Idaho Vandals Shortlist for Head Coach

The time has come for Idaho to start a coaching search for the first time since October 21, 2012. The Athletic Director at the time, Rob Spear, dismissed coach Robb Akey after a 70-28 loss in Ruston, LA, to former WAC conference-mate Lousiana Tech. Washington State QB legend Jason Gesser was named the interim for the remaining four games. After a 43-day search, Paul Petrino was hired on December 3, 2012. At the time of his firing, Petrino was making $446,214.40 a year, tops of the FCS. Idaho is not likely to pay the next guy the same figure, but you can bet your bottom dollar this is a Top 10 job in the FCS and will pay like it.

Attached is my shortlist in order of who I want as coach. I have done days of research on my own for this topic, consulted with Tubs at the Club contributors, folks around the Big Sky, AllVandals.com, and former players to create MY list of 15 realistic candidates for our vacancy.

Have To Call: Make Them Say No

Jeff Choate | Co-Defensive Coordinated – Texas

To outsiders, this one makes no sense. Choate just left Montana State, a top 5 FCS job, to be a co-Defensive Coordinator at Texas. But bear with us: on our show Colter Nuanez of Skyline Sports sort of hinted at it. From St. Maries, Idaho, about 66 miles north of Moscow. He grew up a Vandal fan and loved “The Kamiah Kid” Ken Hobart. It is rumored a major reason he left Montana State was due to Big Sky canceling fall football in 2020 and it gave him too much time to think and not coach.

Choate mentioned in his exit presser he just “likes building things.” He could be bored being back to an assistant. Also, Texas is not having a fantastic season. Either way, Idaho would have to be okay with him having an exit strategy. He wants a job at Washington, Washington State, or Boise State. This will eat some people up. But it does get him in a region where at least WSU, Washington, and BSU become more likely. If Choate can replicate what he did at Montana State at Idaho, he will get one of those jobs.

Choate is also the most likely to say “no thank you” of this lot. But you have to call and make him say no. Like Colter said on our show, childhood rooting interests are “sometimes hard to shake.”

Associate Press Michael Thomas

Beau Baldwin | Head Coach – Cal Poly

Idaho has to give Beau Baldwin a call, if not just to please the donors or a few local podcasters. Baldwin is the head coach at Cal Poly, where he’s rumored to make around $250,000–a number Idaho should be able to beat. After taking over for Paul Wulff at Eastern Washington in 2008, Baldwin won a national title in his third season in 2010. He left EWU after nine seasons in 2017 with an 85-32 record and six playoff appearances.

Baldwin left EWU to become Cal’s offensive coordinator. Needless to say, he struggled. Baldwin returned to the Big Sky in 2020 to revamp Cal Poly, where he’s also struggled (1 conference win in 2 seasons*). Which was expected when working a triple-option team to a spread offense. Although Geoff Collins at Georgia Tech sure is struggling a lot less, with five ACC wins in his first two seasons.

Cal Athletics

Doug Nussmeier | QB Coach – Dallas Cowboys

Doug Nussmeier is a former Vandal legend and 4th round NFL draft pick with more experience than Idaho would even know what to do with. Nussmeier’s stops include Michigan State, Fresno State (OC), Washington (OC), Alabama (OC), Michigan (OC), Florida (OC), and the Dallas Cowboys (QB coach), though never as head coach.

He is from the Northwest but is a southern boy at his core. With his son committed to LSU, I think he stays down south. Unless we get a little McCaffery ball going here and Doug becomes HC and 4 star QB Garret Nussmeier transfers from LSU for Daddy Ball 2.0. Garret Nussmeier has only played in 3 games as a true freshman, meaning he could start as a true freshman next year. With McCoy and Jordan on Idaho’s roster, that does not seem necessary, but hey, the last four years are proof you can never have too many quarterbacks.

Dec 9, 2018; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys tight ends coach Doug Nussmeier signals from the sidelines during the game against the Philadelphia Eagles at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Scott Linehan | Offensive Analyst – Missouri

Stop me when this one sounds familiar. Vandal QB legend from the northwest. Has coached at UNLV, Idaho(OC), Washington (OC), Louisville (OC), Minnesota Vikings (OC), Miami Dolphins(OC), St. Louis Rams (HC), Detroit Lions (OC), Dallas Cowboys(OC), LSU (OC) and Missouri.

Really the only difference between Scott and Nussmeier is Scott was a NFL head coach and an interim HC in the NFL. You would also imagine he brings in Matt Linehan to coach. Another version of daddy ball most vandals I imagine would be excited about.

My reservations on this hire are until 2020 he hadn’t been in the college game since 2001, and since 2020 well his offenses have not looked fantastic.

Hard to deny the excitement that he would spark back into the program. Plus having Matt back on the sideline maybe my favorite part of this move.

Getty Images Leon Halip

Nick Rolovich | Fired Head Coach – Washington State

Covid will be a thing of the past, or so I choose to believe. If guys like Art Briles, Urban Meyer, and Hugh Freeze, got new jobs, then you better believe someone is going to give Nick Rolovich an opportunity. The policy leading to his forced termination across the border is currently not a policy in Idaho. Meaning he is legally able to be hired, you come to your own moral conclusions.

The Hawaii Rainbow Warrior would be a good fit. Most Vandal fans want an offensive mind and his Run & Gun offensive is that. He has spent the entirety of his career in the west. He is 33-33 as a head coach at traditionally hard places to win (WSU 5-6, UH 28-27). This may make you question this decision a bit, but he took over Hawaii from Norm Chow who went 10-36 in 4 years. Nick has 4 .500 or better seasons in his 6 years of coaching.

He is confirmed to have been to at least 2 Vandal games while on the Palouse. He is a weirdo in the best way, where he may find an opportunity to coach in the Kibbie Dome as cool. Plus man CJ Jordan would be so fun to watch in this system.

