Published March 17, 2016
PROVIDENCE — There are 68 teams in the NCAA tournament. Sixty-eight.
No way, thought Kevin Brinkworth, would his beloved UB Bulls draw his son’s pride and joy: the University of Miami. There was just no way, so the thought barely crossed his mind.
Then came Selection Sunday.
“My son and I were watching together and when I heard it, I just laughed and said, ‘Oh my God,’” Brinkworth said. “Of all the teams, why Miami? Why? Now I will have to listen to my son all week and all his Miami stuff. The last thing I want is for the Bulls to lose, and especially to my son’s team.”
Kevin Brinkworth played football for the Bulls, graduating in 1963. He is a major athletic supporter and has been attending football, basketball, wrestling — you name it — events at UB since.
His son, Kevin Jr., grew up going with his dad to all sorts of UB events. He remembers his dad bringing home hundreds of UB tickets — the old cardboard kind — and selling them. The two would go to Kevin Jr.’s football games in the morning at Rotary Field on the South Campus, and then go to UB games in the afternoon.
Kevin Jr. also played football. But he decided to play at Miami, where he graduated in 1995. He couldn’t pass up the beach, he said.
And now the two teams will meet in Providence tonight in the NCAA tournament. In the stands, there will be two Kevins sitting side by side: one sporting his UB blue, the other in Miami orange and green.
“We haven’t stopped talking since Sunday night,” Kevin Jr. said. “Going back and forth, back and forth, talking trash. It’s been a lot of fun. We’ll definitely have a friendly wager on this game, I just can’t share what that will be.”
But Thursday will be about more than just bragging rights for the elder Kevin. A supporter of UB athletics since he played for the Bulls — he skipped visiting his daughter in London to attend a Bulls football game in Toronto — he thought the basketball team eventually would be successful. But to be in the tournament two years in a row is more than he ever expected this quickly.
No matter the opponent, this is something he can get used to.
“It is great for the school, good for Western New York and it adds another dimension for the students,” he said. “This creates excitement around the university like never before and connects the city to the university. There is nothing nicer than winning.”
Even Kevin Jr. agrees. Typically he roots for UB. Except, of course, when they play the Hurricanes.
“Now that UB is doing so well, basketball has become a highlight in our home,” he said. “We love UB. Nate Oats is the best. It is something that keeps us together.”
Well, usually keeps them together.
This week, it is one Kevin (UB) to one Kevin (Miami), so the question remains: Where does Kevin III stand?
It all depends on who you ask.
“My son is only 7, but he is full of bravado,” Kevin Jr. said. “He already thinks he is going to Miami, so you know he’s on my side. Right when the match-up was revealed he jumped right up and pointed at my father and said, ‘Boo, you’re going to lose.’”
But before Kevin Jr. can finish his sentence, his father jumps in.
“Kevin III is on my side,” he jokes. “He knows grandpa has more fun. There’s still plenty of time to convince him to make the right college choice, unlike someone I know.”