Bengals win because Jerry Boyes does it right

Jerry Boyes’ plan has always been simple.

Recruit kids with substance and success should follow.

It’s nothing flashy and hardly innovative. It’s an approach thousands of coaches around the nation have applied to their teams over the years.

Some have an idea. Some take shortcuts.

Only a select few have figured out how to do it right. Boyes has it down to a science.

Intellect. Resolve. Perseverance.

Each of the 53 players who took the field for Boyes during the Bengals’ monumental upset of then top-ranked Wisconsin-Whitewater this weekend possess these traits.

If they didn’t, they wouldn’t play football for Boyes, and they wouldn’t have upset a

Whitewater team most thought the Bengals had no business sharing a field with.

After victories like these, you can’t help but wonder where Buffalo State football would be without Jerry Boyes.

The answer, quite frankly, is nowhere.

“Team building is a process,” Boyes said. “It’s about doing it right, because if you take any shortcuts, success will be short-lived. Doing it right is always the hard way; anybody can take shortcuts. I don’t want players who are just going to be anybody.”

When Boyes inherited the adolescent program in 1986, he wasted no time “doing it right.” In just four years, Buffalo State was a national power. They would retain that status for a decade, until Boyes relieved himself of coaching duties to concentrate on his role as athletic director.

It’s no surprise, really, that the gridiron wasn’t kind to the Bengals after Boyes’ departure.

A 17-64 record in his absence left those in the program pleading for the coach’s return.

In 2008, Boyes retook the reins of the program. Is it any surprise, four years later, coming off the biggest win in school history, the Bengals appear primed once again to compete with the nation’s best?

Boyes said a team is only as good as last Saturday. Well, last Saturday, the Bengals were good enough to beat the best football program Division III had to offer.

A few years ago, Boyes said he would have never considered scheduling a team of Whitewater’s caliber. Last February, the Bengals needed another game, and when the Warhawks came calling, Boyes knew his team was ready for the challenge.

“We jumped on it immediately,” he said. “Four years into the program, given our growth, it’s time for us to perform again. You can’t say you’re a good team unless you beat the good teams.”

Even he couldn’t have imagined the Bengals pulling off what equates to one of the greatest upsets in Division III football history, except maybe in his wildest dreams.

But the unwavering faith Boyes has in his players, and vice-versa, gave the team all the confidence it needed.

Make no mistake, the Bengals won on Saturday because Jerry Boyes stood on the sidelines. He didn’t execute the desperation hook-and-double-ladder to perfection with the team facing its inevitable defeat, keeping the game alive. He didn’t call the last-second audible, which allowed for the game-tying touchdown completion. He didn’t kick the most important extra point in Buffalo State history.

His players did.

But they played with the never-say-never mindset required to complete an upset so improbable — a direct byproduct of the virtues Boyes is adamant to instill in his players.

Boyes says the win, despite its magnitude, is merely another feather in the team’s cap. With the season so young, the obvious end-goal for the 2-1 Bengals is to fill their cap with as many feathers as possible.

But Boyes’ cap is already littered with feathers — 102, to be exact. Each of his career wins is a testament to Boyes’ attention to detail and the incredible precision in which he executes the plan of a great program.

No feather was bigger than the one the Bengals earned with Saturday’s win over the Warhawks.

His team was prepared for the biggest challenge of their careers. The team was eager to go toe-to-toe with the nation’s best. Most importantly, there was never a doubt in their mind they could shock the nation, all because Jerry Boyes does it the right way.

Brandon Schlager can be reached by email at [email protected].