Knights-Bulls Matchup Marks More than Just a Non-Conference Game

Jessica DAnalyst ISeptember 16, 2009

DETROIT - DECEMBER 5:  Quarterback Drew Willy #16 of the Buffalo Bulls looks to pass against the Ball State Cardinals during the MAC Championship game on December 5, 2008 at Ford Field in Detroit Michigan. (Photo by: Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

This Saturday, September 19, the Knights play the Buffalo Bulls at home at Bright House Networks Stadium under the lights.

This game between the two teams not only marks their fifth matchup ever, but the opportunity to honor the 1958 Buffalo Bulls football squad, a team which turned down an Orlando bowl bid because the team's two African-American players would not have been allowed to participate.

Members of the historic 1958 team will be in attendance at the game and will be honored at halftime.

The bowl bound team of 1958 was a hot topic during last year's college football season, when the 2008 Mid-American Conference champion Buffalo Bulls received their first bowl bid since the storied 1958 season, on the 50th anniversary of the event.

That faithful year—when the two point conversion was first introduced to NCAA football, the Bulls team—which featured two African American players, Willie Evans and the late Mike Wilson, were invited to play in the Tangerine Bowl organized by the Elks Lodge.

The use of the stadium was controlled by the departed Orlando High School Athletics Association, who forbade interracial athletic events. In a show of solidarity to their teammates, the entire team voted not to play in the bowl game.

Gerry Gergley, an early pioneer of the UCF athletics program, was a member of the 1958 Bulls team. Gergley started both the varsity wrestling and golf teams, and also served as UCF's first strength coach.

Gergley was most notably an integral figure in forming the UCF football team along with the late Dr. Jack O'Leary. He was inducted into the UCF Athletics Hall of Fame in 2008, and still attends many athletic events at the Orlando campus.

The idea of honoring the 1958 Bulls team started with Orange County mayor Rich Crotty, a 1972 UCF graduate. The Office of the Orange County mayor, along with UCF Athletics and Florida Citrus Sports, decided to celebrate Buffalo's visit to Orlando as soon as possible after their 50th anniversary celebration.

Buffalo's athletic association spoke with the team, who were extremely excited about the proposition. They are thrilled that their story still touches the Orlando community and they are very excited to finally come together as one in the Sunshine State.

Read Jessica's article at Orlando.