January 12, 2014 - 11:15 PM
By Bob DiCesare
Buddy Morris once told an ESPN writer he didn't care for the title of strength and conditioning coach. He'd prefer to be known as someone who oversees physical preparation.
"What we do emcompasses more than conditioning and strength," he said.
No matter what his title, Morris is eager to get back on the football field and work with young athletes. After three years away from the sport, Morris has been hired to oversee "physical preparation" for University at Buffalo football. He replaces Zach Duval, who left to take a similar job at Wyoming.
The job offer came out of nowhere. Morris was working out at the family's New York Sports Center when he was contacted by UB coach Jeff Quinn. The two met on Blizzard Tuesday and Morris, who worked at UB under Turner Gill in 2006, was sold.
"I did not even apply for it," Morris said Sunday night. "Coach Quinn asked me if I'd be interested. I told him yes because I admire the work that he has done over there the past couple years. I think they really have a sense of urgency.
"Coach Quinn and Danny White have that place headed in the right direction. There's a sense of urgency that I didn't feel was there before. Now don't get me wrong. I love Warde Manual and his regime and what he was trying to do. But I think coach Quinn and Danny White, there's just a renewed sense of urgency and a different attitude over there now."
Morris, 56, has an extensive football background. He began at Pitt, his alma mater, under coach Jackie Sherrill from 1980-90, then left to enter private practice. He returned to Pitt from '97 to 2001, then worked for Butch Davis with the Cleveland Browns. Soured on the NFL, Morris joined Gill at UB in 2006 but left six months later for another tour at Pitt under Dave Wannstedt. That ended when Wannstedt and his staff were dismissed after the 2010 season. Morris has been aching for football ever since.
"You know what, I've been miserable for three years," he said. "Not coaching, my wife has tolerated me. My kids, my step kids, my two daughters, have tolerated my mood swings. Come August I get a little loony because I'm not in camp and I'm not on the sideline. This is what I do. This is what I've done my whole life. This is my passion and at my age I haven't lost that."
Morris said he was at UB's training facility (the Morris Sports Performance Center) Sunday pondering what to add and subtract. He's scheduled to meet the team Jan. 26 and begin workouts the following day. As far as he's concerned, everyone starts with a clean slate.
"I don't look at what they did in the past," he said. "I look at what they did today. I don't worry about the past I only worry about the future and what happens from January 26 on. I've been doing this long enough. This is my 34th year. It's not my first rodeo. I don't know what I have until I get in there and start working. Then I'll assess. I'll assess people on an individual basis. I'll assess people by position.
"I truly, truly understand that training is a long-term process. I have no quick fixes. We're going to take our time. I'm a fanatic on technique. I'm a fanatic on the little things. The game's still a game of discipline and it starts in the weight room."
Morris, a bodybuilding champion, maintains a rigorous workout schedule himself.
"I'm still a spring chicken," he said. "I still train four days a week religiously. I have to because you have to see how beautiful my wife is."