Coach Jeff Quinn
Our February profile proudly highlights Coach Jeff Quinn, whose former role as UC Football Offensive Coordinator resulted in (1) back-to-back Big East Titles and (2) a top-five finalist nod for the prestigious 2009 Broyles Award, given to the nation's top assistant coach.
Coach Quinn is now Head Football Coach at the University of Buffalo, a Division I-ranked program. The game is the same, but the branding context-specific.
Coach Quinn's Advice
- Best general advice you’ve ever received
- Each & Every Day: Be Smart, Be Good, and Be Careful.
- Worst general advice you’re ever received
- Look out for #1.
- Best style advice you’ve ever received?
- Stay clean shaven; wear clothing that represents who you are. No tattoos or earrings (per my parents).
- Worst style advice you’ve ever received?
- Paisley ties are out.
- When someone tells you "they care about you," believe them.
- When someone tells you "to make a poor decision," don’t believe them.
- You’re more likely to recruit a football player to your team when they say or do what?
- They (1) value their education and (2) have a competitive passion for winning championships.
- You’re less likely to recruit a football player to your team when they say or do what?
- When they lie, cheat, steal and treat women with disrespect.
- How important are manners and civility in college sports as both a coach and football player?
- It’s about representing yourself (in either role) with class and distinction. The sports world is like no other. We’ve seen in recent years many emotionally filled decisions on behalf of the fans, players, and coaches. It’s vitally important that we (1) maintain proper perspective on all we do and say and (2) realize that a public figure status demands a consideration of any and all decisions made.
Coach Quinn Evolves
- When did you first understand the power of image (communication ability, nonverbal appearance, behavioral mannerisms) in helping you achieve your personal and professional goals?
When I went to graduate school, my mentor was a 16-year veteran Division 1 football coach. He taught me by example how to conduct myself every day in a professional manner.
- Were you aware at the time that the entity/organization you represented (for example, University of Buffalo, University of Cincinnati) also benefitted from your presentation of self?
Yes. Every person represents themselves, their family and the University. I was always told to dress up rather than down. You never know who you will run into and where it might be.
- How did your image change as you moved from one career or job position to the next?
- As a young man? I didn’t take it seriously. I didn’t think people were evaluating me on my looks and dress.
- Starting out professionally? Once I witnessed firsthand the most successful coaches in the college ranks, I noticed there was a direct correlation between the two.
- As Head Coach at the University of Buffalo? It’s all about the cuff links and a no button down shirt. It’s attention to details because you are always being evaluated. This becomes extremely apparent when I choose my attire for my University at Buffalo press conferences.
- How did your behavior change as you moved from one career or job position to the next?
My philosophy is the "Four Quinn Rules":
- Quinn Rule #1: Do the right things (make good decisions)
- Quinn Rule #2: Follow the golden rule (treat people as I want to be treated)
- Quinn Rule #3: Do my very best (give everything I have to my fullest capability)
- Quinn Rule #4: Never quit (winners never quit and quitters never win)
Were these changes a personal decision (being "authentic" to what best suited you) or triggered by external factors/events?
- Yes they were and they’ve been developed over time.
- What is your "go-to" outfit, that wardrobe ensemble that empowers you no matter what the context from the moment you put it on?
- As you meet with parents/players during recruitment? Suit and tie.
- On the field during official games? Black or Khaki slacks and university colors.
- Off the field as a University of Buffalo representative? My Buffalo blue tie and grey pin stripe suit with light blue cuff links.
Coach Quinn Starts Branding
- What made you think to intentionally begin branding yourself?
Running a Division 1 Football Program is leading a multi-million dollar business operation. I utilize the "Next Bull In" model because it represents what I believe. When someone goes down it’s about the "Next-Best-Person-In". Not only have I (1) branded myself with this model, I, too, have (2) branded the entire football program.
Having coached with some of the finest in this business, I’ve seen multiple programs take different approaches to branding. Now that I’m the Head Coach, it’s important that all things public communicate a clear and consistent message that does not deviate from the person I am and the type of program I run. Deciding how I wanted to brand Buffalo was deliberate and strategic.
- In your opinion, what percentage of football coaches use image/branding to their advantage?
- Only the most successful coaches are beneficiaries of exceptional branding and not many truly understand the impact it has on the program. These "branding" coaches know how to build and sustain championship programs. On a lighter branding note, you are starting to see some coaches make statements on the sidelines in terms of branding (Jim Tressell at Ohio State wearing the sweater vest or perhaps Al Golden at Temple wearing a suit) and some coaches are going for the more casual cut-off hooded sweatshirt (primarily in the NFL). While I haven’t seen majority of coaches take this approach, it sure is popular with the fan base and has become somewhat of an identity for them.
- What steps do you take to ensure you and your team represent your brand (and by extension, the University of Buffalo) effectively?
- Make sure the expectations are clearly articulated through multiple types of communication and/or literature.
- What are your thoughts to those who say that image shouldn’t be important, that only the quality of work matters?
- They are the ones who fail to understand their image is a reflection of themselves and all they represent.
- Do you dress to "stand out" or "blend in"?
- My ultimate aim is to dress for professionalism. I dress as the Head Football Coach with a tie and jacket or collar shirt and jacket.
