Buffalo sure had a disappointing last two games of the season but at 8-5 we can call Jeff Quinn a winner this year and as my daddy always used to say, and we should live by it "never change horses in mid-stream"
At the mid major level a coach is like an investment, you want to buy low and sell high. When Wake Forest has the money to buy out David Clawson one must accept that if a P5 program wants your coach they will get your coach. So you go and find a gem that nobody is talking about, or someone the bigs think is "over the hill" and bring them in for a few hundred thousand a year. Then you get good with them and it rains buyout money.
Turner Gill was a great example of buying low and selling high. Gill had all but given up on being a head coach in college football until Warde Manuel picked him up. One year before Gill left he was signed to a bigger contract, a contract that was bought out by Kansas.
Hiring Quinn in 2009 was perhaps Warde's biggest mistake. He did not "buy low" instead he went for a coach many were looking at. But like all mistakes you have to live with them and do the best you can.
20[REDACTED] was a very bad season, completely terrible in nearly every way imaginable. But each and every year since then Buffalo has gotten a little better, a little more respectable. This season UB was two quarters away from a division title and the team made just their second bowl appearance.
Is Quinn the worlds best coach? No.... He's not even the best Coach Buffalo has had in the modern era but he is getting better each and every season.
But he is winning with Turner Gill's players
This is true, but Gill won with Hofher's players. I for one believe that 80% of a senior's performance is due to their development on campus and not their pedigree coming out of the prep ranks. Gill may have secured Khalil Mack but it was Quinn assistants William Inge and Lou Tepper who helped Mack reach his potential.
Not a single "Gill Senior" ever played a down under Turner Gill and this team is not losing 22 starters, it's losing about 11. Quinn's "Next Bull In" may seem a tad pretentious but it is effective, just look at the offensive line, not a single graduating player started since Jasen Carlson was injured.
But we lost the MAC East Championship
Fun fact. Turner Gill was one MAC East win away from securing a MAC East title and a bowl birth in 2007. Now back then a 5 win season for Buffalo was unheard of. When UB became "Co Division Champions" it was heralded as a success. In his fourth year, Gill needed to finish 3-2 to get UB to bowl eligibility. His Bulls went on to lose three in a row by 3 points or less.
We have come a long way as a fan base but the 8-4 regular season UB had this season is the best the team has ever managed among the ranks of the FBS. Gill could have matched that in 2008 but he lost a season finale home game to Kent.
What about Recruiting
The challenges Quinn faces recruiting against MAC schools are no different than the challenges Gill faced.
Buffalo's facilities in badly in need of enhancement, the school is a bit more academically rigorous that most MAC schools, and there is not a lot of history to hang in front of recruits. Two of these things need to change before any coach can start winning a lot of heads up recruiting battles.
What stars did Gill get? James Potts might be the highest profile recruit secured by Buffalo and he has spend four years watching Branden Oliver break school records. Nobody wanted Khalil Mack and the door at the Neutz household on Grand Island was shockingly not beaten down by power five coaches.
Like all things with Quinn recruiting is an area where he has gotten a little better every year. Heading into the dead period of recruiting Buffalo has 18 reported verbal recruits and one more which he not hit the services yet.
Quinn tends to add a JUCO or two in January and may pick up a couple of more. This year's class could be the most broadly talented that UB has seen in some time. Is there a Khalil Mack? I sure hope so but only time will tell.
If I could turn back time
If I could go back in time I would warn Manuel off of Quinn and point him at someone like Pete Lembo. But if Warde Manuel has a Delorian he took it to Connecticut with him.
But the "Damage" of 20[REDACTED] is done. Buffalo fell back to earth after getting out of the MAC cellar.
In the past two seasons however Quinn's Bulls are 12-13.
No you don't get a parade for that but it's certainly not time to fire the guy. How many records did UB break this season? Attendance record, rushing records, NCAA defensive records, school winning percentage (FBS) records.
Heck I'm actually going to watch the first round of the NFL draft this year because Khalil Mack will get his name called.
Next year is going to be a challenge but there are two things we do know.
Jeff Quinn and his staff are very capable of developing football players and he is getting better as a coach every season. Now is not the time to jump ship on the "Old Quinner" (Though perhaps we should jump ship on the nickname).
You don't get fired in Buffalo for making a bowl. Hopefully our program will be that good down the line. For now, despite the sad end, Quinn has given UB fans enough reason to embrace Quinn-Palooza 2014.