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UPDATED: candidates for Montana State head coach position


BOZEMAN, Montana — On January 22, Montana State head football coach Jeff Choate shook up the Big Sky Conference and the Treasure State with the confirmation of his departure to take a job as the defensive coordinator and inside linebackers coach at the University of Texas under Steve Sarkisian.

The next day, Choate hosted a press conference addressing the move. He said, “ you can ask me about specifics but I am not at liberty to discuss that at this time. I’ve always considered the University who is doing the hiring, it’s their job to announce the hire, not the university you are leaving.”

Despite deflecting, at UT Choate will reunite with Pete Kwiatkowski, who served as Montana State’s defensive coordinator from 2000 until 2005 before coaching at Boise State from 2006-2013. Choate coached with Kwiatkowski at BSU from 2006-2011. The duo coached together at Washington in 2014 and 2015 before Choate took the head coaching gig at MSU.

Kwiatkowski was hired as Texas defensive coordinator earlier this month.

Montana State head coach Jeff Choate in 2019/by Brooks Nuanez

“This has been a really interesting last four or five weeks for me,” Choate said, alluding to his candidacy as a finalist for Boise State’s head coaching job. “I am thankful to have built up a reputation in this business where I’m in the position to interview for a job like Boise State.

“There were some other things that came up. This was not the only opportunity that fell in my lap over the last couple of weeks. But this was the one that was the right fit for me at this point in time.”

Multiple sources confirmed that Choate was also offer a position on Nick Saban’s staff at Alabama, the reigning FBS national champions.

“The why is irrelevant but that’s what people are going to want to know,” the 50-year-old Choate said said. “But I can promise you that the why is not about Montana State.”

Skyline Sports has identified a collection of candidates to replace Choate.

On January 23, Montana State athletic director Leon Costello released the following statement, also identifying the members of the search committee

Costello Statement

“I want to extend my sincere appreciation to Jeff Choate for his tremendous work as Montana State University’s head football coach. His success on the field speaks for itself, but his work in developing young men and creating championship culture also stands out. He has positively impacted so many people, inside the football program and throughout the MSU community, and I’m grateful for his contributions to Bobcat Athletics.

“With the help of our search committee, a national search will begin immediately.”


Terry Leist, MSU Vice President/Administration and Finance

Camie Bechtold, MSU Athletics

Dan Davies, MSU Athletics

Casey Fox, MSU Athletics

George Haynes, Faculty Athletics Rep/University Athletics Committee

Dennis Erickson

Rick Vancleeve, Quarterback Club

*MSU Football Student-Athletes (Troy Andersen, Amandre Williams, Lewis Kidd, Tucker Rovig, Chase Benson, Michael Jobman, Taylor Tuiasosopo)

Tricia Binford, Montana State women’s basketball coach


LEADING – Matt Lubick

According to a source with a direct connection to the search committee, Matt Lubick has been in contact.

Matt Lubick

The 48-year-old was born in Bozeman, Montana on January 26 (today if you are reading this upon initial update). He is the son of former Montana State head coach Sonny Lubick (1978-1981).

Lubick’s name was floated the last time the Montana State job came open. But his candidacy was never as serious as it is this time around. Lubick, an alum of Montana Western, played his college ball in Dillon around the same time Choate (1991-1994) was beginning his coaching career.

Lubick also has Western ties to current MSU offensive line coach Brian Armstrong and current Bobcat director of high school relations and assistant head coach B.J. Robertson.

Following Jim Sweeney moving to Washington State from Montana State following the 1967 season, the Bobcats had a string of coaches who either abruptly retired like Sonny Holland (1971-1978) and Cliff Hysell (1991-1999) or were abruptly fired like Sonny Lubick, Dave Arnold (1983-1986), Mike Kramer (2000-2006), and Ash (2007-2015).

Sonny Lubick went on to reach great heights, first as the offensive coordinator at Colorado State (1982-84), then as an assistant at Stanford (1985-88) before taking a job on Dennis Erickson’s staff as the defensive coordinator at Miami, where he won two national championships. He served as the head coach at Colorado State from 1993-2007, winning six conference championships and finishing in the Top 17 four times.

