Montana State

Longtime Bobcat Ioane to Boise State officially confirmed


BOZEMAN, Montana — As you enter the North entrance at Bobcat Stadium, you encounter a statue of a man many consider to be the greatest Bobcat of all time.

The statue was erected in remembrance of Sonny Holland. And Holland has said on multiple occasions that he thinks Kane Ioane is the greatest Bobcat he’s ever seen.

It’s quite a statement coming from a man who played for Montana State’s 1956 national title team, coached Montana State’s 1976 national title team, and is immortalized in bronze out front of Bobcat Stadium.

On Monday, Boise State officially confirmed that Ioane will leave Montana State for a full-time coaching job at a place other than his alma mater for the first time in his career.

The only four-time All-American in school history will join Andy Avalos’ staff as the co-defensive coordinator for the Broncos.

Following former MSU head coach Jeff Choate’s departure to Texas to become the defensive coordinator at Texas, several sources confirmed Ioane might be in the mix to become the head coach for the Bobcats.

But Monday, Boise State confirmed Ioane’s hire, affirming Zach Barnett of Football Scoop’s initial report on Friday night.

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.

Multiple sources close to the program confirmed that Choate’s move and Ioane’s departure moved rapidly and almost simultaneously. Ioane’s rise to become the DC of one of the top programs in the West was meteoric even if he’s spent almost half his life as a Division I assistant coach.

Ioane has spent the better part of the last two decades at MSU, first as an All-Big Sky and All-American safety from 2000 until 2003, then as an assistant from 2005 until 2015.

The Billings native’s first gig was as an assistant linebackers coach under Mike Kramer, the head coach he played for, then as the head linebackers coach beginning in 2007 when Rob Ash took the head coaching job. In 2015, he was promoted to co-defensive coordinator.

When 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’s staff at the University of Washington.

During those two seasons, Ioane worked under Washington co-defensive coordinators Pete 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 as an assistant coach on Kramer’s staff.

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

In 2014, Kwiatkowski followed Petersen to Washington, where he served as defensive coordinator until last season. He 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.

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.

Montana State defensive coordinator Kane Ioane with 14 month old daughter Avah/by Brooks Nuanez

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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