Jason Eck checked off the right boxes and consequently is Idaho’s new football head coach.
Vandals athletic director Terry Gawlik announced the hiring Saturday, ending a monthlong process to find the successor for Paul Petrino, who was 33-66 in nine seasons as Idaho’s coach before stepping down last month.
Eck coached the offensive line at Idaho for three seasons from 2004-06, serving under coach Nick Holt for two years and on Dennis Erickson’s staff the final season. He will be introduced at a news conference Monday at 1 p.m. at the ICCU Arena Alumni Club Room in Moscow.
“The opportunity to return to a place that is very special to my family makes us grateful, humbled and fired up!” Eck said in a news release. “My wife Kimberly and our five children are excited to rejoin the Vandal family and Moscow community. The Idaho Vandals are a sleeping giant in FCS football. Our coaching staff can’t wait to get to work and help build a championship program for the University of Idaho.”
Eck recently completed his third season as the offensive coordinator at South Dakota State, which reached the semifinals of the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs. The Jackrabbits ranked eighth nationally in points per game (37.5) and 14th in yards per game (441.4) this season.
South Dakota State leaned heavily on its rushing attack during Eck’s tenure as coordinator, averaging 218.5 yards on the ground, eighth in the FCS. The Jackrabbits rushed for 231 yards a game in 2020-21 and 198 yards per contest in 2019.
“Coach Eck is a proven offensive coach and recruiter,” Gawlik said in the release. “He knows what it takes to get to the top of the FCS and has the vision to see it through. He is ready to hit the ground running and start the work immediately to build a championship program.
“I firmly believe Jason is the coach that can help us achieve our high expectations.”
Before his promotion to coordinator, Eck was the Jackrabbits’ offensive line coach from 2016-2019. He was honored as the America Football Coaches Association FCS assistant coach of the year in 2019.
Eck’s expertise working with the offensive front has served him well in a long career as an assistant coach. He graduated from Wisconsin in 1999 and was a graduate assistant at Wisconsin (2000-02) and Colorado (2003-04) before landing in Moscow working for Holt.
After leaving Idaho, Eck coached the offensive line at Winona State, Ball State, Hampton and Western Illinois before ending up at Minnesota State-Mankato in 2013. He was promoted to offensive coordinator the following season. Eck was the offensive line coach and running game coordinator at Montana State in 2015 before joining the program at South Dakota State.
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