Matt Lubick’s career began as a graduate assistant at CSU on his father’s staff. He spent time at Cal State Northridge (1996), San Jose State (1997-1998) and on Erickson’s staff at Oregon State in 1999 and 2000.

In 2001 Lubick returned to Colorado State as wide receivers coach until 2004. He spent 2005 and 2006 coaching at Ole Miss on Ed Orgeron’s staff. There, he coached Dexter McCluster, one of the great players in the modern history of the Rebels.

In 2007, Lubick linked back up with Erickson as the defensive backs coach at Arizona State. In 2010, Lubick joined David Cutcliffe’s staff at Duke, where he coached wide receivers until 2012. Cutcliffe is most famous for being a primary mentor of Peyton and Eli Manning.

In 2013, Lubick joined Mark Helfrich’s staff at Oregon as the passing game coordinator when Scott Frost was promoted to offensive coordinator. Lubick was promoted to offensive coordinator in 2016 when Frost left to take the head coaching job at Central Florida. Lubick played a key factor in former Montana State All-American quarterback Dakota Prukop graduate transferring to Oregon when Ash was dismissed.

When Helfrich was let go following the 2016 season, Lubick landed on Chris Petersen’s staff as the co-offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach at Washington.

Lubick is currently the offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach at Nebraska on Scott Frost’s staff.

Current Salary: Lubick made $500,000 according to a report from the Lincoln Journal Star.

LEADING – Charlie Ragle

Cal ST coordinator Charlie Ragle/ contributed

Ragle is the first known candidate to have confirmed direct contact with Montana State that has no previous direct ties to the Bobcats. Ragle has served as a special teams coordinator and tight ends coach, including the last four seasons on Justin Wilcox’s staff at Cal.

From 2012 until 2016, Ragle served as the special teams coordinator and tight ends coach on Rich Rodriguez’s staff at Arizona.

Before that, Ragle built an unorthodox resume compared to many other potential candidates for Montana State’s opening. The Eastern New Mexico graduate was a high school coach in Arizona between 2000 and 2011.

The 44-year-old was the defensive coordinator at Phoenix-area powerhouse Moon Valley High (2000-2004), highlighted by an undefeated run to the State A title his final season there.

Ragle took a job as the defensive coordinator at Chaparral High in 2005. He was a graduate at Arizona State on Dirk Koetter’s staff in 2006. Koetter, a native of Pocatello and an alum of Idaho State, went 26-10 at Boise State between 1998 and 2000 before becoming the ASU head coach in 2001. He was fired after the 2006 season.

That prompted Ragle to return to the high school ranks, this time as the head coach and athletic director at Chaparral. He led the team to the playoffs in 2007 and 2008, then three consecutive state championships between 2009 and 2011. While at Chaparral, Ragle coached Tennessee Titans All-Pro left tackle Taylor Lewan along with Washington Football Team starting guard Wes Schweitzer.

Chaparral posted a 63-7 record in Ragle’s final three seasons at the helm.

Over his last near-decade coaching in the Pac 12, Ragle has mentored honors candidates and record-setters at both UA and Cal.

Charlie Ragle Cal Bio

Current Salary: Ragle made $250,000 in base salary plus a $25,000 talent fee according to Bears Insider.

NEW – Brett Vigen

Vigen, Wyoming’s offensive coordinator since 2014, has mutual interest in the Montana State opening, three sources confirmed. He has also been the assistant head coach under Bohl since 2017.

Brett Vigen

Like Polasek, Vigen has deep North Dakota State ties. He played tight end at NDSU from 1993 to 1997 under head coach Rocky Hager III. Vigen was a graduate on NDSU’s staff from 1998-2000 before becoming the tight ends coach in 2001 under head coach Bob Babich. He coached quarterbacks for Babich in 2002 and then moved to coaching running backs when Bohl took over in 2003.

Vigen served as Bohl’s passing game coordinator and quarterbacks coach from 2004 until 2008, then took over as the offensive coordinator in 2009. He helped mentor Brock Jensen, the quarterback who led NDSU to its first 3-peat.

