For four years we have been treated to ESPN announcers and lightly-informed local media telling us how "Jeff Quinn is building something special in Buffalo". In the interest of full disclosure there have been times that I was taken in about Quinn's potential. I never believed that Quinn inherited a team in peril but at times it looked as if he was building something special.
The story that has been pushed goes like this: Jeff Quinn took over a team on the edge of disaster and built it up "the right way" to a team which is becoming something special.
In the wake of his firing many in the local media who cover, but are not invested in, UB Athletics have parroted this story line. Also I've noticed many a MAC fan post that White's decision was reactionary and that Buffalo seemed to be moving in the right direction.
To Jeff Quinn's credit on the academic side of the house there may be something to this. The APR of the team he inherited would not have been eligible for the Potato Bowl last season due to the NCAA's new higher standards. UB's football players are putting up a better GPA and graduating at better rates than ever before. That is, of course, one of the most important things a college coach can do.
His record regarding academics is not perfect however. Rudy Johnson was kicked off the team because a summer internship meant he would miss voluntary practices. UB did not comment much but the official reason was that Johnson "lied" about his summer activities.
I doubt Johnson lied and even if he did then that begs the question of why a kid going into his senior year would feel the need to hide an internship. Several former players, most notably Alex Neutz, have said that the decision to kick Johnson off the squad really upset most of the team.
Johnson aside there have been successes off the field. But there is nothing on the field which remotely qualifies Quinn as "Turning Around" the UB Football program. The most that can be said is that after four and a half years of Quinn UB is no worse off than it was before he came to Amherst.
You see I really started following UB football in 2006, the year Turner Gill was hired. This is what UB football has done since I really tuned in.
In the years preceding Jeff Quinn UB had a 19 and 30 record against FBS programs, Quinn himself has a 14-36 record. Both coaches had one winning season but Turner Gill had two winning seasons against the Mid American Conference whereas Jeff Quinn had only one.
Both took the team to one bowl game. Turner Gill won the MAC in 2008 and UB went to the International Bowl as a result. Jeff Quinn finished second in the MAC East last season and UB was invited to the Potato Bowl.
We keep hearing how "the cupboards were bare" when Quinn arrived. But those cupboards was stocked with Khalil Mack, Branden Oliver, and Alex Neutz. They had Colby Way and Najja Johnson along with Derek Brim.
The Buffalo Bulls sent six players from last years team to NFL camps and to the best of my recollection none of them were Quinn recruits, they were all guys that had given a verbal to Turner Gill. Quinn may have "retained" some of them but he did not "recruit" recruit them.
Further hurting the "cupboards bare" narrative is the number of defections during Quinn's first season. You can make a case that Zach Maynard was gone the minute Gill decided to leave for Kansas but guys like Nick Sizemore and Darius Willis could have stuck around and been useful in 2010 and 2011.
After trying to convince the 220(ish) pound Sizemore we did not need a fullback Quinn asked the sophomore to convert to an offensive lineman. Nick did not want to try and gain 50-60 pounds so he left the team. The following year Quinn realized a fullback was a good thing to have on the roster.
Darius Willis was one of UB's more highly touted recruits. While Khalil Mack had no offers many programs were drooling over Willis. Gill got him to Buffalo by promising him a fair shot at quarterback. Maynard won the role and Willis moved to linebacker. After Quinn's first spring Willis transferred out, following Gill to Kansas where he was a modestly used linebacker.
So no Quinn did not inherit a program in disarray, nor a program bereft of talent. The situation he walked into back in 2010 looked about the same, talent wise, as what Turner Gill had inherited. In fact I'd say the next coach who comes in will be dealt a hand very similar to that which Quinn himself received:
A team built up to a great year and then tapered off to a four or five win season. I think there may be a bit more depth in the trenches this year than back in 2010 but otherwise the teams are very comparable.
The new coach, whoever that may be, has a star quarterback, if he can keep him. Perhaps he will also have a bit more depth in a few areas but it's certainly not a team which is leaps and bounds ahead of the 2009 squad. We as UB fans have been here before, and we at Bull Run will watch intently as the coaching search of 2014 progresses.
In the meantime I can not stress enough that they are the UB Bulls, not the Buffalo Quinns. So please make plans to be at the Central Michigan Game next Saturday and root for the Bulls and interim coach Alex Wood.