Former UM Coaches/Missoula Stars Making It Big In College Football


Dave Doeren is the latest in a long line of former University of Montana coaches who is making it on a much bigger stage these days.

Dave, who “Made It (in) Missoula as an assistant for Joe Glenn during the 2000-2001 seasons, has been a hot commodity in the football coaching circles the past few years.  This fall, he led Northern Illinois to an impressive 12-1 record (the only loss coming 18-17 to Iowa) and a berth in next month’s Orange Bowl vs. Florida State. It will be the first appearance by a Mid-American Conference football team in a Bowl Championship Series (BCS) bowl game. Last year, the UNI Huskies were 11-3 and won the Bowl. Prior to that, he was the defensive coordinator at Wisconsin, where he coached from 2006-2010.  After leaving Montana following UM’s national championship season of 2001, he was hired on the staff at Kansas from 2002-2005.

On Saturday, the 41-year-old Doeren was announced as the new head coach at North Carolina State University of the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC), and awarded a 5-year contract worth $1.8 million per year.

Three years ago, Dave was a finalist for the UM job. At the time, he was still a promising young coach at Wisconsin. As the search began to wind down, and with more financial incentives sent his way by the head coach for the Badgers to keep him in Madison, he took himself out of the running for the position, which ultimately went to a very deserving Robin Pflugrad.

To this day, Dave has a warm spot in his heart for Missoula, and the Montana Grizzlies.  He returns to the community about once a year, and has many fond memories of his time coaching in Washington-Grizzly Stadium. He even purchased property in western Montana a few years ago. We wish him, his wife Sara and their three young children the very best, and will continue to following his illustrious career closely.

— Another top candidate for the UM job three years ago was Brent Pease, who also served as an assistant coach for the Grizzlies from 1991-1998 and played for Montana during the 1985 and 1986 seasons. Brent has been an assistant coach in various capacities at Northern Arizona (1999-2000), Kentucky (2001-2002), Baylor (2003-2005) and Boise State (2006-2011) until becoming the offensive coordinator and quarterback coach for the University of Florida this year.  Like Doeren, Brent, 48, also helped his team reach a BSC bowl this year as the Gators (11-1) will play Louisville in the Sugar Bowl. Brent remains a very hot commodity in the coaching ranks, and we wish him, Paula and their children the best as well.

Jim McElwain is another Missoulian who has done extremely well in the football coaching circles.  Jim, 50, recently concluded his first year as head coach at Colorado State after a successful stint as the offensive coordinator for Alabama from 2008-2011. He also coached at his alma mater Eastern Washington from 1987-94, at Montana State from 1995-99, Louisville from 2000-2002, Michigan State from 2003-2005, the Oakland Raiders of the NFL in 2006 and Fresno State in 2007. Jim and his wife Karen have three children – and many relatives still in the Missoula area. He was a star quarterback for Missoula Sentinel High School in the late 1970s.

All three have extremely bright futures ahead, and in one way or another, have close ties to the Garden City. Good luck to all of them.


Do you have questions for Jim?  Use this Contact Us form and we’ll forward your questions to him for possible inclusion in future blogs.  Like this blog?  Chances are you’ll like these other Jim O’Day blogs:  My First Griz-Cat Game in Five Years, Why I chose to Make It Missoula, The Ups & Downs of Being a Griz Fan, Once a Griz, Always a Griz.

Jim O’Day was Director of Athletics at the University of Montana from 2005-2012. Prior to that, he served as the Assistant Director of the Grizzly Athletic Association and later as the Director of Development  for Intercollegiate Athletics at UM.

Prior to returning to his alma mater in 1998, O’Day was the owner and publisher of the family-owned Western Breeze newspaper in Cut Bank, Montana.

Jim currently works for The Farran Group, a real estate development/ investment firm based in Missoula, MT.  In addition, Jim serves as a consultant for Epio Solutions out of Seattle, a sports based agency primarily focused on monitoring social media platforms for various colleges and universities.

Jim and his wife Kathy have three sons: Chris, Kevin and Brian.  Chris and Kevin are graduates of The University of Montana, while Brian is currently a senior at UM.