UB Football 101

When you hear sports commentators talk about College Football tradition you rarely hear anyone mention Buffalo. Despite having a relatively low profile Buffalo has a lengthy football history. Recent fans, among which I would probably qualify, usually don't know the full scope of UB's history. So in the run up to kickoff I will be doing a series of 14 post about the history of the program you'll be a Bull Run certified UB fan ;)

Section Two: UB Rebooted

Cliff notes:
  • Program re-instituted in 1915 after 12 years off
  • Program reinstated the same year UB Began Men's Basketball was founded
  • The second UB coach, Syracuse Alumni Art Powell, was UB's basketball coach from 1915-1943
  • Programs first devoted head coach was Frank M. Pleasant
  • First Opponent of the UB Bisons was Hobart College
  • UB's game against Hobart was the most lopsided win in school history (81-0)
  • UB's first on campus home field 'Rotary Field' opened in 1922
  • James Ailinger became the first UB player to turn pro, playing for the Buffalo All Americans
  • Coach Biffy Lee (1929-1930) was Knute Rockne's college roommate
  • UB beat current conference mate Toledo by a score of 2-0 in 1925.

The UB Bisonw

Year Record
1915 3-3
1916 3-5-2
1917 4-4
1918 3-1
1919 0-5-1
1920 1-4
1921 2-3-2
1922 1-5
1923 2-5-1
1924 1-7
1925 3-4-1
1926 0-7
1927 0-6-1
1928 1-6
1929 5-2
1930 3-5


The whole story:

In 1915 UB moved in a new direction both academically and athletically. The University officially kicked off the College of Arts and Sciences and also reignited the football program while launching men's basketball. UB Football, for the first time, had a dedicated football in the person of Coach Frank M. Pleasant. Unlike the 1894-1903 edition of f UB Football the Bison's saw little success, the team managed just two winning campaigns in 15 seasons.

The Bison's opened up play against Hobart, the same school that UB fist played in 1894. UB Would lose that game but move to 3-1 before getting beaten by a combined 39-7 in their last two game to Geneva and Grove City.

UB Bison Letterman 1915-1930:
  • William Hayes, 1918
  • Earl Roberts, 1919
  • Carl Baisch, 1920
  • Frank McCollum, 1920
  • Herb Helwig, 1921-22
  • Tom Hayes, 1923-24
  • Lester Knapp, 1924
  • James Ailinger, 1925-28
  • George Metz, 1925
  • Jud Rosengrant, 1926
  • Art Ungerer, 1927
  • Stan Drumsta, 1928
  • Gene North, 1929
  • Earl Riddall, 1930 
Coach Peasant's 3-3 finish in 1915 would his only season as UB's head coach. He was replaced by coach Art Powell.

Powell had come to UB to nurture its fledgling Basketball program. Having gone to Masten Park high school before playing basketball for Syracuse, Powell was a natural choice to bring the Bison's around on the court. At Syracuse Powell was easily one of the better players in the nation scoring 253 points in his four years (1904-1907).

Powell would grow the program over two seasons, obtaining his only winning record during his third year when the Bisons would finish 3-1 (There is some dispute in this number, game by game records indicate UB was 3-1 in 1918 but some media guides have UB going 6-0, and some other have UB at 6-1. The 3-1 that appears is probably UB's 1918 home record. That year, presumably at home, UB dropped its opener to Ithaca (25-0) before going on to dismantle Rochester, Niagara, and Hobart by a combined 141-6. During that run UB beat Hobart 81-0 which is, to this day, UB's biggest football win. After 1918 Records would decline and in 1922 Coach Powell would be replaced by Coach Jim Batterson. Powell would however remain UB's basketball coach until the United Stated entered world war II.
 
In 1922 the Rotary club of Buffalo donated rotary field, while an on campus athletic facility was a step in the right direction (at this point UB was still a pretty small private college) the field itself was in terrible shape. UB player James Ailinger famously recounted just how poor the facilities were in the mid 20's.
"The first season we played here we had to dress up in Hayes Hall and run to the field," said Ailinger. "In between there was a farm, so we had to run through potato and vegetable fields to reach the stadium. Only the end zone was marked. There were stones everywhere and the end zone on the side near the present medical school was six feet higher than the other side. Winning the toss was important because we could choose to play uphill or downhill." -- Dr. James Ailinger UB Football / Basketball Player and member of the UB Athletics hall of Fame
Coach Batterson would last just one season, followed by Bond, James Bond (seriously) who, like his predecessor, would last just one season. During these two years UB managed just three wins (Mechanics Institute, Rochester Optometry, and Hamilton).

Things would go from Bad to worse as UB brought in Russ Carrick who would serve for four years and win only five games. UB did play, and beat, Toledo during his tenure the first victory by UB over a current conference mate.

