99 for 99 takes a look at the 99 biggest moments in UB Football history in anticipation of the 99th Season of UB Football which begins on September 1st, 2012. These moments are not in any order, however the top 10 moments have been saved for last.
1966-1968 - The Doc Urich Era
After Dick Offenhamer’s retirement as coach of UB football and the end of Clifford Furnas' Presidency, the future of Buffalo Football was in doubt. After 11 years, and a .605 winning percentage would UB: push harder to compete at the highest level, scale down and try to maintain the wins without increasing investment or would they look to do away with football altogether?
When Robert "Doc" Urich became the 16th coach in UB history, it ended the notion of de-emphasizing football. Doc Ulrich, at 37, was the Lane Kiffin of his day. Urich played at Miami of Ohio between ’47 and ’50 winning two MAC Championships. He coached under Woody Hayes at Miami, and then under Ara Parseghian at Northwestern and Notre Dame. Parseghian recommended Urich very highly, and the hire seemed to show the nation that UB was still prepared to compete with the big programs in the East.
During the Urich era UB played an impressive schedule and Urich lived up to his hype, finishing 18-12 after 3 seasons; improving by 1 game each season. Urich continued his parallel to Lane Kiffin as he abruptly left Buffalo for Northern Illinois, reigniting the belief that football was not a priority for the administration. Two years later, the University discontinued the football program.
Urich finished as the 6th UB coach with a winning record over his career, only the 3rd to do so with over 20 games coached, and he is the last UB Head Coach with a career winning record. Despite only 3 seasons as coach, his 18 wins ranks as 6th most in UB history. Urich could not mimic his UB success at NIU, and was quickly fired from that position. Urich returned to Buffalo as a coach for the Bills, and finished his career as a coordinator for the Broncos and Redskins. Urich coached the "Orange Crush" defense at Denver which earned the team a berth to Super Bowl XII.
*Fun Fact: Before joining the MAC, UB and NIU played only twice. Both times, Doc Urich was the winning coach. In 1968 Urich’s Bulls defeated NIU 20-7 in Dekalb. In 1970, the final game of 3rd Era of UB football, Urich’s Huskies defeated the Bulls 43-21.
November 19, 1966 - Buffalo 25, Youngstown St 16 - Leeland Jones Sets Single-Season Touchdown Record
In 1942, Leeland Jones Jr became the first African American football player to play south of the Mason-Dixon line.** The quarterback traveled with the team to Baltimore for the Johns Hopkins game but once there, was not allowed to stay with the team in a "white only" hotel.
Jones was put up by himself at a "black" hotel, but was taken in by a local black journalist Dr. Carl Murphy. Buffalo would win the game 26-6 and four years later, Jones married Carlita Murphy, Dr. Carl Murphy's daughter.
Twenty years later Leeland A Jones, the son of Leeland and Carlita, attended UB and played football as a fullback. In 1966 his nose for the endzone cemented his place in the UB record books. After only 1 touchdown in '65, Jones under Urich found the endzone often, entering the final game of '66 with a UB record 13 touchdowns.
With Buffalo down 10-0 after the first quarter, Jones put UB on the board with a 1-yard touchdown run. QB Richard Wells scampered for a 17 touchdown later in the second quarter to give Buffalo a 12-10 lead. In the second half, Jones scored twice more, each from 1-yard out to give Buffalo 25 points and seal the 25-16 victory.
Jones set two records, 96 points and 16 touchdown runs. 96 points stands today as the 2nd best in UB history, behind James Starks' 102 points scored in 2008. Starks tied Jones with 16 rushing touchdowns in 2008, however Jones only played 10 games compared to Starks' 12 games. The Youngstown game was also UB's 200th victory. It took UB 20 years to get from win 100 to win 200. During that time, UB amassed a 100-73-7 record.
**Many accounts refer to Jones facing Hopkins in 1941, but it seems they mistakenly are referring to the game that occurred in 1942.
***Fun Fact: Well before fantasy football popularized the term "touchdown vulture", there was Leeland Jones. Jim Barksdale led UB in rushing in 1966 with 118 carries for 612 yards. He only scored twice.