|Title||Assistant head coach, special teams coordinator|
|Born||April 16, 1970|
|Head coaching record|
|Tournaments||1–3 (NCAA D-I playoffs)|
|Accomplishments and honors|
2 Patriot (2001, 2004)
Eddie Robinson Award (2001)
Patriot League Coach of the Year (2001)
Southern Conference Coach of the Year (2007)
Peter Lembo (born April 16, 1970) is an American football coach and former player. He is currently the Assistant Head Football Coach and Special Teams Coordinator at the University of Memphis, a position he assumed in January 2019. Prior to coming to Memphis, he was the Associate Head Coach and Special Teams Coordinator at Rice University. Before joining the coaching staff at Rice University, he was the Head Football Coach at Lehigh University from 2001 to 2005, at Elon University from 2006 to 2010, and at Ball State University from 2011 to 2015. He was also the Assistant Head Coach and Special Teams Coordinator at the University of Maryland for two seasons. Lembo enjoyed success in each of his stops as a head coach and accumulated a 112–65 career record over a 15-year period. His 79–36 record in ten seasons at the FCS level makes him one of the winningest coaches in the history of that classification.
Education and playing careerEdit
Lembo attended Monsignor Farrell High School in Staten Island, where he was a starter on the varsity football squad. He graduated in 1988. He attended Georgetown University, graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration in 1992, and the University at Albany, SUNY, graduating with a Master of Arts in Public Administration in 1994. While at Georgetown, Lembo was a four-year starter at center and served as team captain of the Hoyas in 1991.
Lembo became one of the youngest head coaches in all of Division I when he was named head coach at Lehigh University in February 2001. The Mountain Hawks managed at least eight wins in each of his five seasons as head coach. Lembo is the winningest head coach in Lehigh school history with a .759 winning percentage. His conference record of 26–7 (.788) puts him third among all Patriot League coaches in terms of winning percentage. Lembo's teams won two Patriot League championships and made two appearances in the FCS playoffs.
In 2001, Lembo led Lehigh to an undefeated regular season and an upset win over Hofstra in the first round of the NCAA playoffs. That season, Lehigh also won the prestigious Lambert Cup, was named the ECAC team of the year and finished ranked 5th in the nation. In 2002, the Mountain Hawks upset the University of Buffalo, an FBS level team from the Mid-American Conference. This marked Lehigh's first victory over an FBS (I-A) team since 1987. The Mountain Hawks reached #2 in the national polls in September 2002, the highest ranking in program history. Lehigh defeated 9th ranked Fordham in September, 2003. In 2004, Lehigh defeated 18th ranked Colgate and won the Patriot League before facing eventual national champion James Madison in the first round of the FCS playoffs. The Mountain Hawks also knocked off undefeated Harvard in 2005, in a battle of top 15 ranked teams.
Three of Lembo's student-athletes at Lehigh earned AP all-American recognition during his tenure as head coach. Defensive back Abdul Byron was selected in 2001, defensive end Tom Alfsen in 2004 and tight end Adam Bergen was a two-time selection in 2003 and 2004.
Lembo was the head football coach at Elon University in Elon, North Carolina for five seasons, from 2006 until 2010. His coaching record at Elon was 35–22. The Phoenix went 14–42 in the five seasons prior to Lembo's arrival. Lembo led the Phoenix to a 9–3 record (7–1 Southern Conference) and their first appearance in the FCS playoffs in 2009. His Elon teams set over 120 NCAA, Southern Conference and school records. He is one of only two football coaches in the Division I era at Elon to secure a winning career record. Two of Lembo's former assistant coaches at Elon - Rich Skrosky and Tony Trisciani - have since become head coaches for the Phoenix.
During Lembo's tenure, the Phoenix were ranked in the FCS top 25 polls from October 20th, 2007 through October 9th, 2010, for 34 straight weeks. Elon peaked as high as #3 in the nation in October of 2008. Lembo's teams defeated nationally ranked opponents seven times from 2006 to 2010. The Elon program had just one win versus the FCS (I-AA) top 25 prior to that stretch. Elon knocked off nationally ranked Georgia Southern in back-to-back years (2007 and 2008) and secured a victory at #7 Wofford in 2007, defeating the highest ranked opponent since being classified in the Division I Football Championship Subdivision.
Under Lembo, Phoenix quarterback Scott Riddle (2007-2010) set NCAA records for the most passing yards by a freshman (3,738) and passing per game in a career (with 339.8). Riddle also tied the record for the most touchdown passes as a freshman (31). Riddle is fifth on the all-time list of FCS quarterbacks with 13,264 passing yards in his career.
Elon wide receiver Terrell Hudgins (2006-2009) holds NCAA records for the most passes caught in a career (395), career yards receiving (5,250), catches per game (8.78), the most games with 100 or more yards receiving (28) and the most games catching a touchdown pass (34). Some of these records were previously held by legendary receiver Jerry Rice. Hudgins is second all-time in catches in a single season (123 in 2009) and third in touchdown catches (with 52). Hudgins and teammate Michael Mayers hold the FCS record for most catches by a duo in a season (207 in 2007). Elon wide receiver Aaron Mellette ranked third in the FCS in catches per game in 2010 and was later drafted by the Baltimore Ravens.
On December 19, 2010, Pete Lembo resigned as head football coach at Elon University to take the head coaching job at Ball State University. His contract at Ball State paid $450,000 per year, the 5th highest in the Mid-American Conference, and #119 among all college football coaches. He earned $514,250 in 2015. Lembo resigned December 22, 2015 to become the assistant head coach and special teams coordinator at Maryland. He compiled a 33-29 record in five seasons with the Cardinals.
