South Carolina’s Pete Lembo named Buffalo football head coach

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South Carolina’s football program will have to find another new coach to hire for the upcoming season.

Associate head coach and special teams coordinator Pete Lembo was announced as the new head football coach for the University of Buffalo, the program announced Sunday afternoon. ESPN’s Pete Thamel first reported the news Sunday morning.

UB Athletics will introduce Lembo on campus as the head coach Tuesday afternoon, and he’ll meet with the players that same day. He’ll receive a five-year contract, and will make his debut as the Bulls’ head coach against Lafayette on August 29.

“Pete is a proven winner as a head coach and is an awesome hire for Buffalo,” USC head coach Shane Beamer said in a statement to UB Athletics. “He made our program at South Carolina better on and off the field. I can’t wait to watch what he does at Buffalo.”

Beamer later shared on X (formerly Twitter): “Congrats Pistol Pete !!!!! Incredible opportunity for you …You made our program better on and off the field. This position in Columbia is EXTREMELY attractive to so many now because of it …Although the new coach will never be able to reach your level of nickname usage on our team.”

Lembo has spent the past three seasons with the Gamecocks, joining Shane Beamer’s staff in Dec. 2020. He’s coached special teams to a programs record 14 blocked kicks in three seasons. The Gamecocks finished last year ranked No. 23 in the nation for net punting and No. 18 in punt return defense.

Lembo is originally from Staten Island, N.Y., roughly six hours from Buffalo’s campus.

“We will work tirelessly to recruit, develop and maximize the experience for our student-athletes on and off the field,” Lembo said in the Bulls’ announcement. “I am really excited to assemble an energetic staff that will build meaningful relationships with our players and with each other.”

Buffalo went 3-9 last season and 3-5 in the MAC. Previous head coach Maurice Linguist resigned last week to become an assistant at Alabama under new head coach Kalen DeBoer.

Lembo is the second USC coach to leave the program this offseason for a head coaching position, after former tight ends coach Jody Wright accepted a job at Murray State on Jan. 10.

Lembo was the head coach at Elon and LeHigh before joining Ball State (2011-15), a conference foe for Buffalo, where he led the Cardinals to a 33-29 record while setting over 60 program records in five years. He was also the first Ball State head coach to reach 30 wins in four seasons in program history.

Lembo has gone 112-65 in his 14 years as a head coach, spanning from 2001-2015. He’s had previous coaching stops at Maryland, Memphis, Rice, Dartmouth Hampden-Sydeny and Albany. before landing at USC with Beamer. Lembo played college football at Georgetown.