"If Quinn can't win, he shouldn't stay"

Decision to fire Quinn the right play by Danny White

It took only a three-game win streak in 2012 for Athletic Director Danny White to grant head football coach Jeff Quinn a contract extension through 2017. The decision puzzled many, but The Spectrum cautiously supported the move.

Two years later, only one game was necessary to change White’s outlook for good – and this time around, it’s a move that deserves wholehearted support.

After experiencing not just a loss, but a 37-27 humiliation against Eastern Michigan on Saturday, the Bulls are saying farewell to Quinn and – hopefully – ushering in a new era, ideally one that is finally as “big time” as White would like.

The current state of the team, with its 3-4 record and rapidly fading bowl aspirations, cannot become the norm if UB is to continue its pursuit of a reputation as a serious sports school.

The Bulls’ 8-5 record last season needs to become the standard, even the bare minimum – not the exception to the rule, or an anomaly among two, three and four win seasons.

A new standard of success and increasingly high expectations requires a top-tier coach who can produce results. White took a chance extending Quinn, and the move ended up backfiring – the nullification of the head coach’s contract will cost UB at least the remaining balance of Quinn’s current $250,000 base salary. If Quinn doesn’t end up working elsewhere, he’ll receive decreasing payouts for the remainder of his contract – up to $525,000, according to his contract with UB Athletics.

White’s strategy in designing this contract was shrewd, as the prospect of paying the full payout is unlikely – Quinn will probably end up working again, like fired basketball coach Reggie Witherspoon, who is now working at Alabama as an assistant coach.

Even if UB has to pay the full $525,000, White’s arrangement of a decreasing payout – rather than paying Quinn’s base salary through 2017, which would have been more typical compared to other college contracts – exemplifies the athletic director’s foresight, and his realistic outlook regarding Quinn’s potential.

The athletic program was saving money on Quinn to begin with – his annual salary was unusually low, and even with additional incentives, his employment was a welcome bargain for the athletic program.

These financial incentives, supplemented by the team’s promising 2013 season, makes it easy to understand why clearly, White wanted Quinn to be his guy – the coach who could take UB’s football program to the next level, to bowl games and championships and beyond.

But after the team’s loss to Eastern Michigan, it’s painfully apparent that Quinn can’t do that.

The football team’s schedule this year revolved around the team’s potential – it was designed to put the Bulls in a position where they could vie for a bowl game. But now that’s no longer realistic. This season cannot reach the levels of last year, and Quinn will – rightfully – not have another year to try and achieve that.

Instead, the team will experience the rest of the season in flux, as what is sure to be a long and intensive search for a new head coach. Knowing White, and given his previous selections of well-known coaches like Bobby Hurley and Trena Peel, the new football coach will bring name-recognition and experience to the field – and ideally, a new attitude.

Quinn was a far cry from a players’ coach. As detailed in The Spectrum’s feature

on the head coach’s inconsistent disciplinary techniques, Quinn’s coaching methods were ultimately a poor fit for the team. The program was ultimately better suited to former head coach Turner Gill’s coaching style, who recruited better players and maintained a more effective team environment than his successor.

The players, without the support of their coach, have begun to rely on each other, including a saying – “We all we got, we all we need.” It’s a show of not just solidarity but subtle rebellion, as the players unite in their displeasure with the current coaching situation.

“We all we got” isn’t just an invention of the Bulls. The saying, adopted from rap lyrics, is shared by the Seattle Seahawks, who recite the motto not just before games, but after victories – with their coaches celebrating alongside them.

The Bulls should be a united front – against their opponents, not their coaches. The team deserves a leader who players can trust, and who can earn the chance to join the ranks of those who the team includes in that pregame phrase.

email: editorial@ubspectrum.com