The push to increase the relevance of UB football reached another level today with announced plans for a concert series before all home games. Nationally renowned recording artists Kool and the Gang will perform two hours before kickoff at the Oct. 5 Homecoming Game. Other acts will be announced in the coming weeks.
"It's truly all about game day this fall and we want to build a culture that celebrates the college football experience available right here in Western New York on the UB campus," AD Danny White said via a department release. "As New York State's largest public university, our potential is truly limitless as we continue to utilize our athletics program as a rallying point to galvanize the community at large. These are exciting times for our institution."
Game day festivites also will include a "Walk to Victory," by the football team, an event common at schools with great football tradition. UB also wil provide an enhanced experience at "Stampede Square." including giveaways and interactive activities.
The concert series and accompanying events are the latest move by White and his staff to build support and increase revenues for UB athletics, football and basketball in particular. The university already is securing seat commitments for the East Club at UB Stadium, an upscale seating and hospitality area with a scheduled 2014 opening.
Today's announcement is the beginning of a season-ticket drive with seats priced at $90.
UB athletic officials say that former Bulls wide receiver Saron Hood died today, reportedly following a workout. Hood, who caught four passes for the 2011 UB team and was mostly used on special teams, had been attending graduate school at Texas A&M. He was a native of San Diego.
UB linebacker Khalil Mack, widely projected as no worse than a third-round pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, has been named a third-team All-American by Phil Steele's College Football Preview. Mack is one of five Mid-American Conference players cited.
Kent State RB Dri Archer is first team on special teams, while Toledo WR Bernard Reedy and Northern Illinois QB Jordan Lynch are second team on special teams. The only other non-special teams player honored from the MAC was Kent State DL Roosevelt Nix, a member of the fourth-team defense.
Lyncn and Archer were identified as "all-purpose" players.
Ohio State, UB's opponent in this year's opener, put LBs Ryan Shazier and Bradley Roby on the first team defense and QB Braxton Miller on the second team offense. Baylor, UB's Week Two opponent, has a first-teamer in OG Cyril Richardson and a third-teamer in RB Lache Seastrunk.
On the baseball front, Collegiate Baseball newspaper's Louisville Slugger Freshman All-American team includes two Bulls, reliever Ben Hertz and 3B/DH Tyler Mautner. Mautner batted .295 with 23 doubles and 35 RBIs. Hartz had six wins and a 2.01 ERA (UB's lowest since 2000).
Canisius guard Isaac Sosa has been named to the Academic All-District 1 team, the only player in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference so honored. Sosa has a 3.48 gpa in finance and is the first Griff on the District team since Darren Fenn in 2000-01.
UB has put two players on the Academic All-Mid-American Conference team. They are receiver Alex Neutz, who has a 3.59 in management, and defensive end Colby Way, a 3.49 in computer engineering. Three Bulls -- receiver Rudy Johnson, tight end Matt Weiser and QB Alex Zordich, achieved honorable mention status.
Blake Bean, a LB from Butler CC in El Dorado, Kan., has signed with UB. He's the fourth Butler LB to sign with a D-I program with the other three headed for Syracuse, Texas A&M and South Florida.
Bean goes 6-1, 232. He led Butler, a JUCO power, with 113 tackles last season including 11 for losses.
"Blake is a great fit for our program because he is an outstanding student and a tremendous football player,” Bulls coach Jeff Quinn said in a statement. “He went the JUCO route because he wanted the best opportunity to play collegiate football at the highest level. We have definitely benefitted from that decision and I can’t wait to see him in a UB uniform.”
Bean was a standout high school wrestler, winning state titles in Oklahoma and Kansas. His father Mike played defensive line at Ohio State at the same time UB defensive coordinator Lou Tepper was the head coach at Illinois. UB opens the 2013 season against the Buckeyes in Columbus.
UB junior LB Khalil Mack was the lone Bull on the Mid-American Conference first team released today. Junior WR Alex Neutz and senior DE Steven Means were selected to the second team.
The major postseason awards went pretty much as expected. Northern Illinois QB Jordan Lynch was Offensive Player of the Year, Bowling Green DE was Defensive POY and Kent State RB Dri Archer was Special Teams POY. Mack had my vote on the defensive side but the overall vote
was understandable given Jones's numbers and BG's success.
1. Northern Illinois -- Jordan Lynch will be on my Heisman ballot.
2. Kent State -- Need healthy Dri Archer vs. NIU.
3. Bowling Green -- That defense rocks!
4. Ball State -- Surprised almost everybody.
5. Toledo -- Great year for Fluellen.
6. Central Michigan -- Took
four of last five.
7. Buffalo -- Should have won at least six with that defense.
8. Ohio -- SI jinx hit like a hurricane.
9. Miami -- Beat Ohio and then .... kaboom!
10. Western Michigan -- New coach in '13
11. Eastern Michigan -- Long way to go.
12. UMass -- Made decent progress
13. Akron -- Second straight year without FBS win.
COLUMBUS -- Bo Oliver and Devin Campbell are in uniform and going through warmups. If truly healthy, their presence cast today's game in a different light. Getting the running game going will be more important than normal given the wicked winds whipping across Columbus Crew Stadium. Passing, punting and field goal attempts could lead to some crazy occurences.
Bowling Green moved this game east because:
1) Black Friday games are poor draws with the students on break.
2) There's an alumni base here.
Western New York native Bob DiCesare covers UB football, Big 4 basketball and writes an occasional column. He still holds a grudge against Chris Ford who, he's convinced, cost St. Bonaventure the 1970 NCAA basketball championship.
Rodney McKissic began his journalism career in 1989 after graduating from the University of Cincinnati and has worked for The Buffalo News since 2001. A proud father of four children, he enjoys reading in his spare time.
Amy Moritz, a native of Lockport, hhas covered colleges for The Buffalo News since 1999. She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism/mass communication from St. Bonaventure University and a master’s degree in humanities from the University at Buffalo. An endurance athlete, she has completed several triathlons, half marathons and marathons.