I have the pleasure of knowing some "ancient" UB fans. Some of these guys go back to the reboot of UB football in the late seventies but most of them are a product of the "Run to Division One" program which kicked off in the mid 80's with UB's eventual rise to Division one football back in the 90's.
These are guys who endured a lot of pain with only a few choice seasons where UB was respectable, yet they dragged their butts out to the games week in and week out, as they do today.
By their standards I am just a pup. While I was living on campus in the 90's I attended one football game and a hand full of basketball games. Most of the Basketball games I went to was as a member of the 'pep band' (no band camp jokes, I have heard them all).
It was not until Warde Manuel arrived on campus and started to shake things up that I, as an alumnus, took notice of the program. Up to that point I was a Bill's fan only with a passing interest in UB, now those roles are reversed. Manual shifted the culture of UB Athletics and though, at the time, it was buried on page 8C of the Buffalo News it was still good reading.
The point to all of this is that I have hardly any basis to survive a season which has gone as badly as this when it *should* have been better.
So when I started to look at the number this season I started to wonder when UB has last been "This bad". Interestingly enough the last time UB was putting up numbers similar to this season was 2006. The big difference is that as bad as the season was going in 2006 fans could look at 2005 and see improvement.
Sometimes inheriting an awful program has distinct advantages, especially when there is little history or expectations from the student body for success. Turner Gill walked into the worst team in the conference. Beyond waling into the locker room of the bottom team in the MAC he also got to take over a program which had been in neutral since rejoining division one.
The only recent example of that might be Ron English at EMU who has just one win through 21 games. Still, if I had to put money on it I would guess that even if the eagles lose out the rest of this season that his .042 win percentage will buy him a third year in Ypsi.
UB's current situation is a lot less like EMU's and a lot more like Ball State's. We had a coach who was building our program and now he is gone. Sure Gill looks different when you examine him without the shading of Royal Blue Glasses but the overall trajectory of the program was positive despite a harsh 2009 season.
Ball State had the same think in Hoke (just look at San Diego). They replaced him with expectation of being a team that for the most part would year in and year out be a contender for the west and a likely Bowl team. What they have walked into is an express elevator to the bottom of the MAC West (EMU still hold the keys to the sub basement despite their win).
During their first season a lot of Card fans expected a 6-6 year, saw an opportunity to have a transition speed bump instead 2009 turned into a "Thelma and Louise" moment, with JoAnn Gora driving and Tom Collins in the passenger seat. 2010 is only a repeat of that season with all the same questions and still no answers. That's a pretty fair comparison to what is happening at Buffalo this season.
UB fans saw 6-6 as a reasonable finish and in all fairness to Coach Quinn and company only two teams that have beaten Buffalo are not yet bowl eligible. Miami may get their this week when they play Bowling Green and The Huskies have a decent shot at two wins to get themselves into a Bowl. UB's remaining foes are nowhere near that level with Ball State being the "Cream" of the opposition we face at 3-7 with wins over Akron, CMU, and SEMO. The Bulls have a decent shot at 5-7 which would be, at least, a moral victory.
The flip side is that BSU, EMU, and *shudder* Akron all look at Buffalo on their schedule in the same way we look at them, "Finally a beatable team". I still think Quinn was a far better choice for Buffalo than Parrish was for Ball State. Mainly because Quinn may be unproven as a head coach but unlike Coach Parrish he has not spent the better part of his adult life proving he could not coach at this level.
I've already started to mentally prepare myself for the off season (beginning recruit profiles and what not for December and January), something that I have not had to do this early since 2006. As a fan I get that luxury, the players and coaches at Buffalo do not and with the leadership around them I expect they are getting well focused to surprise us all in these final games.
The next three games may tell what year we set the time machine to, 2000 or 2007...