With a 3-2 aggregate victory over Dorados de Sinaloa en la Gran Final de Liga Ascenso MX, Lobos BUAP gained promotion to Liga MX for the first time in the club’s 50 year history. Now that we know who will be taking the place of relegated Jaguares, let’s get to know el nuevo equipo Poblano.
Lobos BUAP were originally founded on May 28th, 1967 as los Carolinos de la Universidad Autónoma de Puebla (UAP) and began play in what was then known as the Tercera División Profesional. The team was almost entirely made up of university students and not a single player on the team was payed. This marked the first time in the history of Mexican professional fútbol that a team of unpaid amateurs competed professionally for nothing more than the love of the game. At first the team played under the name UAP, but after a few weeks the young team was branded “los Carolinos” by the local press. This new nickname was derived from the largest academic building on UAP’s campus at the time.
In 1969 the team played their first game in the newly built Estadio Cuauhtémoc (current home of Club Puebla) against Club Iguala of the Tercera División Profesional. The match finished 2-1 in favor of the hosts. Los Carolinos continued to play in Estadio Cuauhtémoc until they were relegated from professional fútbol following the 1971 season.
The team continued to represent the university on a non-professional level until in 1996 the Benemérita Universidad Autónoma de Puebla (formerly known as Universidad Autónoma de Puebla) decided that a proper professional fútbol team was needed to represent the university across Mexico. In order to make this plan a reality, the Benemérita Universidad Autónoma de Puebla (BUAP) began to study the structure used by the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM) to operate famous and successful Mexico City team Pumas. After studying the inner workings of Pumas, BUAP launched a similar plan to create their own professional team. From this plan Lobos BUAP were born.
In 1999 Lobos BUAP made their debut in the second division of professional fútbol in Mexico. The goal of the University was to see their newly created team reach the first division as fast as humanly possible. However, this wasn’t exactly what happened. It took 18 years for Lobos BUAP to finally gain promotion to the first division. Remarkably, during 17 of those 18 years in the second division, the team never once won the liguilla or qualified for a promotion playoff game. In fact, their lone accolade came during the 2012 Clausura when the team finished runner up to León.
Lobos BUAP appointed Rafael Puente Jr a former actor, analyst, professional fútbol player, and son of ESPN MX personality Rafael Puente to coach the team prior to the 2016 tournaments got underway. During his first two seasons in charge of Lobos BUAP, Puente Jr managed to take a team of almost entirely Mexican players and one Brazilian on a fairytale journey to Liga MX. The approach taken by Lobos BUAP to play with an almost entirely Mexican squad was a refreshing one in a league that has become increasingly dominated by foreign born players .
On the field, the team was lead by Mexican midfielder Jorge Ibarra. While official sats for Ibarra are hard to come by, it was obvious to anyone who watched Lobos BUAP play that Ibarra was one of if not the single best player on the field. Ibarra served as a field general for the team and his leadership and strong play were instrumental during Lobos BUAP’s fairytale run to reach Liga MX.
Since securing their place in Liga MX, Rafael Puente and the rest of the Lobos BUAP institution have been hard at work strengthening the team. A total of 12 different players were brought into the squad via the Liga MX “Draft” earlier this summer. The 12 players brought into the squad provide a a mixture of youth that is hungry to prove their worth and veteran presence that will be needed to help the team navigate through their first ever season in the top flight. The team even added a new refuerzo to their coaching staff by hiring former TDN sideline reporter Juan Carlos Cruz as the team’s new assistant coach. The move to hire Cruz was shocking because the former sideline reporter has absolutely no coaching experience whatsoever.
It should be interesting to see how Lobos BUAP fares in their first season of top flight fútbol in team history. Hopefully, the new kids on the block are able to establish themselves as a competitive team that will only make Liga MX more exciting to watch for the rest of us!