The noncommittal mentality


I didn’t want to come to UB, and honestly, I don’t think many others did either. But after my first experience here I knew I wanted to stay. 

I drove through a blizzard to watch men’s basketball lose by 15 points to Ohio. I sat next to my mom thinking that this about to be college freshman was too cool to be seen to her. I heard the sound of the band, the cheers of the crowd, the yelling from the coaches and I knew this was the place for me. I was fully committed.

That can’t be said for UB Athletics administrators and coaches.

Buffalo has no history, no name recognition and when you tell others not from WNY about Buffalo, their only response is “it’s cold up there.” Here’s the thing: I know, we all know, there are things called jackets.

UB is an AAU-accredited member and the flagship of the SUNY system, yet none of that seems to matter when it comes to athletics. 

Since I’ve applied, I’ve seen three different athletic directors and a number of coaching changes. None of them have been from firings. 

The second result when you google “UB fires coach” is about Reggie Witherspoon, the first result is for the National Women’s Hockey League’s Buffalo Beauts.

UB is a stepping-stone university; Danny White left for UCF, Allen Greene left for Auburn, Nate Oats left for Alabama.

Fans of UB are afraid every time someone leaves. We’re in the “golden-age” of UB sports but that could all end soon.

When I spoke with alumni and past athletes, they tell me the worst thing this school ever did was drop out of Division I. Buffalo missed out on decades of fans, alumni and athletes that have put it in the situation we’re currently in.

Now we have to live with the mentality that Buffalo will never be enough. There’s always something better and we will never be “the Gonzaga of the east.”

I can’t blame anyone for leaving Buffalo to further their careers. That’s what I’m supposed to do as a student when I get my degree.

I just want someone to be committed to this university. I am sick of hearing the same “coach speak” that Buffalo is such a great place to be and that they’re excited to be here. 

Commit to this university the same way I did.

It’s not always easy being in Buffalo. We may not have the best facilities or the most aesthetically pleasing campus but we have a cool logo and a building reputation. We need someone with drive, passion and the will to be loyal and make a reputation for Buffalo.

Oats could’ve been that person, but he went on his own path. The person I’m looking for might already be here at UB. 

Lance Leipold and Felisha Legette-Jack have done great jobs already changing the culture of their programs and UB. Hopefully it becomes an institutional change. 

 With continued support from coaches and administration, Buffalo can be something great. Their only obstacle is that it hasn’t been done before.

UB should no longer be a stepping-stone university. Buffalo should be for the best and it all starts with a commitment.

Nathaniel Mendelson is the senior sports editor and can be reached at nathaniel.mendelson@ubspectrum.com and on Twitter @NateMendelson

NATHANIEL MENDELSON


 Nathaniel Mendelson has been writing for The Spectrum since 2018, mainly covering football, men's basketball and softball. He currently works for The Buffalo News and has a daily article on buffalobills.com. Other responsibilities include managing the office fish tank.