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How Quinn is doing it

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Jeff Quinn isn't used to this. He can't be. Yes, he took over the Central Michigan interim coaching job in 2006 after Brian Kelly landed the UC spot, and Quinn guided the Chippewas to the Motor City Bowl. That's all well and good. But that can't be compared to the operation he inherited when Kelly left for Notre Dame.

 

This time, there's a little more on the line - a Sugar Bowl performance against Florida, one of the best teams in the country, in a BCS bowl game that will have plenty of more eyes than the Motor City Bowl - and this time, he doesn't simply have one job. Now, he jokes (but not really), he's got four jobs.

 

He's the interim coach at UC.

 

He's the offensive coordinator at UC.

 

He's the offensive line coach at UC.

 

And he's the head coach at Buffalo.

 

So, Jeff Quinn, how in the heck do you find enough hours in the day to take care of all four occupations?

 

"It's like today," Quinn said one evening last week. "I closed my office door for an hour, just to collect my thoughts. You have to have time to think before you speak and think before you act. I've tried to present it to our football team at Cincinnati that these are life's lessons. These situations do occur.

 

"'Competitive greatness' is a term that I live by. It excites me. It's how I am wired. This is what great leaders do."

 

On Sunday, Quinn took to the mic in front of the national media for a preweek news conference in New Orleans. No matter the question, he continued to fall back on a couple of themes - it's all about the kids, the players have to be locked in and focused, it's all about going 13-0, it's about overcoming adversity. It wasn't the most exciting presser in history, but Quinn got to say what he wanted.

 

But this question then arises. How are Quinn and his coaching staff able to focus when most of them are leaving UC after the Sugar Bowl? How can Quinn concentrate on the Bearcats when he knows he has to pack for Buffalo? And for that matter, why didn't he leave for Buffalo immediately when he got the job and leave the UC interim coaching duties to somebody else?

 

"It's a team game," he said. "I really felt when I was asked to be in the interim position, the most important thing I had to do was get back to our players. I'm an all-in guy. I can't change who I am. When they felt I was in the best position to lead this football team, I was honored to do that. The key is about these kids. I keep saying that. I don't want them to lose sight about that's why I came here. For me to step away from that opportunity to continue leading this football team, I wasn't going to do it and let anybody down. I wanted to be here and finish things off.  I'm following through with that."

 

No doubt that his soon-to-be former players appreciate that. Even if they know he's gone after Jan. 1. That's why they were happy for him when he told them that he had accepted the Buffalo job - certainly a different reaction than Kelly received when he informed them at the team banquet he was leaving for South Bend.

 

"Everybody clapped for him," sophomore Isaiah Pead said. "There were no sorrowful faces because he was upfront about it. He said, 'I'm going to tell you before you go home and see it on the Internet.'"

 

Still, at times, Quinn thinks about what awaits him in Buffalo. He can't help it, especially when a reporter is asking about what it means finally to have landed a head coaching job.

 

"It's my time," Quinn said. "It's an honor and a privilege to be selected as one of 120 head coaches in the entire country. That fraternity in itself is very special. I can't tell you how thankful I am. It's something you work for for 26 years. It's not what took you so long. It's about that it's my time."

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