He went from NDSU to Wyoming with Bohl following that 2013 national championship. When Chris Klieman left NDSU following the 2018 national title win to become the head coach at Kansas State, Vigen was considered a leading candidate to return to his alma mater as the head coach.

Instead, he stayed in Laramie and coached a first-round draft pick in current Buffalo Bills rising star Josh Allen. Vigen recruited, coached and developed Allen, who became the highest NFL Draft pick in Wyoming school history when the Bills selected him as the No. 7 overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. 

Allen was also the second highest selection by any Mountain West Conference player in history behind only Alex Smith of Utah, who was selected No. 1 overall in the 2005 NFL Draft.  Vigen also recruited and coached former North Dakota State quarterback Carson Wentz for Wentz’s freshman and sophomore seasons at NDSU in 2012 and ‘13 before Vigen became offensive coordinator at Wyoming in 2014.  Wentz went on to become the No. 2 overall pick by the Philadelphia Eagles in the 2016 NFL Draft.

Current Salary: $350,000

NEW -Tim Polasek

A source close to the coaching search said Polasek has emerged as one of the primary candidates with mutual interest from both sides.

Tim Polasek

He has served Iowa’s offensive line coach since 2017. The former quarterback at Concordia University in Wisconsin has deep ties to North Dakota State. Montana State athletic director Leon Costello came to MSU from South Dakota State, NDSU’s primary rival in the Missouri Valley Football Conference.

Polasek served as the tight ends coach and special teams coordinator coordinator on Craig Bohl’s staff from 2010 until 2012, when he was promoted to offensive coordinator while also coaching running backs. Polasek stayed on with Chris Klieman at NDSU until 2016, the last time over the last nine seasons North Dakota State DID NOT win the FCS national championship.

Polasek was a part of four FCS national championship teams at NDSU. he did a stint at Northern Illinois for a season in 2013, Bohl’s last season in Fargo before taking the head job at Wyoming. Polasek coached running backs at NDSU from 2006 until 2012 while the Bison transitioned from Division II to the Great West Conference before joining the MVFC.

At NDSU, Polasek coached standouts like future NFL first round draft pick quarterback Carson Wentz and All-American running back John Crockett.

At Iowa, Polasek helped mentor Tristan Wirfs, who will start at offensive tackle for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the Super Bowl next week. In 2019, Wirfs earned first-team All-America honors from as many as three national outlets. Junior tackle Alaric Jackson earned third-team All-Big Ten honors and redshirt freshman center Tyler Linderbaum was named honorable mention All-Big Ten. Wirfs declared for the 2020 NFL Draft following his junior season and was the 13th player selected in the first round of the draft. Polasek also coached James Daniels, a second-round draft pick by the Chicago Bears in 2018.

Polasek’s Coaching Career
School – Position, Years
Iowa – Offensive Line, 2017-present
North Dakota State    Offensive Coordinator/Running Backs, 2012-16
Northern Illinois – Tight Ends/Fullbacks, 2013
North Dakota State – Tight Ends/Fullbacks/Special Teams Coordinator, 2010-2012
North Dakota State – Running Backs, 2006-12
Wisconsin-Stevens Point – Defensive Backs, 2005
Wisconsin-Stevens Point – Wide Receivers/Tight Ends, 2003-04
Wisconsin-Stevens Point – Quarterbacks, 2003

Current Salary: $325,000

Tim Drevno

Tim Drevno

After coaching at Montana State from 1993 until 1997 on Cliff Hysell’s staff, Drevno’s career as an assistant has launched to the top level of college football for most of the last 15 years. The 51-year-old has been the passing game coordinator at the University of Southern California for the last three seasons, coaching running backs in 2018 and offensive line the last two season. He was dismissed by head coach Clay Helton at the end of this past season.

After leaving MSU following the 1997 season, Dreveno made stops at UNLV (RB, 1998), San Jose State (OL, 1999) and Idaho (OL, 2000-2002) before hooking up with Jim Harbaugh as the offensive coordinator and offensive line coach at San Diego between 2003 and 2006.

