The 1970 Buffalo Football team was coming off a successful 1969 season when the team won six games and lost only three. The 1970 edition of the Buffalo Bulls was Bob Deming’s second year as the head coach. Deming’s young, talented coaching staff included two assistants, Jim McNally and Rick Lantz, who would eventually have long coaching careers in the NFL. The 1970 schedule included future ACC teams Virginia Tech and Boston College as well as future Big East teams Villanova and Temple. And in a first for U.B. football, the October 31, 1970 game with Holy Cross would be regionally televised by ABC for the eastern part of the country. Quite a schedule.
Unfortunately, the 1970 season did not go well. The team lost several players from 1969 due to graduation. And injuries would also have a major impact on the team. In fact, the spring practice period had to be shortened due to a lack of healthy players. Not a good way to start. Kirk Barton, who replaced Mick Murtha at quarterback, was mostly ineffective and threw only one touchdown pass the entire season.
The televised Holy Cross game on the afternoon of October 31, 1970 received the most attention; but not for the actual football game. The game, won by U.B. 16-0, is now a mere footnote in UB history. The real story was the events that took place during halftime.
The U.B. “Thunder of the East” Marching Band planned its halftime show to make a political statement in opposition to the Vietnam War and other concerns of the era. The halftime performance was titled “Give Peace a Chance” and included tributes to the anti-war movement, Martin Luther King and environmental concerns. But in order to avoid any controversy, ABC chose to turn its cameras away and instead showed the traffic on Bailey Ave, elm trees and clouds in the sky while announcers gave a run-down of the first half.
Meanwhile, about 400 protestors had gathered at Niagara Square to participate in a march called by the Buffalo Anti-War Coalition. They marched down Court and Main streets and various other places in downtown Buffalo. The group was ordered by the police to disperse which it did. But about 100 protestors eventually gathered at the Buffalo-Holy Cross game chanting “Power to the People!” after the halftime show adding to controversy.
The events of halftime during the Buffalo/Holy Cross game warranted the entire front page of the November 2, 1970 issue of the UB Spectrum. Students were outraged at the “American Big brother Censors…” The UB Reporter took a more conservative approach to the events with a small article entitled “Radicalism Comes to Rotary” in their November 5, 1970 issue.
The students felt the actions of ABC were so egregious that on October 7, 1971, the SUNY Buffalo Student Association filed a complaint with the FCC against ABC. The Student Association alleged that the American Broadcasting Company engaged in improper broadcast censorship of political expression and asked that ABC be required to broadcast a film or other reproduction of the half-time program at a suitable time to a similar audience, or, in the alternative, require ABC to make time available for the Buffalo Student Association to convey the ideas and information contained in its half-time program through another format.
On March 2, 1973, the Buffalo complaint was denied. But a transcript of the half-time program, diagrams of the band formations and all documents filed in the case remain on file in the Commission offices and are available for public inspection.
And the 1970 U.B. football team? It lost the rest of its games after the ABC affair including a 65-12 drilling by Boston College the following week. The team ended the season with two wins against nine loses.
No one knew it at the time but the Holy Cross Halloween fiasco would be the final U.B. football game on campus for some time. For the second time in its history, U.B. dropped football a few months later. What a way to go out. For more information on football at the University at Buffalo, visit the UB Sports History Collection website.
|Date||Home Team||Score||Visiting Team||W-L-T||Location|
|Sat, 9/12/19701||Buffalo||7 – 14||Ball State||L||Buffalo, NY|
|Sat, 9/19/19702||Buffalo||6 – 27||Toledo||L||Buffalo, NY|
|Sat, 9/26/19703||Kent State||27 – 21||Buffalo||L||Kent, OH|
|Sat, 10/3/19704||Buffalo||16 - 13||Massachusetts||W||Buffalo, NY|
|Sat, 10/10/19705||Buffalo||7 – 17||Villanova||L||Buffalo, NY|
|Sat, 10/17/19706||Dayton||41 – 0||Buffalo||L||Dayton, OH|
|Sat, 10/24/19707||Virginia Tech||31 – 14||Buffalo||L||Blacksburg, VA|
|Sat, 10/31/19708||Buffalo||16 – 0||Holy Cross||W||Buffalo, NY|
|Sat, 11/7/19709||Boston College||65 – 12||Buffalo||L||Chestnut Hill, MA|
|Sat, 11/14/197010||Temple||21 – 8||Buffalo||L||Philadelphia, PA|
|Sat, 11/21/197011||Northern Illinois||43 – 26||Buffalo||L||DeKalb, IL|
FINAL RECORD: 2-9-0
Home: Rotary Field, Bailey and Winspear Avenues
Coach: Bob Deming
Total Points: Visiting Clubs: 299
Total Points: University of Buffalo: 133
- 1 – “Nance Scores, But Bulls Bow” Niagara Falls Gazette Niagara Falls, NY, 13 September 1970.
- 2 – “Toledo Whips UB” Buffalo Courier-Express Buffalo, NY, 20 September 1970.
- 3 – “Kent State Hands UB 3rd Loss in Row” Buffalo Courier-Express Buffalo, NY, 27 September 1970.
- 4 – “Barton’s Pressure Cooker Play Leads Bulls to First Win, 16-13” Buffalo Courier-Express Buffalo, NY, 4 October 1970.
- 5 – “Versatile Villanova Trio Sets Pace in 17-7 Victory Over UB” Buffalo Courier-Express Buffalo, NY, 11 October 1970.
- 6 – “Dayton Batters UB, 41 to 0” Buffalo Courier-Express Buffalo, NY, 18 October 1970.
- 7 – “Virginia Tech Rolls Over Bulls, 31-14” Buffalo Courier-Express Buffalo, NY, 25 October 1970.
- 8 - “Bulls Beat Holy Cross” Buffalo Courier-Express Buffalo, NY, 1 November 1970.
- 9 – “Boston College Drubs UB for 65-12 Victor” Buffalo Courier-Express Buffalo, NY, 8 November 1970.
- 10 – “Temple Conquers UB For 7th Victory, 21 – 8” Buffalo Courier-Express Buffalo, NY, 15 November 1970.
- 11 – “Huskies Whip Bulls, 43-26” Buffalo Courier-Express Buffalo, NY, 22 November 1970.
Tags: Buffalo Bulls Football History