Ron Vanderlinden

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Ron Vanderlinden
Sport(s) Football
Biographical details
Born Livonia, Michigan
Playing career
1974–1977 Albion
Position(s) Center
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
Bowling Green (GA)
Michigan (GA)
Ball State (OL)
Colorado (DA)
Northwestern (DC)
Penn State (LB)
Penn State (Co-DC/LB)
Penn State (LB)
Air Force (LB)
Head coaching record
Overall 15–29
College Football Data Warehouse

Ron Vanderlinden is an American college football coach. He is currently the linebackers coach at the Air Force Academy. Prior to that, Vanderlinden was most recently the linebackers coach at Penn State University. Vanderlinden also has previously served as the head coach at the University of Maryland from 1997 to 2000.

College career[edit]

In college, he played football as a four-year starting center at Albion College and twice earned All-MIAA conference honors. He was part of the 1976 Albion Britons football team that achieved a perfect 9–0 record. Both the 1976 and 1977 teams have since been inducted into the Albion College Hall of Fame.[1][2]

Coaching career[edit]

In 1978, he started his career as a graduate assistant at Bowling Green and also coached as a graduate assistant at Michigan. His first full-time coaching position was with Ball State in 1982. From 1983 to 1991, he was a defensive assistant at Colorado under head coach Bill McCartney. McCartney had also been an assistant at Michigan with Vanderlinden. During that timeframe, Colorado won the 1990 National Championship. From 1992 to 1996, Vanderlinden served as assistant head coach and defensive coordinator at Northwestern. There he played a part in the reversal of fortunes of a struggling football program into a two-time Big Ten champion.[3] On November 10, 2011 Tom Bradley announced that Vanderlinden and defensive line coach Larry Johnson would serve as co-defensive coordinators. Vanderlinden was retained as linebackers coach under new coach Bill O'Brien.[4][dead link]

In 1997, he was hired as the head coach of the Maryland Terrapins, a team without a bowl game and only one winning season since 1990. In both the 1999 and 2000 seasons, Maryland narrowly missed achieving a winning season and bowl game bid by losing their finale and ended both years with a 5-6 record. Vanderlinden recorded a 15-29 record.

Despite these setbacks, Maryland improved significantly during Vanderlinden's tenure, winning more games in 1999 than the previous two years combined. His staff also recruited players who would be instrumental in the team's meteoric rise in 2001 to an ACC championship, a Bowl Championship Series game, and a top-ten final ranking. Some of these players included linebacker E.J. Henderson, quarterback Shaun Hill, and wide receiver Guilian Gary. Also during Vanderlinden's tenure, running back Lamont Jordan set the school record for single-game rushing with 306 yards.[3] Vanderlinden was fired after the 2000 season.[5]

As the most recent linebackers coach for the Nittany Lions, Vanderlinden oversaw the school's traditional "Linebacker U." He had helped develop a linebacker unit that included All-American 2005 Butkus and 2005/2006 Bednarik award winner Paul Posluszny, a consensus All-American, 2003, All-Big Ten linebacker Gino Capone, and 2006 All-American and 2007 Bednarik Award winner Dan Connor.[3][6] He has also recruited several prominent players such as Allen Robinson, Sean Lee and Gerald Hodges.

After parting ways with the Penn State program, he joined Troy Calhoun's staff at Air Force, and noted that he had no hard feelings for Penn State nor Bill O'Brien.[7]


  1. ^ 1994 Inductees, Albion College Hall of Fame, Albion College, retrieved 15 January 2009.
  2. ^ 2005 Inductees, Albion College Hall of Fame, Albion College, retrieved 15 January 2009.
  3. ^ a b c Ron Vanderlinden Profile, Penn State University Official Athletic Site, retrieved 15 January 2009.
  4. ^ "Bradley: Jay Paterno, Mike McQueary to coach Saturday". Press Conference Notes. Retrieved 26 July 2012. 
  5. ^ Missouri coach out after 3–8 year, The New York Times, November 20, 2000.
  6. ^ Bobby Lee, Where are they now?, Albion College, retrieved 15 January 2009.
  7. ^ Jones, David (April 19, 2014). "Ron Vanderlinden cherishes 13 years at Penn State, but feels fortunate to land at Air Force". The Patriot News (Harrisburg, PA). Retrieved August 10, 2014.