Many are the stories of "I grew up watching Notre Dame" or Alabama or some other team so steeped in money and prestige that fans demand a coaches head after an eight win season. Heck some fans grow up in an area where pro sports is nothing but an afterthought!
Real fans are honed by struggle and sharpened by long periods of losing yet the real fans come back time and time again!
One such fan is "UB 92" a down state lad who went to Buffalo for school and fell in love with UB football, but there is more to his history then "i ended up at UB so I like Buffalo football"
So how did someone from New York City even find themselves a college fan?
I think it all started when I was watching the NCAA basketball tournament with my Dad in the late 70's/early 80's. I was about ten at the time. I can't recall exactly what happened, but I believe that St. Joes was playing DePaul and DePaul was a heavy favorite. But DePaul, up by one late, missed the front end of a one-and-one and St. Joes got the rebound and one of their guys went coast-to-coast to win the game on a layup. It might not have happened exactly like that, but that is my memory...30+ years after the event!
Ok I can see how the lure of big east basketball could suck in a young impressionable lad, but how does this story not end with you decked out like Otto the Orange?
The thing that made a big impact on me was the fact that a big underdog, a school I had never even heard of (St. Joes) could compete and win against a top-team like DePaul. Living in NY at the time, even though the NY Rangers were my favorite team (and subject of that dreaded "1940" chant), they were by no means an underdog in the same way that St. Joes was. The Rangers were on TV, on radio, in the newspaper...even when they did poorly. Everyone knew who the Rangers were. How could it be, then, that a team that I had never even heard of, could beat a top team like DePaul?
So you looked for New York underdogs?
The closest I ever got to rooting for a "local" college team was the Chris Mullin led St. John's Redmen. But what about college football? There were no local college football teams of interest in NY. It was a big void, so I rooted for the underdog in college football...but you never got to see them on TV. The closest was rooting Robbie Bosco home so BYU could cap an undefeated season (and national championship) against a crappy Michigan team. I watched that on a 19" black and white TV!
Nowhere in there do I see Buffalo or mid-major?
As a first generation college student, I watched all college sports on TV growing up, but especially football. To see those fans in the stands go crazy for their team, even deeper than any pro-team, I wanted that. It didn’t happen, however. I didn’t choose Notre Dame like the guy behind me in English class in HS (for the football), I chose UB because it was a good, in-state school that had a good reputation in my major.
Buffalo is a great school but if memory serves me right there were not even a D1 program for most of your tenure at UB.
I wanted that passion for my alma mater that I saw on the TV growing up, so I did what I could do. In addition to cheering on the Bulls and Royals in basketball, I attended many football games as well (one of my best football memories is watching UB beat Hofstra 17 – 3 about 20 years ago on that field on the North Campus). I was hooked and even though it wasn’t like what I saw on TV, it was my team. That meant following the Bulls on the bottom-line on ESPN, following the game on the phone while at your son’s birthday party, hooking the computer (ESPN3) to the TV to watch the game (and "forcing" the family to watch), going to the game on the road when they play near where you live, etc.
I remember the days of watching UB on a dodgy pod cast and seeing a 100 word summary of the game as the sole coverage until the Spectrum came out on Monday, has it all been worth it?
What is it all for? Well, I know Buffalo sports lore has a lot of negative memories with "wide right", "no goal", "Point 5", etc. But we do have a great, positive memory that I call "The Hug". It was the hug that Warde Manuel and Turner Gill shared after beating BSU in the MAC Championship game. That hug was a milestone moment for the program and, for me personally as a fan. While I wasn’t there to actually share in the hug, I did share in the hug. I thought back to the moments watching the games in UB Stadium where we would get beat down or, if on the road, seeing a lopsided score scroll across the bottom line on ESPN. This, for that brief moment anyway, was vindication! That is why I am a fan of UB. Go Bulls!
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