I had an interesting conversation with a UB insider yesterday regarding Danny White. I asked about the mood in the department and what's next. After about 15 minutes of me interviewing them we got to chatting about life, family, and The Buffalo News.
They were fast to mention how well Mark Gaughan is doing as the UB beat reporter. The staff there thinks he is fair and that when he makes a mistake (we all do) he is very fast to correct it. When I mentioned Bucky all I heard was a groan.
"Yea he doesn't like us that much" was the strained polite way they communicated their take.
Bucky is an ass. That's how I would have phrased it. It's no secret that since NYBI and the firing of Reggie Witherspoon White has been walking around with a target on his back. But while Bucky and Sully have been drifting around in their clown car White was busy bringing results to UB.
Then this morning Bull Run community member BSF (credit where credit is due) brought this to my attention.
Below I will tackle some of the thicker stupid laid on by Bucky.
Danny White is headed for Central Florida, off and running for a bigger job with a much bigger budget, just as you expected when he was named athletic director at the University at Buffalo. It was obvious from the day he was hired in 2012 that he wasn’t long for Western New York.
Obvious because he was very successful and destined for a power program. For the same reason I expect that in a half dozen years he won't be at UCF. He will be at a P5 school. When you hire successful people, and they succeed in your organization, they tend to move on.
Nobody should begrudge White for leaving.
(But you know Bucky will spend the rest begrudging White)
He had no allegiance to the region. For the past year, with jobs opening and rumors flying about his candidacy, questions surrounded where he would land and when. He was considered an up-and-coming administrator, someone on the fast track in college athletics.
Here is why Bucky should be ignored when it comes to college athletics. He is clueless about how things work in the front offices. Was Bucky crying about the Turner Gill hire? After all I don't remember Gill turning down a single interview in 2008 or 2009. And he left for the first big offer that came along.
His departure was inevitable, sooner than later.
Yes because when you're really good at your job people will try to hire you away.
White did a good job when it came to rousing alumni, raising money and improving facilities. He implemented creative marketing strategies designed to generate interest in his programs. He made numerous coaching changes that many considered upgrades. Overall, UB was competitive in 3½ years under his watch.
The bolded part qualifies for "understatement of the year". UB had more success under Danny White than at any time since the late 1950's. Football went to a Bowl and may go again this year. Men's Basketball went dancing last year. UB had a national champion in Track and Field.
He also glossed over record fund raising and some very nice facilities improvements.
He also had his flaws. He came off spoiled and immature, particularly when he didn’t get his way. He handed Jeff Quinn a contract extension and fired him. He bought out contracts on several coaches. He wasted your money on the ridiculous New York Bulls Initiative and completely mishandled Bobby Hurley.
Spoiled and immature is a narrative that TBN has been pushing since White fired former Bulls Coach Reggie Witherspoon. How they perceived White is not really important. What is worth noting is that in the few exchanges I have had with him White seemed pretty well grounded.
The Quinn extension was a PR disaster. We've railed on it here, but the terms of the extension meant UB did not lose a lot of money. It's worth noting the season after Quinn was extended UB went 8-4 during the season as was invited to the Potato Bowl.
And of course the NYBI is a favorite punching bag for the clowns. Fact is that it's working and both recruits and some very large donations to the department have specifically mentioned it as a factor.
Let me be clear: His exit wasn’t some great loss. UB now has an opportunity to step back and reassess its future with a clean slate. University officials, beginning with President Satish Tripathi, should take a long, hard look at the athletics program before deciding precisely how to proceed.
While I agree that White's departure is not a great loss I don't think that's the case because now we can undo what White was building. This is an opportunity for Buffalo Athletics to bring in someone to take the next steps. Someone who is unencumbered by the baggage which accumulates as one is shamelessly slandered for years by TBN.
It would be nice if top administrators stopped fantasizing about grandiose plans, stopped kidding themselves about football, stopped banging their collective head against the wall and started accepting reality. Their mission should not be growing football but intelligently retooling the entire department.
By "retooling" Bucky means he wants us to be just like Niagara and Canisius. Tiny non football playing second tier schools in some unknown conference.
UB doesn’t need another athletic director who views the job as a jumping off point toward something better. That’s fine for good, young coaches who stick around for a few years, build good teams and are rewarded for their work. That’s the way mid-sized Division I programs should operate.
As I said above. You *ALWAYS* want someone driven to run an organization. It's true for coaches and administrators. I don't want some guy who looks at a mid major and says "Yea I'm good here, why would I want to make 10 times more money"
Buffalo should have dozens of candidates who understand college athletics. The greater challenge is landing someone who intimately understands Buffalo, N.Y. UB needs an injection of common sense, someone who knows the university’s strengths, is bold enough to make unpopular decisions and strong enough to endure scrutiny.
