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1949 Buffalo Bulls Football

by Scott Hollander
University at Buffalo Libraries

Team Photo

A stronger defensive club but one with less scoring punch than the previous year is what University of Buffalo Coach Frank Clair expected to field during the fall of 1949. Too many fine backs have been lost through graduation to field a squad with the offensive force of the 1948 was his thinking.

It was also thought that the success of the season would depend upon whether the team got off to a fast start against their first two opponents Colgate and Niagara. After that, the schedule was much easier. Joining Frank Clair on the Buffalo coaching staff was Wayne Gibson, a former Miami University star fullback. Gibson was hired as backfield coach.

Gibson would go on to have a long coaching career in college football. He returned to Athens, OH and served as assistant coach for both John Pont and Bo Schembechler at Miami University. He became the associate athletic director in 1977 and was inducted into the Miami University Athletics Hall of Fame in 1981.

In their first game, Buffalo was drubbed by Colgate, for the second year in a row, 32-0. The Bulls rebounded the following week beating rivals Niagara 36-0 in Civic Stadium. But two disappointing home loses to St. Lawrence and Bucknell had the Bulls record at 3-3 heading into November. Buffalo won the rest of their games, outscoring their opponents 85-16, but the damage was done. The season ending record of 6 wins and 3 loses was considered a failure.

Jim Peelle, Frank Clair, Wayne Gibson

Jim Peelle, Frank Clair, Wayne Gibson

In early January of 1950, a season long rift betweenAthletic Director Jim Peelle and head coach Frank Clair was revealed in the local newspapers. Clair was held responsible for “lack of cooperation” and “friction” in the Athletic Department and was told his contract would not be renewed. (see “Clair Dropped as Grid Coach” University of Buffalo Alumni Publication, 1 February 1950)

Frank Clair gave his side of the story to the Buffalo Courier-Express stating: “I have nothing against the University of Buffalo. It is a fine institution and I have lots of friends there. But the Athletic Department needs a shakeup as far as I am concerned. Maybe my record (12-4-1 for two seasons) did not measure up. I think it’s pretty good. Any friction was not my fault.

Clair charged that he had no cooperation from Jim Peelle and that Peelle had tampered with players and fabricated stories of dissension on the squad. His final parting words were: “I feel that I have done a good job and that I was fair and just. I had no intention of returning (to U.B.).”

Frank Clair would go on to have a long, highly successful coaching career in the Canadian Football League. He was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 1981.

Les Molnar, Don Beitelman, Bob Leipler, Bernie Saltzman

Les Molnar, Don Beitelman, Bob Leipler, Bernie Saltzman

1949 Buffalo Football Season

Date Home Team Score Visiting Team W-L-T Location
Sat, 9/24/19491 Colgate University 32 – 0 Buffalo L Hamilton, NY
Sat, 10/1/19492 Buffalo 26 – 7 Niagara University W Buffalo, NY
Sat, 10/8/19493 Buffalo 26 – 0 Rensselaer Polytechnic W Buffalo, NY
Sat, 10/15/19494 Alfred University 32 – 6 Buffalo W Alfred, NY
Sat, 10/22/19495 Buffalo 7 – 13 St. Lawrence University L Buffalo, NY
Sat, 10/29/19496 Buffalo 7 – 21 Bucknell University L Buffalo, NY
Sat, 11/5/19497 Buffalo 26 – 2 Washington & Jefferson W Buffalo, NY
Sat, 11/12/19498 Rhode Island 39 – 7 Buffalo W Kingston, RI
Sat, 11/19/19499 Ohio University 20 – 7 Buffalo W Athens, OH

Home: Civic Stadium, Buffalo, NY
Coach: Frank Clair

  1. Colgate Defeats UB, 32-0Buffalo Courier-Express Buffalo, NY, 25 September 1949.
  2. Buffalo Registers Handy Victory Over Niagara, 26 to 7Buffalo Courier-Express Buffalo, NY, 2 October 1949.
  3. UB Wallops RPI, 26 to 0Buffalo Courier-Express Buffalo, NY, 9 October 1949.
  4. UB Whales Alfred, 32-6Buffalo Courier-Express Buffalo, NY, 16 October 1949.
  5. St. Lawrence Upsets Buffalo, 13 to 7Buffalo Courier-Express Buffalo, NY, 23 October 1949.
  6. Bucknell Rally Defeats Buffalo, 21 to 7Buffalo Courier-Express Buffalo, NY, 30 October 1949.
  7. UB Whips W & J, 26-2Buffalo Courier-Express Buffalo, NY, 6 November 1949.
  8. Buffalo Romps Over Rams, 39-7Buffalo Courier-Express Buffalo, NY, 13 November 1949.
  9. Buffalo Trounces Ohio U, 20 to 7Buffalo Courier-Express Buffalo, NY, 20 November 1949.

Clair Dropped As Grid CoachClair Dropped As Grid Coach

There will be a new coach in charge when the 1950 version of the Bulls is fielded next fall. Frank Clair, 32-year old T-formation tutor who had coached the Bulls for the last two seasons, definitely will not be rehired when his contract expires this June. The Faculty Athletic Committee had recommended in a split vote that his contract be extended for one year, but this recommendation was turned down by the Chancellor for its lack of unanimity.

Apparently Clair was held responsible for “lack of cooperation” and “friction” in the Athletic Department, but he in turn charged publicly that Athletic Director James E. Peelle has given him no cooperation and Clair said he had no intention of returning to the University. Peelle had no comment except to say, “The action of the Administration speaks for itself; we’re accepting applications for the head-coaching job.”

University of Buffalo Alumni Publication, February 1, 1950