Krem2 Brenna Greene

Troy Taylor | Head Coach – Sacramento State

It is hard to not notice what Troy has accomplished with the Hornets. He will have led Sac State to two playoff appearances and two Big Sky titles in his first two seasons. The team had only had 2 seasons with more than 2 wins in the previous 5, and had never been to the FCS playoffs. Troy fixed that for the tune of back-to-back Big Sky Titles (in a season in which they participated).

He is a great example of Vandal fans needing to change their mentality on “Can’t afford” or “Who would come here.” He Currently is making $240,000 a year. He was the Offensive Coordinator at Utah making $525,000 a year, a 46% paycut. While I think we could and should be able to beat his salary. He signed a 7-year contract and with current performance metrics, he is making closer to $340,000 a year. The contract we would have to offer and the buyout for the remaining 5 years maybe too much of a burden after the very un-team-friendly deal we just go over. But should make people realize hiring a power 5 coordinator is a very real possibility. So kick that notion out of your head.

Cal State Sacramento University Athletics

Top 15 Canidates: Realistic Candiates

15. Eti Ena | AHC/Defensive Coordinator – EWU

Eastern Washington is known for their high-powered offense, but the reason they are constantly a top-flight side and appeared in the 2018 National Title game, is an overshadowed defense. Now the Stats may not back that claim but when your offense scores so much that you are always on the field. Ena has been Defensive Coordinator since 2019 after coaching the defensive line the 3 seasons previous. He has coached a number of All-Big Sky linemen.

Eastern Washington is his Alma Mater, but he also coached the defensive line with Robb Akey from 2009-2012. Meaning he coached the likes of NFL Veteran Benson Mayowa and others in the 2009 Humanitarian Bowl. I know some Vandals are wary of Vandal retreads, especially from staffs that were canned. I think you will find our defensive line was not a problem while Ena was here.

Ena has also spent time at Cal Poly as a defensive line coach. Making his resume read 4 years as a Vandal, 7 years in the Big Sky, and 1 year under Beau Baldwin in 2016, for all the Baldwin fanboys out there. I cannot find the Eastern Washington assistant coach’s salaries or salary pool but one would imagine the head job at Idaho would be a hefty pay raise. He is still young only graduating from EWU in 2005. Could he bring a few more Vandal rings to compliment the 09 humanitarian bowl ring on his finger?

14. Alfred Pupunu | Former TE Coach | Colorado

Alfred Pupunu is not a name I’ve seen thrown around much. But brings much of what Vandal fans are looking for. Had an 8-year career in the NFL including a 1994 Super Bowl appearance. He would bring that NFL presence and really help in recruiting as he would command a room over some other Big Sky coaches. Also seems like the kind of guy that would keep a gem like Luther Ellis on staff. He is a Big Sky guy at his core too. Pupunus’ Alma Mater is Weber State. One of his coaches back in 1992 when he was playing?… Former Idaho headman Robb Akey. It should come as no surprise he was hired by Robb in 2010 as TEs Coach. For what it’s worth he was held in high enough regard he was retained on the staff when Paul Petrino got the job. He continued to coach at Idaho until after the 2016 Famous Idaho Potato Bowl win.

Meaning he coached All-Decade team TEs Trent “Buck” Cowan & Deon Watson, Vandal greats like Daniel Hardy and Taylor Elmo.

He wasn’t just given the job out of charity by Akey. He worked under Kyle Wittingham at Utah for 2 years and in 2008 worked on Ed Lambs’ original staff at Southern Utah where the Thunderbirds got turned around and won a conference championship twice and made playoffs twice as well.

After Idaho, he went to coach TEs at his Alma mater for two seasons where they won two Big Sky Titles before moving on to Colorado under new coach Mel Tucker. He did not make the move to Michigan State with Mel and was not retained by the Current Colorado coach so is currently unemployed.

13. Conor Riley | OL Coach – Kansas State

The first name on the list with zero ties to Idaho.

Riley has 8 years of FCS coaching experience. In 2011-2012 he coached Sacramento states offensive line. Where the offensive started to see improvements to 6th and 7th in the conferences from bottom years. Sac States offensive line improvements were noticed, his next stop would be TE and FB coach for North Dakota State.

He would coach North Dakota States TE’s for only one season before moving back to the offensive line. Where between the years of 2014 and 2016 he would coach 6 All-Americans. Believe it or not, NDSU had only had 1 All-American on the line before Riley.

He would receive a promotion to OL/ run game coordinator in 2017. Where he would coach 3 more All-American offensive lineman and RBs. He ended up putting a few dudes in the NFL. Including a former walk-on and winning 4 National Titles.

He would follow coach Klieman to Kansas State. In his first year, 4 of his Offensive Lineman received All-Big 12 honors. In 2020 with completely new starters K-State ranked 22nd in the nation for sacks allowed.

Riley probably deserves to be ranked higher on this list but he had very little coaching outside of the Midwest. Riley is from Omaha, played at Omaha, Riley coached for 18 years, 16 years of which are in Kansas, Nebraska, Minnesota and North Dakota. Giving me some reservations on his ability to recruit the Intermountain region and Pacific Northwest states. But Craig Bohl and Brent Vigen have proven it is possible.

12. Matthew Powledge | Safties/Special Teams – Baylor

This is what I would call “Gambling on the next Jeff Choate or Bobby Hauck.” Both of these Big Sky coaches came from a power 5 program. Coaching position groups and were in charge of special teams. Powledge could be a young version of these two.

Powledges’ Alma Mater is Sam Houston State, graduating in 2009. Before getting a master’s degree in sports management from Southeastern Louisiana in 2011. He started his coaching career at Kentucky, Southeastern Louisiana and Northwestern State. Before returning to Sam Houston State as special teams coordinator.

He got picked up by the University of Louisiana Monroe in 2016 to coach TEs and Special teams. He got to experience the Kibbie Dome in 2017 for Vandal win, 31-23. During his time at ULM, he went 0-2 vs Idaho. He then moved on to the University of Louisiana to coach for 2 seasons. Coaching 6 All-Sun Belt players. Before arriving at his current role at Baylor.

This would be an outside the box hire. Get a young up-and-comer with some FCS, G5, and P5 experience.

