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 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 posts about the history of the program you'll be a Bull Run certified UB fan ;)

Section Four: The Jim Peele Era (1936-1947)

Year Record
1936 5-3
1937 4-4
1938 2-6
1939 0-7
1940 3-5
1941 3-4-1
1942 6-2
1946 7-2
1947 8-1


It would not be too difficult to make the case that Jim Peele is the most influential man in the history of UB Athletics. Peele, the former Purdue Quarterback and all Big Ten quarterback came to Buffalo to coach a team which was badly in need of a winning season.

Peele would deliver immediately when, in 1936, he coached the Bulls to a 5-3 record, including a 4-0 start. The inaugural season did have it's down moments, including a pair of back to back drubbings at the hands of Clarkson (41-0) and Hobart (52-2) but the turnaround from the sting of losing seasons was dramatic.

Football members of the UB Athletics Hall of fame under Coach Jim Peele:
  • Louis D. Corriere
  • Vito A. Grieco
  • Dominic J. Grossi
  • Eugene S. Hiller
  • Leeland N. Jones, Jr.
The following three seasons would be the low point, the only low point, of Jim Peele's career. Over a painful stretch of three years UB would go 5-18 score less than six points a game and be held scoreless thirteen times. In 1939 the Bulls had what can reasonably be called their worst season ever. The Bulls would not only go winless, they would score just one time all season, against UConn who were in their first season at the division II level.
Season of Futility, 1937

UB Opp
Susquehanna 0 6
City College 0 19
Alfred 0 14
@ Lehigh 0 22
Connecticut 7 25
@ Hobart 0 20
@ Wayne Sate 0 20


Starting in 1941 Peele began to turn the program around posting three wins, and then six wins in back to back years. After 1942 UB, like many schools, suspended athletics during world war two. After the war Peele would again take the reigns and UB football would make the "Rock Pile" it's regular home. The Bulls had played in War Memorial stadium before but it had never been their primary home venue.


Peele led the Bulls to an incredible 15-3 in his final two seasons as their head coach. During the 7-2 1946 season Peele nothced the programs 100th victory when UB up ended Alfred 20-12. The following year, Peeles last as UB's football coach, the team led by future CFL star William Ruddick went 8-1 losing only to Wayne State (who was coincidentally in the last year of their very brief MAC membership).

Season of Redemption, 1947

UB OPP
Niagara 27 14
@ Moravian 7 0
Rensselear 14 7
Hobart 54 0
@ Alfred 40 7
@ Wayne State 12 32
Bethany 40 6
St. Lawrence 50 7




Peele would finish his career 38-34-1 making him 3rd all time winning percentage among UB coaches. He also had hand in launching the pro careers of three UB Players; Matt Ferrentino, Les Molnar, and William Rudick. Peele's contributions to UB Football, and UB Athletics would continue for years beyond his football coaching career.

In 1948 Jim Peele would stop coaching and concentrate full time on his position as UB's athletic director, he would continue to hold the position for almost two more decades. His conduct and skill in growing the UB football program, the Athletic department and the community earned him the The George Eldridge Distinguished Service Award in 1969.

Peele was still the Director during the now famous 1958 season when UB brought home Lambert Trophy and turned down a Bowl bid rather than leave behind their fellow teammates.

While Peele brought in, and enabled, talented coaches he was never too far from the football team. Peele was present on most road trips and often acted as a rather risky chauffeur.
The first trip I had with him was to the Lehigh game. Jim Peele was probably the most unforgettable character ever at UB. He was an old quarterback from Purdue University. They named the baseball field next to Clark Hall on South Campus in his name - it's still called the Jim Peele field. But he was a character. Jim Peele's driving: everybody feared that punishment.

He had this habit of going, "Eh EH, eh EH." So we're sitting in the car, and all the way down to Lehigh, "Eh EH. What play are you guys going to call, eh EH," and he'd ask you all these questions about football, "eh EH."

Then he'd go "hhhhhhhh" on the windshield, and he'd be driving, and he'd start drawing X's and O's on the windshield. I mean, your life was literally in his hands, and it was awful. -- Ben Verrico
Aside from providing free, yet risky, rides to UB football players Peele also is the father of UB Baseball. In 1949 UB Athletics launched its Baseball program and Peele appointed himself as the Coach to make the program more affordable, stunningly he went 4-0 during his inaugural season.

After a two year break in coaching Peele resumed control of the team in 1952 and would hold the job until 1967. Peele ran up a winning percentage of .740 amid only one losing season. By the end of his tenure UB had back to back appearances in the NCAA championship tournament.

Jim Peele passed away in 1976, one season before students and faculty pressured the university to reinstate the dormant football program.

Games Coached by Jim Peele

1936: 5-3
26 Defiance 6, 29 at Rochester 2,27 at Alfred 0, 19 Hiram 12, 0 at Clarkson 41, 2 Hobart 52, 6 at Wayne State 14, 12 Rensselaer 0

1937: 4-4
14 at Allegheny 7, 12 Rochester 7, 13 Alfred 25, 13 Kent State 0, 12 Defiance 7, 7 at Hobart 12, 6 Wayne State 23, 12 at Rensselaer 13

1938: 2-6
2 at City Coll. of NY 15, 6 Manchester 21, 0 at Alfred 7,  0 at Kent State 52 47 Allegheny 0, 0 Hobart 19, 0 at Wayne State 35, 26 Renssaeler 7

1939: 0-7
0 Susquehanna 6, 0 City College of NY 19,  0 Alfred 14, 0 at Lehigh 22, 7 Connecticut 25, 0 at Hobart 20, 0 at Wayne State 20

1940: 3-5
6 at Susquehanna 20, 20 Drexel 13, 0 at Williams 27 , 0 at Alfred 19 , 7 at Connecticut 6, 7 City College of NY 6, 7 Hobart 19, 0 Wayne State 6

1941: 3-4-1
19 Susquehanna 0, 6 at City Coll. of NY 0 , 6 at Drexel 19, 6 Wash. & Jeff. 14 , 0 at Alfred 14, 0 Lehigh 0, 12 at Hobart 7, 6 Rensselaer 21

1942: 6-2
19 at Susquehanna 0, 20 St. Lawrence 0, 7 at Wash. & Jeff. 13, 50 Hartwick 6, 14 Carnegie Tech 27, 26 at Johns Hopkins 6, 66 Hobart 0, 13 at Rensselaer 0

1946: 7-2
40 Moravian 7, 28 at Rensselaer 13, 20 at Hobart 7, 0 Bucknell 20, 20 Wayne State 25, 32 at Bethany 6, 20 Alfred 12, 28 at Carnegie Tech 0, 36 Johns Hopkins 0

1947: 8-1
27 Niagara 14, 7 at Moravian 0 , 14 Rensselaer 7, 54 Hobart 0, 40 at Alfred 7, 12 at Wayne State 32, 40 Bethany 6, 50 St. Lawrence 7, 14 at Bucknell 6


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