As a fan there is no sweeter word, and as a current student at UB, I couldn't be happier or prouder to be a Bull than I am now.
To put things into perspective, just as to how much this game meant to me, I'd like to wind the clocks back to October 23rd, 2010, when a plucky 16-year-old version of myself arrived for the first time on the UB campus, and fell in love with the school and city that I would eventually call home. But it was also the day that I had my first up-close-and-personal experience with UB Athletics.
It was open house at UB, and it being my top choice, I wanted to venture out to Western New York to tour the campus and engineering department, and also to take in my first Bulls football game. Now, for those of you unfamiliar with the exact game that was played on this date or if you've blocked 2010 from memory (sorry about bringing up bad memories!) this was UB's homecoming game against the Temple Owls.
At the time I went in with an open mind, thinking that UB would put on a good game, and maybe even squeak out a win over the Owls. I was sadly mistaken. The Owls thrashed the Bulls 42-0, although I left at halftime, it left me with a bad taste in my mouth.
From that point until I arrived in Amherst nearly two years later, I had written off UB Athletics, thinking that I was going to a good school, but not a huge Division-I school that would be very competitive.
Now lets fast forward about three years - I've been on campus for a year, and was starting my sophomore year. Once I had gotten to campus and starting going to events, I fell in love with UB Athletics. The Hurley era was about to begin, Jeff Quinn was winning football games and UB clinched its first bowl berth since the team won the Mid-American Conference Championship under Turner Gill, and people were abuzz about UB and where the department was going.
Then, the football team was bounced in the de facto MAC East title game by eventual champion Bowling Green, and the start of the Hurley era was exciting, it ended with a sour loss to the Eastern Michigan Eagles in the MAC tournament.
I was happy that the teams were successful and had accomplished a lot - but, as a fan I was still longing for more. I wanted my peers to be hoisting a trophy and to get their own championship rings, and I wanted to celebrate and be proud that my college winning titles.
Now we fast forward to last night. I honestly hadn't been this excited for any sporting event since my beloved Arizona Cardinals were in Super Bowl XLIII; I invited my extended family over again after having them watch the semi-final game against Akron, and the Bulls did not disappoint.
Going into the game I had the same feeling that I had when I was watching the Women's Soccer team take on Western Michigan in the MAC Championship Game, and that's when I knew that this team was destined to win the game.
I was on my feet for the entirety of the game pacing about my living room, my heart rate was as if I had just went outside and ran a 5 minute mile, and my hands were shaking with excitement. With each passing minute as the Bulls inched closer and closer to victory, the happier I got and the excitement poured over me a downpour of rain on a hot summer's day.
When Will Regan went to the line for the final time and drained both free throws, I jumped up, channeled my inner Russell Casse (from the movie Independence Day) and yelled "All Right Mr. President!" and promptly made an ass of myself by dancing around the house like a fool - but I didn't care. The Bulls had won, and my team was going dancing.
So after years of disappointment, starting with the football shellacking at the hands of Temple, to the close-but-no-cigar teams of last year, this win has vindicated my fandom of the UB Bulls. I've never had a team that I've been so invested in win a championship like this before and for how special it feels to me, I can only imagine the excitement and joy for the Alumni and fans that have endured years of heartbreak to finally see the Bulls go dancing and be on top of the Mid-American Conference.
I remember Dave, saying that I wouldn't remember college because of some class that I took, but of the memories that I'd make watching athletics, and spending time with friends, well Dave, you were right. I will cherish the memory of that win for a very long time.
So as I sit here typing this the day after, I can't help but smile, because my team, OUR team is going to the big dance.