Buffalo will hire Wisconsin-Whitewater coach Lance Leipold as its new football coach according to a person with knowledge of the coaching search.
Leipold, 50, has won five NCAA Division III national championships in his eight seasons at Wisconsin-Whitewater, where he has a career record of 106-6. Division III does not award athletic scholarships. Leipold last month became the fastest coach in NCAA history across all divisions to reach 100 wins.
An announcement is expected Monday. Top-ranked Wisconsin-Whitewater (12-0) defeated Wabash 38-14 Saturday in the second round of the NCAA Division III playoffs.
Leipold is offensive-minded and known for his pro-style scheme. He’s respected in the coaching community and expected to bring at least one staff member with major FBS recruiting experience.
He and his staff are expected to recruit heavily in the Chicago, Cleveland and Detroit areas as well as have a presence in Florida. In an interview with SI.com last week, Leipold spoke fondly of Buffalo.
“You can win there,” Leipold said. “That’s one of the special ones no matter if they’ve got seven feet or 11 feet of snow.”
Leipold has been a candidate in the past for FCS jobs at Austin Peay, Gardner-Webb and Southeast Missouri. He has taken a vagabond path to the FBS that started with him playing at Wisconsin-Whitewater (1983-86), where he got his coaching start after his playing days ended.
As an assistant, Leipold bounced around at Doane College, an NAIA school in Nebraska, went back to Wisconsin-Whitewater and did two separate stints at Nebraska-Omaha, which closed its football program in 2011. He was also a graduate assistant at Wisconsin under Barry Alvarez (1991-93) and an administrative assistant at Nebraska (2001-03) before he got the job at his alma mater in 2007.
Leipold succeeds former coach Jeff Quinn, who was fired in mid-October with a 20-36 record in five seasons that included just one winning campaign. Buffalo went 5-6 this season, including 2-2 under interim coach Alex Wood.
The mid-October firing gave athletic director Danny White -- son of Duke athletic director Kevin White -- a chance to canvass the country to find a new coach. Among those who interviewed were Fordham coach Joe Moorhead and Detroit Lions assistant offensive line coach Bobby Johnson, according to sources.