University at Buffalo Athletic Director Danny White described what characteristics he would like in a new head football coach during an interview on Radio 1520 Tuesday evening.
"With any coach, we want an inspirational leader," White said on a show on the business of college athletics. "We want somebody that has a high level of talent in terms of their interpersonal skills, their ability to connect with recruits, their ability to connect with the student athletes on their team, and obviously connect with the community and donors, as we’re trying to build a program. Somebody with credibility in their sport. If you look at some of the head coaches we’ve hired in various sports, most of them have a high level of credibility and profile in their sport. I think that helps. It’s not absolutely necessary but it certainly is an advantage. Going back to interpersonal skills. I think really good coaches are really talented in terms of how they communicate and connect with people. That enables them to be world-class recruiters. And you can’t win without having really talented student-athletes on your team."
That's not a description of Jeff Quinn, fired last week as UB coach. Quinn has plenty of strengths. He's detail-oriented, accountable and hires good people, among other things. But recruiting was not a strength, from this perspective. And he's not a talented communicator.
White credited Quinn with moving the program forward.
"I think it’s more attractive than it was five years ago, and that’s a credit to Jeff Quinn," he said of the UB job. "I think the program has come a long way, really when you think about the last two coaches, Coach Gill and Coach Quinn, we’ve made strides."
White essentially reiterated his initial statements on why he fired Quinn: "We’re in year five with Coach Quinn and we felt like what we’ve seen on the field over the course of this season combined with the first four years . . . I try very hard not to look at one individual season or one individual game. I came to the conclusion a change was needed to continue the momentum that we’ve built so far. At that point it was a matter of when not if."
So why in the middle of the season? White said that since he determined Quinn was going, he didn't want the players burdened by speculation over the coach's job security.
White: "I was thinking a lot about this senior class. When I first got here in 2012 there was a lot of talk about our head coach and the direction of the program. I really tried to show a tremendous amount of support and tried to give Coach Quinn and his staff a chance to build a program. . . . When there’s talk about their head coach, it’s just not a healthy environment. Going through that for one season is one thing. To go through that multiple times I think is a hard thing for a student athlete to experience."
"With two weeks before our next home game, with the bye week being the only opportunity to do that, I felt like I wanted the focus to be on the senior class these last five games, not on the job security of the head coach. That was by far the biggest reason. I think we have an opportunity now there’s five games left, they’re all winnable. They’re good opponents but I think we’re a pretty good football team. We have talented student athletes who can finish on a high note."
The midseason move gives White more time to survey the field of candidates. Here's another potential benefit: Once White decided Quinn was not the answer, it was easier to get rid of him now than after the season - if the Bulls somehow get their act together and pull out a winning campaign.