Here is the part where Bucky pulls out the no true Scotsman argument.
The moment Terry and Kim Pegula purchased the Bills and ensured their future in Buffalo was the moment UB officials needed to take a second look at their football program and, therefore, their place in the Mid-American Conference. It’s the only school in the conference that shares the same region with an NFL team.
And here is the part where Bucky assumes his readers, the people of Buffalo, are idiots. Let's set this up by pointing out that Niagara Falls to Ralph Wilson Stadium is about 50 minutes by car.
- Akron and Kent are about 50 minutes from the Cleveland Browns
- Miami (Oxford Ohio) is about 50 minutes from the Cincinnati Bengals
- Northern Illinois (Dekalb) is about 60 minutes from the Chicago Bears
- Eastern Michigan (Ypsi) is about 60 minutes from the Detroit Lions.
You could also point out that Toledo is part of the Detorit sports region in so far as the area has a lot of Lions fans. But Bucky is counting on ignorance on his readers part before he craps on football.
Plain and simple, it doesn’t work.
UB's attendance within the MAC has been top 3 for the past several seasons. Plain and simple, it can work.
This is nothing against UB football coach Lance Leipold, who made a smooth transition from Division III to Division I under trying circumstances. White hired the right guy to coach the Bulls. The greater problem is off the field. UB has been unable to generate necessary support from the community to justify the expense.
Maybe if clowns like you did not run down UB football at every opportunity they would get more support.
Sad but true, most people in Buffalo don’t care about UB football. For many other MAC schools, it’s the only game in town. Here, it’s only the MAC.
As noted above the bold part is simply not true. With the exception of CMU, WMU, Ohio, and perhaps Ball State every MAC school is in a region near an NFL team.
Besides even *IF* we were the only school competing with a pro franchise then why did UB have better per game attendance than every MAC school for the past two seasons.
The lack of interest likely will worsen with Joe Licata graduating. If you’re not familiar with Licata, that’s part of the problem. For the last four years, the former Williamsville South star and charismatic quarterback was a marketing jewel for UB. Even with him, the program failed to move the needle.
Winning gets people to games, a player's high school does not. Licata has been a good story but he has not been the key to getting people to games.
Anyone who has attended a home game would attest to inflated attendance figures based on tickets sold, not bodies inside a charmless stadium. It’s a shame, too, because UB is a competitive team in an entertaining league. The conference is dotted with terrific players who will land in the NFL.
This is true of *EVERY* NCAA football team, especially mid majors. But again Bucky thinks his readers are morons.
Not enough fans in Buffalo give a hoot. They’re concerned with the Buffalo Bills, not the Buffalo Bulls. They care about the Miami Dolphins, not the Miami RedHawks.
That’s not a criticism, folks. That’s a fact.
This part is true, but it's changing. The vision White had was to accommodate both. It's why in 2013 UB played a game at the Ralph.
UB needs to face the facts, resist the urge to spend good money after bad and embrace FCS football. It means joining the likes of Albany and Stony Brook in what formerly was known as Division I-AA. They made a honest effort while trying to sell the Mid-American Conference, but it’s not the right fit.
Ok point by point:
- At this point a drop to FCS will not save UB a ton of money. True we can drop 20 scholarships, and perhaps a womans sport. We could also save maybe 100-200K on coaching salaries. But to do that UB would have to give up more than one million dollars in TV money and another million from the College Football playoff payouts. I very much doubt that the savings, if any, would be substantial.
- If this model worked Albany and Stony Brook would not be clamoring to move up. UMass would not have wanted to move up. Yet all these FCS schools want to move up.
- The MAC is not the perfect fit for UB. I'd argue in the G5 we would culturally best fit into the American but the MAC is a good fit for UB. It's compact size is perfect to keep travel cost for Olympic sports down.
It’s not a knock on UB’s coaches or athletes or their competitiveness in any sport, men or women. They’re not the problem. Their current conference, which requires all members to have a football team, is the problem. At UB, football rules at the expense of other sports that could be better.
Football also provides revenue that can't otherwise be obtained. I mentioned above the more than two million dollars we get just for being FBS members. I can also point out that the number of seven figure feature games, like our 2013 trip to Ohio State, are getting harder to come by, Especially for FCS team.
The Big Ten is no longer going to be doing FCS games. I expect other power conferences to follow suit.
In 2017, when the Bulls play a road game at Minnesota the school will have at least 3.5 million more in revenue than they would have as an FCS school.
So with that 3.5 million in mind lets continue.
In 2013, according to federal documents, UB spent about $6.7 million on its football program, near the average for MAC schools, while Albany spent $3.5 million and Stony Brook $4.3 million. The savings in football could, and should, be redirected toward upgrading programs that are better suited for the region.