In 2007, Harbaugh became the head coach at Stanford, a position he held until 2010. Drevno was on Harbaugh’s staff all four seasons on the Farm. Harbaugh left Stanford to become the head coach for the San Francisco 49ers leading up to the 2011 season.

Drevno followed Harbaugh to the NFL, coaching the Niners offensive line from 2011 until 2013 before taking his first job at USC, coaching offensive line in 2014. He reunited with Harbaugh in 2015 at Michigan, where Drevno stayed until he stepped down in November of 2018.

Drevno joined Clay Helton’s staff in 2018. The Trojans went 18-15 over the last three seasons, including 5-1 this last year, a finish that came with a No. 21 ranking in the final polls.

As a player, Drevno played at El Camino Junior College for two years and then finished his career as an offensive lineman at Cal State Fullerton in 1989 and 1990. Drevno spent 1991 and 1992 as a graduate assistant at his alma mater before the Titans cancelled football.

During his time coaching offensive line, Drevno’s most accomplished pupils include Joe Staley and Mike Iupati.


Current Salary: Drevno received a $250,000 buyout when he left Michigan. Because USC is a private school, Drevno’s salary the last three years before his dismissal was unavailable.

Jason McEndoo

McEndoo spent 12 seasons as an assistant at Montana State, making him the longest tenured coach in program history. The current Oklahoma State assistant had direct contact with the search committee today.

Former MSU offensive line coach Jason McEndoo coaches players in 2014

During his time at MSU, McEndoo earned FCS Assistant Coach of the Year in 2011. He was a part of five Big Sky Conference title teams during 12 seasons at MSU. He also played a large role in helping the Bobcats gain momentum in in-state recruiting against rival Montana.

McEndoo helped MSU snap a streak of 16 straight losses to the Grizzlies as well as serving as MSU’s primary recruiter of Montana talent the last 10 years of his tenure.

Following MSU’s 2014 playoff season, McEndoo took a job as the tight ends coach on Mike Gundy’s staff at Oklahoma State. Following the 2015 season, former Montana State head coach Rob Ash was fired.

McEndoo’s name was among the first mentioned as a potential replacement for Ash. McEndoo’s tenure at MSU was filled with successes and stellar players, from Brent Swaggert to Jeff Bolton to Jeff Hansen to Mike Person, John Weidenaar and J.P. Flynn. McEndoo’s wife, Ruth, and four children all loved Bozeman. Shortly after Ash’s dismissal, McEndoo put all those thoughts to rest.

“At this time I am not planning on applying for the head coaching job at MSU,” McEndoo wrote in a text message to Skyline Sports. “We loved our time at MSU! It is a special place and I would love to be the head coach there someday but I have a tremendous opportunity currently at Oklahoma State — Mac.”

McEndoo, a Washington State alum, joined Mike Kramer’s staff before the 2003 season to coach the offensive line. For 12 years, McEndoo molded whatever talent was presented to him into solid if not elite Big Sky Conference front lines. Ash retained McEndoo when Kramer was fired in the spring of 2007. In 2011, he earned the American Football Coaches Association FCS Assistant Coach of the Year award after taking a group that included a converted defensive lineman, a converted fullback and a walk-on center and molding them into a unit that helped the Bobcats bulldoze their way to a second straight Big Sky Conference championship.

In 12 seasons at Montana State, McEndoo played a strong role in helping the Bobcats earn shares of five conference titles. McEndoo was a part of five wins over Montana and helped coach seven All-America players. He helped mold Person into an NFL Draft pick and he also played a large role in tutoring 2015 MSU senior John Weidenaar, a first-team All-Big Sky offensive tackle with NFL aspirations himself.

McEndoo Oklahoma State salary: $310,000

Other interested candidates

Mike Riley

Mike Riley

The former head coach at Oregon State, Nebraska and the Winnipeg Blue Bombers head coach spent 2020 as the offensive coordinator on Jim Zorn’s staff for the Seattle Dragons of the XFL. And he has confirmed interest in the open head coaching position at Montana State.