During Carrick's tenure UB would produce it's first professional football player.  Jim Ailinger (quoted above) would go on to play for the Buffalo All-Americans (later named the Bisons). He had an impressive but short career earning praise, and interest, from some of  most storied names in American Football famous football.
"All I could see were his knees going up and down. I was knocked out cold -- but I tackled him!" -- Jim Thorpe
Ailinger was pursued by Red Grange but the DDS decided that the risk of damaging his hands was too great to continue playing football professionally (a time when being a dentist payed more than playing football). In the late 1990's he was pronounced the oldest living professional player by the NFL hall of fame. Dr. Ailinger passed away in 2001.


To revive the UB football program Notre Dame Alumni, and college roommate of Knute Rockne, Biffy Lee was brought in to coach the team. Lee's success in his first season (5-2) would lead to an ambitious bit of scheduling the following year which pushed UB back under five hundred.

1930 was the last year the team would be known as the Bison's, it was also the last year Biffy lee would coach the at UB. The Schedule started off against  Carnegie Tech (6-3) and Fordham (8-1) who beat UB by a combined 146-2.

UB Football Games 1915-1930

Frank Pleasant 3-3-0 (.500)

1915 (3-3-0)
6 Hobart 20, 7 Rochester 3, 6 Alfred 0, 6 St. Bonaventure 0, 0 Geneva 29, 7 Grove City 10

Art Powell 13-22-5 (.388)

1916 (3-5-2)
6 Hobart 0, 2 Rochester 14, 0 Hamilton 19, 0 Allegheny 29, 7 Westminster 0, 0 St. Bonaventure 12, 9 Thiel 7, 0 Geneva 7, 0 Grove City 0, 0 Detroit 0

1917 (4-4-0)
45 Hobart 0, 28 Rochester 0, 0 Hamilton 6, 0 Westminster 7, 6 St. Bonaventure 13, 27 Thiel 7, 7 Detroit 20, 12 Mansfield 6

1918 (3-1-0)
0 Ithaca 25, 41 Niagara 0, 19 Rochester 6, 81 Hobart 0

1919 (0-5-1)
6 Hobart 21, 0 Rochester 33, 0 Westminster 6, 6 St. Bonaventure 6, 0 Detroit 25, 0 St. Lawrence 23

1920 (1-4-0)
0 Thiel 13, 0 St. Lawrence 20, 3 at Alfred 7, 2 Hobart 20, 12 Canisius 0

1921 (2-3-2)
0 Thiel 0, 0 at Bethany 42, 7 Alfred 0, 54 St. Stephen’s 0, 12 at Allegheny 22, 0 at Hobart 37, 0 at Rensselaer 0

Jim Batterson 1-5-0 (.167)

1922 (1-5-0)
12 Mechanics Inst. 0, 13 Thiel 15, 0 Alfred 6, 0 Clarkson 18, 0 at Rochester 19, 10 Hobart 27

James Bond 2-5-1 (.313)

1923 (2-5-1)
40 Roch. Optometry 0, 0 Thiel 29, 6 at Alfred 16, 7 Clarkson 7, 7 Hamilton 6, 0 at Hobart 7, 6 Rochester 13, 0 at Holy Cross 34

Russ Carrick 5-30-2 (.162)

1924 (1-7-0)
7 Westminster 16, 0 Alfred 9, 7 St. Lawrence 0, 0 at Davis & Elkins 48, 0 Clarkson 26, 7 at Rochester 21, 6 Hobart 13, 0 G. Washington 6

1925 (3-4-1)
2 Toledo 0, 0 Westminster 8, 0 Rochester 0, 0 Davis & Elkins 39, 6 at Alfred 0, 10 Clarkson 2, 0 at Hobart 13, 0 at G. Washington 59

1926 (0-7-0)
13 Hobart 42, 0 Rochester 32, 0 Niagara 60, 0 Alfred 6, 0 Westminster 38, 2 Clarkson 20, 6 Toledo 33

1927 (0-6-1)
0 Hobart 49, 0 Rochester 47, 0 Niagara 34, 0 Alfred 0, 0 Westminster 43, 7 St. Lawrence 20, 0 Clarkson 19

1928 (1-6-0)
0 Hobart 38, 0 Rochester 36, 0 Niagara 38, 0 St. Lawrence 12, 6 Clarkson 19, 12 Long Island 0, 0 Edinboro 35

Jay "Biffy" Lee 8-7-0 (.533)

1929 (5-2-0)
7 at Upsala 14, 20 Alfred 12, 12 Clarkson 9, 0 Rochester 20, 13 at Long Island 0, 27 Hiram 12, 13 at Hobart 7

1930 (3-5-0)
2 Carnegie Tech 75, 0 at Fordham 71, 0 at Alfred 20, 6 Hamilton 0, 6 at Clarkson 14, 6 at Rochester 24, 39 Upsala 0, 20 Hobart 6


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