Idaho State head strength coach Dan Ryan will become the new football strength and conditioning coach at Montana.
The move was confirmed in a release sent out by Montana on Thursday.
With spring seasons for football and several other sports coming up rapidly, Idaho State plans to move quickly to fill the vacancy.
“We’re going to move as quickly as can, but we’ve started to reach out to candidates and we’re talking to people,” Idaho State athletic director Pauline Thiros said. “I think that we’ll be able to announce a new head strength coach pretty quickly.”
Thiros confirmed that current ISU assistant strength coach Brandon Stephens was a candidate.
Ryan attended Montana and worked as a student assistant under current Griz coach Bobby Hauck, later following him to UNLV as an assistant strength coach.
“Obviously, it’s exciting for me, being from Montana, moving back to the alma mater,” Ryan said. “I told (ISU head coach Rob Phenicie), if any other school calls me, especially in our conference, it’s probably a pretty easy no. I don’t know if I’ve ever said I’ve had a dream job, but to come back and work for someone I’ve worked for previously, to have the opportunity to go back to a place that was a pretty special four years for me, it’s a cool thing, and it was a pretty hard thing to turn down.”
Hauck and Ryan are both from the small Montana town of Big Timber.
“It doesn’t hurt that I’ve known him my whole life,” Ryan said. “We grew up in the same tiny town, I worked with him for nine years previous to this. I’ve been around him a lot.”
Ryan was hired as the Director of Strength and Conditioning at Idaho State in 2017, and spent much of his four-year tenure as the lone strength coach at ISU before Stephens was hired in spring 2020.
“When the whole thing came down, Bobby (Hauck) called me, and we kind of chit-chatted and laughed about a couple things,” Phenicie said. “He goes, ‘Hey, I just wanted to let you know that I’m going to give Dan Ryan a call,’ and the first thing I said, I said, ‘Man, don’t do this to me.’ And he just started laughing. I knew that would probably be the only job, at this level, that Dan would leave for. So, no hard feelings. We’ll go up there and throw a football at him in pregame, he’d better watch out.”
“Dan has been great,” Thiros added. “He’s worked with a lot of different coaches and tailored programs that have made our student-athletes better and stronger. He was just really creative and knowledgeable, very good rapport with the student-athletes.
“He did a great job for us, and we’re looking for someone that brings a lot of same qualities to our strength program that Dan did. He set the bar really high.”
At Montana, Ryan be responsible solely for the football team, as opposed to all athletic programs.
Montana’s previous football strength coach, Matt Nicholson, left for Illinois State in early December after six years with the Grizzlies.
“I hope I left (Idaho State) a little better than when I walked in four years ago,” Ryan said. “I was kind of telling my wife, I’m all in for Griz football, that’s my thing, but it’s going to take me a little bit to not be cheering for all those other ISU sports, all the kids I have relationships with.”