The native of Wallace, Idaho is the son of Bud Riley, who was the head coach at Lewiston (Idaho) High before joining his alma mater as an assistant on Dee Andros’ staff at Idaho. Bud Riley followed Andros to Oregon State in 1965, and spent a decade in Corvallis. The Idaho connection remains with the family; Ed Troxel was the head coach for the Vandals for four seasons from 1974 until 1977. One source confirms Riley’s prospective offensive coordinator is Matt Troxel, Ed’s grandson.

Mike Riley spent his formative years in Corvallis, becoming a standout at Corvallis High and earning college attention from across the country. He ultimately played his college career at Alabama for Paul “Bear” Bryant as a defensive back during a run of success under one of college football’s most legendary head coaches.

Riley’s coaching career began as a graduate assistant at Cal in 1975 before making stops at Division III Whitworth (1976) and Division III Linfield (1977-1992).

In 1983, Riley was hired as the head coach of the Blue Bombers, making him one of the youngest head coaches in the history of the league at 33 years old. He led Winnipeg to two Grey Cup titles in three seasons before taking over as the head coach of the San Antonio Riders of the World League of American Football.

That lasted two years before the league disbanded. Riley took a job on John Robinson’s staff at USC in 1993, where he spent four seasons.

In 1997, Riley returned to his roots, taking the head coaching job at Oregon State. He lasted two seasons before taking over as the San Diego Chargers head coach in 1999. He lasted three Ryan Leaf-riddled seasons before being dismissed.

Riley spent 2002 with the New Orleans Saints before returning to Oregon State as the head coach to replace Erickson after Erickson, a Montana State alum and search committee member, became the head coach of the San Francisco 49ers.

Riley served as the head coach at Oregon State for 12 seasons, leading OSU to a 93-80 record that included eight bowl appearances, six bowl wins and three finishes in the Top 25 of the FBS rankings.

In 2015, Riley took the head coaching job at Nebraska. He went 19-19 in Lincoln in three seasons.

He returned to Oregon State as a consultant in 2018. He served as the head coach of the San Antonio Commanders in 2019 and spent last season with the Dragons.                    

UPDATE: Riley told the Omaha World-Herald he is not a candidate and the short list for the job is “tight.”                                       

Roger Cooper

Idaho State linebackers coach Roger Cooper/ ISU athletics

Three sources told Skyline Sports Cooper was in contact with the committee as an interested head coaching candidate.

Cooper, who has been an assistant at Idaho State since 2012, was one of the most talented and dominant players for the Bobcats during Mike Kramer’s rebuild. The athletic, strong and aggressive linebacker earned 2004 Big Sky Defensive Player of the Year honors and finished his time at MSU as a three-time unanimous first-team All-Big Sky Conference selection.

Cooper’s playing career came to an end three years after his time at MSU, although he did have brief stints with the Dallas Cowboys, San Francisco 49ers, San Diego Chargers and the Frankfurt Galaxy.

The 39-year-old first got into coaching at Bozeman High. He was the defensive coordinator for the Class AA state champion Hawks in 2010, the first by Bozeman since 1917. He helped coach Heath Hunter and Justin Pierson, each who went on to play for Montana State.

Cooper spent the 2011 season at Montana State as a graduate assistant coach where he assisted the coaching staff with all functions relations to academic performance, on field development, strength and conditioning and camp organization.

Cooper joined Kramer’s staff as the ISU running backs coach in 2012. In 2013, he moved to coaching linebackers and serving as Idaho State’s co-defensive coordinator. Cooper has also served as the associate head coach during Kramer’s final seasons (2014-2016) as well as the last three seasons under current head coach Rob Phenicie.

Roger Cooper ISU bio

Current Salary: Cooper made $77,000 as the defensive coordinator at Idaho State last season.

Kane Ioane

MSU linebackers coach Kane Ioane/by Brooks Nuanez

Ioane, one of the most accomplished, chronicled and longest tenured Bobcats of all time, was an instant choice as a potential interim or full-time replacement for Choate. The only four-time All-American in school history ended his playing career in 2003 as the Big Sky Conference Defensive Player of the Year and the league’s all-time leader in tackles.