Some highlights from Coach Lembo's career at Ball State:
• The Cardinals set more than 60 school records during Lembo’s tenure, including single-season records for points (501), total offense (6,199 yards), passing yards (4,214), touchdown passes (35) and total touchdowns (64) in 2013.
• Guided the Cardinals to a 10–3 overall record in 2013, including a second straight bowl appearance when Ball State played in the GoDaddy Bowl. It marks only the second time in 90 years of football the Cardinals have played in back-to-back bowl games and the third season of 10 or more wins.
• Led the Cardinals to a 7–1 MAC record in 2013 – only the fifth 7–1 or better MAC record since Ball State joined the league in 1975.
• The Cardinals' 19 wins in 2012 and 2013 tied for the most wins in back-to-back seasons in school history.
• Guided the Cardinals to four wins over teams from BCS conferences (Virginia, South Florida and Indiana twice). Ball State previously had one win in its entire history against teams from the BCS.
• First Ball State head coach in the school's history to win 30 games in first four seasons at the helm.
• Lembo's .600 winning percentage is the second best among Ball State head coaches through their first four seasons.
• Added the title of associate athletics director to his head football coaching position in March 2014.
• One of 20 coaches in country named to the 2013 Paul Bear Bryant National Coach of the Year Award Watch List.
• Earned his 100th career victory with a 27–24 win over Kent State in Ball State's 87th Homecoming Game in 2013.
• Led the Cardinals to a 27-20 win over #23 ranked Toledo in November, 2012. This was Ball State's first win against a ranked team since 2002.
• Lembo coached several future NFL players including wide receiver Willie Snead, quarterback Keith Wenning, defensive end Jonathan Newsome and running back Jahwan Edwards, Ball State's all-time leading rusher.
On December 22, 2015, Lembo joined the coaching staff at The University of Maryland. During his tenure with the Terps, Lembo's special teams were one of the top punt and kick blocking units in the country, tying for fifth nationally with nine blocks in two seasons. The Terps were stellar in kickoff return defense in 2016 and 2017, ranking second and third in the Big Ten (25th and 21st nationally).
Maryland ranked 11th out of 130 FBS programs in ESPN's Special Teams Efficiency rankings in 2017 after ranking 17th in his first year in College Park. The Terps also ranked third in the Big Ten in punt returns and fourth in kickoff returns in 2017. Maryland had a punt return for a touchdown against Rutgers in 2016 and a kickoff return for a touchdown against Ohio State in 2017.
Despite a rebuilding season at Rice University in 2018, Lembo was able to improve the Owls special teams from 114th the previous year to 17th in ESPN's Special Teams Efficiency rankings. Rice ranked 6th in the FBS in kickoff return defense, allowing just 16.12 yards per return. This was also the least yards per return allowed at Rice University since the 1999 football season. The Owls ranked 14th nationally in kickoff returns, averaging 24.41 per return. This was the best average per return at Rice since the 1973 season. In net punting, Rice set a school record and finished 17th in the FBS, netting an impressive 40.11 per punt. Rice's challenging out-of-conference schedule in 2018 featured quality opponents including LSU, Wake Forest, Houston and Hawaii.
Under Lembo's guidance, senior punter and kickoff specialist Jack Fox was named the Conference USA Special Teams Player of the Year in 2018. Fox finished the season ranked 8th in the FBS in punting, averaging 45.45 yards per punt. Fox broke a school record with a long punt of 76 yards vs. North Texas. He had 26 punts of over 50 yards and placed 31 punts inside the opponent's 20 yard line. Fox also successfully executed two fake punts in 2018. Fox was later invited to participate in the NFL Combine. Senior place kicker Haden Tobola, who only connected on one field goal the previous season, made 10 of 11 kicks in 2018 and ranked 3rd in the entire FBS in field goal percentage. Senior kick returner Austin Walter ranked 10th in the FBS in kickoff return average with 25.8 per return.
Head coaching recordEdit
|Lehigh Mountain Hawks (Patriot League) (2001–2005)|
|2001||Lehigh||11–1||7–0||1st||L NCAA Division I-AA Quarterfinal||5|
|2004||Lehigh||9–3||5–1||T–1st||L NCAA Division I-AA First Round||15|
|Elon Phoenix (Southern Conference) (2006–2010)|
|2009||Elon||9–3||7–1||2nd||L NCAA Division I First Round||9|
|Ball State Cardinals (Mid-American Conference) (2011–2015)|
|2011||Ball State||6–6||4–4||T–4th (West)|
|2012||Ball State||9–4||6–2||T–2nd (West)||L Beef 'O' Brady's|
|2013||Ball State||10–3||7–1||2nd (West)||L GoDaddy Bowl|
|2014||Ball State||5–7||4–4||5th (West)|
|2015||Ball State||3–9||2–6||5th (West)|
|National championship Conference title Conference division title|
|†Indicates BCS bowl, Bowl Alliance or Bowl Coalition game. #Rankings from final Sports Network poll.|
Assistant coaches under Lembo who became college head coaches:
- Tony Trisciani: Elon (2019–present)
- Dave Cecchini: Valparaiso (2014–2018), Bucknell (2019–present)
- Isaac Collins: Seton Hill (2013–2018)
- Mark Elder: Eastern Kentucky (2016–present)
- Tom Gilmore: Holy Cross (2004–2017), Lehigh (2019-present)
- Justin Lustig: [Edinboro Fighting Scots football|Edinboro]] (2016)
- Rich Skrosky: Elon (2014–2016)
- Aaron Mershman: Defiance (2017)
- Cris Reisert: Tiffin (2019–present)