An All-Big 12 safety at Baylor, Maurice Linguist began his coaching career as a graduate assistant for the Bears in 2007. After a one-year stop at Valdosta State, Linguist landed at James Madison, where he helped the Dukes topple then-No. 13 Virginia Tech in 2010. He joined Jeff Quinn's staff at Buffalo in 2012 as the Bulls' cornerbacks coach and in-community coordinator, and he was recently promoted to defensive passing game coordinator.
We caught up with the fast-rising coach to touch on his advice for young coaches, his role on Buffalo's staff and JMU's monumental upset.
1. You mentioned at the AFCA graduate assistant forum how important it was to go visit other coaching staffs in the offseason. What are some of the beneficial things you've learned in your offseason visits?
When you visit other staffs you gain an opportunity to evaluate how other coaches handle their day-to-day operations. When doing offseason visits, you obviously discuss the X’s and O’s; however, you gain a better perspective on how each particular staff operates on a daily basis. Making assessments of different programs is truly insightful and educational.
2. What staff(s) are you planning on visiting this offseason?
I’m not sure where I’ll go this offseason. Nevertheless, once summer approaches, I plan to call some of my coaching colleagues and get their preliminary summer schedule. I will use their schedule and my availability to determine where I will visit. If time permits, I would like to visit two or three staffs.
3. In addition to coaching cornerbacks, you're also Buffalo's in-community coordinator. What does that mean?
As the Bulls in the community coordinator, I am responsible for scheduling and organizing many team activities that involve community service events. This program includes, but is not limited to, public appearances made by our players, and community outreach events that enhance the visibility of the university. Under the guidance of my head coach, Jeff Quinn, I also schedule and organize speaking engagements with individuals that wish to address our team on athletic, educational, and social development.
4. You just finished your first season at Buffalo. What's your view on when and where is the right place to take a new job?
Every coach’s situation is unique. For instance, some coaches are single, theoretically making them more mobile, while other coaches must factor in their family’s well-being and level of comfort when moving to a new city. I think one of the most important factors in the coaching business is chasing after responsibility, not money. If you work hard and do a good job where you’re at, other coaches will take notice. I go by the following motto: Be professional and responsible when it pertains to handling your job. A lot of times, the grass is greener wherever you water it, not necessarily where it appears to be.
5. What are some teams and coaching staffs you enjoy watching?
I like watching football in general. A lot of times, I’ll record the games, and whenever I have time, I will go back and rewind and evaluate a team as if they were an upcoming opponent. The camera always follows the football, but whenever I can, I try to see what a team is doing coverage wise, on the back end. In general, if football is on, I’m going to watch. Personally, I’m from Dallas, so those that know me know that I’m a Cowboy fan.
6. Where do you see yourself in 5 years? 10 years?
God has blessed me with a passion for coaching football. In the years to come, I see myself coaching football, enjoying life, and correcting freshman defensive backs about poor transition steps or having their eyes in the back field in man coverage. Football has given me a lot in my life. Some of the most influential men in my life have been my coaches. The game has taught me how to compete, how to persevere, and how to win. Therefore, it is my goal to lift as I climb and give back.
7. With six years of coaching experience, what are some of the things you wish you could go back and tell yourself as a rookie coach?
Aside from gaining a more general knowledge on recruiting, developing my players, and the learning the X’s and O’s, one of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned over the years is knowing when to speak up and learning when to shut up and not getting the two confused.
8. How are you using social media and the Internet in recruiting and coaching?
I use social media on the recruiting side because it’s relevant to how players access information nowadays. Nevertheless, when I recruit players, I still prefer to hand-write letters, phone conversations, or face-to-face communication. I believe you learn more about the players and their families that way, and you can develop a more authentic relationship with the recruit and his family.
9. You were on the James Madison staff that beat Virginia Tech in 2010. What was that experience like?
Whenever I think about that game and that day, I always remember the resiliency, perseverance and commitment of those players. If we would have played Virginia Tech 100 times, maybe they would beat us 99 times. But on that day, we toed the line and refused to lose. I’m just thankful that I could be a part of one of the greatest upsets in college football history.
10. Where does cornerback rank among the most difficult positions to play? What are the most difficult positions to coach?
If you’re a detailed-oriented coach, then there isn’t a position on the field that doesn’t require extreme discipline, a competitive mindset, and the ability to make plays. The beautiful thing about our game is that football is 11-on-11, but when the ball is snapped, its 1-on-1. And those small battles usually yield themselves to the most discipline, competitive players. There is so much preparation involved on a daily basis. Football is a tough game for tough coaches and tough players. And the level of commitment necessary usually separates the pack. I believe there is no place on the field or in the classroom where a lack of mental and physical toughness will lead to success.
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