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A look back on the Quinn Era

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As the news settles in that Quinn is no longer the head coach at UB, let's look back at his tenure in Amherst.

Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

After today's news that Jeff Quinn had been fired, we should take a look back at his time here and the chess moves that lead to the hiring of Jeff Quinn as the head coach of the Buffalo Bulls.

First, let's take a step back. The Buffalo football program was the worst in FBS football since the movement into the MAC in 1999. The program was an absolute disgrace and sitting at 3-4 after Week 7 like this year would have been a reason to jump for joy in 2005. In comes Athletic Director Warde Manuel who quickly worked to increase the athletic budget from $11 Mil to $25 Mil and start getting results on the football field.

Warde taps Nebraska legend and Heisman Trophy candidate Turner Gill to be the next head coach. Turner's first year in 2006 was rough but the next year the team wins 5 games and shared the MAC East Title.  In 2008, a magical season emerges from Amherst as the Bulls have the first winning record in Bulls modern D-1A (now FBS) history going 8-6 including their first ever Bowl appearance.  A win in the MAC Championship Game over then-undefeated and twelfth-ranked Ball State squarely put Turner on the coaching map. Coach Gill interviews for a number of schools, including Auburn, but is not hired. The national media, who were all over Buffalo's turnaround, took note and Gill is connected to every open coaching job. Of course Charles Barkley weighs in

"I think race was the No. 1 factor," said Barkley, who played basketball for three seasons at Auburn during the early 1980s. "You can say it's not about race, but you can't compare the two résumés and say [Chizik] deserved the job. Out of all the coaches they interviewed, Chizik probably had the worst résumé."

A downturn of the team in 2009 starts with a season-ending injury for work horse and future Green Bay Packer James Starks. After the season Turner gets tapped to be the next coach for Kansas and Warde is looking for a new coach. Cincinnati is rolling - especially the offense - and the rumor about Brian Kelly to Notre Dame heats up. Under OC Quinn the team is averaging 7.28 yards per play, good for second best in the country. As the spotlight is heating up for Kelly it is heating up for Jeff Quinn. Quinn is littered over the coaching rumor mill and Warde pulls the trigger.

"I am absolutely thrilled for Jeff Quinn," Kelly said, according to the Cincinnati newspaper. "It's a long time coming and I can't think of a guy who's better prepared to take on that challenge. It's hard to really articulate my thoughts other than the fact that Buffalo will be very happy to have him."

As Brian Kelly moves on to Notre Dame, Quinn stays with the Bearcats and has one more game - the Sugar Bowl - before he arrives in Amherst. Tim Tebow throws for a record 482 and Florida wins convincingly 52-21. Quinn has been under Kelly for 21 seasons at Grand Valley State, Central Michigan, and Cincinnati. It is time for Jeff Quinn to be the man.

Many fans are caught off guard with Quinn's braggadocious entrance and early mantra "Next Bull In." Many fans jump into two camps. The first is the motivated fan: Quinn has come in with energy and confidence and fans are ready to run through a brick wall for the coach. The second camp is put off with mocking the recent success: Speaking ill of the only coaching staff that brought any semblance of success was not the wisest way to endure yourself to the fan base. We learn early that Jeff Quinn is big on fashion (Quinn Style Profile) and secondly loves to fish.

The Quinn era begins rocky. Starting QB Zach Maynard jumps on his half-brother's coattails and transfers. It is a devastating blow which leaves this team tooth-less at the QB position for a number of years. To compound the error of the first season is Quinn forcing an up tempo offensive with the talent and skill set in Amherst to keep running the pro-style offense of Gill. Professing no need for the position, Quinn moves starting fullback Nick Sizemore and hopes he can be the starting center. It doesn't work out

"Nick has decided to move on with his journey in college football and his academics," Quinntold the Buffalo News. "It's very disappointing to have Nick leave our football program and the university. As I've stated many times if these young men don't want to be a part of what we're doing, we're going to wish him well. These are things that happen. We just hope he finds a place where he succeeds.

Nick leaves the program. Less than two years later Jeff Quinn is actively recruiting fullbacks. The ego of Quinn and his coaching staff hurt the Buffalo Bulls. This is the MAC and the fans understand this is a level when hot coaches cut their coaching teeth and when successful cash in at a much bigger program. But what the MAC teams get is seeing a coach develop and have a great run.

Instead, consider the ride Quinn took Bulls fans on the past four and half years. Find a greater breakdown as to each season and questioning his bandwidth in this article: Can Quinn Coach the Bulls

Quinn finished his coaching career at Buffalo with a record of 20 wins and 36 loses. In four seasons in Buffalo, Turner Gill was 20-30. But Gill did some heavy lifting building belief on campus. Gill took over a program that went 8-49 in its last five years. Let that sink in. 8-49.  Many apologists for Quinn believe that he was given weak talent, but is that true? Quinn got to work with a number five draft choice in Mack, NFL hottest offensive weapon in Oliver, and many other great MAC players like Neutz, Way, and Means.

In 2011 UB beat Ohio in a shocking 38-37 win. Other than that game, UB in Jeff Quinn's tenure only beat one other team with a winning record. In 2012, the Bulls beat an Ohio team that ended up 7-6.

For this article, and you may disagree, but I am not counting FCS schools. To recap the Bulls wins:

2010 - A two win Bowling Green team and a win over FCS Rhode Island.

2011 - The game we spoke earlier over Ohio, a one win Akron team, and FCS foe Stony Brook.

2012 - The Bulls beat Miami and Western Michigan, who had four wins each, UMass with one, and FCS Morgan State.

2013 - The Bulls beat seven-win Ohio, Kent who ended with four, UConn, who was winless until finishing the season on a three-game run, EMU (two), Western Michigan and UMass (both one), and Miami, who went winless. Buffalo also beat FCS Stony Brook.

Since replacing Manuel, Danny White has invested serious funds and made Bulls homes games an event. Pregame concerts are expensive and the only way to draw fans into the stadium when the band stops playing is if the team wins.  It was obvious to see the program was stagnant. I've written a few pieces on that this year. But I'm still shocked with the move today.  In the end the Buffalo Bulls missed an unbelievable window.  Quinn faced MAC teams who were down the Bulls.  He mainly avoided the programs who were up.  This year Buffalo does not have to face the class of the MAC West Toledo and also Northern Illinois.  The head coach position needs incredible band width and not for everyone.  It was not for Jeff Quinn.  What should have been the up cycle for the Bulls and tremendous wins ended up with the fans asking what if.

"It is with great disappointment that we have to make this change," White said. "Unfortunately, the performance on the field this season and over Coach Quinn's tenure has not matched our expectations for the growth of Bulls football.

"With the bye week, our coaches and student-athletes have an opportunity to evaluate themselves and make the changes needed to improve," White said. "We have some very talented and hard-working student athletes on this team and we hope this change shifts the course of the 2014 season."

Time to move on.  Stay tuned to Bull Run as the team will break down the impact of the Quinn Extension and what it will cost UB.  We will start talking about possible replacements, the impact on recruits, and hopefully we can get reactions from former Bulls.

I have full trust and faith in AD Danny White.  I believe that Danny will build a winner on the football field in Amherst, NY.  It was a bold move today but a move that was late in coming.