Hello Current UB Students,
I'm as old as you can be and still call yourself a 'Millennial'. I entered kindergarten in 1982, which means I was a UB student in the mid to late 90's and entered the workforce in the halcyon days when "War On Terror" would have been the title of a summer blockbuster, not a political football fought over for a decade.
Basically I'm one of those alumni who is just young enough to get most pop culture references but just old enough to say "Back in my day". So:
Back in my day, UB was just coming up out of DIII ball. Some of you might not even know what this stands for, but it's Division III - where colleges like Wisconsin-Whitewater and Mount Union are superpowers and have owned for the last decade. I grew up in Buffalo, even played a tyro game at Kunz Stadium in the late 80's and was still unaware UB had a football team and certainly unaware that they were trying to rebuild a once-promising program that was killed by both state funding and the culture wars of the 60's.
It was all Bills and all Sabres all the time in Buffalo and I was a part of that culture.
I attended UB not because it was the largest, most comprehensive school in the New York and basically the closest thing New York had to a 'flagship' state university. Nor did I enroll because they were a new Division I team. I went to UB because their engineering department was one of the top 50 or so in the nation and I could not beat the price compared to some of the other schools on my list.
When I got onto campus I dove head first into my schoolwork. I partied a little, but less than most and kept a small circle of friends. The people in my life were mostly classmates cursing certain Mechanics professors and the motley crew living in my quad.
During my entire time as a student at UB I attended one football game and a handful of basketball games.
In the interest of full disclosure I was only at the Basketball games because I was using the pep band for the credit (can you still do that?).
When I graduated I went to a few more games, mainly to take my nephew out to the only sporting event I could afford. Then life moved me to the Midwest and I've been watching UB on TV and listening on the radio ever since. My experience with my alma mater's sports program is an example of absence making the heart grow fonder.
By passing up the chance to go to football games I gave up an opportunity to experience an important aspect of what college should be. Like so many students who were on campus with me, athletics was an afterthought - something to read about in the Monday edition of the Spectrum, not something to be experienced live.
Fortunately while kids like me were tied up with the idea that we were "better than college sports" there were some students and alumni who wanted not just to experience the fun and spirit of UB Athletics but to also make it better. True Blue was born and they along with alumni drove sites like UBFan.com that did a ton of heavy lifting.
Most of the founders of True Blue, UBFan, and the guys here at Bull Run did not get to enjoy what you students get to take in. The older fans who did make a point to attend games were in a desert. Back in our day UB typically managed only 10-12K paid attendance for football games. Paid attendance, not butts in seats.
But the work done by those students to build the fan base has doubled that number. Now you, the current students, can enjoy 25 to 30 thousand screaming Buffalo fans, something completely unthinkable "back in my day".
Just think what can happen if you take what was given to you and enjoy it and make it bigger for the next generation of UB students.
Why does it matter?
A University is supposed to be just that, a universe. Chances are that every day you walk by other students that you don't care to know. They are coming from different walks of life, are in different classes and majors, and they are culturally or politically very different.
There is so much diversity on campus that can separate you from one another, but so little that can unite you. While the things that divide us are important so are the things which bring us together, even if only for four hours a week.
It's ok to think Johnny Smith is a right wing nut job or that Mike Clark is some left wing loon. I won't fault Susan the Mechanical Engineering Major for not finding a reason to hang out with Tim the Humanities Guy. That's life, it sticks you in a box with other people and closes the lid on the world.
It does not change when you graduate. In fact you will all soon find that as life goes on people become more self-segregated. Once you enter the career field and start a family then your world shrinks even more. There are only so many hours in the day and a good 18-20 of mine are either working to provide for my family or just enjoying my kids.
While you're in college you have an opportunity to walk across campus six times a year to enjoy a football game with Susan, or Tim, or Johnny, or even that left wing loon Mike. You can all put on the Blue and White (or Black for this game) and root for UB.
You don't need to have a high football IQ or love the sport to enjoy a game. Going to a game is as much about the people you cheer with as it is for anything which happens on the field. Even if a team loses you enjoy the other fans, the atmosphere, and the tradition.
This Friday UB faces long odds against a national powerhouse. The game will be nationally televised on ESPN and there is a concert beforehand. This is an awesome event and I've heard that right now the only thing which might keep it from shattering every UB attendance record on the books is student turnout.
This is where you come in - it's on you! With this game, UB is close to creating something special and they just need a push from the students and local alumni.
Back in 2007, Baylor opened their football season at home against Rice, an in-state opponent. For that game the mighty Bears of the Big 12 drew only drew 29,000. If you think the long term goal of big time college athletics can't happen you're wrong. UB has the size, has the academic pedigree, and has the potential to break through and be a part of making it happen.
29,000 should be an attainable number for this game. At the current time there are just 71 tickets available outside of General Admission. General admission is you guys. You can go root for other UB students who are playing in front of the nation, support your school and support your classmates.
If you guys show up it breaks records and sets a new standard for UB. Next year we host Albany and Nevada. Neither is "Baylor" but one is a SUNY rival and the other is a fellow mid-major who will be playing their first game in Buffalo.
You can grow the young tradition of UB sports. It will be a nice cool fall Buffalo night. Come and spend it with 30,000 friends!