Santora To Host UB Football Signing Day February 5

ubUniversity at Buffalo football fans are invited to attend a special Football Signing Day event at Santora’s Pizza Pub and Grill in Williamsville on Wednesday, February 5 at 5:00 pm where UB Football Head Coach Jeff Quinn will reveal his 2014 recruiting class.

At 5:30 pm, Quinn and members of his coaching staff will be on hand to show highlights and breakdown each member of the newest recruiting class.

Fans in attendance will have an opportunity to win a 2014 football game day experience, which includes two tickets to a home game, two sideline passes, VIP passes to a game day concert, and more! Season ticketholders will be able to pick up their 2014 season ticket renewal packet as well.

The event is free to the public and will begin at 5:00 pm. Following the event, fans are encouraged to head to Alumni Arena for UB’s men’s basketball game against Ball State tipping off at 7 pm. Click here for ticket information.

The Bulls are coming off one of the most exciting seasons in school history, finishing 8-5 and making an appearance in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl – just the second bowl game appearance in program history.…

Daily Links

daily-links-logo5If Mike Pettine gets the Cleveland Browns job, which for the record could very well have happened by the time you’re reading this morning, Doug Whaley told John Murphy that Buffalo Bills head coach Doug Marrone has already identified a couple of guys.  Hmm, maybe a Donnie Henderson promotion isn’t the lock most thought it would be.

In this week’s Buffalo Bills mailbag, fans wonder if there are outside candidates to potentially replace Mike Pettine, and about how much contact that Buffalo’s coaching staff can have with their players this offseason. (Buffalo Rumblings)

Bills linebacker Kiko Alonso, the NFL’s leader in fan voting among inside linebackers, seemed a possibility to replace either of the 49ers’ injured linebackers, NaVorro Bowman and Patrick Willis. But the Kansas City Chiefs announced Tuesday Derrick Johnson would replace Bowman, and the Jacksonville Jaguars announced former Bills linebacker Paul Posluszny would go for Willis.

Joe Pinzone of Buffalo Wins penned a column regarding who his favorite Bills player was growing up. He writes “I’m going to throw a curveball and say Frank Reich. There was just something noble about his chivalrous demeanor. While most fans under 25 don’t remember Reich and only hear stories about The Comeback Game, Reich set himself apart from the rest of the Bills because of his attitude. “…

Stafford Sharp, Miller Not In Latest Sabres Loss

SabresFollowing tonight the Buffalo Sabres have now scored three goals in each of their last four games.  Unfortunately, at least if you’re a fan of them being on the winning end of the scoreboard their sudden offensive explosion has netted them a grand total of just two points in the standings.

Look on the bright side—at least the tanking is entertaining to watch nowadays.

17,583 packed the First Niagara Center Tuesday night and among them likely a grand total of none expected to see Drew Stafford be the best Sabres on the ice with Ryan Miller simultaneously the worst.

That’s exactly what happened as Stafford scored two goals and added an assist, but it wasn’t enough as the Sabres lost to the Florida Panthers, 4-3. It’s the fourth straight game Buffalo has lost by the same score.

Miller certainly deserves a pass. It was the first time in 18 starts he’s allowed four goals in a game and to be fair, three of the four Florida goals came on some sort of deflection.  But make no mistake about it—the normally reliable Miller was anything but sharp between the pipes tonight.…

Source: Byrd Wants At Least $9 Million Annually

byrd-field-300x291According to a source familiar with what pending free agent Jairus Byrd requires from the Buffalo Bills to consider re-signing before free agency starts, his agent, Eugene Parker is seeking a deal paying his 27-year old three-time Pro Bowler client at least $45 million over five years, with no less than $20 million fully guaranteed.

Those terms would make Byrd the highest-paid safety in the NFL and from what I hear, there’s no chance of him re-signing prior to free agency for any less.

Tampa Bay signed premier 2013 free agent safety Dashon Goldson last March to a five-year deal worth $41.25 million that included $18 million guaranteed.

Parker unmistakably regards Byrd as more talented, and is looking to blow past the financials of Goldson’s agreement.

Other safeties roughly similar to Byrd’s age and talent level include Eric Weddle, Antrei Rolle and Michael Griffin.  Their annual salaries presently stand at $8 million, $7.4 million and $7 million respectively. All signed five year deals.

Pittsburgh’s Troy Polamalu is actually the game’s current highest-paid safety, at an average of slightly over $9.1 million, but the 32-year old may be forced to take a pay cut from his $8.25 million salary to remain to remain with the Steelers going into the final year of his contract.

Of course, Byrd doesn’t presently control his own destiny when it comes to where he’ll play in 2014.  Buffalo reserves the opportunity to place the franchise tag on him for a second consecutive year and if they did he’d earn around $8.3 million for next season.…

Posted in NFL

Daily Links

daily-links-logo5The Canisius Ticket Office announced today that the Canisius-Niagara men’s basketball game, set for Wednesday, Jan. 22 at 7 p.m. in the Koessler Athletic Center, is sold out. This marks the fifth-straight sellout in the Koessler Athletic Center for Western New York’s best college rivalry game.

The NFL Draft is less than four months away, but it’s never too early to start analyzing the prospects. WGRZ’s Jonah Javad and Buffalo Bills sideline reporter for WGR 550, Joe Buscaglia, begin their series of positional breakdowns- strengths, weaknesses and who may or may not be a good fit for the Bills. In the debut edition, Javad and Joe B take a look at the wide receivers.

Bills.com has some quotes from Doug Marrone about defensive coordinator Mike Pettine being a candidate for the head coaching vacancy in Cleveland.

