As the season passed the halfway point and the losses mounted, the idea of Jeff Quinn receiving a contract extension had all the forward carry of a punt into hurricane winds. A contract extension? A good many UB fans were wondering just the opposite: What would it take to buy him out?
The presence of a new athletic director in Danny White fueled some public speculation of Quinn's impending demise. New ADs often like to put their stamp on an athletic department and changing coaches on one of the program's high-profile teams serves the purpose.
White waited and watched. A six-game losing streak gave way to one win. Then a second. And a third, marking the first time since the championship season of 2008 the Bulls have strung together three consecutive victories. A team low on seniors was getting results and exuding greater promise.
White sized it all up, accounted for the severity of the early-season schedule, and decided UB's football team is on the right track. That conclusion made its way onto paper Wednesday when Quinn received a three-year contract extension that makes him the First Bull In through 2017.
"I'm extremely confident in Jeff's ability to recruit and develop these young men to be champions both on the field and in life," White said in an athletic department release. "He espouses great integrity, character and core values that are directly in line with our institution. UB Athletics may have more potential than any other department in America. To make it a reality, we need to build sustained success in football, year in and year out, and I believe that coach Quinn and his staff are leading us there."
UB went 2-10 in Quinn's first season (2010), 3-9 his second and is 4-7 heading into Friday's season finale against Mid-American Conference rival Bowling Green. This year's improvement has come despite injuries to the team's top three running backs and a passing game that foundered before Joe Licata took over for an injured Alex Zordich three games ago.
UB returns nine starters on offense next season and 12 players who have started at least one game on a defense that ranks second overall in the MAC behind Bowling Green's. And it's been evident from conversations with various players over the last few weeks that the team is strongly behind its coach.
"It means a lot for this program I think," Licata said Wednesday. "It's all about the people that you have around you and Coach Quinn is a great, great person and he recruits the right kind of people here. I'm excited to play for him for the next three years."
"We're excited about it," said sophomore linebacker Lee Skinner. "Coach Quinn's brought in a winning mentality and he's a real good character guy and we're all happy for him. Most important, we just got to keep going with what he's been doing."
Asked earlier this week if he felt any pressure last month as the losses continued, Quinn said he was buoyed by a belief things were on the right track.
"It was more determination," he said. "I was more concerned about the players and my coaches. We needed to change the outcome, there was no doubt. You can't keep having the [negative] results and expect yourself to be protected in this business. It doesn't work that way. We all know that. But the bottom line is I had great support from a program and a bunch of kids that just hung in there together. And that's what I appreciate."
Financial terms were not immediately available but it would be typical for such an extension to include a salary increase. Quinn's initial deal called for annual base pay of $250,000, another $75,000 in compensation for media and promotional duties as well bonuses attainable for items ranging from meeting team academic-performance goals ($5,000) to national coach of the year ($50,000).
Assuming the original contract language remains unchanged, UB has some financial protection in the event Quinn is released from the position. Quinn would be entitled to base pay and additional compensation for the remaining years on the contract but that settlement would be adjusted downward by his earnings if he gained another football job.
If Quinn becomes a hot commodity and leaves for another position, UB is entitled to compensation equal to his base salary for unfulfilled years of the deal. That's usually paid by the school that hires him.
Quinn's not thinking along those lines. Like White, he reiterated after practice Wednesday a belief that UB athletics has unlimited potential and has only scratched the surface.
"I couldn't be happier to have the confidence that Danny and President [Satish] Tripathi have in me and this coaching staff," he said. "I'm that excited about what kind of program that we continue to build daily and where we feel we can take this place. That's what it's all about."