KHQA says it does its work “because accuracy matters.”
That’s been the Quincy television station’s slogan for a few years now. Long-time sports director Chris Duerr must not be listening.
Earlier this week, Duerr posted an opinion piece on the state of the Quincy University football program. In the more than 3,000-word piece, Duerr takes on the failings of head coach Bill Terlisner, whose team just finished an 0-11 season.
Duerr has a right to his opinion. However, the piece is flawed thanks to some factual inaccuracies.
One of the things that has helped kill Terlisner’s overall record — beside the miserable 2010 campaign — is the fact the program routinely plays money games against NCAA Football Championship Subdivision teams. The Hawks are 1-12 in those games. Duerr claims in his piece “Just about everyone who has to; from FCS schools on down.”
While FCS teams like Western Illinois do play up against Bowl Championship Series teams, it’s rare for teams on the NAIA level to play teams higher on the food chain than they are. QU was the only team in the Mid-States Football Association to “play up” this year. No team in the Heart of America Athletic Conference, which Culver-Stockton College belongs, played a money game in 2010. No teams in the nearby NCAA Division III Midwest League, which features schools like Knox, Monmouth and Illinois College, “played up” either.
In order to help fund the program, QU has had to take on the money games, which routinely net the school $25,000 per outing.
Duerr uses the fact Terlisner doesn’t recruit locally as another strike against him. Another falsehood. Terlisner has recruited players from area schools. Often, those players don’t pan out. Just this year, the Hawks had a player who was a game MVP in the KHQA-sponsored all-star game. That local player didn’t make it out of the first day of practice, according to Terlisner. Of the six players with area ties that started camp with the Hawks in the fall, only three made it through the season.
And can you hold against Terlisner the fact that bevy of highly-recruitable players produced by Quincy Notre Dame over the last five years bypassed the local college for Division I opportunities?
Duerr is an advocate for the small-town kid, which is great. He works his tail off in doing so. But how many of those 175-pound offensive linemen should the Hawks expect to help them? Is there a Justin Dickens-like receiver or a difference-making running back like LeVar Ammons waiting in those weeds? How about a quarterback like Bobby Brenneisen, a kid who came into QU with state-championship credentials rarely seen by QU recruits?
Fred Bouchard once tried to win at Culver-Stockton College in the late 1990s with a roster filled with area talent. How did that work out for him? It didn’t.
Duerr also wrote: “In 2009, one of the major failings was special teams.” Yes, the Hawks’ punt team stunk with five blocked and four returns for touchdowns. Interestingly enough, Hawk kicker Alex Beard set nearly every school field goal record last season. And Beard was a local kid, hailing from Triopia High School.
Somehow, I am part of the problem with QU football, according to Duerr.
He referenced my “Nov. 16 opinion piece,” which was actually printed in the Oct. 24 Herald-Whig. (Remember, accuracy matters.) Duerr noted that I wrote that Terlisner should “be given more time” in that column. What he failed to mention that I also closed with these two graphs:
That being said, what happens between now and the end of the 2011 season will go a long way in saying whether or not Terlisner will be around for the start of 2012 and the Hawks’ arrival in the Great Lakes Valley Conference. QU is 0-2 in games in which it has scored at least 50 points this season. You’d think if you can score 50, then you should win the game. Not with the Hawks’ porous defense, which has struggled under first-year coordinator Raleigh Daves and has four freshman and two sophomore starters. QU has to get better on defense if it has any hopes of turning this losing trend around.
And if the Hawks can’t stop anyone, there might not be any stopping a change at the top.
So nearly a month after that column, Duerr has his epiphany that a change needs to be made.
He claims I’ve been soft on QU after going after other programs like the Quincy High School girls basketball team. (Why this was brought into the mix, I still don’t know.) What I’ve tried to be is fair. Duerr wrote: “For the record, I am sure if given the chance, Don, Sandi DeVoe (sic) could have also given you reasons why the QHS girls program would eventually get turned around.”
For the record, I did call Devoe before writing that piece and she had no comment. Be it calling Devoe before writing a harsh piece on her program or getting a hold of former Culver-Stockton College Athletic Director Joel Dant to get his thoughts on his school’s dreadful athletic program, I try to give the other side a chance to talk before placing the ball on the tee.
Duerr didn’t afford Terlisner the same opportunity here.
Terlisner said he hasn’t been interviewed by Duerr since he did a preseason piece on Brenneisen. If Duerr had done his due diligence and asked Terlisner a few questions, he may have gotten some answers. Anyone who listened to “The Coach T Show” week after week or tuned into the postgame programming in the wake of those losses knows that there isn’t anything Terlisner won’t discuss.
It might not all be on the record, but Terlisner would have given Duerr a bit of an idea of the behind-the-scenes workings. Terlisner would have been able to tell him about a father, whose son is an area product and went on to have a great college career at nearby area college, a thank you letter for giving his son an opportunity to play. Terlisner could have told him that this isn’t some money grab for him and his assistant coaches since one of Duerr’s claims was that the school could save money by bringing in a new staff.
But why let facts get in the way of a good rip job? Evidently, accuracy doesn’t matter.
So, what does Quincy University think of its football program?
All you have to do is take one look at its crumbling stadium to see where it ranks on the food chain, which is somewhere toward the bottom. It seems more than content with padding the enrollment stats with those gridiron hopefuls even if it doesn’t translate into more wins. The Hawks aren’t going to make the playoffs next year and it’s a pretty safe bet that the school will never be a playoff team.
The Great Lakes Valley Conference is starting football in 2012 with no history at all. It’s tough enough for established leagues to get bids to the 24-team NCAA Division II Tournament, which doesn’t give automatic bids to league champions. Those league champs need to be in the top six in one of four super regionals in order to get in. You think the newbies in the GLVC are going to be placed ahead of the Northwest Missouri States and Grand Valley States of the world? Think again. It’s going to take years for the GLVC to gain any traction in those polls.
Unless the school wants to make a serious commitment in terms of scholarships, which have decreased over the last few years while squad sizes have increased, and facilities, Hawk football will continue to be what it’s been for the better part of two decades now — a three-hour diversion for the campus community for a few Saturday afternoons every fall.
I had a person who is close to the school and not affiliated with the football program tell me earlier in the week that “Bear Bryant would have trouble winning at QU.”
Bill Terlisner’s no Bear Bryant, but he’s all the school’s got — at least through next season.
Quick DOBservation: The more than 4,500 words that Duerr and I have littered the Internet with on an 0-11 team has to be some kind of record.