I sent an utterly bizarre text message a few days ago.
The Roost’s own Chris was on the receiving end of this doozie: “Are there any UB football games over Thanksgiving break?”
Strange, I know. The day has come where a University at Buffalo football game is worth attending. Not to say that I haven’t attended one before (2006’s home opener was absolutely unwatchable), but now I just might get my money’s worth. A laughingstock since their Division I-A (or “Football Bowl Subdivision,” for all of you new-schoolers) inception, UB now sits atop the MAC East standings, and people are taking notice.
Lot’s of people deserve credit for the outstanding turnaround. Head coach Turner Gill seems to be getting the majority of the credit, and for the most part, it is well-deserved. Gill had the guts to take over one of the worst programs in the entire country and has them sitting pretty in just his second year. As past coaches Craig Cirbus and Jim Hofher will tell you, the UB head coaching job was regarded as career suicide. How can you recruit players to come to a place where there is virtually no college football history, cold weather, and a losing reputation? Gill seems to have found a way, with a large number of freshman and sophomore players starting on both sides of the ball. Athletic Director Warde Manual deserves some respect for the foresight to hire Gill, and has done a very good job of hyping a once-maligned program (nearly 30,000 in attendance for the aforementioned 2006 home opener is quite the accomplishment.) If Manual is smart, he will offer Gill a hefty raise to fight off those pesky Nebraska rumors.
Another bright spot for this year’s incarnation of the Bulls is the amount of production from local kids. I’m sure most would argue that Niagara Falls High School product James Starks has been the MVP of the team, while Naaman Roosevelt (St. Francis) is the team’s top wide receiver.
Do yourself a favor, and head on down to Amherst for a football game. UB basketball games have been a good bang for your buck for a few years now (although, they pale in comparison to their SUNY counterparts in the state capitol), and it seems like the football program has finally caught up.
Hell, when was the last time a football team from Buffalo had a legitimate shot at the post-season?