Nothing to Fear with Quinn at UB

By Chris

Cincinnati offensive coordinator Jeff Quinn will be named the next head coach of the University at Buffalo’s football program tomorrow.

Quinn interviewed for the position last Monday and apparently impressed Athletic Director Warde Manuel enough to land the job.

Hiring a big name like Quinn is a great sign for the UB Athletic Department. Back when UB first went after Turner Gill, he didn’t even know the university had a football team.

Now, the interim head coach of the third-ranked team in the country takes over. That, more than anything else, is Turner Gill’s legacy. In his four short years at UB, Gill turned the title of “Bulls head coach” from a punchline to a job that candidates were virtually lining up for.

We all knew Gill wouldn’t be around forever. And neither will Quinn.

The UB job has the potential to become a great stepping stone for coaches looking to make it big. In a non-BCS conference, it’s really the best a school like UB can do.

Quinn will first coach the Bearcats in the Sugar Bowl against Florida on Jan. 1 and that’s the right thing to do.

After coach Brian Kelly fled to Notre Dame, it’s good to see that Quinn isn’t going to turn his back on his players before their biggest game in school history.

There’s little reason to be skeptical of Quinn and the future of the program. I thought they might stay in-house and promote offensive coordinator Danny Barrett, but Manuel picked Quinn and that’s good enough for me.

Manuel knows how to turn programs around and find the best people for the job. Look past his hiring of Gill and take a peek at another sport.

The women’s volleyball team won six games last year. Manuel recognized that a change needed to be made and decided not to renew the contract of head coach Jim Lodes.

He then hired former Florida State head coach Todd Kress. The result? A 10-win improvement and the team’s most successful season since joining the Mid-American Conference.

Manuel knows how to find winners.

He also knows that if he wants to run a big-time department soon, he probably needs another MAC title in either football or men’s basketball under his belt.

Getting a coach like Quinn will certainly help those chances.

And make no mistake about it, the Bulls are contenders next year. Quarterback Zach Maynard has gained some much-needed experience and we found out this year that the team is extremely deep at running back.

The defense, led by senior safety Davonte Shannon, should be physical and sophomore defensive end Steven Means is ready to break out.

The biggest concern comes at wide receiver as Buffalo loses Naaman Roosevelt to graduation.

But keep in mind that Gill was a tremendous recruiter. And the 2010 season will be the first team of all-Gill recruits. There’s a lot of talent on that roster.

Quinn knows the MAC, too. He was the offensive coordinator for Dan LeFevour’s freshman season at Central Michigan in 2006. The Chippewas won a conference championship that year.

If nothing else, expect good scoops from the Buffalo News in the coming weeks and months. Their primary Bulls beat reporter, Rodney McKissic, is a Cincinnati alumnus.

So things are still looking up for the program despite threats of budget cuts and the like. Sports are a great way to put a school on the map and UB is headed in the right direction.