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Bills Fans Near and Far: College hoops coach shares love of Bills

Carlin Hartman has been coaching college basketball for almost two decades. And even though he wouldn’t mind winning an NCAA championship before the Buffalo Bills win a Super Bowl, he admits he’d be just fine with it if the Bills hoisted a trophy first.

Hartman, an assistant coach at the University of Oklahoma, was born and raised in Buffalo. He grew up on the East Side and moved to Grand Island for high school, where he excelled as a basketball player. From 1990 to 1994, he played ball at Tulane University and, after graduating, played a couple of years in the former Continental Basketball Association (CBA), which became the NBA Development League, or D-League, in 2001.

Bills memorabilia hangs in Hartman's office.

“Coaching was an easy transition after that,” said Hartman, 45. “Going from playing to the sideline and being able to stay around the game was seamless. I was fortunate enough to get in at an entry level, and learned the coaching ropes from an early age.”

Hartman isn’t the only college basketball coach from the Western New York area who carries an eternal flame for the Bills. He’s friends with other coaches around the country who hail from the Buffalo area, including Desmond Oliver and Rob Lanier at the University of Tennessee, Pete Herrmann at Young Harris College, Aaron Marshall at Radford University and Adam Cohen at Stanford University. They use their mutual love of the city and the Bills to stay connected.

It’s fun, Hartman says, to text and talk about the Bills, whether it’s big news like the Sammy Watkins trade or run-of-the-mill quarterback talk.

Name: Carlin Hartman
Age: 45
Current location: Norman, Okla.
Previous location: Grand Island
Favorite Bills Player: Bruce Smith
Most memorable moment as Bills fan: When the Bills beat Doug Flutie and the New England Patriots in the late '80s.

As a result of the constant flux involved with the job, Hartman has bounced around from city to city over the years. But everywhere he’s been, he says he’s proudly taken his love of the Buffalo Bills and Western New York right along with him. He vividly remembers going to games with his uncles when he was a teenager in the late 1980s, and how thrilling it was to watch the Bills transform themselves into a contender.

“I’ve moved to so many different places throughout my coaching career, but I’ve always brought the Bills along for the ride. It’s ingrained in me, it’s all in my DNA. When you grow up in Western New York and in Buffalo, you live with the Bills the rest of your life. So, I’ll always wear it proudly in my offices. I have banners and pictures, and I get poked at and made fun of by my players, but it doesn’t matter. It’s a franchise I’m proud to represent.”

Hartman says he and his fellow coaches like what they see in the Bills' staff.

“As a coach myself, I respect what it is they’re doing with the franchise," Hartman said. "Getting guys that are going to be accountable and earn their playing time through practice, week in and week out. It’s headed in the right direction.”

He then added, “It sounds corny, but I’m a proud Western New Yorker at the end of the day. And I’ll always identify the Bills with that. One of these days, they’ll turn it around. I’ll never give up on that team, that franchise or that city.”

If you or anyone you know is a diehard Bills fan and has an interesting story to tell about rooting for Buffalo no matter where you or they might live, email LynsD21@gmail.comLyndsey D'Arcangelo is a freelance writer. Visit her website at or follow her on Twitter @darcangel21.

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