Departure shows Boyes’ love for Buff State Football

Jerry Boyes steps down as head football coach at SUNY Buffalo State; will remain on as AD


Yomira Meregildo/The Record

Athletic Director Jerry Boyes has stepped down as head coach of the football team.

Francis Boeck, Managing/Sports Editor

There may be no one who cares more deeply about the SUNY Buffalo State Football program then Jerry Boyes.

That’s why he stepped down as its leader.

“The athletic director had a conversation with me and it was a short one,” Boyes joked.

On Friday, the athletic department announced that after 25 years of roaming the sidelines, Boyes is leaving his post as the Bengals’ head football coach.

Offensive coordinator Christian Ozolins will assume the position in the interim before the school starts a national search for a new coach after next season.

Boyes, who will remain as Athletic Director, said the main reason for his departure as the head football coach is that he believes that he hasn’t been able to put in the required time and effort to be a coach lately.

“There’s an old adage that leaders model the way,” Boyes said. “When you’re not doing that anymore then it’s time get out of the way. I feel that I haven’t been pulling my weight as a coach. I felt that I was actually hurting the program.”

He pointed out how most head football coaches weren’t also athletic directors and how that hurt the Bengals in terms of recruiting.

“I’m not out there recruiting like other guys who are full-time head football coaches,” Boyes said. “I feel that is part of the dilemma we are in this year.”

Boyes served as head coach of the Bengals from 1986-2000 and then from 2009-2018 finishing with an overall record of 138-116. A two-time All-American himself at Ithaca College, he coached nine All-Americans in his time at Buff State.

In his first stint, Boyes led the Bengals to all seven of their NCAA D-III tournament appearances and three ECAC bowl games.

In 1999, Boyes was named the school’s athletic director and decided to step back from the football program after the 2000 season so he could focus his efforts on being the athletic director.

“At that point in time I felt there need to be a clear delineation between athletic director and the coaches,” Boyes said. “It was very clear to me I needed to step away from coaching.”

But he was still through and through a coach so when the chance to return to the sidelines in 2009 presented itself, Boyes jumped at it. The coach led the team to three more bowl games defeating Waynesburg in the 2014 ECAC Southwest Bowl.

“Once you have the coaching bug it never leaves you,” Boyes said about coming back in 2009

Ozolins, who also serves as the recreation and intramurals manager, has been with the Bengals’ coaching staff since 2003. Previously, Ozolins was on the coaching staffs at Maryville, Methodist, Alfred and Hamilton.

“Christian has been with me for a while,” Boyes said. “The only advice I give to him is to be his own man. He has to do things the way he feels it needs to be done.”

Ultimately, Boyes hopes to be remembered for not just for his wins and playoff appearances but by the impact he has had on the lives of young men at Buffalo State.

“My legacy is the impact I’ve had on a few hundred kids,” Boyes said. “You get in this business and any coach is competitive, we want to win. But it’s not about that. To me, it’s about the experience the kids have through their involvement specifically with the football program. I have always wanted those memories to be successful.”