LARAMIE — University of Wyoming offensive coordinator Brent Vigen has been named the head coach at Montana State, the Bobcats announced Monday afternoon. FootballScoop initially reported the move, and Fox Sports’ Bruce Feldman reported Vigen was the leading candidate for the job.
A source confirmed the move with WyoSports prior to the official announcement.
Vigen has served as UW’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach for all seven years of head coach Craig Bohl’s tenure. Vigen was Bohl’s offensive coordinator at North Dakota State from 2009-13 and stayed on Bohl’s staff when he made the move to Laramie. Vigen also served as UW's associate head coach starting in spring 2017.
Vigen has been a full-time coach since 2001, when he was named tight ends coach at North Dakota State after a stint as a graduate assistant. Bohl was named head coach of the Bison in 2003 and has had Vigen on his staff since.
"I'm excited to welcome Coach Vigen and his family, Molly, Jake, Grant and Luke, to the Bobcat family," Montana State athletics director Leon Costello said in a statement. "Brent brings a strong pedigree that has led to national championships in the FCS and tremendous success at Wyoming, and has a nationally-known reputation for identifying and developing NFL-caliber quarterbacks. I'm looking forward to working with Brent to build on the recent success of Bobcat Football."
The Cowboys’ offenses were a mixed bag under Vigen, who played tight end at North Dakota State. UW has finished in the top-25 scoring offenses once in seven seasons, in 2016 when the Josh Allen-led Cowboys averaged just under 36 points per game. In six other seasons, UW has averaged 22.4 points per game.
Vigen’s offenses historically relied heavily on the running game, particularly in recent seasons. UW finished 23rd and 14th in rushing yards per game, respectively, in each of the last two seasons. The Cowboys have ranked in the top-40 of rushing offenses nationally in four of his seven seasons.
Vigen was widely lauded as helping find and develop Allen, now the starting quarterback for the Buffalo Bills and the runner-up in the most recent NFL MVP voting. Aside from the two years Allen started, however, UW’s passing attack has struggled at times, though some of that can be attributed to inexperienced quarterback play.
UW finished 100th or lower in passing yards per game five times in seven seasons, including in each of the last three. The Cowboys ranked 95th or lower in completion percentage each of the last five seasons, including the last three at 125th or lower. Cowboy quarterbacks also completed less than 50% of their passes in each of the last three seasons.
Following Allen's departure, UW has started freshmen or sophomores at quarterback in every game. Starting signal-caller Sean Chambers has suffered season-ending injuries in each of his three seasons, including a broken leg in the first series against Nevada in the 2020 opener that forced redshirt freshman Levi Williams into the starting role for the remainder of the season.
The Montana State job came open in recent weeks following the departure of head coach Jeff Choate, who left Bozeman, Montana to become the co-defensive coordinator at the University of Texas. Under Choate, the Bobcats finished 11-4 in 2019 and advanced to the FCS semifinals, losing to eventual champion North Dakota State. Choate went 28-22 over four seasons as Montana State’s head coach.
The Bobcats did not play football this fall due to the COVID-19 pandemic and have opted out of the Big Sky Conference’s spring season as well.
In a twist of fate, Montana State is slated to be UW’s opponent in the 2021 season opener, with the Bobcats playing at War Memorial Stadium on Sept. 4.