Saturday, December 6, 2008

Instilling a sense of belief in your team

The University of Buffalo has only been playing Division I-A football since 1999, when the team went 0-11.

Between 2001-05, the Bulls went 8-49, including a 5-35 mark in the MAC.

Then Turner Gill, the brilliant QB for Nebraska in the early 1980s and a former assistant at Nebraska, SMU, and North Texas, took over as coach in December 2005.

None of the six coaches who immediately preceded Gill had posted a winning record.

"'How come it can't happen?' That's what I told this football team when I first came in here. I said to them, 'We will be successful here and I will not be ashamed of being the head football coach at the University at Buffalo.'"

Last sesaon, Coach Gill's second in Buffalo, there were signs the tide was turning. The Bulls went 5-3 in MAC play. The attitude had changed. According to one UB player about Coach Gill:

"He came here and instilled a sense of believing in us and in our team."

The team officially turned the corner last night when it shocked previously undefeated Ball State, 42-24, in the MAC title game in Detroit. On the season, Buffalo went 8-5 and has accepted a bid to play in the International Bowl.

According to this article, "the turnaround has been so profound and come so quickly, that athletic director Warde Manuel is unable to understate Gill's impact. Manuel credits Gill for being the catalyst for change, saying he knew five minutes into the interview process that he had found his coach."

"X's and O's, all the coaches I interviewed had that," Manuel said. "What I needed was a coach in this particular case that could get the kids who were down, a program that was down, to believe in themselves."