Ioane coached great players during his time as a graduate assistant and assistant linebackers coach on Mike Kramer’s staff (2005-2006), his time as the linebackers coach on Rob Ash’s staff (2007-2014), his one season in 2015 as Ash’s DC and his two seasons on Choate’s staff (2016, 2019).

His two years serving as an analyst at the University of Washington (2017-18) might’ve cost his alma mater a chance to hire Ioane as the next head coach, at least for now.

Multiple sources reported the same evening Choate reportedly took the Texas job that Ioane had accepted a position as the co-defensive coordinator (with Spencer Danielson) and the safeties coach at Boise State. But other sources confirmed to Skyline Sports that Costello wanted Ioane to assume Choate’s role, at least on an interim basis.

Two sources with direct knowledge of the situation said that the MSU committee identified Ioane as a top candidate but wanted him to go through the official search, partially because of the state policy required to make a head coaching hire in Montana.

The 39-year-old instead elected to join Andy Avalos’ staff at BSU. Although, two sources said Ioane might still be in the mix at Montana State as the head coach.

Current Salary: $100,000

Noah Joseph

Noah Joseph

Joseph comes from the Ash coaching tree, having played for Ash at Drake and starting his career at Drake the next year in 2000.

During his first full-time job as the secondary coach at Eastern Illinois, Joseph coached in the secondary on legendary EIU head coach Bob Spoo’s staff. In 24 years at the helm between 1987 and 2011, Spoo led the Panthers to nine Division I-AA playoff berths, ten Top 20 finishes.

In 2005, Spoo gave Choate his first full-time assistant job at the FCS level, so Joseph and Choate worked together for a season.

Joseph joined Ash’s first staff at Montana State before the 2007 season as the secondary coach and recruiting coordinator. Joseph shared defensive coordinator duties with Jamie Marshall in 2011 before leaving for North Texas to join Dan McCarney’s staff. Joseph had previously worked for McCarney at Iowa State. Joseph worked at UNT for two seasons coaching safeties and coordinating recruiting before taking a similar job at Indiana on Kevin Wilson’s staff in 2014. Joseph served as the defensive coordinator and safeties coach at Rutgers from 2018 until 2020.

He is current a defensive assistant at Texas according to his Twitter bio.

Travis Lulay

Former Montana State quarterback Travis Lulay/ photo courtesy of Montana State sports information

On Sunday afternoon, Skyline Sports confirmed Lulay has expressed interested in the position. He has not applied for the job nor been in contact with Montana State directly yet.

Lulay is a Montana State alum and a Bobcat football legend. During his career as a Bobcat quarterback from 2002 until 2005, he carved out a reputation as one of the most productive and revered players in Montana State history.

As a freshman, Lulay led MSU to a 10-7 win in Missoula, helping the Bobcats snap a 16-year losing streak to the Montana Grizzlies.

Lulay would go on to beat the Griz again in 2003 and 2005. He helped Montana State share Big Sky titles with each of the three Griz wins. He helped Montana State to playoff berths in 2002 and 2003, the second and third ever in MSU’s Division I-AA/FCS era.

After Lulay graduated, Montana State’s program ascended to the ranks of the nation’s best for most of the next 15 years. Lulay finished his Montana State career as just the 10th quarterback in the history of college football, any level, to throw for more than 10,000 and 1,000 yards rushing.

Lulay Montana State Statistics


Lulay had stints with the Seattle Seahawks (2006-2008) and the New Orleans Saints (2008) before going to played for the B.C. Lions from 2009 until 2018.

In 2011, Lulay guided the Lions to the Grey Cup championship. He earned CFL Most Outstanding Player and Grey Cup MVP that year.

Lulay CFL career statistics

 Passing Rushing
CFL totals140812,6131,65863.521,3521277593.23152,1486.8532425

The 37-year-old spent last year working as a corporate partner of the B.C. Lions. He has never coached.

Current Salary: Lulay’s last season in the Canadian Football League, he made the league maximum of $250,000.


Bobby Daly

Daly, a former Bobcat All-American linebacker, applied for the MSU opening before the 2016 season when Choate ultimately was the hire.

