Perhaps I'm trying to wax eloquent about a game that means nothing to either team, except a win or a loss.
Maybe it's just a foolish idea that this is a battle of places, world, cultures, and types of love for a sport.
Or maybe...just maybe...both teams could put on one heckuva show.
The University of Buffalo is the Green Bay Packers of the MAC conference. Without the winning records. If you want to root for a team that plays in 20 degree's and snow? Go watch UB play. They do it, win or lose, every year.
A group of medical students at the school who wanted to play ball back in 1894 started the football team.
Round about 1970 or so the student body decided that football was not a worthy way to spend college money and the program was halted until about 1977. Since that time, they have moved up in the divisions three times, finally settling in Division 1-A in 1999. It makes them a comparatively young program in comparison to Tennessee. Their overall record is 360–478–28
They have produced some pro-players in their time and most of them recently. Trevor Scott, Jamey Richard, Drew Willy, James Stark, Ramon Guzman, Naaman Roosevelt, Josh Thomas and Davonte Shannon just to name a few.
In short, they are a program that is getting better, both in players, and in presence.
You would have to look pretty hard to find another program that has had a hard a row as we at Tennessee have had these last few years. I see no point in beating a dead horse.
However if you look at Buffalo's growing pains with Tennessee program woe's they are remarkably similar.
Jeff Quinn, coach of the Bulls is a newcomer, having started in 2010 leaving Cincinnati to go there.
His overall record? 4-13.
Dooley's record when he came to UT? 17-20. currently 25- 27
Both men have worked hard to bring their programs forward.
My first apartment was off Niagara Falls Blvd on the border of Amherst and North Tonawanda. Locals will tell you that’s a stone's throw from the UB campus, and indeed, it is true.
Desperate for football while I was there, I have the dubious position of having attended more UB football games than my wife has (I went to three), an Alumni of the institution. Unfortunately, I also watched them during the Jim Hofher years, which arguably could be called their darkest times in their program. In 2002 while I was in NY they went 1 -11.
Tennessee fans who feel we have "poor seasons" when we go to a bowl game should take a long look at that record.
Because it was followed by a 2003 record of....1-11.
The city of Buffalo is a sports driven area. Say the words "No Goal" to a Sabre's fan and you are practically guaranteed a free drink at any number of Niagara, Depew, or Tonawanda bars.
They are also a fickle crowd. I was there for the introduction of Drew Bledsoe to the Bills. The city welcomed him as if it was the second coming. In some ways, the city is the Alabama of the NFL, always reaching for another Bear Bryant. In their case, it is Jim Kelly.
I was there when they practically ran him out of town as well, something I never really understood. In my mind, a quarterback who breaks passing records year after year, and is being sacked...has an O-line that should probably be fired. Yet he became the whipping boy for vehement fans nonetheless, and the focus of their angst as another season passed them by.
The city resides under an axe. More than once the Sabres have been placed up for sale.
The Bills are under a literal deathwatch, as Ralph Wilson has made it perfectly clear that the team will be for sale when he dies. At
The general public waits with baited breath, chewing their nails waiting for success and for an individual with deep pockets to whisk their teams away from their beloved city.
Intro the University of Buffalo in to this madness. With arguably the longest history in the city, a sports program that has been around longer than either of their pro teams or their minor league baseball team. The only thing that has held them back from becoming a force in the area is ironically their win loss record, and the pro teams themselves. One would think that the crowd would rally behind its university but sadly, it’s not the case.
More's the pity. It would be hard to find a team that plays with more heart than the Bulls. Year after year, they have placed themselves in front of opposing teams, and as demonstrated lost their shirt. Nevertheless, it has not stopped them from continuing to work hard and play harder.
A game that displays two programs attempting to find themselves. Perhaps it sounds more poetic, more interesting on paper. The reality is the Bulls will come to play football. I doubt they are under any illusions of winning. However, I am also willing to bet money that they will make a fight of it to the best of their ability. Ask Connecticut about that, back in 2009. Hell, ask them this year.
We typically play Southern schools, and with that, we have a typical southern love for our football programs and the traditions contained within. In some ways, this game is a battle of the old North versus South cultures. A true 1800's football match up, that is being played in modern times.
It's no secret that families bond through sports. How many of us gained our love for a team, or a sport from a member of our family? We have to start somewhere. Start with something that will give meaning to the sport. So it goes for this game.
My daughter has been counting the days each night before we go to sleep. I often would keep count of days for her to special events, using the old military method. Don't count the day you’re in. Your hip deep in it. Just the ones remaining.
"You know what Daddy?"
"In 2 days we go to Tennessee!!"
She wraps herself in my Tennessee blanket, and calls it a night clutching her Smokey doll.
Two days and a wake up. Two days until two cultures that could not be more different, and two programs more alike come together.
And I can't wait.