Just Quinn, baby, Quinn
Fans won’t buy in until the product on the field matches the talk
Published: Thursday, August 30, 2012
Updated: Monday, November 5, 2012 20:11
Jeff Quinn’s barely-blue eyes rush to royal this time of year. His nostrils pulse and drill-sergeant voice deepens. Antsy bubbles of sweat multiply on his forehead.
It’s football season, and nobody gets more fired up for UB football than he does. Not True Blue’s most rabid fan. Not anybody on the team. Nobody.
It seems a shame, really, that a man this zealous has gone 5-19 in two years as head coach. And, truth be told, Quinn is aware his mark is unacceptable.
“Grading myself off wins and losses, [I haven’t done] too well,” Quinn said back in November after his team finished 3-9. “But building the program on the right foundation, I think you’re exactly where you want to be. No one cares about this program more than myself. A championship culture will take place at the University at Buffalo. That’s what people deserve and that’s what I came here to do.”
It’s also the reason his players came to Buffalo. They want a championship, and around UB Stadium this summer you’d get the feeling the Mid-American Conference is brandishing their trophy. The players Quinn recruited have been through the system for two years, and you could certainly argue they’ve branded a self-belief that a team which lost 34-0 at Temple and 41-13 at Miami Ohio last year does not deserve.
But have you not heard UB is in the wave of the future? There’s no place for negativity in the new, optimistic regime of this athletic department.
Up-and-comer Danny White, a 32-year-old SEC product, runs the athletic department nowadays, and he’s created a fresh vibe. He brought along some Ole Miss friends and hired quite possibly the most enthusiastic basketball coach I’ve ever met: Felisha Legette-Jack, who now heads the women’s team.
White is saying UB is ready to work its way onto the national scene. Legette-Jack is saying “the secret is out” and it’s time to “run with the Bulls.”
Quinn’s motto for the year? He repeats it often: “UB stands for Unfinished Business.” He knows it’s time for the football team to excite and unite UB’s oft-apathetic student body the way it did in 2008, the way the men’s basketball team did last semester.
The potential is here. Look at this year’s squad and you have an eager motivator at head coach, star power (Branden Oliver, Khalil Mack), personable local athletes (Alex Neutz, Joe Licata) and a city that is ready to get behind the Bulls.
Imagine snow falling on a packed UB Stadium as UB battles for conference championship stock in November. Imagine games being broadcast on one of the primary local television channels. You don’t need much of an imagination.
This is a sports-crazed town. That’s why Quinn is constantly on WGR 550 talking about his team, and why he consistently says “we want fans tailgating three hours before every game.”
Fans will absolutely tailgate. They just need to know they’ll be watching an exciting product. This is college, a different stage from the NFL. The Bulls aren’t granted tons of fan support year after year no matter their win-loss tally. They need to earn those dedicated fans.
You’ve made all the right marketing moves, UB, and you’ve said all the right words. It’s time to back those words up.
At the rate they’re headed (one win better per season), the Bulls will be dominant in five or six years. But there’s a new air around here – an air that this program is on the immediate upswing and losing is a way of the past, starting today.
It’s an elite club of optimists, and Quinn’s passion on its own won’t grant him admission.
He needs to win.