Montana State linebackers coach Bobby Daly/ by Brooks Nuanez

At that point, Daly was the director of operations at Idaho. By 2017, Daly was the linebackers coach on Paul Petrino’s staff. By 2019, Daly was a linebackers coach at his alma mater and the assistant head coach to Choate.

The former walk-on out of Helena Capital led the Big Sky Conference in tackles for two straight years, earning All-Big Sky honors three times and consensus All-America honors as a junior in 2007. Daly played three years of arena football before returning to Bozeman to train for 4800 Gym and coach linebackers at Bozeman High, where he worked with Cooper. Daly coached former MSU starting middle linebacker Grant Collins in high school.

The 34-year-old spent two seasons as the director of football operations on Paul Petrino’s staff at Idaho before taking the full-time LB job in Moscow.

Daly, who’s father J Daly played and coached at MSU and who’s brother Brad won the 2013 Buck Buchanan Award, has himself coached a variety of All-American and All-Big Sky players, including Kaden Elliss (now of the New Orleans Saints at Idaho), along with Troy Andersen, Amandre Williams and Josh Hill at Montana State.

Current Salary: $60,000

Ty Gregorak

Montana State head coach Jeff Choate with defensive coordinator Ty Gregorak following the 2018 Cat-Griz win by Montana State in Missoula/by Brooks Nuanez

Gregorak has not coached since the end of the 2018 season. The longtime assistant parted ways with Choate and has not returned to coaching following his third season at Montana State.

Yet sources confirmed to Skyline Sports that a faction of MSU players are pushing for Gregorak’s return to the program as the head coach, even if in an interim status.

Gregorak coached linebackers at Montana from 2003 until 2009 on Bobby Hauck’s staff, helping the Griz win 80 games and seven straight Big Sky championships in the process.

In 2010, Gregorak went with Hauck to UNLV. After a bizarre incident in Boulder, Colorado, Gregorak was let go at UNLV and landed at Central Washington for the 2010 season. He returned to Montana in 2011 to join Robin Pflugrad’s staff.

Gregorak served as Montana’s defensive coordinator on Mick Delaney’s staff from 2012 to 2014, then on Bob Stitt’s staff in 2015.

Following Montana’s loss to North Dakota State in the 2015 FCS playoffs, Gregorak sent shockwaves across the Treasure State by joining Choate’s first staff.

During his 12 seasons at Montana, Gregorak coached on 11 playoff teams and helped 30 players earn All-Big Sky honors. He helped mentor NFL linebackers like Jordan Tripp, Brock Coyle and Caleb McSurdy. Under his watch as defensive coordinator, Gregorak saw defensive ends Zack Wagenmann and Tyrone Holmes climb Montana’s all-time sacks and tackles for loss lists.

During his time at Montana State, Gregorak helped MSU return to national prominence thanks in large part to three wins in three seasons over his former employer.

Following Montana State’s 29-25 win over Montana in Missoula and Choate’s first FCS playoff win against Incarnate Word the next week, then a 52-10 lambasting at the hands of North Dakota State in the second round the following week, Gregorak abruptly and surprisingly resigned.

Gregorak sent the following statement to Skyline Sports in a text message following the decision.

“I want to thank Jeff Choate and Montana State University for bringing me and my family to Bozeman three years ago. My family truly loves living in this community and it has been a privilege to work with the administration and Bobcat student-athletes to achieve our goals, whether they be on the football field, in the classroom, or in the community. I have tremendous respect for Coach Choate, his staff, the young men in the Bobcat football program, and Montana State University. I am grateful for the opportunity to have worked the last 15 years at two amazing universities in the great state of Montana. Thank you to everyone who has made our time here so special.”


Ty Gregorak

The 40-year-old has stayed relatively close to the game, working as a sideline reporter during ROOT Sports Big Sky football broadcasts for the 2019 season and serving as a regular guest host alongside Colter Nuanez on Montana’s only daily sports talk shows (Tootell & Nuanez, Nuanez Now) originated by ESPN Missoula.

Current Salary: Gregorak made $105,000 his final season on Choate’s staff. Since his resignation, he has worked for Stryker Orthopedic, a medical device sales company.


