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Conflicting reports have Ioane to Boise State, but sources say deal not done

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BOZEMAN, Montana — Amidst the chaos of Montana State head coach Jeff Choate’s abrupt exit to join Steve Sarkisian’s staff at Texas, conflicting reports emerged concerning MSU’s defensive coordinator and a potential replacement to fill Choate’s position.

At 7:51 p.m. on Friday night, Football Scoop’s Zach Barnett reported that MSU DC Kane Ioane would take a position as the co-defensive coordinator and the safeties coach on Andy Avalos’s staff at Boise State. If the hire is confirmed, Ioane will leave Montana State for a full-time coaching job for the first time in his long career with the Bobcats.

Avalos hired Spencer Danielson as defensive coordinator earlier this month. Sources say Ioane will also coach BSU safeties.

However, Skyline Sports has confirmed through four independent sources close to Montana State athletics that Ioane has not accepted the position. Two sources confirm that MSU is trying to hire Ioane as either an interim head coach or as Choate’s replacement following his abrupt departure.

If Ioane does go to Boise, the only four-time All-American in MSU history will be leaving his alma mater for the first time to pursue a full-time position at a school other than MSU. And he will take a job in a program Choate was a finalist to lead less than a month ago.

Skyline Sports confirmed Choate’s departure from Montana State on the evening of January 22. Choate was also a finalist at Boise State with Avalos. Choate will share defensive coordinator duties with Pete Kwiatkowski at UT.

Ioane spent two seasons on Choate’s staff – 2016 and 2019 with a two-year stint as an analyst at Washington (Choate was there in 2014 and 2015) in between.

Choate led Montana State to 19 wins and three playoff victories during postseason berths each of the last two seasons. MSU went 28-25 under Choate’s direction overall, including 4-0 against rival Montana.

Multiple sources close to the program confirmed that Choate’s move and Ioane’s opportunity emerged almost simultaneously and moved rapidly.

Ioane has spent most of his coaching career as a position coach, serving as the assistant linebackers coach for a few seasons before becoming the full-time linebackers coach for nearly a decade at Montana State. In 2015, he was promoted to co-defensive coordinator alongside Jamie Marshall.

When Rob Ash was not retained following the 2015 season, Ioane was one of three holdovers from Ash’s staff retained by Choate. Ioane spent the 2016 season coaching linebackers at his alma mater and then took a position as a defensive analyst for Chris Petersen on Montlake.

During those two seasons at UW, Ioane worked under Washington co-defensive coordinators Kwiatkowski and Jimmy Lake. Kwiatkowski was the defensive coordinator at Montana State from 2000 until 2005, including during Ioane’s playing career. Lake coached the MSU secondary in 2005, Ioane’s first season as an assistant coach on Kramer’s staff. Lake took over as UW’s head coach following Petersen’s stunning retirement at the end of the 2019 season.

Kwiatskowski went on to become the defensive line coach (2006-2009) at Boise State before taking over as the defensive coordinator at BSU, his alma mater, in 2010, a position he held until 2013. Choate worked at BSU from 2006-2011.

In 2014, Kwiatkowski followed Petersen to Washington, where he served as defensive coordinator until last season. Choate was also on the staff as the defensive line coach in 2014 and 2015. Kwiatkowski and Choate will be co-defensive coordinators at Texas.

Ioane meanwhile returned to his alma mater before the 2019 season to serve as defensive coordinator. He replaced Ty Gregorak, Choate’s DC from 2016 until 2018.

Former MSU DC/linebackers coach Kane Ioane/ by Brooks Nuanez

During his 17 seasons as part of the Bobcat football program, the 39-year-old Ioane has been a part of six of MSU’s 15 all-time Big Sky championship teams. He is one of only two former Big Sky Defensive Players of the Year (2003) to coach a defensive MVP (Jody Owens, 2012) as his primary position coach.

Last season, Ioane helped operate a defense that spearheaded Montana State’s first run to the semifinals of the FCS playoffs since 1984.

As a position coach and coordinator, Ioane helped coach All-Americans like safety Brayden Konkol (2019), Owens (2011, 2012) and Bobby Daly (2007, 2008). Ioane also helped linebackers like Mac Bignell (2016), Alex Singleton (2014), Clay Bignell (2010), and Epikopo King (2006) earn All-Big Sky recognition.

As a player, Ioane was a two-time first-team All-Big Sky selection, a key cog on MSU’s 2002 and 2003 Big Sky title teams, a pivotal leader in helping the Bobcats end a 16-game losing streak to the Grizzlies and a player who piled up more tackles than any other Big Sky Conference player to come before him.

This story will be updated as more information becomes available.

About Colter Nuanez

Colter Nuanez is the co-founder and senior writer for Skyline Sports. After spending six years in the newspaper industry with stops at the Missoulian, the Ellensburg Daily Record and the Bozeman Daily Chronicle, the former Washington Newspaper Association Sportswriter of the Year and University of Montana Journalism School graduate ('09) has cultivated a deep passion for sports journalism during his 13-year career covering the Big Sky Conference. In August of 2014, Colter and brother Brooks merged their passions of writing and art to found Skyline Sports.

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