‘Hard to say goodbye’: Brian Armstrong reflects on Montana State coaching career, looks forward to Fresno State | MSU Bobcats

Bozeman — Fresno State University head football coach Jeff Tedford reached out to Brian Armstrong last week. Tedford asked Armstrong, Montana State’s offensive line coach and coordinator of his run game, if he’d be interested in becoming an O-line coach at Fresno State.

Armstrong didn’t need much time to ponder the offer.

“Everything happened within 24 hours,” Armstrong told 406mtsports.com by phone Thursday night.

Armstrong’s hiring was reported by 406 Sports and other news outlets earlier this week and was officially announced on Thursday. The move to Fresno, CA ends Armstrong’s fruitful seven-year tenure at MSU.

“I really loved my seven years at Bozeman and enjoyed every second of it, but I am also very excited about this opportunity,” said Armstrong.

Armstrong, 49, had essentially no Football Bowl subdivision coaching experience before taking this job at Fresno State University, which plays in the Mountain West (Group of Five FBS Conference). His two years as a graduate assistant at Utah State University were sandwiched between high school and his NAIA-level job.

Armstrong’s coaching career began in 1996 as an O-line coach at his alma mater, Montana Western. Originally from East Helena, he coached at Morgan (Utah) High School, Townsend, Lake He Gibson High School (Florida) before moving to Utah in 2003. Rocky Mountain He is the college’s coordinator/O-line coach and is in the Frontier Conference against Montana He Western. Rocky promoted him to head coach in 2009.

Aside from an alumni assistant stint at Utah State, Armstrong did not play a coaching role for Division I until 2016, when MSU hired him as their O-line coach (the championship subdivision).

Montana State Offensive Line Coach Brian Armstrong chats with the players between practices at Bobcat Stadium on Saturday, March 27, 2021.

Armstrong’s tenure at MSU was almost as volatile as the first two decades of his coaching career. He was promoted to his OC in 2017, and in 2018 he was transferred to Tait he coach of the ends and coordinator of his run games, and in 2019 he returned to his O his line role. The COVID-19 pandemic has prevented MSU from playing in his 2020 and MSU head his coach Jeff Choate has retired. The following year, he became co-defensive coordinator/inside linebacker he coach in Texas.

Armstrong’s last two years at MSU were arguably his most successful under head coach Brent Viggen. Despite losing some starting O-linemen, the Bobcats remained strong in the trenches and improved offensively in many ways.

Armstrong’s recruitment, development, and decision to move from an inside zone to an outside zone blocking scheme will play a major role in MSU’s ability to overcome the departure of four starting O linemen and numerous injuries in 2022. I did it. FCS and his best rushing offense in program history heading into his 12-2 season that ended in the FCS semi-finals last month.

“We would like to thank Brian for his hard work over the past two years. His contribution has been crucial to the success we have enjoyed,” Vigen said in a statement. “He deserves this opportunity at Fresno State University and we wish him and his family the best of luck.”

MSU Football vs Drake

Montana State head coach Brent Viggen, offensive line coach Brian Armstrong (middle), and wide receiver coach during the Gold Rush game against Drake at Bobcat Stadium in Bozeman on September 11, 2021. Justin Woody (second from right) is waiting for a call.

According to the latest contract obtained by 406 Sports, Armstrong’s annual salary at MSU was $82,000.10. His contract with Fresno State was not disclosed as of Friday night, but it was noted that his former O-Line coach at Fresno State, Sagatuitele, was making about $230,000 a year. Thinking about it, his pay raise will be big.

Armstrong did not mention money as a factor in his decision, but coaching at FBS level contributed.

“Trying to do it at the highest level is always a professional goal,” he said.

He joins a program that has spent most of its history on .500 and above. The Bulldogs each have his 10th win in the last two years. This is his two of his 11 double-digit winning seasons in history.

“Even when I was in high school in Helena, I knew a lot about Fresno State University,” said Armstrong. “It’s a very blue-collar, hard-working, competitive football his program. They have a lot of pride here in the (Central) Valley and I look forward to being a part of it.”

Armstrong is also excited about coaching Ted Ford, who spent 11 years as head coach at the University of California after serving as offensive coordinator at Fresno State and Oregon State. Ted Ford spent his 2014 season at Tampa Bay in his NFL as his OC for the Buccaneers.

“He’s a legend and a great football coach,” Armstrong said. “From just being with him for a short time, I know he’s a great person and I’ve heard nothing but great things about him. I’m excited to learn.”

He is looking forward to his new life in Fresno, but leaving MSU was “very difficult,” Armstrong said. His son, Michael, just finished his first year as a defensive back at MSU, and Boseman has many others that the older Armstrong will miss. .

“It was so hard to say goodbye to the people in my (O-line) room,” Armstrong said. Those people will all come back, I thought the future was very bright.

“It’s so hard to say goodbye to the people in the community. It’s a great community and such a great place to raise a family.”

The Cats have beaten rival Montana five of the six times Armstrong has faced off while at Bozeman. These wins are at the top of his list of favorites his MSU memory alongside his FCS title his game for 2021.

Most of all, he will miss the people who surrounded him during his seven memorable years as a bobcat.

“I have been lucky enough to work under two great head coaches and have worked with a lot of really good assistant coaches. I was lucky and that’s what makes me a great coach,” Armstrong said, adding, “It was a great opportunity for a guy from East Helena, Montana. I think I left the place better than I found it.” I am proud of it and excited to see their success in the future.”

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