11. Byron Hout | Defensive Line – Idaho State

I know, I know. He went to Boise State and is most famous for a right hook to the jaw where he may or may not have lost a tooth (sure looks like it on tv), and yes it maybe one of my favorite .gifs. I think there is something there. He comes from the Jeff Choate coaching tree (odd to say he has a tree).

But hear me out. He is from Coeur d’Alene, so would know how to recruit Idaho, Eastern Washington and, Western Montana. Something we haven’t done well since the early 90s… Weird we were winning then. He played at Boise State from 2008 to 2011. He got to see how to build and run a successful program in Idaho. Under arguably the 2nd most successful coach to ever coach in the state (behind Dennis Erickson of course, who he has probably met in Coeur d’Alene). He then spent a year as a GA under Mike Leach at Washington State. Getting to see the foundation to a successful rebuild on the Palouse. He went back to Boise for 1 year under Chris Peterson, and 2 years with Brian Harsin.

Leading to his signing as a full-time coach in 2016 under Jeff Choate. Where he coached 6 All-Conference Defensive Lineman at Montana State. In July he moved to Idaho State and received high praise from Montana State staff even after his departure. He lacks head coach experience and his Idaho State defense is not looking very good. However, this could be a diamond in the rough type of hire.

Photo via SkylineSportsMT.com

10. Matt Mumme | Offensive Coordinator/QB Coach – Nevada

A disciple of his father Hal Mumme and Mike Leach. Matt has some FCS and head coaching experience to pair with an impressive Offensive coordinator resume.

After his playing days at Kentucky he took the QB coach position while receiving his masters at FCS side Southeastern Louisiana. At that time SELA was restarting their program and in its first season, they won 5 games. The success continued in year 2 as they won 7 games. Eventually leading to the Mummes moving on to New Mexico State University. Where success would be a string of 4 win seasons. But for a team that was used to winning one or none, it was a step in the right direction. Matt was co-offensive coordinator for the Aggies during these years. He would end up going 1-3 vs the Mighty Vandals.

He would then follow his dad again to McMurray a DIII level program that was once again used to none or one wins a season. In his two seasons there they were able to win 10 games. In 2011 Matt stepped out on his own for the first time. While Hal stayed at McMurray, Matt moved on to be the offensive coordinator of FCS side Davison. Two years later getting his first Head Coach position at DIII side LaGrande. He spent 4 years at the perennially bad private school before starting his current role as OC at Nevada.

When he arrived on Jay Norvells staff. Nevada had struggled under every coach not named Chris Ault. They now have been to 4 straight bowl games and threaten to win the conference every year. QB Carson Strong could be a day 1 draft pick and the Wolfpack are a consistent top 25 offense under Mumme.

One can hope he has learned some lesson from his former head coaching gig and from his father and could be an amazing hire. Nevada once stole Chris Tormey from us, let’s return the favor.

9. Willy Korn | Co-Offensive Coordinator/QB Coach – Coastal Carolina

Another young coach to look at. Willy Korn is an up-and-coming coach.

He played for Dabo Swinney at Clemson before starting his coaching career in 2013 at FCS side Charleston Southern. He coached WRs and was recruiting coordinator for the Buccaneers. During his 4 years, they made it to the FCS playoffs twice. For the program’s only two appearances ever in the FCS playoffs. Korn would then leave with Coach Jamey Chadwell to Coastal Carolina where the success has continued, including winning the Sun Belt last season and even making a run at the College Football Playoff.

He has coached freshman of the year QB Grayson McCall and 5 All-Americans.

Korn is solely in charge of the passing game and Coastal Carolina has been one of the most proficient passing attacks in the nation since Korns promotion to offensive coordinator.

The things working against Korn is he has never really left the Carolinas, has no head coaching experience, and with Coastals success he may have higher profile opportunities come to this off-season himself or the ability to follow Chadwell if he gets a P5 job and/or take over Coastal.

8. Andy Thompson | Defensive Coordinator/ LB Coach – Sacramento State

This one will get some of you excited, our first Montana Man on the list. Thompson is a grad of the school in Missoula. He played from 1999-2004. Meaning he won the 2001 national championship and went 3-1 vs the Might Vandals as a player. He played for 3 different coaches (Dennehay, Glenn & Hauck).

After a one-year stint coaching at Eastern Oregon University, he took a job at Northern Arizona and was there for 13 seasons before joining Troy Taylor’s staff at Sac State in 2019. As we covered in the Troy Taylor segment it’s hard not to notice what Sac State has accomplished. From what our friend Colter Nuanez said on our show Troy Taylor runs the team as a business. He is hands-off on the defense. He lets Thompson run the defense.

I am an oddball who believes if you look at all the GREAT coaches, they are defensive-minded. I think it is easier to find a good Offensive Coordinator and pair them with a defensive mind in charge. Think Nick Saban, Bill Belichick, Bill Cowher, Pete Carroll, John Harbaugh, Mike Tomlin, and of course Paul “Bear” Bryant. In fact of all the living active coaches with super bowl wins 9 of the possible 12 super bowl rings are held by defensive coaches. 6 of the possible 10 national championship rings belong to defensive coaches.

Defensive coaches in my opinion are a safer bet. Even when you look at the Big Sky since 2000: Bobby Hauck, Jay Hill, Jeff Choate, Chris Ball, Ed Lamb all the defensive guys, none of them fired. But then you look at offensive coaches and you have the Baldwins and Taylor for sure but you also have Paul Petrino, Bobb Stitt, Robin Pflugrad, Ed McCaffery, Rob Phenecie and Tim Walsh.

Thompson would get me pretty excited.

7. Joel Thomas | RB Coach – New Orleans Saints

The protocol son returns. You would be hard-pressed to find a more beloved Vandal than Mr. Thomas. This is one I was not that hot on, but is growing on me.

Since providing Vandals with one of the greatest moments in Vandal History. He has a quiet, but efficient coaching career. Including a return to Idaho as Offensive Coordinator and RBs coach from 2004 to 2005 under Nick Holt. Where in case you forgot about him he turned an under-recruited nobody freshman named Jayson Bird into an All-Conference caliber RB.

