UK Athletics
Frank Buffano - Football - University of Kentucky Athletics



Frank Buffano enters his fifth season with the University of Kentucky football program in 2024.

In his fourth season in the Bluegrass in 2023, Buffano helped guide a group of men that forced 18 turnovers through 13 games, which ranked third in the Southeastern Conference. Five of those 18 turnovers came from All-America Honorable Mention and All-SEC Second Team selection Maxwell Hairston, who had not one but two interception returns for touchdowns at Vanderbilt on Sept. 24 to tie the SEC record. Those pair of pick-sixes were embedded in UK’s streak of forcing at least one turnover in each of its first seven games of the season, the first time it has accomplished that feat since 2014. Moreover, Kentucky’s 18 forced turnovers allowed UK to record four defensive touchdowns on the season, the second most in the nation. Also thanks to Buffano’s guidance, the Blue and White are currently tied with three other teams for the most interception returns for touchdowns (10) in the nation since 2020.

In 2022, Buffano coached a mixture of newcomers and veterans in the safety spot, including Freshman All-America Honorable Mention Jordan Lovett, who led the defense with 36 solo tackles and finished second on the defense with 62 total tackles. Lovett also had a team-high tying two interceptions in 2022. Buffano’s safeties, which also included Zion Childress, Tyrell Ajian and Taj Dodson, were a part of a defense that ranked 11th in the nation in total defense (311.4 ypg), seventh in the nation in passing yards allowed (170.8 ypg) and tied for third in the nation in passing touchdowns given up, limiting opponents to just 10 on the season.

The season before that, safety Yusef Corker had a remarkable fifth year under Buffano, while also serving his second season as a team captain in 2021. In 13 games, the veteran logged 81 tackles, including 44 solo tackles, ranking second on the defense in both categories. Corker also logged a team-high eight pass breakups. For his efforts in 2021, he was named a Lott IMPACT Trophy Semifinalist and punched a ticket to the Reese’s Senior Bowl.

In 2020, then-senior safety Yusuf Corker first began to shine under Buffano, totaling 77 tackles (second on the team), two interceptions, 2.5 TFL, two PBU and one forced fumble. UK led the SEC in pass defense, limiting the opponent to 224.6 yards per game and 18 TDs in the air. UK also led the SEC in interceptions with 16 and the defensive backs snatched six of them.

Buffano joined Stoops’ Kentucky staff in 2013 and spent seven years as the director of football operations. However, returning to coaching was always in his long-term plan.

Prior to UK, Buffano served as an assistant coach for three seasons at Youngstown State under Eric Wolford, coaching linebackers in 2011-12 after serving as the secondary coach in 2010.

In 2012, the Penguins’ defense was extremely stingy against the rush, allowing just 95.5 yards rushing per game, the fourth-lowest total average for a season in school history. YSU ranked sixth in the Football Championship Subdivision in fewest rushing yards allowed per contest.

YSU posted a 7-4 overall mark highlighted by a 31-17 win at Pittsburgh, the program’s first-ever win over a Football Bowl Subdivision opponent. The Penguins allowed just 23 points in the last three games, the lowest total in a three-game stretch since 2003.

In 2011 under Buffano’s tutelage, Teven Williams was named honorable-mention All-MVFC and was named to the all-newcomer squad after leading the team with 67 total stops, including 38 solos. The Penguins went 6-5 in the 2011 season, including a win over top-ranked North Dakota State, despite three freshman starters at linebacker most of the season. Of 33 possible starts, 29 were by freshmen and one was by a sophomore. Williams and Travis Williams were both named to the conference’s all-newcomer squad.

In 2010, Buffano coached YSU’s secondary. He had a second-team all-league selection in cornerback Brandian Ross, who went on to sign with the Green Bay Packers as an undrafted free agent. Another highlight on the season was an 87-yard interception return by safety Will Shaw. It was the fourth-longest in school history. During the campaign, YSU started two true freshmen and one sophomore for the majority of the year.

Prior to YSU, Buffano spent five seasons with Stoops at Arizona, serving as a defensive graduate assistant coach his last two seasons after three years of working as a video graduate assistant with the Wildcats. As a graduate assistant, he worked with the defensive backs. He also coached the offensive scout team, broke down game film, helped develop weekly game plans and evaluated film of prospective student-athletes.

In 2009, Arizona posted an 8-5 overall mark, tying for second in the Pac-10 Conference. In 2008, UA reached its first bowl game in nine seasons and finished the campaign with an 8-5 mark as well. The Wildcats played in the Pacific Life Holiday Bowl in 2009 and the Pioneer Las Vegas Bowl in 2008.

Before joining the Arizona program, he was in private business in Ohio and Florida.

The Youngstown, Ohio, native is a graduate of Cardinal Mooney High School, along with Stoops and tight ends coach Vince Marrow. He began his coaching career at his alma mater as an assistant coach for the legendary Don Bucci from 1990 through 1996, working with the running backs and defensive backs for the Cardinals. The program reached the state semifinals in 1990 and 1996. As a player, he was part of the Mooney squad that won the Division III State Championship in 1987.

Buffano graduated with a bachelor’s degree in geography and regional development from Arizona in 2006.

He and his wife, Kelley, have three daughters, Isabella, Gabriella and Olivia.

Buffano’s Coaching Career:

Year Position School Bowl Games
2008-09 GA – Defensive Arizona Las Vegas Bowl (2008), Holiday Bowl (2009)
2010 Secondary Youngstown State
2011-12 Linebackers Youngstown State
2020-Pres. Safeties Kentucky Gator Bowl (2020), Vrbo Citrus Bowl (2021), TransPerfect Music City Bowl (2022), Gator Bowl (2023)
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