It is like Buffalo has a curse, a curse so strong that it has a hold of both professional and collegiate football teams.
The year was 1999 when the Buffalo Bills last made the playoffs. Since then, four different head coaches and nine different starting quarterbacks have walked through the doors.
Buffalo deserves better than mediocrity, but what coach would want to come to a franchise in such despair? With questions like where will the Bills even play after 94-year-old owner Ralph Wilson passes away looming, and not having a franchise quarterback driving away most coaches, it causes the Bills to settle for below-average coaching. Maybe they are thinking that if they throw enough darts at the board, one will have to stick.
The year was 1999 when the University at Buffalo was admitted to the Mid-American Conference, and they too struggle to gain respect. In 13 seasons since joining the MAC, the Bulls have won 37 games and lost 125, only having one winning season. That one winning season was with Turner Gill in 2008, when he led UB to a MAC championship. Other than that, the Bulls have been one of the worst teams in the MAC and have not been able to find traction or even do much aside from that one winning season.
The No. 1 thing in sports is coaching. Having a coach that can motivate and help the players become great is the key. Look at Bill Belichick, the coach of the New England Patriots, and how he takes players that are not that great on one team but turns them into starters on his team. When you look at the talent of the Bills roster, one would expect them to be pretty good but that’s just the opposite, so the verdict must be a lack of coaching. If you took a Belichick and gave him the Bills roster, I bet that they would be Super Bowl contenders.
The UB Bulls also have talent, starting with star running back Branden Oliver, who can easily run for 200 yards every game, and standout receiver Alex Neutz, who is 11th in the country with nine touchdown receptions. But like the Bills, they are still not winning games. Look at the University of Ohio, who hired former Nebraska coach Frank Solich in 2004 and has been rebuilding ever since. In their first game this year, they beat Penn State and went on to be ranked 24th in the country with an 8-0 record before losing two weeks ago.
The Buffalo Bills and UB Bulls are like a semi-truck that is trying to make it over a slippery hill but forgot the tire chains (in their case a great coach), and without those chains they are stuck spinning their wheels.
Keith Latta is a junior at Newfane High School.