The previous season was a disappointing one for the UB Bulls: Following 2008's MAC Championship, UB was expected to challenge for the conference championship again in 2009. But before the season even started, bad luck struck the team as star running back James Starks injured the labrum in his left shoulder in a pre-season scrimmage. It was determined that he would need surgery and miss the whole year. The offense also struggled without four-year starting quarterbackDrew Willy as new starter Zach Maynard had an up-and-down season. The defense was unable to force as many turnovers as it did in 2008 and still struggled to stop opposing offenses as coach Turner Gill's decision to replace defensive coordinator Jimmy Williams with defensive back coach Fred Reed did not pay off. The team was out of MAC championship and bowl contention by mid-season and finished 5-7. Despite the setback, Gill was hired away by Kansas. Two weeks after Gill left, UB announced the hiring of Quinn, the offensive coordinator for the then-undefeated and 3rd ranked Cincinnati Bearcats football team. In the Sugar Bowl the Bearcats lost to the Florida Gators.