The Browns might conduct second interviews with defensive coordinators Mike Pettine of the Bills and Dan Quinn of Seahawks depending on how their search plays out over the few days, the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports

The Buffalo Bills want to improve their special teams personnel this offseason. Let’s take stock, then, of where they stand following the 2013 season in this piece by Brian Galliford of Buffalo Rumblings.…

Dareus Added To Pro Bowl Roster

marcell-200x300In his third year Marcell Dareus easily had the best season of his young NFL career.  He was also the leading vote getter at his position but was snubbed when Pro Bowl rosters were announced earlier this month.  None of that matters now as the league Dareus will play in the Pro Bowl as an injury replacement for San Francisco DT Justin Smith.

Many alternates end up going to Hawaii but in Dareus’ case you can make a strong argument that he belonged there all along.  Dareus set career-bests with 7.5 sacks and 70 tackles, ranking as just one of five players in the NFL to register at least 7 sacks and 70 tackles.

Dareus’ addition to the Pro Bowl gives Buffalo four defenders playing in Hawaii this Sunday as he’ll join teammates Mario Williams, Kyle Williams and Jairus Byrd.

Hopefully the experience of playing in his first Pro Bowl gives the big tackle from Alabama positive momentum into the offseason.  As good as Dareus was in 2013 the season didn’t end for him personally, getting benched for  a quarter in their last home contest against Miami and the entire first half at New England in the season finale for an undisclosed team rules violation.

Posted in NFL

Forward Changes For Sabres At Practice

The Buffalo Sabres return to action tomorrow night against the Florida Panthers at the First Niagara Center, and it appears recently acquired forward Zenon Konopka is going to pay the price for costly mistakes.

Konopka skated as an extra on the Sabres forward lines during Monday morning practice, very likely a result of taking three penalties over the past two games that directly led to opposition goals.  Buffalo has lost their past two games in a shootout and to put it mildly, Konopka’s gaffes have hurt his team. Konopka skated with injured forwards Kevin Porter and Cody McCormick at practice.

Linus Omark was a healthy scratch in Saturday’s 4-3 loss to Columbus, but looks to be back and skated on a line at practice with Cody Hodgson and Steve Ott.

Meanwhile Ville Leino continues to plummet down Ted Nolan’s pecking order and is skating on the fourth line with Matt Ellis and John Scott.

Nolan directly criticized Leino following Saturday’s game. When asked why Ellis was getting more playing time than Leino down the stretch, Nolan said of Ellis  ”He may not have as much skill as Leino, but he certainly has a lot more grit”…

The Daily Links

daily-links-logo5The new league year marked by the start of free agency is almost two months away (March 12th), but it’s never too early to look at the decisions that teams have to make on some of their more notable players whose contracts are about to expire. Fortunately for the Bills there won’t be a lot of decisions for them when it comes to unrestricted free agents. (Bills.com)

Ryan Talbot & Jason DeHart decided to get together and discuss three positions per unit that the Bills need to address. After choosing three areas of need, Ryan and Jason discussed if the team would be better off pursuing talent in the NFL draft or free agency. (BillsMafia.com)

While South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney and UCLA linebacker Anthony Barr highlight the 2014 NFL Draft’s “elite” pass rushing prospects, University of Buffalo linebacker Khalil Mack elevated himself to the national level after another dominating season in the Mid-American Conference.  ForgedinBuffalo’s Rob Quinn takes a long look at Mack.

In Saturday action, Mikhail Grigorenko notched the game winning goal with 7:30 left to play as Quebec defeated Rouyn-Noranda 5-3. Grigorenko, who parked in front and connected with his only shot on goal of the night, rounded out the first-star effort with a pair of assists and an 83.9 percent efficiency (26/31) at the faceoff circle. As always, Kris Baker of SabresProspects.com has an excellent weekend recap of several Sabres prospects.…

Report: Pettine Getting Second Interview With Browns

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ESPN’s Chris Mortenson reported Sunday morning that the Cleveland Browns plan to interview Buffalo Bills defensive coordinator Mike Pettine for a second time in the coming week, making at least the possibility of Pettine landing the job much more realistic than it may have seemed a week ago.

Pettine first interviewed for the job on January 16.

By no means does a second interview for Pettine equate to his appointment as Cleveland’s next head coach a mere formality.   There’s also reported interest in a second interview with Seattle defensive coordinator Dan Quinn and the Browns are widely rumored to be interested in Denver offensive coordinator Adam Gase.

Translation— Bills faithful may want to become New England and San Francisco fans today.  Wins by Seattle and/or Denver mean at least two more weeks before Cleveland could speak to Quinn (again) and Case about the opening.…

Succesful Juniors Season Debut For Grigo

Top Buffalo Sabres prospect Mikhail Grigorenko had a successful season debut for the Quebec Remparts of the QMJHL Saturday night, scoring the game-winning goal and adding two assists in a 5-3 victory over Rouyn-Noranda.  Grigorenko also won 26 of his 31 faceoffs.

He was voted the game’s first star.

Tearing up Juniors with Quebec is nothing new for Grigorenko. Starting with the 2011-12 season Grigorenko has racked up 71 goals, 71 assists and 142 points in 93 career games. Simply put, he’s too physically gifted to not dominate this level of hockey.

Of course, based on what Sabres management and fans have seen during Grigorenko’s time in Buffalo, they’re hoping someone can create compete level stats to get a real sense of what progress he’s making in Quebec, since getting his motor to run full speed consistently is what’s preventing him from cracking the Sabres lineup for good.…