He has had multiple stops as a RBs coach including College and the NFL ranks. He did spend one season as Associate Head Coach for the Washington Huskies. He spent some time with Bret Bielema at Arkansas, Bret Spent time at Wisconsin, with?… You guessed it University of Idaho Athletics Director Terry Gawlik.

At only 46, an alumni and a guy who seems to have never really gotten his coaching shot. He could be a long-term kind of guy. Guys like Elisha Cummings, Nick Romano, and Aundre Carter would THRIVE with this hire. Bring him home!

Photo Courtsey New Orleans Saints

6. Luther Elliss | DL Coach – Idaho

We have basically witnessed all of Luthers’ coaching experience while at Idaho. He has never had a leadership role by title. Anyone who has been to a game can tell you, he is the energy on the sidelines. This is a huge gamble though. It is a lot like Northern Colorado’s hire of Ed McCaffery. He has some superstar kids, would shoot life into the program, very good NFL career, but only some high school coaching experience.

The other thing to think about is, we have heard he is not interested in being a head coach. If this is true then we better find a way to at least keep him on staff.

This hire would mean Athletic Director Terry Gawliks’ two men’s sports hires would be from previously fired staff. A cringey stat that was provided by Brian Marceau.

5. Inoke Breckterfield | DL Coach – Vanderbilt

Who? Well if you don’t know Breckterfield, better listen on up. I have a hunch he will be involved. The Oregon State Beaver has no ties to Idaho other than one game back in 06 when he was a volunteer coach for the Beavers vs Idaho under Dennis Erickson.

He has coached the defensive line at Oregon State, Weber State, Montana, UCLA, Pittsburg, currently Vanderbilt, but most importantly… yup, Wisconsin. He spent 6 seasons at Wisconsin, 5 of which while Terry Gawlik was in Madison.

I think getting Inoke and having a fresh look at the program, relationship with our AD and I think could be able to keep a guy like Luther on the staff. These two minds together and we would keep our elite front 7.

Even if Luther doesn’t stay, Inoke I think could be huge in sparking this defense to the next level.

I know he isn’t the most exciting hire, but I think he is the type of guy Gawlik will look at and could be a real gem.

4. Ed Lamb | Assistant Head Coach/ST – BYU

Ed Lamb is the man responsible for the build of Southern Utah from Great West cellar dweller, to conference champions in 3 seasons. Then saw them through the transition to the Big Sky making the playoffs twice and winning the conference once. Then leaving Demario Warren (current coach) the keys to a team that won the championship again after he left. Then his players cycled out and Southern Utah is 5-24 without them. For perspective, with Ed Lamb they went 24-24 (one bad 3 win season) and with Warren 16-18 (one 1 win season with only his seniors left).

Ed Lamb is off the Jim Harbough tree. Served as assistant for Harbaugh at San Diego and used his philosophies when taking over Southern Utah. Though it was Idaho’s own Tom Cable that gave him his first college shot in 2002. Drawing him out of BYU grad assistant with some high school ranks to be DC for the Idaho Vandals in Cables final years. I know this is a bit of a red flag for some, but again this is more of Cables shortfall than it is on Lamb. Cable brought in a 28-year-old high school coach to be a Defensive Coordinator. That is just a gamble on personnel that ultimately led to Cables canning.

Lamb only went on to help San Diego become a powerhouse in Pioneer League. Then the aforementioned stint at Southern Utah, now at BYU as Assistant Head coach has been to 4 bowl games in 5 years and a 6th this season (result pending), not to mention a part of a run at a College Football Playoff appearance in 2020.

His specialty is special teams, which if you haven’t caught on by this point is a common trait amongst successful coaches. His leaving of Southern Utah at its peak rings echoes of Jeff Choate. According to a Desert News Article, he left because he wanted a new challenge. He has spent 6 seasons in Provo and has experienced success. But has yet to move from Assistant Head Coach and Special Team Coordinator. It may just be time for a new challenge and Idaho is that. With a much higher ceiling. Maybe his punter Ryan Rehkow can talk him into it.

3. Derrick Odum | AHC/ Defensive Coordinator – San Jose State

I would be ecstatic if Odum was given the nod. The man is still young but has 21 years of coaching experience. He played his college ball at the University of Utah. Started his coaching career there as well back in 1996.

While he is currently a Defensive Coordinator for one of the greatest rebuilds in the past decade, he cut his coaching chops in the secondary. And where has Idaho been notably weak the past 20 or so years? Let’s fix that.

Like many folks on this list he also has coached at Montana. It was his first position coach job. He would spend the 98 & 99 seasons in Missoula. Never making it to Moscow as the Little Brown Stein was in Missoula that year, and Idaho won it for the last time. It’s not all bad for him against Idaho though as his next job was at Utah State for 3 seasons. In the Aggie/Vandal showdown in 2000 went Odums’ way in Logan, UT.

Odum goes a bit under the radar during this rebuild as the defensive turnaround in San Jose is impressive.

(was) 3. Ian Shoemaker | Offensive Coordinator – Eastern Washington

Well I had a lot to say about this one. Then under mysterious circumstances, he resigned. I decided not to move him up or down. But if you read this far. Spoiler alert this article was written in early November and I was just waiting to post it until the Petrino news was final.

Shoemaker appeared to a really good hire leading one of the best offenses in FCS history, and then he just Gary Anderson’d and resigned midseason.

I’m sure he had his reasons. Just hope he and his family are okay and wishing them the best. Probably out of the running now, pending more information.

2. Brian Lindgren | Offensive Coordinator – Oregon State

I have thrown around our______ (insert coach here). Brian is stacking up to be our Bobby Hauck, Aaron Best, Troy Taylor Type. Alumni-Check and Power 5 Coordinator-Check. Brian would need to probably be okay with a pay cut. His current salary is $500,000. For perspective, Paul Petrino was making $446,214.40. We all expect the next man to make less than Paul did just on basic FBS v FCS finances (bet you thought were done with that dead horse). According to Bestplaces.net adjusted to cost of living $500,000 in Corvallis to Moscow is equivalent to making $423,623. Meaning if a big booster really wants Lingren, Pauls’ current salary in essence is a raise. But like we touched on coaches like Troy Taylor at Sacramento State took almost a 50% pay cut to be a head coach.

