December 27, 1958 -- This was supposed to be an historic date in the history of the University at Buffalo football program. The Bulls, 8-1 and winners of the Lambert Trophy as the best small-school team in the East, had been invited to play in the Tangerine Bowl in Orlando, Florida.
But they were told their African-American players could not make the trip to the then segregated South. So, UB, told the Tangerine Bowl, No thank you.‘ East Texas State beat Missouri State, 26-7, in that game on this day.
"it would have been great to get to go to Florida, but it was more important for us not to go," Gerry Gergley recalled. "These were our teammates and our friends. There was no way we were going to leave them behind."
However, there was a happy ending to the story. The UB players were invited to Orlando to watch a bowl game there 50 years later.
"This is icing on the cake," said Willie Evans, one of two black players on the roster.
UB ended that bowl drought on Jan. 3 in the International Bowl against Connecticut, led by Turner Gill.
--- Budd Bailey