Only five FBS programs fired their coach over the course of the 2014 season, but we know even more will be looking for a new guy once the regular season ends this weekend. SMU has already filled their position with Chad Morris of Clemson, but Tulsa is rumored to join the mix after today's game against ECU, as the Golden Hurricane are set to fire Bill Blankenship, and UNLV will also be looking after Bobby Hauck's resignation.
Blankenship has been head coach in Tulsa for four years and has led the program to a 24-26 record prior to today's game, while Hauck was 15-48 at UNLV in five years. I'm not putting either on UB's coaching candidate's list, but I do believe that Tulsa and UNLV are the first schools looking for a head coach - of Florida, Kansas, SMU, and Troy - that could be in serious competition for the same names as Danny White and Buffalo.
A comparison of the three programs:
Over the last four years, the three teams are 23-28 (Buffalo), 13-37 (UNLV), and 24-26 (Tulsa), with four combined winning seasons and bowl appearances: two from Tulsa and one from Buffalo and UNLV. Together the teams have a 1-3 record in those bowls.
In the last two years, UB leads the three teams with 13 wins, while UNLV has nine and Tulsa five.
I believe that UB's low financial resources is going to be the number-one hurdle for Danny White when it comes to football coaches.
Buffalo paid Jeff Quinn in the low-to-mid $300s a year prior to his firing. According to coacheshotseat.com, Hauck and Blankenship made $725,000 and $700,000 per year, respectively, while USA Today, which I believe includes bonuses, puts the three at $380k (Quinn), $760k (Blankenship), and $850k (Hauck). All were in the lower 40% of all coaches,
Community Support / Attendance / Historical Program Standards
When it comes to attendance, I have full faith that everyone inflates numbers like UB has, so I'm going to set that aside:
|2013 Attendance||2014 Attendance|
Tulsa and UNLV are different from the Bulls in that they don't share the local sports scene with a pro team, though obviously there's other things going on in Las Vegas. In terms of overall metro area, Las Vegas is the largest and Tulsa the smallest, though the three are evenly spaced between 1.3 million and 850 thousand people.
In terms of alumni, 60% of UNLV's living alumni live in Clark County. I cannot find the same information about Tulsa, but 30% of their student body, which is just under 4,500 total, comes from Oklahoma. UB has upwards of 230,000 alumni, focused in the Northeast, but with many up and down the east coast and in California.
I am not an expert on Tulsa or UNLV, but we know well that UB's alumni base doesn't exert itself very strongly positively or negatively on athletics. UNLV has been Division 1 since 1978, has made just four bowls, and has not had a coach maintain a winning record with the school since Harvey Hyde in the early 1980's. Tulsa has a long history dating back to 1895, and enjoyed a strong thirteen years under coaches F.A. Dry and John Cooper from 1972-1984 before two tougher decades and a winning record over that last ten years.
Buffalo, of course, has just finished its third-best season by winning percentage and T-3rd by total wins since making it back to the highest level of collegiate football in 1999 with a 5-6 record.
Advantage: Buffalo? Depends on how you look at it.
UB Stadium holds 29,000 people, but is 20 years old and widely criticized as too big and too spread out. Buffalo is the lone MAC program without a indoor practice facility. The Morris Sports Performance Center, Alumni Arena, and UB Stadium total 18,00 square feet of strength and conditioning space.
UNLV's Sam Boyd Stadium holds just over 38,000. It's over 40 years old, but was renovated in 1999. The Rebels have a 122-87-3 record at Sam Boyd, but are looking to build a new, 45,000-seat stadium with the help of casino money, but they should get on it: Hauck specifically pointed to the school's facilities and lack of amenities as reasons the Rebels are falling behind their conference peers.
Tulsa's H.A. Chapman Stadium seats 30,000 people, and has been expanded and renovated four times since 1930. The Golden Hurricane have cut capacity by 10,000 since 2004 and Chapman Stadium is the smallest stadium in Conference USA. The Case Athletic Complex is a 30,000-square-foot facility dedicated in 2007 that far outstrips anything present at UB or UNLV.
UB is graduating 21 seniors, including a number of defensive standouts for the second straight year, as well as three-fifths of the starting offensive line, but does return nearly all offensive skill players, including statistically the highest-producing quarterback in program history and a running back who compared favorably to NFLers James Starks and Branden Oliver.
UNLV will lose 25 seniors, but does return their quarterback, leading rusher, and leading receiver. They will be hardest hit in the defensive backfield.
Tulsa graduates just 14 seniors, nine from the defense. They likewise return their leading skill players and are overall a bit younger than the other two teams.
Advantage: Tulsa / Buffalo, though all are in good shape
Tulsa is in Oklahoma and has access to Texas and the South, regardless of how much competition there is. UNLV likewise has access to PAC-12 and Mountain West territory, while Buffalo most heavily recruits from New York, Pennsylvania, and Ohio.
The Mid-American Conference now has five bowl tie-ins for 12 teams in Mobile, AL, Nassau, Bahamas, Boca Raton, Montgomery, AL, and Boise.
The Mountain West has six bowl spots in Las Vegas, San Diego, Honolulu, Albuquerque, Boise, and New Orleans.
The American Athletic Conference sends teams to Annapolis, Birmingham, St. Petersburg, Fort Worth, Miami, and Nassau.
Aside from the money, it doesn't look like UNLV stacks up too well to my eye, but there is a huge difference in money between the Rebels and Golden Hurricane, and UB. Tulsa, on the other hand, compares favorably to the Bulls, especially given the areas in which its far more attractive: recruiting, facilities, and money.