The question will be does Lindgren want to come back? There are a multitude of reasons why he wouldn’t. First and foremost taking a job at your Alma Mater is a risky decision. An up and coming coach young coach I know from Idaho said he would probably never want to coach at Idaho. Look what happened to Tom Cable! Everyone loved Cable, then he coaches at Idaho and he is blamed for the beginning of the end of our FBS run. It is not just an Idaho thing either look at Paul Wulff across the border at Washington State. Coaching at your Alma Mater can be highly rewarding but can also really tamper your relationship with the institution. Another reason is to not take the Idaho job is sadly Lingren is young and will have many opportunities in his future, and FCS jobs are no longer a stepping stone. Beau Baldwin couldn’t get more than a sniff at Pac-12 Coordinator (which Lingren currently is) Craig Bohl built NDSU and won multiple National Title in a row and the best he could get was head coach at Wyoming. Jay Hill made a traditionally irrelevant program in Weber State relevant on a national level. Even he can’t get a look from a terrible Utah State job. Let’s not even get started on Jeff Choate getting a Co-coordinator position, not even full coordinator. Unless you are at or towards the end of your career in terms of wanting a big job (Taylor, Hauck etc) it doesn’t make sense to leave the power 5 coordinator position to grind it out in FCS.

1. Rod Chance | DB Coach – Oregon

The Myth, the man the legend. The guy I want to helm this rebuild to FCS powerhouse and FBS expansion candidate.

An alumnus of the FCS and 4-year letter winner in his playing days at Rhode Island. He started coaching the DBs at Rhode Island before moving on to Vanderbilt, before becoming the defensive coordinator at Southern Utah 2 years when they won the Big Sky. He then moved to Minnesota and Oregon now.

I know a lot of people want a coordinator or someone with head coaching experience. I think his previous stint as a coordinator, his youth, and his energy is enough. He can sure up our secondary and continue our defensive prowess. Look, like it or not the Big Sky is rapidly becoming a defensive conference.

Who knows it never hurts to get an Oregon guy as sometimes Nike support follows. Look no further than UNLV that hired an Oregon guy and then got brand new jerseys. Not saying you hire someone for this, but won’t complain if it were to happen.

In my opinion, Rod takes a top 10 job in the FCS and leaves with it as a top 4 job in the FCS.

#ChanceOnChance

Honorable Mentions: Kent Baer, Stanely Franks, Kirbie Moore

*** As always I”m not an journalist so, take your gramatical error comments, & put them in a beg some-Where. Hope you enjoyed the content regarless if you maid it too dis disclaimer -CH 

😉

Big Sky Power Rankings Week 6

Reminder this is a “Power Ranking.” It means different things to different people. Some view it as the best team, some view it as hottest team at the moment. At the end of the year, the team that wins the conference may not be No. 1 in our rankings. We had 12 voters this week.

This week [Last Week] | Team | First Place Votes – Points

1. [3] Eastern Washington (12) – 169

Last Week: W Vs #6 Montana 34-28

This Week: @ Northern Colorado

My Ranking: 1

WOW, WOW, WOW! What a show! The wait was worth it. If this truly is a farewell tour, the main event was something to hold onto forever. This will make the best hits album for years to come. The show was so good, maybe this isn’t farewell after all. They have a couple big shows left to maybe show these old souls still have it. That they are more than just their lead guitarist.

2. [1] Montana – 145

Last Week: L @ 28-34 #4 Eastern Washington

This Week: Vs Dixie State

My Ranking: 3

Well shoot. I took Montana in this one and was pretty confident in the pick. Though the one thing I said was Cam Humphrey can’t win this game, and he couldnt. I know Kris Brown was ultimately how it ended, but Humphrey just isn’t a guy to go out and win you a game. Humphrey completed 53% of his passes for 150 yards and a 1 to 1 TD to INT ratio.

Cam didnt lose them the game, he certainly didnt win it either.

That VAUNTED griz defense I thought would give QB Eric Barriere the same types of “fits” Idaho has the past two seasons. (“fits” as in not 400 yards and 4 TDs)

Vs Idaho

2019- Passing: 28/46 365 Yards 2 TDs 1 INT Rushing: 57 Yards 2 TDs 1 Fumble

2020A- Passing: 32/57 339 Yards 2 TDs 1 INT Rushing: 14 Yards 0 TDs

2020B- Passing: 18/38 309 Yards 2 TDs 0 INT Rushing: 54 yards 0 TDs

Vs Montana

2021 – Passing: 26/46 422 Yards 2 TDS 2 INTS Rushing: 41 yards 0 TDs

I guess they kinda did?… But it just wasnt enough.

3. [2] UC Davis – 142

Last Week: W vs Idaho 27-20

This Week: @ Idaho State

My Ranking: 2

UC Davis fans I imagine are okay not being in the top spot after their preformace compared to the ESPN2 showdown. However, #3? My assumption of the 11 other voters is, they rewarded Eastern for the win, didnt want to punish Montana, and the Aggies just played it too close to a team barely in the top 10 of the power rankings.

I made the argument last week in favor of UC Davis having a tougher schedule. Well, what a difference a week can make?! 2 of our top 3 teams are undefeated. Montana (the one with the loss) leads the way in average sagarin ranked opponents, at 130 on average, Easterns’ average opponents ranks 140.75, then UC Davis is a only 193 (out of 258).

Good news for them they only have 1.5 hurdles left to go undefeated.

4. [4] Montana State – 137

Last Week: W vs Northern Colorado 40-7

This Week: Vs Cal Poly

My Ranking 5

You know it is bad when Griz fans were pulling for Montana State. Their opponent last week, Northern Colorado, apparrently ruffled some feathers. People wanted to seem the out of no-where cockiness of the bears cooled down a bit.

