I've told the story a hundred times, but I'll tell it again. In 2006, UB was rebranding. They were abolishing the bull horned helmets and the powder blue jerseys, and it was up to Turner Gill to pick the final designs. Gill said something to the effect of: "I came here to coach football, not to be a fashion designer."
That moment stuck with me over the last decade. I grew up around iconic coaches, Lloyd Carr, Jim Tressel, Joe Paterno, Marv Levy, Lindy Ruff. The coach was always important in Buffalo. Of course, none of those coaches are still working at their original positions, and the major teams live on, the shared experience of major fandom are bigger than any one coach. However, at the minor level, the coach I've found is even more important.
A coach is a fashion designer, a cheerleader, a teacher, an icon, an everyman. We only have so many interested fans, and our coach can't turn his back on even one of them. I spent one year working under the Gill Bulls, and three years in the west coast during the Gill era. Gill was the best ambassador UB ever had. Anytime I had my UB gear on, I would get questions about Turner Gill.
Jeff Quinn was not an ambassador. I never once traveled and had someone ask me about Jeff Quinn. I started getting questions about Khalil Mack last year, but between 2009 and 2012, I'd either get questions about Turner Gill (still) or none at all. In my opinion Quinn was more concerned about his way than what was best for the UB Bulls.
1) Zach Maynard. Seeing as Maynard was similar in style to the Quarterbacks Quinn mentored at Cincinnati, it was a perfect situation, until Maynard transferred. If we could have retained a QB progression of Willy - Maynard - Licata, UB would be incredibly strong. If 5-7 was Maynard's floor, 2010 could have been a bowl season. The 2009 offense was probably the best UB offense in the FBS era at moving the ball, but turnovers hurt the team. You give Maynard Alex Neutz, you keep the relatively solid 2010 defense. You win at least six games. In 2011, Maynard is a senior maybe you win 6 or 7 again. In 2012, with Means and Mack anchoring the defense, you throw in Joe Licata and win another 6 or 7. In 2013 you hopefully win the MAC.
2) Personnel Issues: Outside of Maynard, we had the issue of Jeffvon Gill, we had Chazz Anderson instead of developing a QB in house, we had Joe Licata sitting behind a struggling Alex Zordich, we had Boise Ross rising to the #3 WR position as a true freshman, only to move to Cornerback mid season in 2014. Guys disappeared and reappeared. We feared in 2012 that none of our WRs were adequate behind Neutz. In 2013, Fred Lee looked like a pro.
I lost confidence that Quinn knew how to evaluate talent. When Gill came in, he made Willy his starting QB, made Starks his starting RB, and Trevor Scott a starting DE. He was decisive and correct. Jim Hofher was indecisive, and Quinn was decisive and incorrect.
3) Education/Discipline. I'm a big proponent of education, especially as football players are about 60% black men. Black men, regardless of their socio-economic status struggle in college. It's an institution that is not made for black men, and it's a big problem in the black community that my generation needs to solve.
I feel we don't have enough information to crown Quinn, or anyone else the beacon of football educators.
Oftentimes, increased standards leads to increased cheating to meet those standards. We don't know the majors, the classes taken or the pre-college preparation, which would be the vital information needed to make a conclusive decision on education. The inability to place a black athlete on the Academic All-MAC team and the dismissal of Rudy Johnson makes me think Quinn's education record is a result of smoke and mirrors.
4) The Defense. As soon as I saw it in 2012, I knew it was broken. The Tepper Defense is the equivalent of the Quinn offense in 2010. It completely ignored our strengths and dared opponents to attack our weaknesses. Credit where credit is due, Quinn saw he had a future NFL phenom at running back and adjusted his offense to a run first offense. On defense we had two sack machines, in Steven Means and Khalil Mack, and we dropped them into soft zone coverage, giving weak MAC QB's time to find one on one coverage or a hole in the zone.
Quinn is an offensive coordinator, he had to know the defense was in trouble, but he did nothing, that will be his greatest failing as a coach.
5) The community. My biggest question, why change the slogan? In my opinion, Quinn wanted to distance himself from Gill. He put himself over the team. This was about Quinn establishing Quinn. Not about making the best Buffalo. Quinn's bravado was tone deaf. You can't win 5 games in two years and talk about progress and your plan. You need to come out and show you are as unhappy as we are, and that there will be changes and re-evaluation. I never got that from Quinn. He was going to do what he wanted, when he wanted for as long as we would pay him to do so. Win and losses be damned, this was going to be about Jeff Quinn.
6) Danny White, is on notice. In the short term, he gambled a change in Basketball and no change in football would deliver. UB had the best football Athlete and the best basketball athlete in the conference, and didn't even make a final in either sport. At this point, it's too early to bash the Hurley hiring, but this is exactly what UB fans predicted would happen if Quinn was not fired in 2012. White was the only person blinded by Quinn and also probably the only person other than Quinn that could have forced a change on defense. In 2012, ANYONE would have made UB fans happy. In 2014, only the perfect hire will retain confidence in White.