Maurice Linguist would still be at Michigan but Buffalo Bulls job ‘too good’ to pass up

Maurice Linguist says his decision to leave Michigan football to become the head coach at Buffalo was difficult — but the opportunity was not one that he could pass up.

“Obviously, any time you make a transition, the recruits and the student-athletes and the coaches and the community that you’re part of, it’s always difficult,” Linguist told reporters Monday morning. “But this was just too good for me not to investigate and be a part of. As hard as it was to leave that situation, we could not be more excited to be here and get ready to work.”

Linguist, 37, first emerged as a leading candidate Friday for the job at Buffalo after former coach Lance Leipold was hired at Kansas. That same day, Linguist was announced as the Bulls’ new head coach.

That ended his short tenure as the Wolverines’ co-defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach, which lasted 107 days.

Maurice Linguist.

Linguist was initially hired Jan. 20 as part of Jim Harbaugh’s staff overhaul, becoming one of six new assistant coaches to join Michigan this offseason.

He signed a two-year deal scheduled to make him the program’s third-highest earning assistant coach by paying him $680,000 in Year 1 and $690,000 in Year 2. Per the terms of that contract, Linguist does not owe money to Michigan, as the deal said there would be no buyout if Linguist accepted a head coaching job or a coordinator job outside of the Big Ten East.

Linguist arrived in Ann Arbor this offseason from the NFL, where he was a defensive backs coach for the Dallas Cowboys in 2020. He had short stops at Texas A&M (2018-19), Minnesota (2017), Mississippi State (2016), Iowa State (2014-15) and Buffalo (2012-13).

His job with the Bulls was his first in the FBS, as Linguist had previously coached at Valdosta State, which plays in Division II, and James Madison, which plays in the FCS. While Linguist was in New York for just two years, it was clearly a memorable moment in his fast rise as a coach.

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“I would still be at Michigan if it weren’t for this incredible opportunity here,” Linguist said. “I have a lot of familiarity with the University at Buffalo, a lot of great memories that we want to bring back for life and continue to build on.”

In his time at Michigan, Linguist was tasked with rebuilding a secondary that struggled in pass coverage in 2020. Perhaps more importantly, he was asked to replenish the room with talent after the Wolverines signed only one cornerback in the 2021 recruiting class in three-star prospect Ja’Den McBurrows.

It appeared Linguist was on his way to restocking the cupboard. Before he left Michigan, he helped land commitments from five-star cornerback Will Johnson (Grosse Point South) and four-star defensive back Kody Jones; he had also reportedly placed the Wolverines in contention for numerous other defensive backs.

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Recruiting will be a key component of Linguist’s tenure at Buffalo — starting with players on the current roster and prospective assistant coaches.

“Retention is at the forefront of college football right now,” Linguist said. “I think it’s at the forefront of everything in collegiate athletics and academics. Ultimately, there was a transition that took place, so you understand the process of some of the kids entering the portal. We’ve already reached out to a number of those guys.

“We are constantly every day recruiting our roster. And we are very confident in our ability to lay out a vision and a plan that we believe our student-athletes are going to want to be a part of and ultimately retain those gentlemen in the portal and get them back on our roster.”

In his opening remarks, Linguist addressed Harbaugh by name and said, “Thank you for the opportunity to be with you in Ann Arbor on the Michigan staff.” Linguist also thanked Warde Manuel, U-M’s athletic director who was previously the athletic director at Buffalo (where he and Linguist first crossed paths).

In a tweet sent by the official Michigan football account Saturday, Harbaugh congratulated Linguist.

“I am happy for Mo Linguist and his family on this opportunity to be head coach at University (at) Buffalo,” Harbaugh wrote. “We are excited for Coach Mo and know that he will do great things as a head coach.”

Now, Harbaugh must find another defensive backs coach for the second time this offseason.

Contact Orion Sang at osang@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @orion_sang. Read more on the Michigan Wolverines and sign up for our Wolverines newsletter.

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Maurice Linguist would still be at Michigan if Buffalo hadn’t called

Published: 2021-05-10 18:52:11

Tags: #Maurice #Linguist #Michigan #Buffalo #Bulls #job #good #pass

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