The spread was -19.5 Montana State at home. I was one of the people that thought Northern Colorados’ rennassiance was further along and took the spread… Montana State proved they are not.

The Bobcats are sort of sailing under the radar. I think they like it this way. But Bobcat fans beware of flying objects when attending games.

Cat/Griz Recap, Playoff Bracket Preview R&R Cat Cast – A Montana State Bobcat Podcast

R&R is brought to you by Jeremiah Johnson Brewing The Bobcats fall in Missoula in the 120th Brawl of the Wild.  We recap the game and take an early look at the playoff bracket and MSU's potential path to Frisco. Go Cats! Intro music courtesy of Ugly Duckling
  1. Cat/Griz Recap, Playoff Bracket Preview
  2. INSTANT REACTION: Montana
  3. Cat/Griz Matchups, Golden Coolie Questions
  4. BONUS: Cat/Griz Roundtable with GrizFanPod and Montana Mint
  5. Idaho Recap, #7 Montana Preview

5. [5] Weber State – 119

Last Week: W @ Cal Poly 38-7

This Week: Bye

My Ranking: 4

Look for Weber, a backup QB puting up 38 points is a win.

Just werid vibes coming out of Ogden. They are almost in a win or bust situation. They may be able to afford one more loss to a top Big Sky program. But they are running out of statement wins as well. The next 3 weeks are going to be monumental for the Wildcats.

Coming off of the bye, they get Montana State at home which feels like the must win game. Because they follow that up on the road in Cheney. They really need to go 2-0 through that stretch to gurantee playoffs. otherwise it gets iffy and their future may be in others hands. Which is always stressful.

Right now it is a 5 team race for conference title and playoff spots. In 3 weeks it could be narrowed down to 4 teams and some “SadCats” – Hot Take Nate

HOOPS: #DoItAllDJ: Freshman Forward Dillon Jones Weber State Weekly

Hoops is underway on campus, so we're bringing back Weber State Weekly favorite #DoItAllDJ, Dillon Jones, to chat about his prep during the offseason, the new faces on this year's squad, and the Wildcats' hot 5-0 start.Then, we chat about the last week of games at the Jersey Mike's Classic, where the Wildcats went 3-0 and DJ won tournament MVP.We'll close it out with one of our favorite segments: Waldo's Magic Eight Ball. Let's see what our panel really wants to know about this upcoming hoops season.Special thanks to our sponsor, WildcatRack.com. Visit their website to check out all their latest Wildcat gear and follow them on Facebook or Instagram.Don't forget to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram or join the Wildcat Fans FB group.
  1. HOOPS: #DoItAllDJ: Freshman Forward Dillon Jones
  2. FOOTBALL: The Real Playoff P: Senior Safety Preston Smith
  3. FOOTBALL GAME DAY: Northern Colorado @ Weber State
  4. FOOTBALL: #BeatTheBirds: Wildcats Demolish the T-Birds in Epic Fashion
  5. VOLLEYBALL: 2021 Weber State Volleyball Early Signing Special

6. [6] Sacramento State – 96

Last Week: Bye Week

This Week: Vs Southern Utah

My Ranking: 10

I seriously dont get it?! We punish teams like Davis for beating Idaho by 7. We punish teams like Weber for losing to Top 10 programs. Yet, 2-2 Sac State with a 2 point win vs 206th ranked Sagarin team and an 8 point win vs 222nd sagarin ranked team, just keep being named the best team outside of the elite teams? PEOPLE, they barely beat the team we ranked last this week! So if Sac State is SOOO good why did we punish Idaho State (fell 3 spots). They fell by a 4th quarter field goal. This wasnt ISU making it look close in garbage time. This was Sac State having to come from behind vs (apparently) the worst team in the Big Sky.

#ComeOnMan

7. [7] Portland State – 92

Last Week:W @ Southern Utah 20-13

This Week: @ Idaho

My Ranking: 6

The love everyone seems to give Sac State, should be given here. Portland State is the team it appears the rest of the Big Sky Podcast Network thinks Sac State is.

QB Davis Alexander is #2 in yards, #4 in TDs.

RB Malik Walker is #7 in yards (Sac State RB not even on list), #2 in TDs

WR Beau Kelly #4 in yards , #2 in catches, #1 in TDs

WR Nate Bennet #6 in yards, #4 in catches, T-#2 in TDs

Yup, I did just take half of Portland States space to continue the tar and feathering of Sac State. Sorry, Colter, they arent quite top 5, but looking to be top 6…ish

8. [t-11] Northern Arizona – 76

Last Week: W vs Idaho State 48-17

This Week: Bye

My Ranking: 8

This team has fluctuated lots this season. Been as high as #6 and as low as #12. Which seems to be fitting honestly as no one seems to have a grip on who they are.

I was celebrity guest host on BSPNS’s NAU Sports Show last week and predicited an Idaho State W, but left door open for NAU win. Classic hedge.

Well NAU players and fans can mail me my crow meal. They were Tiger Kings this weekend.

9. [9] Idaho – 67

Last Week: L @ #7 UC Davis 20-27

This Week: Vs Portland State

My Ranking: 9

They move none and match my ranking. Out of 13 teams the only teams I agree with positioning are #1 Eastern, #8 NAU and #9 Idaho.

I know majority of the eyeballs reading this are Vandals, and probably skipped right on down to this point, and Im sorry.

I know we just hung with the #7 team in the country with legit shot to win. But, we didn’t… Look talent wise we proved we might be top 3 in the conference. Hell, just look at recent draft picks and NFL guys since we rejoined the sky in 2018. In 3 seasons we have 3 guys in NFL and the only Big Sky school with a guy who most likely will be leaving early to be drafted (Tre Walker). The worst part in 2018 all 4 of them were on the team together! in 2019 3 of them were on the team together! How can we not win games with this level of talent?oh wait, Coaching.

