In a few days on the Last Bull In videocast, near the beginning of the show, Dave is going to ask me what yesterday's loss to Eastern Michigan means for UB going forward. I may choose to answer with a narrowed lens to the meaning in the remaining five games of the regular season; I may choose to speak to a more far-reaching time frame.
Mathematically, the answer is simple. The loss means UB is now 3-4 on the season and 1-2 in the MAC. Their three wins have come against two FCS teams and the widely regarded worst team in the FBS. The MAC East Championship is now real only in the world of mathematics, and the path to bowl eligibility - even the 6-6 that holds only the label and not the trip - is difficult to divine for any 3-4 team, let alone the one that played yesterday and the week before. Heck, even finding three more wins for the team that beat Norfolk State or Miami is difficult.
Qualitatively, the EMU game was not a harbinger; a troubling first glimpse of pitfalls that could return again in future games. It was the Summoner coming to life a thousand years after Canterbury, having finally caught up with each and every single one of this team's deficiencies.
That's the thing: none of the misfortunes on the grey turf was a surprise, a one-time thing that can fairly and honestly called uncharacteristic. Kick coverage has been questionable for years. The kicking game has been off for two. Licata's up-and-down season - that's what it has been, regardless of how heavily the local savior storyline has been handed to us looming threateningly over criticism - has been masked by a pleasant surprise in receiver depth.
I see no need to provide a rundown of my takeaways that will just feel cliche in their familiarity. If you'd like that, everything above has been addressed here before. But it seems that there is a need to write about ourselves.
There are always going to be a range of emotions surrounding sports. Even in a winning program they won't all be positive; ask Frank Solich about that.
Conrad put it best last week when he commented that UB fans are in a period of "negotiating their investment" as they discover themselves frustrated. Behind the commonality of general discontent comes a wake of disagreement as to the appropriate target. Last Wednesday we saw that disagreement among the four of us on Bull Run, but here's something that requires no negotiation:
It is not Bull Run's responsibility to be relentlessly positive. Really, it's no one's. If you think we are too negative, I'll tell you that there was a large cluster of folks sitting near me at Rynearson yesterday who are more closely connected to the team and expressed their displeasure with the coaches much more strongly than typed words on this site and on Twitter.
If you want relentless positivity, there are other avenues online and elsewhere to find that. If there is a concern that this fan blog is not a strong enough supporter of UB, I invite you to read my coverage of the school's ten other teamswho are also in season. I personally think I am too effusive, but it's easy to write about teams that win.
And it's a fact, not a spate of negativity, that at 3-4 the football team has one of the lowest winning percentages in the department right now. The one coach with a worse record is in his second season and clearly in the early-mid stages of building a program, not five years in with a team fully stocked with his own recruits. Questions of player loyalty to coaches and their work in developing student-athletes off the field are important and valid considerations, butit didn't mean much on the basketball court eighteen months ago.
Make no mistake: I and everyone here are UB fans. Trying to challenge that is a fool's errand, and I'm happy not to remember well the time before anyone - and I only exaggerate slightly - talked about UB online. No matter how negative local media was - before certain deals got inked and they changed their tunes, at least - Danny White is not Stalin. It's okay to dissent and express dissatisfaction.
UBBulls.com will always give you basic summaries and stats. They are a valuable resource to me and all Bulls fans. But we're not them and not obligated to act in their image. We have more to say and the freedom to say it, and do not sacrifice some degree of "fandom virtue" when we do.