Decisions, decisions: Should UB dump Quinn?
blog by Ben Tsujimoto • October 15, 2012 @ 9:32am
One of the primary differences between the National Football League and Division I college football is the speed at which a program can reverse its fortunes. Whether it’s a terrific draft, a savvy coaching change or aggressive free agent signings, NFL teams can swing from a division doormat into a serious contender in just a few years.
This doesn’t seem to be the case for college football, however, as the UB Bulls are learning: it’s no secret that University at Buffalo head coach Jeff Quinn is on the hot-seat, as this CBS Sports article notes.
It takes much longer for a new coach to put his stamp on a program, from refining/regionalizing his recruiting network to building his own coaching staff to convincing the previous regime’s recruits to buy-in. Transitions typically aren’t smooth—transfers, malcontents and combative personalities tend to rear their ugly heads (remember the departures of Nick Sizemore and Darius Willis when Turner Gill, who’s not well-renowned as a recruiter to begin with, was fired). The process doesn’t happen overnight—and in the vague three-to-four year grace period given to most new coaches, finding success in that short window is often too much to ask.
After UB’s embarrassing 45-3 loss to Northern Illinois, a consistent MAC contender and defending conference champion, it was evident how far the Bulls are away from competing. Jeff Quinn’s 1-5 record this season—and his 6-24 career record over 2+ seasons in Buffalo—begs the question: “Will dismissing Quinn and starting over again set the program back that much?”
It’s easy—and quite trendy, actually—to play armchair athletic director and give Quinn the axe mid-season. Aside from a MAC contest against UMass, the coming slate isn’t more manageable, and college teams aren’t afforded the opportunity to go “Suck for Luck”-style. Still, what kind of a message does it send to the young Bulls team if new AD Danny White pulls the plug on Quinn mid-season, hiring defensive coordinator Lou Tepper as an interim head coach and starting a national hunt for his replacement?
Unless White has an available head coach in mind, one with the charisma, connections and work ethic to turn a program around quickly, then I’d allow Quinn to stick around another year. Your retort may be—“Why delay the inevitable? Waiting one more year out of the slim hope that Quinn can right the ship sure seems like a waste of time.”
It’s not his fault that his best player, Branden Oliver, has missed every minute of the three-game road tailspin, and you can look fondly upon a few Quinn recruits who’ve shown their stripes: center Trevor Sales, running back Devin Campbell and linebacker Lee Skinner. Local stars Jordan Johnson and Joe Licata have the raw skills to become impact players, while hyped recruits QB Collin Michael, DB Marqus Baker, S Ekezie Alozie and DL Kendall Patterson prove that the cupboard isn’t bare. More quality players are lying in wait, too. Maybe, this is a young team finding its way rather than the hopeless, beleaguered unit we’ve seen the last few weeks.
It’s really tough—and remarkably unpopular—to say: “Hey, let’s give Quinn another chance.” He’s a rather bizarre play-caller sometimes—his delays on third and long are infuriating to many—but he’s improved the offensive line markedly and has at least recruited promising QB prospects, even if he’s been oddly attached to Chazz Anderson and Alex Zordich.