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Saturday, September 23, 2023
The independent student publication of The University at Buffalo, since 1950

Five Division I football head coaches have UB ties

Carolina Panthers head coach Matt Rhule also spent time with the Bulls

Lance Leipold and the Kansas Jayhawks are 3-0 this season.
Lance Leipold and the Kansas Jayhawks are 3-0 this season.

College football commonly evokes feelings of glory and shame, but for members of the UB community, the 2022-23 season evokes something else: pride.

Five Division I FBS head coaches and one NFL head coach can trace their roots back to the Queen City, where they either played, studied or coached — or in some cases, did all three.

Between them, these six leaders have won eight conference coach of the year awards and nearly a dozen conference championships.

Here’s a look at some of UB football’s most accomplished alumni:

Dave Clawson, Wake Forest

Clawson, the 2021 ACC Coach of the Year, was born in Youngstown, NY, a small village in the Buffalo-Niagara Metropolitan Area. No stranger to New York college football, Clawson has coached at UAlbany, Buffalo and Fordham, while also making out-of-state stops at Lehigh, Villanova, Richmond, Tennessee and Bowling Green.

“I have a lot of fond memories of Buffalo and I still have a lot of friends there,” Clawson told The Buffalo News back in 1997. “I’m glad I had the opportunity to coach [quarterbacks and running backs] at UB. That experience has served me well.”

Last season, the 55-year-old led the Demon Deacons to an 11-3 record and their first ACC Atlantic Division title since 2006. This year, Wake Forest is 3-0 and the No. 21 team in the country.

Lance Leipold, Kansas

In 2015, Leipold inherited a program that went 5-6 the year before. It took him just four years to lead the Bulls to a conference championship game appearance and six years to lead them to their first-ever AP Top 25 appearance.

The Bulls’ turnaround may have come as a surprise to outsiders, but it shouldn’t have been. In eight years at the Division III level, Leipold helped Wisconsin-Whitewater win six national championships. He achieved 100 victories in his first 106 games — still the fastest mark in NCAA history.

Today, Leipold is regarded as one of the 25 best coaches in the nation. His Jayhawks are 3-0 and receiving votes in the AP Poll. And he is a rumored candidate for the vaunted Nebraska head coaching job.

Brent Pry, Virginia Tech

Once considered a potential candidate to succeed Leipold at UB, Pry began his collegiate football career in the Queen City. The 52-year-old Altoona, PA native played safety for the Bulls — a Division III program at the time — from 1989-91, before a career-ending injury forced him off the field and onto the sidelines.

Pry was a student coach for the Bulls in 1992 — the start of a 30-year coaching odyssey that took him from the MAC to the Big 10 to finally, the ACC. A strong defensive mind, Pry has earned a reputation for his aggressive 4-3 scheme.

The Hokies were upset by Old Dominion (a familiar UB foe), 20-17, in Week 1, but Pry’s team responded with back-to-back wins over Boston College and Wofford.

Jeff Monken, Army

Today, Monken is the second-longest-tenured head coach in Army football history. But 30 years ago, the Peoria, IL native accepted a job as the wide receivers and tight ends coach, as well as the recruiting coordinator, at UB. He stayed there for three seasons.

Monken coached with Pry his first year in the Queen City. He was with the Bulls for their final year in Division III, and their first two years in Division I-AA. Monken has become a familiar face at UB games, as the Bulls have played the Black Knights four times since he took over at West Point.

Monken was awarded the ECAC Division I FBS Football Coach of the Year Award in 2021. The Black Knights are 1-2 this season.

Maurice Linguist, Buffalo

In the seven years leading up to his hiring as UB’s head football coach, “Coach Mo” bounced around between Iowa State, Mississippi State, Minnesota, Texas A&M and the Dallas Cowboys. He even was Michigan’s co-defensive coordinator for a few months.

But before all that, Linguist spent two seasons at UB, first as a defensive backs coach, then as the team’s co-defensive coordinator and recruiting coordinator. In his second season, with Khalil Mack leading the defense, the Bulls notably defeated No. 17 Stony Brook (FCS) 26-23 in a five overtime game, before finishing the year 8-5.

Now in his second season at UB, Linguist is still looking for his first win of 2022.

Honorable mention: Matt Rhule, Carolina Panthers

Long before he coached P.J. Walker at Temple or Sam Darnold in Carolina, Matt Rhule roamed the sidelines at UB, where he was the defensive line coach from 1999-2000.

Rhule, 47, was born in New York, and later moved to State College, PA — the site of Penn State’s main campus — as a teenager. After playing four years under legendary head coach Joe Pantorno, Rhule accepted a job as a volunteer assistant for the Nittany Lions in 1998.

Just one year later, he found himself in Buffalo, where he coached the defensive line and earned his master’s degree in educational psychology. In 1999, the Bulls went 0-11, which included a 59-3 home loss to No. 15 Marshall and a 43-0 loss to Virginia in the season finale.

Today, Rhule is the head coach of the NFL’s Panthers, although his long-term status in Carolina is unclear. The former Baylor coach “easily has the warmest seat” among NFL coaches, thanks to a string of underwhelming seasons.

Justin Weiss is the former managing editor and can be reached at


Justin Weiss is The Spectrum's managing editor. In his free time, he can be found hiking, playing baseball or throwing things at his TV when his sports teams aren't winning. His words have appeared in Elite Sports New York and the Long Island Herald. He can be found on Twitter @Jwmlb1.



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