Linguist becomes 4th Baylor grad to be named head football coach at D-1 level
When Michigan defensive coordinator Maurice Linguist (BA ’06, MSED ’07) was hired as the University of Buffalo’s new head football coach in May, he became just the fourth Baylor alumnus to earn a football head coaching job at the Division 1 level.
Linguist, who distinguished himself as an all-Big 12 performer and defensive MVP at safety for the Bears from 2003-06, has similarly impressed during a 15-year climb up the coaching ladder. He began his post-playing career as a grad assistant at Baylor in 2007, eventually making stops as an assistant at Iowa State, Texas A&M, Michigan and with the Dallas Cowboys before ascending to the head job at Buffalo. At 37, he’s the fourth-youngest current coach at any FBS school.
With the hire, Linguist joined a small but distinguished fraternity of Baylor alums who have gone on to become head coaches at schools we recognize now as Division 1 programs.
Here’s the rest of that exclusive club:
* J.W. Pender (MA ’05) — Fans of the North Texas Mean Green can thank J.W. Pender for serving as the catalyst to establish intercollegiate athletics at what was then known as North Texas State Normal College. Pender and students cleared a briar patch to set up the first football field, and he coached the team in 1913 and 1914. If that wasn’t enough, he also coached baseball, track and tennis, directed the band, and established the political science department.
* Jack Sisco (BA ’26) — An all-Southwest Conference performer as a center at Baylor, Sisco’s exploits as a player landed him in both the Baylor Athletics and Texas High School halls of fame. Sisco followed in Pender’s footsteps at North Texas and became the winningest coach in school history, compiling a 74-38-11 record and coaching 10 conference championship teams from 1929-41. He’s a member of the North Texas Athletics Hall of Fame and went on to became a college football referee after retiring from coaching.
* Hayden Fry (BS ’51) — Fry’s coaching prowess was legendary, and he’s the only Baylor graduate to earn a spot in the College Football Hall of Fame as a head coach. (In all, he’s one of 11 Baylor Bears inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.) Fry spent 37 years as a head coach, most visibly in 20 seasons at the University of Iowa. Like Pender and Sisco before him, he also coached at North Texas before leading a dramatic turnaround for the Iowa Hawkeyes. Under his watch, Iowa earned a share of three Big Ten championships, and when he retired in 1998, he ranked 10th all-time in coaching victories.
(Another interesting tie between Fry and Baylor: As head coach at SMU in 1965, Fry gave Jerry LeVias a scholarship — making LeVias the first Black scholarship athlete in Southwest Conference history. The next year, Baylor’s John Westbrook became the first Black athlete to play in an SWC football game.)
Back to the present… Linguist is taking over a Buffalo team that won a conference championship last year, and now has the opportunity craft his own legacy as a coach. Praised by Dallas Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy as having “phenomenal teaching skills and excellent personal skills… an outstanding football coach, and an even better person,” and recognized as an outstanding recruiter and leader, he’s built a strong reputation for future success.
Sic ’em, Coach Linguist!