towards the Bulls.

UB’s current set up is by no means old. But it is severely below the standard for most DI programs. An ideal situation would bring about a new facility to house the football, track and soccer teams, but finding that kind of funding is going to be next to impossible. As of now, the only changes due to the stadium under UB2020 is the removal of the – now tarped – north bleachers. That will make room for an indoor facility which is a wonderful recruiting tool, but it doesn’t do much for the glorified DIII stadium that stands at UB North today. Continue reading

Can UB football find more respect?

Once again, college football is in full swing and all is right with the world. It is funny that most people in Buffalo still seem to care very little about the UB Bulls program. Despite the lack of general interest and fan support, DI college football lives in Western New York. However, it has yet to find a way to thrive.

The Bulls haven’t really done much to help their cause. Outside of the Tuner Gill era, this has been a program mired in mediocrity that has often inched towards downright pathetic. The early years were obviously thin as was expected when trying to make the jump. But it seems unfortunate that the team never gained momentum from their MAC Championship and bowl appearance. Perhaps the blame lies outside of the stadium walls.

Buffalo has always prided itself on being a football town. Yet the Bills seem to be the only team that fans have any interest in. The Buffalo News is fighting the good fight for this team and providing adequate coverage. However, the paper seems to be the only media outlet giving much attention to the team.

It is understandable that the battle between a college football program, the whiner line and candy drafts is a difficult one. At the end of the day I would imagine D1 football finishes a distant third from those two radio programming staples.

What would appear to be the biggest problem is two-fold. The team struggles to hit the .500 mark in most seasons while battling major perception issues from fans and area media alike.

The first issue is strictly fact. Aside from the success Turner Gill built, the Bulls have been quite average for their entire time playing with the big boys. Of course, that isn’t for lack of trying. They schedule big name teams for those early season pay days with hopes of constructing the framework to build the program on. However, it would seem as if there is also a perpetual state of recycling happening here. At some point the program will need to take the next, necessary step forward. Until they do, finding their rightful footing (truthfully they should slot in right behind the Bills and Sabres) in the Buffalo sports landscape will be a battle.

The second issue is simply a misconception of the football being played by UB. Just look at their MAC Championship season. They were ultra-competitive in the MAC and even managed a few upsets along the way. That first bowl berth was a great step to take, even if the end results pushed Turner Gill to a job with a more respectable school. Playing in the MAC is a big part of the issue for me. As someone who likes just about any form of college football, I’m cool with it. Mid-major conferences produce great competition and the occasional stud prospect. For bandwagon fans, however, it just doesn’t register. Continue reading

The Vest era ends at OSU

Jim Tressel stepped down from his position as the head football coach at Ohio State this weekend after an avalanche of bad press and violations buried the program.

Some reports note that Tressel was asked to resign, an assumable point considering the allegations against the program. The rocks started falling when Terrelle Pryor and other OSU players were caught trading merchandise for tattoos before the Sugar Bowl.

The NCAA made a huge mistake and showed terrible favoritism and far too much bias towards saving TV ratings rather than dropping the hammer like they would have with New Mexico, Washington State or Rutgers. They suspended Pryor and the others for five games of the 2011 season. Of course, OSU makes sure to fill 3/4 of their schedule with cupcakes before opening their Big Ten schedule. Not to mention, they really only have two meaningful games each season. So those suspensions would mean nothing. The Buckeyes backups will beat Akron and Toledo. Long story short, the NCAA scolded the Buckeyes, no more than that.

Now it seems as if Terrelle Pryor is doing his best “Blue Chips” act and stirs up some thoughts of a history of violations. It wouldn’t surprise me if Pryor had some of the same action Cam Newton had going with Mississippi State (probably Auburn too).

Jim Tressel seems to have ruled over a reign of ignorance to NCAA rules. It was right that OSU forced him out. It is an embarrassment that this has gone on so long. I can only hope the NCAA drops the hammer on the program. The problem most certainly did not end with Tressel. Terrelle Pryor should never play another down of Division I football and the Buckeyes should lose at least 50% of their scholarships for the next four seasons. Maybe it is a little harsh, but that is what needs to be done.

Sure, the Big Ten will go down in flames. Michigan is already average and the last remaining power completely screwed the pooch. I have always seen the Big Ten as the weak sister of the BCS. Don’t worry, the Big East is the redheaded stepchild. The Big Ten has been backsliding for a few seasons. This bombshell will probably drop it on the same plane as the Big East.

The Big 12, Pac-12, ACC and SEC will have to carry the torch as the power conferences for the time being. The Big Ten and OSU will be playing in the shadows until 2015, at least.

Could the Fiesta Bowl be no more?

This just in, a major member of the BCS is corrupt. You already knew that? Ok, nevermind.

It seems as if some mega-corruption on the part of the Fiesta Bowl has the future of the game in jeopardy. That has led some to question if that will affect the potential sale of the Coyotes. Continue reading

Sure, it was Cam Newton’s father.

 

Mr. Newton was almost laughing all the way to the bank

The NCAA has found a new way to ensure a BCS buster doesn’t sneak into the BCS Title Game. This time they have ruled that Auburn super-stud quaterback, Cam Newton, is still eligible after his father broke NCAA rules during Newton’s recruitment. Continue reading