It’s ludicrous to suggest that the University of Buffalo is undergoing an identity crisis now. UB was founded in 1846 and taken over by the SUNY system in the 1940’s, during which it was given an apparently endless series of names. That means UB is closing in on almost half its existence going through an identity crisis. When the university gods were naming schools, they must have been drunk when trying to attach a permanent moniker to UB. After a century of being known as the University of Buffalo, in the 1940’s the university gods proved to be a gaggle of cruel drunks and UB suddenly found itself with so many names that we’re all a little bit confused as to what to call it: Buffalo University; SUNY Buffalo; University AT Buffalo; State University of New York at Buffalo; or just Buffalo. Most people just stick to referring to it by its old, given name, the University of Buffalo.
Well, there is now a big ol’ monkey wrench being thrown into UB’s identity crisis, UB is setting out on a marketing program meant to re-spin the name of the place even more by emphasizing the part of the name that says “New York.” That means instead of being called whatever the hell it’s called now with “Buffalo” in the title, the university is going to be nationally known as the State University of New York. The University of Buffalo will become just a bit of a side name, even though it’s the flagship university in what’s really an overblown system consisting of 64 different schools of all tiers, from full blown university centers (University of Buffalo) to provincial university colleges (Empire State), technology colleges (Alfred State), and community colleges (Mohawk Valley). I can’t say I disagree with the naming, because if it works, people might begin to think of New York as something more than New York City, and UB will start to draw more students and better funding if said students are any good at football. Basically, it would give UB – by most accounts one of the best higher learning institutions in the country – more exposure and more national prominence. On the other hand, the city of Buffalo loses the claim to something which had, for the most part, been truly its own, and one of the big things it had to truly distinguish itself as someplace separate from New York City.
This semester is the official beginning of what people are commonly referring to the University at Buffalo New York Bulls Initiative marketing campaign. It’s starting through the athletic programs; the basketball court floor now has the title “State University of New York at Buffalo” embossed over an image of New York at center court, with the words “New York” the largest by a mile. The football team will be displaying the university name on its uniforms the very same way. Since that’s now set, there’s one important question I have: What the hell is up with that nickname? Bulls? Come on! That never made any sense as a name for a Buffalo team, and it damn sure doesn’t make sense for a team that wants to carry the name of the state – especially not with New York City’s Major League Soccer team wearing its corporatized nickname, the Red Bulls. So if the University of Buffalo wants to become the State University of New York, that nickname has to go. Here are some suggestions to replace it:
New York Buffaloes
What better way to appease everyone than by naming it after both the state and the city? The animal is already a very prominent symbol in the city, so the logo would design itself.
New York Orangemen
SUNY could win an enormous contingent of Syracuse fans with this one. Syracuse has been calling itself New York’s College Team forever, and after all the other college programs are out of the running for whatever prize they were in, most fans in the state rally around them. However, changing their nickname to the Orange didn’t go over very well. Many fans – myself included – still refuse to call them the Orange.
New York Canadians
There would be no mistaking this one. Living in certain parts of New York is being pretty much Canadian by default anyway.
New York Red Sox
While most New Yorkers who have nothing to do with New York City ARE Yankees fans, we detest being associated with New York City all the time by outsiders. The New York Bulls Initiative has the skunk of trying to ride New York City’s coattails, a fact that everyone knows. So hooking up with the title of the Yankees’ most hated rivals will make sure there’s distance between city and SUNY.
New York Fighting Irish
Same logic as above. If you’re trying to sponge off New York City, why not go for the deuce and hope your recruits will be sufficiently dumb enough to be tricked into thinking they’re playing for Notre Dame? Besides, Buffalo is a highly Irish and Catholic city.
New York Empires
It really is the perfect name for the flagship university of a state nicknamed the Empire State, which contains the World Capitol of Everything inside of its borders.
New York Staters
It’s the common lament of the expatriate upstate New York native that, upon telling people where they’re from, they always, unfailingly have to verbally place the addendum “the state, NOT the city!”
New York Nickels
Hey, if I can name the team after the city of Buffalo, I can create a nickname based on Buffalo’s own nickname, The Nickel City. (Again, I absolutely, positively refuse to recognize or acknowledge The Queen City as a nickname.)