Jason Eck

Jason Eck interacts with former Montana State All-American offensive linemen John Weidenaar (right) and J.P. Flynn (75)/ by Brooks Nuanez

Eck, who was honored as 2019 recipient of the Football Championship Subdivision Assistant Coach of the Year Award by the American Football Coaches Association, has been the offensive coordinator on John Stiegelmeier’s staff at South Dakota State the last two seasons. He’s coached offensive line at SDSU for five.

The 42-year-old Wisconsin alum coached offensive line at Montana State in 2015 before heading to SDSU. Costello was at South Dakota State as an associate athletic director role from 2010 until 2016.

A 21-year veteran of collegiate coaching, Eck arrived in Brookings in 2016 as offensive line coach, a position he continues to hold. Following his first season, he was promoted to run game coordinator before taking the reins of the entire offense in 2019.

Two sources reported Eck has already been in contact with the search committee and has removed his name from consideration.

Current Salary: Eck made $55,000 as the offensive line coach in Bozeman in 2015. No salary was immediately available for Eck at SDSU.

Junior Adams

Adams has his name etched in a couple pieces of Big Sky Conference lore. During his time as a wide receiver at Montana State, the former Oregon State transfer hauled in a slant that he took to the house for MSU’s lone touchdown in a 10-7 win at rival Montana to snap “The Streak”.

Junior Adams while at Montana State/ courtesy of MSU athletics

Adams got his coaching start at Prosser High in 2007 under Tom Moore, a Washington state prep high school coaching legend and the father of record-setting Boise State and Dallas Cowboys quarterback Kellen Moore.

During his time coaching in the Central Washington Athletic Conference, Adams coached against the high schools in Yakima. Jay Dumas, an assistant at Montana State from 2003 until 2006, coached at A.C. Davis High in inner city Yakima from 2007 until 2014.

When Adams took over as Beau Baldwin’s wide receivers coach at Eastern Washington in 2009, Adams did not forget his connection with Dumas, who turned Adams onto a ridiculously talented yet small and late-blooming wide receiver.

That player turned out to be Cooper Kupp, a slight slot who came to EWU as a 5-foot-10, 175-pounder and left as the most prolific college football wide receiver in the history of the game.

Cooper Kupp EWU statistics

All statistics from[20]

2013Eastern Washington15936.21,691112.718.22163
2014Eastern Washington131048.01,431110.113.81661
2015Eastern Washington1111410.41,642149.314.41978
2016Eastern Washington131179.01,700130.714.51775

The now 6-foot-2, 208-pounder was a third-round draft pick by the Los Angeles Rams after earning All-American honors four years in a row at EWU. Adams coached Kupp for two seasons until he left to become the wide receivers coach on Bryan Harsin’s staff at Boise State in 2014.

Adams spent three seasons at BSU before becoming the offensive coordinator at Western Kentucky for the 2017 and 2018 seasons. He’s coached at Washington for the last two campaigns, one for Chris Petersen and the other for Jimmy Lake, who was MSU’s defensive backs coach during Adams’ first stint as an assistant on Kramer’s staff from 2004 until 2006.

Current Salary: $375,000

Jeff Fisher

Two sources with a direct connection to Jeff Fisher confirmed that the former NFL head coach, who has spent time living in Big Sky an hour from Bozeman, is interested in Montana State’s head coaching opening.

Fisher is an NFL lifer who has not coached since 2016. The former USC linebacker played from 1981 to 1985 for the Chicago Bears before starting his NFL coaching journey.

Jeff Fisher

Fisher is most well known for his time as the head coach of the Tennessee Titans from 1995 until 2010.

He helped the Houston Oilers transition to Nashville in 1997 and led the Titans to the AFC champion and a berth in the Super Bowl two years later. During his time with the franchise, Fisher went 142-120, winning three Division titles, advancing to the playoffs six times and winning five playoff games.

Fisher coached the St. Louis Rams for four years and helped the Rams in their transition to Los Angeles in 2016. He was fired after a 4-9 start to that season and has not coached since.

Fisher’s son, Brandon, played football at the University of Montana and spent time coaching in the NFL. He most recently served as the defensive coordinator at Southern Utah.

This story will be updated as more candidates become 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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