I’m starting to think you could go down position matchups every week and pick Idaho in the majority. The one I am starting to think we can no longer check is head coach. I have been a defender of Paul for 8.25 seasons… I can’t anymore. No more excuses. we aren’t Independent, we arent transtioning to Sun Belt, we are recruting to a program kicked out of the Sun Belt, we aren’t transitioning to FCS with less scholarships, we arent getting use to another new conference in the Big Sky, we aren’t in a shortened spring season, we dont have QB issues anymore, we have no more excuses.

We SHOULD have won on saturday, the players did…

10. [8] Northern Colorado – 50

Last Week: L @ Montana State 7-40

This Week: Vs #4 Eastern Washington

My Ranking: 8

Well they lost me money this weekend (*Allegedly). Maybe the bears aren’t as far along as some (maybe just me and Bears fans) thought.

Montana State showed the difference between top flight Big Sky team and the pile up between 11ish and 6.

After that ass kicking, I doubt they are enthused with Eastern coming to town. Going to be a sad homecoming. But seriously, lets dive into this. Who in their right mind schedules Eastern for Homecoming? Like, Why? Do you understand you are suppose to win homecoming? is this concept foreign to you? Are you secretly a NAU grad? A Raiders Fan? Christian McCaffery stole your girl? I dont get it? It really makes me want to break a clipboard and throw it. As a “Souvenir” of course.

11. [t-11] Southern Utah – 42

Last Week: L vs Portland State 13-20

This Week: @ Sacramento State

My Ranking: 12

Please refer to the WAC Podcast Networks coverage of this team.

12. [13] Cal Poly – 25

Last Week: L vs #19 Weber State 7-38

This Week: @ #10 Montana State

My Ranking: 13

I mean, not sure how they moved up. They are my 13, though maybe I should just permenently make SUU my 13, becasue screw SUU. (Exept their Social Media team, they are fire. Please dont roast me)

13. [10] Idaho State – 23

Last Week: L @ Northern Arizona 17-48

This Week: Vs UC Davis

My Ranking:11

Well Bengals, You made me look like a fool. Fool me once shame on me, Fool me can’t get fooled again.

*** As always I”m not an journalist so, take your gramatical error comments, & put them in a beg some-Where. Hope you enjoyed the content regarless if you maid it too dis disclaimer 

😉

Who Will Win The Big Sky?

The Big Sky is one of the deepest conference top to bottom. Predicting a winner is difficult. Last year was my first attempt to take emotion out of it and use analytics to predict the winner. How I did this was combination of a “True Skill Ranking” and “Strength of Schedule” calculation.

Before we get into this year. It is a fair question to ask, How did last year go? How accurate is this? It is a little difficult to compare as I originally completed predicitons before five Big Sky Schools opted out of Spring. Lets look anyway with removing the teams that did not play and adjusting.

Predicted FinishTeamPredicted RecordActual FinishTeamActual Record
1Weber State6-01Weber State5-0
2E.Washington5-12E.Washington5-1
t3UC Davis4-2t3UC Davis3-2
t3N.Arizona4-2t3N.Arizona3-2
5Idaho2-4t5Idaho2-4
t-6Idaho State1-5t5Idaho State2-4
t-6Cal Poly1-57S.Utah1-5
8S.Utah0-68Cal Poly0-3

I will let you all determine if this was succesful or not, especially with last springs circumstances. But at least now you know how it did.

This season will be a test as all 13 current Big Sky Football Conference teams are playing. This is also only looking at the conference schedule. The out of conference schedule has not been included. Also the database used to calculate my True Skill rankings are not released yet. These prediciton are stricly of SOS and leave room for updating before conference kickoff.

Before we get into predicitons, lets take a look at some of the oddities of the 2nd annual Strength of Schedule Tub Table.

Obviously this system is not perfect, I am the first to acknowledge this. As Weber State (Preseason pick to win conference) benefits from not playing themselves and vice versa Northern Colorado and Cal Poly are punished for not playing themselves.

That being said it is the second time in as many seasons Weber State has the path of least resistance to win the championship. Montana State and Eastern Washington have a weird scenario too. Eastern Washington has the toughest schedule at home (Montana,Idaho,Weber & Montana State). While Montana State has toughest road schedule (Portland State, Weber State, Eastern Washington & Montana). Then they swap and Eastern has the least difficult road schedule. While Montana State has by far the easiest schedule at home. sidenote, I honestly wonder how season ticket sales are going with no Choate, 18 months of no football and a lackluster home schedule.

If you are looking for this years dark horse, Northern Arizona harbors 3rd easiest schedule and only by 2 points. The Standard Deviation for strength of schedule is 9.4. Being only 2 points off from easiest schedule is a big benefit to the lumberjacks of Flagstaff. To their defense, Shaun Rainey of SWX Montana and Colter Nuanez of Skyline Sports have been high on Portland State, Even saying they are top four in big sky. They do have 5th easiest schedule in the conference and could be one of those annual dark horses the big sky seems to get every year.

Okay enough of me nerding out over schedule strength statistics that really dont mean anything once the ball is kicked off to what you are all here for… using those useless statistics to make analytical predictions for each team in the conference.

t13. Cal Poly 0-8

t13. Northern Colorado 0-8

11. Southern Utah 1-7

t10. Portland State 2-6

t10. Idaho State 2-6

8. Idaho 3-5

t5.Northern Arizona 5-3

t5. Montana State 5-3

t5. UC Davis 5-3

t3. Eastern Washington 7-1

t3. Sac State 7-1

t1. Montana 8-0

t1. Weber State 8-0

Reminder these are not my predictions. You can tune into our live youtube show August 10th around 8 PT with Skyline Sports Colter Nuanez to hear how myself and the rest of the team think conference season will go.

*** As always I”m not an journalist so, take your gramatical error comments, & put them in a beg some-Where. Hope you enjoyed the content regarless if you maid it too dis disclaimer 😉

Tubs Preseason Big Sky Poll

We submitted three polls to the conference office. Here is how the three of us voted and why.