Look at that... UB would save 2-3 million if they dropped and matched the Budgets of Albany or Stony Brook and lose 3.5 million or so in revenue. I don't have a business degree but that looks like a bad move to me.
UB has great potential in two major sports that are in line with the university’s location: basketball and hockey. White understood the possibilities in basketball. He didn’t have a clue about the passion for hockey. Western New York is a natural resource for hockey. UB could compete on a national level in short order.
Wait, let me get this straight. The Bulls (football) can't compete with the Bills but the Bulls (hockey) could compete with the Sabres.
Are you serious?
Oh wait, you're a clown.
Last season, when UB had a dominant team in the MAC and was headed toward its first berth in the NCAAs, previously muted basketball fans surfaced from the underground with reasons to cheer. Alumni Arena, ideal for good Division I basketball, came alive like never before during UB’s run under Hurley.
And now, the same rag that savaged White for firing Witherspoon just said that before Hurley UB hoops fans were muted.
In fact, the Bulls had more bodies in the seats for basketball than they did for some football games last season. If high-ranking officials believe MAC football will lead UB to a power conference and create excitement required to survive in the Big 10, for example, they’re dreaming.
The peanut gallery at the TBN believe that dropping football and picking up the expenses of hockey will make UB hoops a powerhouse, they're clowns.
Really, what’s the point?
2-4 million dollars a year in playoff, TV, and game contract revenue.
Canisius and Niagara haven’t generated nearly the interest both did 20 years ago for games at Memorial Auditorium. They have a difficult time selling out small gyms when they play one another. St. Bonaventure plays in a great venue in an outstanding conference, the Atlantic 10, but you don’t see convoys from Buffalo to Olean.
So everyone around you is failing when they make hoops their flagship program we should emulate that?
UB could play big-time basketball, or at least better basketball, if it joined a tougher conference that earned multiple NCAA bids. The A-10 would provide a geographic rival in St. Bonaventure. A-10 teams have beaten ranked teams 23 times in the last two-plus seasons. George Washington knocked off No. 6 Virginia earlier this week.
It's not as easy as asking to join. Even a very good UB might be opposed by many A-10 members. I don't think Bonaventure would want Buffalo in their back yard.
Fourteen colleges belong to the A-10, including six that have FCS football programs in the Colonial AA and UMass, which competes in the MAC in football. UB currently offers nine sports each to men and women. It can find conferences for wrestling, which could actually improve the program, and football. The A-10 offers all nine women’s sports UB offers. It looks like a fit.
A loss of revenue along with an even bigger travel footprint than the MAC. Yea, fit's like a straight jacket.
The Big East would be great for basketball. With private schools making up the entire conference, UB might not be great for the Big East. Butler, Georgetown and Villanova are among teams that play Big East basketball and lower-level football. Last year, Providence won a national championship in hockey.
This is rich. You start by pointing out we don't fit in the Big East and then use them as an example.
For UB, it’s a stretch along with the American Athletic Conference that includes White’s new destination, Central Florida.
The AAC is way more likely than the Big East. I would put AAC ambitions on par with the A10
What to do?
Administrators can either change their thinking or continue spending your money while swimming in circles. When they start scouring the country for candidates, they should keep in mind that White’s replacement could be under their nose.
Before you lecture people about spending money please stop talking about picking up hockey, joining a geographically larger conference, and throwing away 2-4 million in revenue.
The university should start by calling Williamsville native and Daemen College athletic director Bridget Niland to see if she’s interested. She was a track star at UB, earned her bachelor’s, master’s and law degrees at the university, worked for the NCAA and is currently working on her doctorate at UB.
Pass... Even FCS schools don't generally go to DIII schools.
Another possibility is Mike Mudd, the former Sweet Home hockey and baseball standout who played college hockey at St. Lawrence and spent 12 years as an executive for the San Jose Sharks’ minor-league operations. He’s currently athletic director at Division III Worcester State in Massachusetts.
If neither works, certainly there are qualified administrators out there who view 716 as a state of mind, not an area code or stepping stone. They need someone who cares about the region and will stick around. The last person on their list should be someone selling the notion that college football drives athletics.
I find it ironic that you say "we need someone who will stick around" and then suggest we find that person by poaching other schools. If they will leave a job to work for you, they will leave a job to work somewhere else.
It doesn’t work that way in Buffalo.
Please tell us again how you are the arbitrator of what is Buffalo.
It never did.
UB's fist football success since before Vietnam came when they hired a guy who played ball at Michigan and he hired a coach from Texas who played for Nebraska. Both were hired away.
UB's best ever hoops season came last year after a guy *NOT* from Buffalo to let Reggie Witherspoon go and to hire another guy not from Buffalo. Sure, they are both gone but that is preferable to limping along with a small time provincial mindset.