Don't look for the University at Buffalo to become part of the frenetic conference shifts that recently saw Syracuse and Pitt gain acceptance to the ACC. The expenses of operating at a higher conference level, such as the Big East, would double or triple the university's athletic budget, AD Warde Manuel told me today. Plus there's the issue of how long it would take UB to be competitive in those conferences, especially given the long journey to competitiveness the school has endured in the Mid-American Conference.
On the surface a shift to a conference like the Big East seems ultra-attractive, especially if there's a football merger between the Big East and the remainder of the Big 12. And Manuel said the Bulls would listen if approached. But there's much to consider and what seems logical could in fact send the athletic program backwards. It's one thing to be in the Big East, another to be a perpetual Big East doormat. I like the slow, measured approach Manuel's taking here. He's a Michigan guy. No doubt that all things being equal he'd push UB to a higher level. But it's his job to do what's best for the university and chasing status at a prohibitive price and perhaps at the expense of competitiveness doesn't seem to make great sense.
Football is the fuel behind all these moves and one really has to wonder if games against the likes of Kansas, Iowa State, Louisville and Cincinnati would be any more attractive to Buffalo's college football fans than games against Kent State, Temple and the like. Ditto basketball. Yes, St. John's, G'town, Louisville have their appeal -- but at $40 a ticket. College sports have been a hard sell in Buffalo since the end of the Murphy-Lanier era 40 years ago.
-- Bob DiCesare
taggedCollege basketball | College football | Mid-American Conference | National | NCAA | University at Buffalo