Chris
Brian
Dallas
1Weber StateMontanaWeber State
2EWUMontana StateEWU
3MontanaWeber StateMontana
4UC DavisEWUSac State
5Montana StateSac StateMontana State
6NAUUC DavisUC Davis
7Idaho StateIdahoIdaho State
8IdahoIdaho StateNAU
9SUUUNCIdaho
10Sac StateSUUSUU
11Cal PolyPortland StatePortland State
12UNCNAUUNC
13Portland StateCal PolyCal Poly

For those of you that read our Preseason All-Conference Team post you can see our picks for All-Conference lead to our opinions on our polls.

Further Explanations

Chris:

  • Weber State at 1 – The Wildcats return possibly the best Secondary in the FCS. Three members of the secondary made our All-Tubs Team. Bronson Barron (technically a true freshman still) had barely been on campus and had to compete for starting job last season. That is not the case this fall, he will be receiving all the reps. Pair that with former Jerry Rice Award winner Josh Davis and an emerging stable of backs returning. The Achilles heel of this program, the offense, has to take a step forward. Even if the offense doesn’t improve, they have still won four straight Big Sky titles. Why would I bet against them?

  • Montana at 3 – Look even with some “?” still at QB. This team returns a lot of talent. How bad could it be when you get to throw to Maybe the best WR in the FCS, Sammy Akem. If the QB works out, they could easily win the conference. But right now with Weber returning Bronson & Eastern returning EB3, I gave them the SMALL nod over the Griz. Its going to be a close race this year.

  • Sacramento State at 10 – I understand I’m sticking my neck out with this one. I just think the 2019 season was a flash in the pan. I expect this team to be closer to their 42-28 home playoff loss to start the playoffs, more then the 49-22 win vs the Griz. The Hornets in my opinion benefited greatly from being a sleeper until about half way through the 2019 season, an out of nowhere QB (who has since transferred out) and no one having tape on first time head ball coach Troy Taylor. I expect them to struggle early and maybe make a charge late. Are they the 10th best team in conference probably not, probably a bit better. But weeks 1 thru 6 I expect them to play below where most people have them. Most throw out the easy schedule this year as a reason to have them high. I think the easy schedule will catch them sleep walking with rust early. Though lighting can strike the same spot twice…

Brian:

  • Weber State at 3 – Defending Big Sky champion Weber State (finally) looks vulnerable. The Wildcats won a single spring game by a margin greater than a touchdown–with all of those nail biters coming against teams that will be picked in the bottom half of this fall’s season–but Weber’s schedule, and Jay Hill’s tendency to just never lose games he shouldn’t, makes a 6-2 (in conference) floor all but locked in.

  • Idaho at 7 – This vote was a strict judgement of talent–which should put Idaho not in the top tier of the conference, but close enough to talk yourself into yet another but maybe this year discussion.

    Which is lunacy.

    We all know the Idaho blueprint from the previous three years: stay competitive at home, but faceplant on the road. Hang with, or knock off a playoff-level team, then stumble in comical fashion against the Northern Colorados, or Northern Arizonas occupying league’s bottom tier. Never mind that Idaho has its toughest league schedule since rejoining the Big Sky. 

    So yes: in my written-in-blood preseason poll, Idaho sits at number seven. And yes: the moment my poll was officially sent, I could not believe their slot was higher than ten.

  • Northern Colorado at 9 – Consider Northern Colorado a composite character of Idaho, Idaho State, Southern Utah, and Northern Arizona: it’s an absolute crap shoot rating any of those teams above each other. Before the Bears land higher than ninth, we’ll need to see the fruits of Coach McCaffrey produce. The talent influx following McCaffrey alone will make Northern Colorado at least good enough to spoil someone else’s playoff hopes, but with the promising spring efforts from other projected lower-tier teams, there’s too crowded a field of candidates to repeat the out-of-nowhere rises of UC Davis and Sacramento State to rate Northern Colorado much higher.   

Dallas:

  • Eastern Washington at 2 – Eric Barriere is one of the best players in the entire FCS, and when you have a quarterback like him running the show, you’re going to have at least a puncher’s chance in every game. Yes, their questionable defense allowed 35 straight points in the first round of the spring playoffs to a weakened North Dakota State. Yes, the receivers drop more passes than they should. Yes, they have an extremely tough conference schedule this year. But, their three toughest games (Montana, Montana State, Weber State) are all in Cheney this year and I’d expect they win two of the three to keep themselves just behind Weber in the conference standings. Even in their last true down year (2015, when Vernon Adams transferred to play his final year at Oregon), they tied for fourth in conference, going 5-3 with two losses to ranked teams.

  • UC Davis at 6 – UC Davis has a deep cast of receivers, a solid defense (as Vandal fans likely remember), and one of the best running backs in the conference. QB Hunter Rodrigues had 21 FCS passes to his name coming into 2021 and may have benefited more from the spring season than any other athlete. So why do I have them sixth? Weber State, Eastern Washington, and the Montana schools certainly look better on paper and should all slot in as top five finishers, even if they trade losses around. I don’t see the Aggies beating Weber State (and yes, I know they had a double digit lead on the Wildcats last season) or Eastern Washington. Even if they beat Sacramento State in the Causeway Classic to finish the year, I don’t think a game in hand on the Hornets helps, courtesy of the absolute gift of a schedule Sacramento State got this year. Nothing against UC Davis, but a top five finish doesn’t seem to be in the cards.

  • Idaho at 9 – Every year it seems I talk myself into Idaho finally becoming a bully in the Big Sky. Take one look at the schedule and you’ll realize why I’m not doing that this year. The Vandals could be favored in three of their four home conference games, but even if they won out at home with an upset of Montana, they will not be favored in a single road game this season. I don’t think they win a single game outside of Moscow this year, even without Paul Petrino’s track record of failure away from the Kibbie Dome. There’s plenty of talent on this team, just like there was in the spring, but I don’t see any reason to believe that it magically clicks this season. 4-4 in conference is the ceiling for this team if things go well, and 2-6 is certainly on the table. We’re looking at another long year.