Pete Lembo was officially welcomed as UB football’s new head coach on Tuesday afternoon in the Murchie Family Fieldhouse, just two days after the announcement of his hire.
During his opening speech, Lembo choked up while reflecting on the time he spent at the University of South Carolina as the special teams coordinator and associate head coach under the Gamecocks’ head coach, Shane Beamer.
“I don’t think there’s any way that I’m here in front of you today if I didn’t first get the opportunity to go with Shane Beamer,” said Lembo. “I had an incredible experience the last three years at Columbia [South Carolina] with Shane, with those players there, with the coaching staff - it was a very special time.”
Lembo becomes the 28th head coach of the UB football program and the second head coach under Athletic Director Mark Alnutt. The Bulls’ previous head coach, Maurice Linguist, left UB on Jan. 16 for a position on Alabama’s coaching staff.
This won’t be Lembo’s first time coaching in the Mid-American Conference (MAC). He served as the Ball State head coach for five seasons, going 33-29 overall and 23-17 in conference play.
Head coaching experience was one of the main factors he hired Lembo, Alnutt said, adding that he was looking for “a player’s coach.”
“We wanted someone who was a proven winner,” said Alnutt. “Someone who has been there and done it. Someone who has built programs, been at that CEO level and had incredible structures. Someone who is familiar with the Mid-American Conference was one quality we had to have.”
While Lembo said he was “overwhelmed” by the support he’s received this past week, he plans on returning the favor by bringing energy and experience to the program.
“We are in this thing together,”Lembo said. “This is our program. This isn’t my program. It’s about ‘we,’ and it's about us. It’s about what we’re going to do together. I really look forward to getting out there and getting connected and getting engaged with all the different constituent groups, including the students.”
Even though Lembo has 15 years of experience as a head coach, it has been almost nine years since he held that position. Since then, he’s spent his time serving as an assistant head coach and special teams coordinator at schools such as Rice, Maryland and Memphis before landing at South Carolina.
“I was very happy and fulfilled in my role in South Carolina,” said Lembo. “But always deep down trusted that the right opportunity would present itself at one point. Everything happens for a reason.”
Lembo said that his transition to Buffalo should be smooth, due to his familiarity to the Northeast and because “about 85%” of his wardrobe is blue. While it might take a while shaking off the rust since holding the title of head coach, he plans on making his time here “just another day at the office.”
Evan Hilbert is an assistant sports editor and can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Evan Hilbert is an assistant sports editor at The Spectrum. He also is a three-season student-athlete with UB’s DI cross country, indoor track, and outdoor track team. He’s a fan of the Milwaukee Bucks, Newcastle United F.C., and the Buffalo Bills.