Quinn enjoys coaching in college

After spending 2001-2010 coaching defensive linemen in the NFL, Dan Quinn followed his friend Will Muschamp to Gainesville. There were rumors of Quinn making a return to the NFL as the defensive coordinator for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the offseason, but he elected to stay at Florida. Quinn insists he is happy in Gainesville and not looking to take a job in the NFL.

"We move enough in this profession as it is," Florida defensive coordinator Dan Quinn said. "To be honest with you, I just really enjoy it here and enjoy working for Will. It's a good place. You can get good players here, we can win here, and it's an easy place that to like."

Winning makes it easier, too. That didn't happen much in 2011 when the Gators sputtered through a 7-6 season and struggled on both sides of the ball. With that now out of the memory of the coaching staff, the Gators are sixth in the BCS and 9-1 on the season.

It's always more fun for coaches and players when the team is winning, but this positive season has changed Quinn's outlook.

"I've had a blast doing it," he said. "It's hard to say that from last year. That was a hard season to coach when we certainly thought we'd play better.

The developmental opportunities are what stand out the most. In the NFL, Quinn was coaching players that had been in the league for a long time and were already entrenched in their mechanics and techniques off the line. Sometimes he would get rookies to coach, but even there, they already had a solid fundamental base from what they learned in college.

Now, Quinn is the one building those fundamentals.

That's the excitement he has for coaching in college. He gets to recruit and bring raw talent to Gainesville, and it's up to him to develop the player and teach him how to be a professional and succeed at the next level.

"You get a chance to help these guys grow and develop so much, that's been one of the fun things for me," Quinn said. "To see them help develop and grow fast, I think those are the things of why I enjoy it. And that's what's different. Both of them are different and fun and still coaching. It's what I love to do, but the relationships of helping the guys develop is something that you certainly appreciate."

He's seeing his work with the younger players translate this season. The Gators signed two highly regarded defensive ends — Jonathan Bullard and Dante Fowler — last year. Both came to campus in the summer and had to learn the defensive scheme quickly to earn playing time. Fowler got off to a quick start before hitting the freshman wall, but he has pushed through it and is starting to play better in recent weeks. Bullard has been steadily improving every week this season.

"One of the things that impressed me the most about our two defensive ends is they keep improving. Early on, it was wanting to get out there and play. They went through training camp and did a good job of learning the system. Now, after hearing the calls for a good, long while now and being at the latter half of the regular season, you worry a little less about where to align and where to go and (focus on) how do I effect this play.

"That's what you're seeing more of from them. It's more comfort in the scheme to know exactly what the blocks look like and what plays might likely happen based on the sets."

The improvement for Fowler has been helped by Ronald Powell, who is familiar with the struggles of learning the system in its first year. He did it last year as a sophomore and had inconsistent moments while trying to transition into the BUCK linebacker. Fowler is doing it as a freshman, but he is constantly leaning on Powell for help.

"I think for Fowler, one guy that's had a positive impact on him has been Ronald Powell," Quinn said. "Ronald (stays) positive and at times he'll go talk to him and give him a message. There's been times I've showed clips of Ronald to Dante and saying, ‘this is the technique that I'm looking for here.' I think as much as anybody he's been one that's been a big factor in terms of Fowler."

The excitement in Quinn's voice is hard to miss when he starts to talk about the younger players. Truth is, it's the part of coaching position that he enjoys the most. It eliminated any of the hesitancies he had about taking a job as a college head coach and leaving what he had in the NFL.

But winning cures all. It makes the job easier to do and more fun, but it also helped convince Quinn that he wanted to stay in college football.

"Part of the reason I decided to come here was one, I wanted to work with Will, but two, I thought if it was going to be in a college setting, I'd want to do it where you could really have a chance to win," Quinn said. "And certainly this place you can do that. "

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