The Mouse Pack
Former UB player and coach Jim McNally details commitment to football tailgate
Jim “Mouse” McNally has been coming to UB football games since 2004 –– 40 years after his time playing on the team. He makes sure to bring some old friends with him.
The former Bull and NFL coach created the Mouse Pack: a group to connect old friends at his alma mater. The group tailgates at UB home games, and has for the last 14 years.
McNally began his time at UB in 1961 as a 5-foot-8-inch offensive and defensive lineman. He earned the nickname “Mouse” for his size, speed and elusiveness. Many thought he was too small to play football, but he bulked up to 210 pounds to become a starting player.
Today, McNally works as a consultant for the Cincinnati Bengals and devotes his free time to UB football.
McNally and a few friends set up in Alumni Lot B to tailgate on Saturday. Unfortunately, they would see the Bulls lose 42-13 in a few hours to the Army Black Knights. It was Buffalo’s first loss of the season.
With kickoff at 12 p.m., the spread for the tailgate was a bit unusual.
McNally’s friend Kevin Ryan is manning the grill. Instead of hotdogs and hamburgers, he’s making omelets. There’s no pizza, wings, subs or beer at this tailgate. They have been replaced by pastries and mimosas.
“If I didn’t convince them to come to UB, these people wouldn’t know where it was,” McNally said.
McNally and his friend group call themselves the Mouse Pack.
The Mouse Pack is made from graduates of Kenmore West High School between 1960-63. They have been friends for nearly 60 years. McNally created the group when he returned to Buffalo while working as the offensive line coach for the Buffalo Bills.
For the group’s first tailgate, McNally began by inviting 16 friends who were still in the Buffalo area. Thirteen showed up.
McNally was inspired by his high school reunion. He and a few friends who played football together went down to the field and started running routes. A couple of out routes later, the group realized they should remain together.
“I told them it was $200 for tickets to six football games. You have to go,” McNally said.
McNally is a Buffalo mainstay and spent a decade playing and working with UB football. McNally was a UB lineman from 1961-64 and was an assistant coach from 1966-70. His time at UB thrusted him into a 40-year coaching career with 27 years spent coaching in the NFL. McNally was inducted into the UB Athletics Hall of Fame in 1982 and the Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame in 2008.
McNally left UB when the Division I football program was cut in 1970 and said it was a shame when they cut the program.
“When they went Division III, they missed out on 10 years of alumni networks.”
The team meeting room inside of the “Murch” at UB Stadium is named after McNally and fellow player Kevin Brinkworth who played from 1959-62. Brinkworth arrived late to the tailgate. The team meeting room is made in honor of former alumni with their names on the back of each seat.
McNally has created his own alumni network. The Mouse Pack reaches 400 members and has a yearly retreat in July. The members at the game on Saturday are the “first-stringers.”
“We might not see each other for months but UB football brings us back together,” Ryan said. “How many people can say they are still friends with people from high school 60 years later.”
The tailgating group has season tickets for both football and basketball. Members echoed how they would like to see more student support.
“That’s what we like to see, more students,” said Bob Lannen. “To see them leave at halftime is kind of sad.”
Members of the Mouse Pack can be found in section 209. It has a great view of the field but the plastic seats are uncomfortable, according to Ryan.
Friends shared stories of McNally and thanked him for organizing the group. Greg Brown, an offensive lineman he recruited to Wake Forest in 1979, visited McNally at the game.
He was offered an omelet.
There have been many poor attendance nights at UB stadium, but the Mouse Pack will always be there two hours before kickoff enjoying each other’s company … no matter the turnout.