"Sometimes, you don't need to see it to believe it"
I’ll admit it. I didn’t watch Buffalo’s entire 37-14 loss to Ohio Wednesday night.
No, it wasn’t because I turned the game off. I didn’t even have the opportunity to turn it on until the end of the third quarter.
I didn’t watch the entire game because I was covering Section VI high school field hockey championships for The Buffalo News.
There were many reasons why I decided standing in an open-aired press box (yes, it was freezing) would make for a more enjoyable evening than sitting on a couch in The Spectrum office watching the Bulls.
Yes, I got paid to be at the field hockey game. Yes, I could be published in The Buffalo News. But also, I knew between three field hockey games, I’d see something that excited me.
I wasn’t confident that I’d see anything worth watching in this Buffalo-Ohio #MACTION affair.
And I began to realize I was correct before the opening kickoff. The start of the game aired on ESPN News, rather than ESPNU. Why? Because an Ole Miss-Mississippi State volleyball game was still being played.
ESPN made it clearer than I ever could. Southeastern Conference Wednesday night volleyball is more exciting than Wednesday night Mid-American Conference football.
But I continued to follow the game on Twitter – I mean following this team is a part of my job, right? BullRun – a blog that would say the glass is half full even if there was one drop remaining – showed a dumpster fire with the tagline “Meanwhile in Athens…” as Buffalo was getting destroyed.
The first tweet I saw from @ubspecsports (The Spectrum’s official sports Twitter) read: “Jacob Martinez muffs punt, Ohio recovers. Adam Redden injured on play. Ohio leads #UBBulls lead 3-0. 7:48 left.”
Every sentence made me cringe.
When I finally got into my car and found the game on 1520 ESPN Radio – yes, the entire state of New York was treated to this lovely contest – I heard Buffalo’s Paul Peck and color analyst Ed O’Neil discuss what went wrong on a poor snap on a Buffalo punt. Was it a poor snap, or just that a Buffalo player “stepped into the ball?”
No matter where I turned, it was clear Buffalo’s football game was a mess. I didn’t need to see it.
I can’t imagine it’s surprising to anybody that Buffalo’s lost its first two games since the Jeff Quinn firing. Whenever you fire a football coach midyear, you are admitting the season is over. An athletics department can tell the student-athletes whatever it wants – but the players aren’t stupid.
They’ve overcome Quinn’s shortcomings before – just look at last season’s 8-5 record. Look at how the Bulls finished the 2012 season (three wins in the final four games). If Athletic Director Danny White thought this team was talented enough to overcome Quinn and salvage the season, Quinn would still be the head coach.
But White didn’t believe this – and frankly, he shouldn’t have. White realized he was better off looking for a new head coaches than to fool himself about this year’s team any longer.
And this season’s failure shouldn’t be a surprise to any Buffalo football fan that’s being honest with him/herself.
Remember that squeaker victory against Duquesne Week One? Remember trailing by 30 points to Army Week Two? Remember barely defeating Miami Ohio – who hadn’t won a game in nearly two full seasons – at home in the first MAC game of the season?
I do. You know the players do. There’s no doubt Danny White does.
If only ESPNU had another volleyball game it could turn to Wednesday. If only Amherst high school had a fourth field hockey game I could attend. If only Buffalo was led by someone who served as a head coach sometime this century.
ESPN returns to campus Nov. 11 against Akron. But don’t expect another 7,000 students like the Baylor game. Don’t expect 700. With the way this season has been going, 70 students may be a stretch.
The field hockey games I was at – which charged $5 a person – will end up with a better showing than next week’s True Blue section.
But I don’t expect anymore passive-aggressive tweets from White this season. Even he knows this football season is over.
But, hey, basketball season is about to begin – so White will have a new toy to play with.
There won’t be a bowl game this season, but there will be three more games.
I just hope there will be a gymnastics competition or spelling bee I can cover.