It's hard to imagine someone hiring a DIII coach as being national news but when that coach is a six-time national champion and the school doing the hiring fired their coach seven games removed from a bowl people tend to notice.
Before Lance Leipold was hired I never followed DIII football and despite the fact I live in Minnesota I generally don't follow all things Wisconsin. Aside from a fantastic DIII resume only select members the UB athletics staff can say for sure what put Leipold over a guy like Joe Moorhead.
There was something about the Lance Leipold that put him head and shoulders above Moorhead, an FCS coach with NFL experience, MAC experience, and BCS experience.
The only complaint people have yet to articulate is that the jump from DIII to DI may be too large. You don't recruit the same way and the stage is much smaller. Nobody is saying that Lance Leipold can't be a great FBS coach, they just don't like him jumping DII and FCS before getting there.
Such a move is rare in college athletics but not unique. When UB takes on the Wisconsin Badgers on the hardwood Sunday they will get a look at Bo Ryan, A DIII coach who moved up to Division I ball first with a stop at UW-Milwaukee and then with the Badgers.
It's not a hard comparison to dredge up, as Wisconsin reporters have made the comparison between the former DIII basketball coach who made the jump to Milwaukee and our new head coach.
Tom Oates: Hiring Lance Leipold a brave — and brilliant — move by Buffalo : Sports
No one knows that better than University of Wisconsin men’s basketball coach Bo Ryan, who once made the same jump that Leipold made Monday, going from Division III UW-Platteville to Division I UW-Milwaukee in 1999.
Bo Ryan did not light the world on fire at Milwaukee but he did breath on the embers of a moribund program. The Panthers were 28-81 in the four years before he arrived and during his two year stint he led the Horizon league squad to a 30-27 record, putting together back to back winning seasons for a program that had forgotten how to win.
Ryan went on to Madison and has taken the Badgers to the NCAA tournament every year, last season to the Final Four and there have been multiple sweet sixteen and elite eight appearances.
Does this mean Coach Leipold will get UB to back to back bowl games before going on to turn some B1G team into a contender? Maybe or maybe not but it's more likely that Leipold gets us to Detroit than it was Quinn would have done it.
Fortune favors the bold. It was true in 1999 when the Panthers hired the coach of DIII Wisconsin–Platteville and hopefully it's true with the Bulls hire of Leipold.