Michigan co-defensive coordinator Maurice Linguist was named the new head football coach at Buffalo, the school announced Friday evening. Linguist replaces Lance Leipold, who departed to take over the Kansas football program last month.

Sam Webb of Michigan Insider reported that a name has already emerged as a potential frontrunner for Linguist’s replacement. Webb wrote that Kentucky defensive backs coach Steve Clinkscale would be an ideal fit to lead the Wolverines’ defensive secondary.

Clinkscale, whom Webb reported had previously been under consideration for Michigan’s staff, has been at Kentucky under head coach Mark Stoops since 2016 and was recently elevated to defensive passing game coordinator for the upcoming season. Clinkscale has Big Ten experience, having served as cornerbacks coach at Illinois in 2012. Before arriving at Kentucky, Clinkscale was defensive backs coach and defensive coordinator at Cincinnati from 2013-15.

Linguist had not yet coached a game at Michigan, as he was hired in January of 2021 to help replace Don Brown, who was fired after five seasons with the program under head coach Jim Harbaugh. Linguist spent the 2017 season in Big Ten country coaching Minnesota’s defensive backs under first-year head coach P.J. Fleck. After one season in Minneapolis, Linguist joined Mike Elko and Jimbo Fisher with Texas A&M, where he coached the Aggies’ cornerbacks for two seasons. From there he was hired as the Cowboys’ defensive backs coach for the 2020 season.

In March, Linguist explained his vision for Michigan’s defense, particularly the defensive backs, as the team was engaged in spring practice.

“I’m just going to tell you if I had to ask one question when I watch us play, what do I want to see? The word that comes to mind is playstyle,” Linguist said. “Not what you’re doing but how you’re doing it. Listen, a lot of schemes have been successful. You can do a lot of different things and be successful at it. The common denominator is how you play the game. No scheme can outdo when your playstyle isn’t where it needs to be. It’s the confidence, the conviction, determination and grit. All the values that I believe, a lot of Midwestern states and a lot of Midwestern people stand for, we want to put that on the football field.”

During his time with the program, Leipold turned Buffalo around into a successful team. Inheriting a program that had been to just one bowl game in the past six years, Leipold had the Bulls at 6-6 in his third season at the school. In year four, Leipold went 10-4 and took Buffalo to the Dollar General Bowl. In the last three seasons, Buffalo has gone 24-10, made three bowl games and won two MAC East Division titles.

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“Since entering the FBS ranks in 1999, the UB football program continues to rise to unprecedented heights,” Buffalo athletic director Mark Alnutt said in a statement after Leipold’s departure from the program. “From bowl victories to top NFL Draft picks, UB has established itself as one of the top programs in not only the Mid-American Conference, but the entire Group of Five. With our success on the field as well as facilities rivaling some of the best in the country, we know we are an attractive coaching destination and look forward to selecting the next leader of our football program.”

247Sports’ Riley Gates, Dean Straka and Josh Henschke contributed to this story

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