It's not Grant Rohach's fault that five years and a full coaching regime ago UB had a bad time with a grad transfer quarterback, but it's understandable why Buffalo fans would make that connection. It's unfortunate for the Bulls' newest signal caller that Chazz Anderson's time here is viewed so negatively that his own potential contributions are being dismissed.
The fact of the matter, though, is that beyond the graduate student transfer rules that brought Anderson and Rohach to Buffalo, the two have very little in common.
There may be no better symbol of the early Quinn years than Anderson, who was hailed as one of UB's (at the time) patented BIG ANNOUNCEMENTs. After one year at the helm in Buffalo during which Jerry Davis completed passes on fewer than 25% of UB's offensive snaps, Quinn had not yet moved on from his stubborn attempts to implement his Cincinnati spread hurry up offense. Between Davis and Alex Zordich, UB didn't yet have a competent quarterback, but they did have two who had seen time and built chemistry with their teammates.
Chazz Anderson's entrance was to be the missing piece to unlock Quinn's offensive potential. He had past experience with Quinn at Cincinnati, but only 126 attempts to his name.
Anderson in 2011 was a good deal better than Jerry Davis in 2010, better enough to complete 90 more passes while meriting 100 more attempts, but not enough to throw for more touchdowns or lead UB to four wins - let alone bowl contention - despite the preseason narrative.
Worst of all in many fans' minds, Anderson supplanted Zordich for a year. The then-sophomore had already gained some experience as a true freshman and instead of building on that experience didn't play enough to do anything except burn a redshirt. When Anderson left, Zordich stepped back in in 2012, only to throw the ball even more rarely than Davis two years prior. Never given a chance to work as UB's #1, Zordich wasn't able to hold onto his spot over redshirt freshman Joe Licata, who even before Zordich's injury saw double-digit dropbacks in three of four October games.
Fast forward to today. No one except you and me (and Matt Simon) are still around from 2011. I see no reason to think that because under an entirely different regime with an entirely different roster one grad transfer didn't go well, that another won't today. Other than being a graduate transfer, Rohach's and UB's situations are so much different than in 2012:
(1) Lance Leipold isn't hailing Rohach as an offensive savior or the missing piece to an unspoken master plan. I'm not even sure we've had any comment on the transfer other than a "Horns Up" tweet from Rob Ianello. This is happening even as LL clearly infuses his program with ready-to-contribute talent this week, planning not to rebuild after losing a senior quarterback, but to treat 2015 as a foundation. It's easier to go with that than to be told a 2-10 season was only a quarterback and an offseason away.
(2) While there is reason for concern about playcalling and offensive gameplanning after this year, Leipold is nowhere close to the stubborn, system-dependent style we saw from Quinn that gutted the program of beef up front before finding 2013 success in the power run game and pro-style quarterbacking.
(3) UB has no obvious quarterback in waiting right now, let alone one or two who already have spent time running the offense in Amherst. I may be Tyree Jackson's biggest fan, but I also may be Chris Merchant's biggest fan. Both have oodles of potential, but neither has shown anything on the field as Alex Zordich had or will be subject to the same start-and-stop career he was.
(4) Rohach has a broader body of work than Anderson did at the time of his transfer. Grant has twice the career attempts, twice the career passing yards, three times the career passing touchdowns, and the same number of wins* as Anderson while in fact playing in more games as his team's main QB. And for an inferior team, compared to Brian Kelly-era Cincinnati.
*in games where Rohach and Anderson played more snaps at QB than any teammate
The Chazz Anderson era is rightly viewed negatively for its effects on UB's line of quarterback succession, and it's rightly derided for not living up to Quinn's lofty promises, but sometimes lost in there is that Anderson did play markedly better than his predecessors. Even considering the losses to graduation, the program today is wildly healthier and closer to a bowl bid than it was at the end of the 2010 season while the coaching staff is less blustery about their coming improvements. If Rohach is 7% more accurate than Licata while throwing seven fewer interceptions, UB is going to have a pretty good year in 2016.
Furthermore, concerns about Buffalo's quarterback succession shouldn't be high in our minds headed into 2016. It shouldn't be a surprise to any of our readers if I remind you that it's relatively rare for a college quarterback to start under center for four (Jackson) or three (Merchant) full years. Two years of Merchant or three of Jackson would still be plenty good, it just likely wouldn't see either approach Willy and Licata in parts of the UB record book by their respective senior day ceremonies.
If another year of learning doomed freshman and sophomore quarterbacks, the college football landscape would look quite a bit more cyclical as teams tried to commit to guys as early as possible in their careers. If Rohach brings some upperclassman leadership on the heels of Licata and Tony Daniel's departure, I feel all the better.
Rohach may come in and win the QB battle for 2016. Many here and on Twitter don't believe he would have chosen UB if he didn't have a shot. Even if he doesn't, I welcome the increased competition in camp; we will know that Jackson or Merchant has not only beaten out an inexperienced underclassman peer, but also a fifth-year player with starting experience in a Power Five conference.
Six of yesterday's eight new faces already have college experience under their belts and look to compete for time right away. Without the volume of his predecessor, Lance Leipold clearly thinks he's ready to win now. Bringing in a possible upgrade at quarterback fits right into that, and considering the state of the depth chart, minimizes the detriments of a one-and-done season.
Here's what it boils down to for me: How would this be any different than Collin Michael winning the job for a year before handing off to Jackson or Merchant? To me, it wouldn't.