|Lance Leipold has been named
D3football.com Coach of the Year six times at
Daily Jefferson Union file photo
By Josh Smith,
Daily Jefferson County Union/D3sports.com
WHITEWATER, Wis. – Lance Leipold was officially announced as the new head football coach at the University of Buffalo on Monday. But his time at UW-Whitewater isn’t over yet.
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- Feature: Leipold keeps accomplishments in background
Leipold said during his introductory news conference Monday afternoon that he will continue coaching the Warhawks through the remainder of their NCAA Division III playoff run before working full-time in his new Division I position.
"We're excited to have Coach Leipold here in UB blue,” athletic director Danny White said while introducing Leipold as the 25th head football coach at Buffalo.
Leipold, who has a career record of 106-6 in seven-plus seasons as the Warhawks’ head coach, thanked UW-Whitewater chancellor Richard Telfer, athletic director Amy Edmonds and former AD Paul Plinske for their assistance. Then he voiced his appreciation to White and the Buffalo athletic department for allowing him to complete the season with the Warhawks.
“A thank you to Danny for the understanding that – just like what will be expected in this program – is that when we start something, we finish it,” said Leipold. “And I do need to finish the obligation of making sure we play our fullest as long as we can here in the playoffs back in Wisconsin.”
Leipold will be carrying out duties for his new position at Buffalo in addition to coaching the remainder of UW-Whitewater’s season.
The Leipold file
Lance Leipold was hired at UW-Whitewater in January 2007, succeeding Bob Berezowitz. A former UW-Whitewater quarterback, Leipold was team MVP in 1986 and elected to the school's athletics Hall of Fame in 2003. A look at his career path:1983-86: UW-Whitewater quarterback
1987-88: Offensive position coach at UW-Whitewater
1989: Assistant coach at Doane College (NAIA)
1990: Offensive coordinator at UW-Whitewater
1991-93: Graduate assistant at Wisconsin
1994-2000: Assistant coach at Nebraska-Omaha (D-II)
2001-03: Assistant coach at Nebraska
2004-06: Associate head coach, offensive coordinator at Nebraska-Omaha
2007: Won national championship, named D3football.com Coach of the Year, Justin Beaver named D3football.com Offensive Player of the Year, six D3football.com All-Americans
2008: National runner-up, named Coach of the Year, Jace Rindahl named Defensive Player of the Year, six All-Americans
2009: National champion, named Coach of the Year, eight All-Americans
2010: National champion, named Coach of the Year, Levell Coppage named Offensive Player of the Year, six All-Americans
2011: National champion, named Coach of the Year, Levell Coppage named Offensive Player of the Year, five All-Americans
2012: Went 7-3, missed playoffs, one All-American
2013: National champion, named Coach of the Year, Cole Klotz named Defensive Player of the Year, six All-Americans
2014: No. 1 in every regular season Top 25 poll, led team to unbeaten season and national quarterfinals, accepted head coaching job at D-I FBS Buffalo.
UW-W’s players were informed of Leipold’s hiring early Monday morning.
“He asked his players to be committed for the whole season in an attempt to win their sixth national championship, and he’s going to do the same thing. I’m confident we can manage that transition over the next few weeks,” White said. “I know I can speak for most in the room, Coach, when I say we’re huge Warhawk fans and wish you the best of luck.”
Leipold said he would return to Wisconsin on Tuesday to help UW-Whitewater prepare for this Saturday’s game vs. No. 5 Wartburg.
“He’s going to be fully dedicated, and I know that because that’s who Lance is,” Edmonds said Monday night.
Top-ranked UW-Whitewater advanced to the NCAA Division III national quarterfinals with a 38-14 win over No. 14 Wabash on Saturday. The victory improves Leipold’s playoff record to 31-1 with his only loss coming in the 2008 Stagg Bowl.
Since succeeding his former coach Bob Berezowitz in 2007, Leipold has led UW-Whitewater to NCAA Division III national championships in 2007, 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2013.
Leipold earned his 100th victory this season in just his 106th career game, setting an NCAA record by becoming the fastest head coach to reach the century mark in wins.
Leipold was named WIAC Coach of the Year for the fourth time in his career following UW-W’s 10-0 regular season. The Warhawks’ went 7-0 in WIAC play to win its ninth conference championship in 10 years and their league-record 34th title overall.
The Jefferson, Wis., native has been named the D3football.com Coach of the Year six times.
“As I went through this process, I wasn’t out there selling a rebuilding effort. I was out there talking about the character, the talent we have in our program, and really looking and targeting successful head coaches. Proven head coaches that have won,” White said. “Coach Leipold was at the very top of that list very early in the process.”
The Buffalo AD added that he was impressed with Leipold’s personal qualities in addition to the accomplishments on his resume.
“In our conversations, it became obvious to me this is a man a character. This is someone that’s going to continue the tradition that we already have of recruiting high-character kids – student first student-athletes,” White said. “In short, he does it the right way.”
Leipold takes over a Buffalo program that finished 5-6 overall and went 3-4 in Mid-American Conference play. The Bulls are a Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) program at the Division I level.
Alex Wood had served as the Bulls’ interim head coach since October. He replaced Jeff Quinn, who was fired after UB lost to Eastern Michigan and fell to 3-4 overall. Quinn went 20-36 in five seasons at Buffalo.
“When I had a chance to talk with Danny the first time, the potential that he talked about – the opportunity – was so overwhelming and exciting that when the question was ever asked what would it take for you to ever consider leaving Wisconsin-Whitewater,” Leipold said. “I said it had to be special. It had be a special opportunity and a special opportunity for our family.”
Leipold’s coaching career began at UW-Whitewater. He coached quarterbacks at his alma mater in 1987 and wide receivers in 1988. After one year at Doane College in Nebraska, he returned to UW-W in 1990 and served as offensive coordinator.
Leipold was a graduate assistant at the University of Wisconsin for three seasons from 1991-93. He then worked as an assistant coach at Division II Nebraska-Omaha from 1994 to 2000. After being promoted to offensive coordinator in 2000, he moved on to the University of Nebraska, where he served for three seasons. In 2004, Leipold returned to Nebraska-Omaha as associate head coach and offensive coordinator.
Leipold has been a Division I coaching candidate in the past. Last year, he was a finalist for the Austin Peay job, at the FCS level.
“I know he’s been looking the last couple of years,” Berezowitz said. “I knew he wasn’t going to be here forever. It was just a matter of when.
“While he was here, he did a heck of a job,” Berezowitz added.
Edmonds expects Leipold’s success to continue in his new position at UB.
“I think he’s going to do great,” Edmonds said. “It’s just a matter of the men there responding to him. He’s got a ton of great experience. He knows how to draw people in. And he focusses on the little things.”
In a news release issued by UW-Whitewater on Monday, Chancellor Telfer expressed his well wishes to Leipold as well.
"I'd like to congratulate Coach Leipold on being named the next head football coach at the University at Buffalo," Telfer said. "It is a tribute to his hard work and excellent performance both on and off the football field. I think I speak for many Warhawks when I say that we are proud of him and we wish him all the best.
"I'd also like to thank him for all that he's done for our student-athletes during his time at UW-Whitewater. He took a strong program and made it a national powerhouse in Division III. I am confident he will do well at the University at Buffalo. I am also confident that he will be focused on winning this Saturday against Wartburg."
Josh Smith writes for the Daily Jefferson County Union and originally filed this piece for the newspaper.