- When can you "break the rules" of clothing norms and wear whatever you want?
- When I get home and start fishing!
- Are the rules for your dress more relaxed since you’ve achieved success or have you now started to dress more formally to fully reflect your high-ranking position?
- Much more formally. I can only make a first impression one time. I just never know who is watching me.
- How important is it to maintain a healthy appearance, especially in a sport where physical fitness is an integral part of the game and its representation?
- Most people see your body type and automatically make an assumption of how successful you will be. In athletics, I think a strong, powerful, and intense appearance can work to your advantage. Mental strength in sports is a dominant factor and nonverbally communicating intimidation can be effective.
- Looking around your work office (and how you’ve decorated it), what perceptions do you want visitors to form?
- I want people to know my 5 passions: Faith, Family, Football, Fishing, and Fun.
- Do you have a team and coaching staff dress code? How do players/employees know the rules for proper attire?
- Yes. I want every occasion to be communicated with the proper attire i.e.: away games, home games, recruiting and office attire could all slightly vary depending on location/context. I ensure that everyone is well-aware of what the attire will be.
- On and off the field, do you tend to wear colors that reinforce that university’s official colors?
- It’s all about wearing the school colors!
Coach Quinn Talks Clothing & Shopping
- How often do you shop?
- It depends if it’s fishing or hunting shopping. In regards to shopping for clothing, my wife does it best.
- Do you frequent certain stores or websites?
- Bass Pro Shop, Men’s Warehouse, Macy’s, Dillard’s
- What percentage of your budget is spent on clothing, grooming, accessories, etc.? Has this increased, decreased, or remained the same over the years?
- It has increased in regards to the day-to-day apparel. More ties, shirts, suits, etc.
- Do you have a clothing mentor who influences your style (CEO, celebrity, sports figure, political figure, etc.)?
- I look to my wife and my sons to keep me looking my best. I often seek advice from them. There’s nothing better than a second opinion in that case.
- Do you prefer to wear solids and patterns? Is there such a thing as "too" much color or an inappropriate pattern?
- My favorite is a solid white shirt and a patterned tie.
- Can you comment on your hairstyle?
- Short and well-groomed. Some would call it the Pat Riley look.
- What piece of jewelry couldn’t you live without?
- My wedding ring, watches, Big East Championship ring, and National Championship ring.
- Have you ever worn accessories strategically?
- Yes. I wear a UB (University of Buffalo) hat on game day and my UB pin on my suit jacket.
- Do you have a love-love relationship with clothes (you very much enjoy dressing for every occasion) or a love-hate relationship (where you view dressing as a chore, but appreciate that clothing allows you to accomplish your goals)?
- I have a respectful relationship that represents who I am and what I am about.
- How would you identify your style/clothing personality?
- On the field "Natural" and off the field "Classic."
- What elements of your personality, dress, and style make you approachable and which elements communicate strength?
- You can look into my eyes and see my soul. My intense competitive passion is what makes people buy into my philosophy. I always look people in the eyes and give them a firm handshake. That type of presence—coupled with a clear message and audible volume—can definitely turn heads and draw attention. People will know you’re in the room.
Coach Quinn Talks Manners & Other Related Thoughts
- Offer a time when you left a situation knowing your manners were perfection:
- It’s about saying please and thank you; this shows people respect. I always try to acknowledge people with a "Hello" or "Good Morning," etc. Regardless of status, power, income, age, gender, ethnicity, religion etc., you should always treat people with respect.
- Football is competition. How important is the demonstration of civility whether win or lose?
- I want tough gentleman, but sportsmanship must also be displayed. It particularly bothers me to see post-game emotions run high for the negative. I tell my players to expend all their energy on the field during the game. Any energy exerted thereafter should have been utilized during the time of play.
- Has anyone ever sent you a congratulatory letter or thank-you letter for your efforts?
- All the time. It’s a great rejuvenator to receive these types of messages; it gives you an opportunity to reflect on the lives I’ve touched in my roles as coach and educator. My profession is rewarding. I have enjoyed watching my players from previous teams and schools grow up to be professionals and fathers. Their acknowledgment of my efforts in helping them achieve their dreams—on and off the field—is special.
- What’s your thoughts on the current behavior of fans in the stands at college and professional sports games?
They need to show respect to the coaches and players for their effort. Fans have a different perspective than those directly affecting the impact of the game. Coaching college football is one of the most detail-oriented, time-consuming career commitments one can make. It is not easy, there is little stability, and it is the way that I provide for my family.
Everyone wants to win and sports are such emotional activities because everyone feels such vested interest in the program (the athletes, fans, administrators, communities, students, alumni, etc.). It’s a shame this industry still produces the occasional post-game scuffle, outrageous acts of vandalism, or poor public language to and from coaches, fans, referees, and players etc.
I believe many Universities and governing bodies like the NCAA have taken notice of these events and actions and are taking steps to ensure that "Game Day" is an enjoyable experience for any person in attendance.
- Your thoughts regarding a mandatory dress code for college and professional athletes (such as the one implemented by the NBA)?
- I am in favor. If you are a professional, act and conduct yourself like one. Anything less is unacceptable.
Interested in learning more about Coach Quinn? Click here