I recall when Buffalo moved to I-A. Everyone's first response: Buffalo has a university? Everyone's second response: This university has a football team? Everyone's third response: Why on earth is a university that no one has ever heard of and their football program with no tradition moving to I-A?
Now according to this football site which every college football fan should reference, I am selling Buffalo's football program a bit short.
It appears that they have played about 550 football games in their history, and they have won about 43% of them. Still, they have been so bad since moving to I-A, that even their local paper suggested that dropping football altogether, should remain on the table. (Yes, Buffalo is one of the more than a few I - A football programs that actually loses money for the athletics program.)
And there is a reason for this: Buffalo has had ONE winning season since their "heyday" of sorts in the early to mid 1980s, during which time they had 3 of their 4 winning seasons since 1970.
So the fact that Buffalo absolutely put it on UTEP 42-17 should be noted.
UTEP is not a powerhouse mid-major, but they are coached by Mike Price, who built Washington State into a PAC-10 contender before he foolishly left for Alabama.
Buffalo's head coach: Nebraska great Turner Gill, who won not a few Big 8 titles for the team as a QB and helped develop stars like Tommie Frazier, Scott Frost, and Eric Crouch as the Cornhusker's QB coach.
It's his third season as the Bulls Head Coach, and Gill has 18 starters back from a team that last year came oh-so-close from not only becoming Buffalo's first winning team in over 10 years, and their first as a I-A program, but also winning the Eastern Division of the MAC.
Buffalo was actually good enough to have a winning record against mid-major competition last season, but unfortunately the need to have four "paycheck" athletic budgets, balancing games against BCS conference schools Rutgers, Baylor, Syracuse, and Penn State ruined any chance they had for a winning season.
That left them with no guaranteed victories against I-AA teams, they were faced with the task of needing to win 7 of 8 games against mid-major competition to have a winning record. With six of those eight being conference games, Buffalo was a couple of bad sequences against Miami and Bowling Green away from pulling it off!
So why should anyone care about this but Buffalo fans (all five of them), MAC football advocates, and maybe fans of Nebraska?
Well, Gill's ability to get a program that shouldn't be playing division I-A football, to nearly win a division in the MAC in his second season earned him a lot of notice. Gill interviewed at his Alma Mater Nebraska, and several other schools including Washington State requested to do so as well.
The guy can coach, and won't be at Buffalo much longer, as the Bulls has only two games against major schools (Pittsburgh and Missouri), they are almost guaranteed to manage a winning record. Although thanks to their conference, they will be unlikely to receive a bowl berth.
Likely places to hire Gill? My guess is SYRACUSE. Syracuse's Athletics Director is a USC guy, and he felt that he could replicate USC's success with Pete Carroll by hiring another longtime NFL coach. Didn't work. (By the way, Pete Carroll was a very good college coach...had Curtis Martin not gotten hurt, Carroll would have won a Super Bowl in New England with Drew Bledsoe...people thinking that you can just hire any failed NFL head coach or career assistant and get a winning program ought to realize that Carroll was actually a capable NFL head coach and is better than many NFL head coaches right now.)
This was supposed to be a make or break year for the current Syracuse head coach, and he opened the year with a 20 point loss to NORTHWESTERN. So...Syracuse will be looking for a new coach by the end of the season.
Turner Gill will be a logical candidate. Why? Well...how far is Buffalo, New York, from Syracuse, New York? Precisely.
Also, Syracuse played Buffalo last year, and Buffalo lost by only 8 points. Don't think that the Syracuse people didn't notice.
Turner Gill: next Syracuse head football coach. Think about it. It would be even better if Gill junks the pro-style offense that Syracuse will NEVER be able to recruit the right talent for, (making them no different from 90% of I-A programs, and 95% of them outside of Florida and Southern California...if schools like Oregon in the PAC-10 are now running some option that ought to tell these programs something!) and returns them to the run-oriented schemes that Dick McPherson used to build Syracuse into a winner—the same schemes that his predecessor, Paul Pasqualoni, refused to commit to and wound up getting himself fired as a result, even better!
It would be good for Gill, who is unlikely to get a better opportunity anytime soon, good for Syracuse, good for the northeastern college football scene (which let us face it—isn't that hot and hasn't been for quite awhile), and good for the Big East.
It is bad for Buffalo, I admit, but I am still not convinced that they should be playing football to begin with.