Former Idaho defensive lineman was at Eastern in 2006 before eventually becoming a defensive coordinator at Idaho State
Former Idaho defensive lineman Brian Strandley has returned to the Eastern Washington University football coaching staff, but for the first time in his career, he is on the other side of the ball as EWU’s tight ends and offensive tackles coach.
After spending the 2006 season as defensive line coach at Eastern, Strandley moved on to Idaho State to serve under former EWU assistant and Central Washington University head coach John Zamberlin. Strandley spent four seasons there as the school’s defensive coordinator. After the ISU coaching staff was let go after the 2010 season, Strandley coached defensive linemen in 2011 at Eastern Illinois.
Prior to his single year at EWU in 2006, Strandley spent nine seasons as a defensive coach under Zamberlin at CWU. And having also lettered four years from 1991-94 at Idaho as a defensive lineman, his entire collegiate career until now has been on the defensive side.
“For his entire coaching career he’s been on the defensive side – and even as a coordinator – and that’s why we’re excited to have him on our offensive staff,” said Eastern head coach Beau Baldwin, who was a high school teammate and fellow assistant at CWU and EWU with Strandley. “The wealth of experience he brings into our offensive staff room and to the tight end position is unbelievable. It’s always nice to get a perspective of what the other side is trying to do to you, what they are thinking and how you attack it. He already has helped us in those regards.”
Baldwin was a fellow assistant at CWU with Strandley from 1997-2002, as well as at EWU in 2006. One of Strandley’s Idaho teammates was Josh Fetter, who is now linebackers coach at Eastern and was previously on the staff at ISU in 2010. Strandley was also on the CWU staff with current EWU defensive coordinator John Graham.
“I’ve been fortunate to have known him since I was about 14 years old,” said Baldwin of his former teammate at Curtis High School in Tacoma, Wash. “I know the person he is and I’ve gotten to coach with him over the years. I know what he’ll bring to our office and the overall workmanlike attitude he has. He’ll do an incredible job with those tight ends and in anything else outside the realm of coaching, like recruiting.”
He coached the leading tackler in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision in 2010 when Idaho State’s A.J. Storms had 146 (13.27 per game). As a team, ISU ranked 40th in the FCS in takeaways with 23.
In 2009 at ISU, despite a second-straight year of massive injuries, ISU’s defense was impressive. The Bengals allowed just 12 points against national runner-up Montana, and had 26 takeaways for the season -- the most since the 2004 season when ISU had 30.
In 2008, ISU’s pass defense allowed 112 yards or less in three of the final four games of the season. In his first year with the school, the Bengal defense scored five touchdowns on the year, including game-changing fumble returns on back-to-back drives in a win over Portland State. In all, ISU nearly doubled their takeaways (23, up from 12 in 2006), and they increased their totals in sacks, tackles for loss, passes defended, and forced fumbles. Seven players earned honorable mention All-Big Sky Conference honors, including three defensive linemen coached by Strandley.
In his lone season at EWU in 2006, the youthful Eagles finished 3-8 overall and 3-5 in the Big Sky Conference. He coached a pair of All-Big Sky honorable mention selections in Keith Grennan and Greg Peach, with Peach going on to win the 2008 Buck Buchanan Award as the top defensive player in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision.
Strandley was hired at CWU when John Zamberlin - a former EWU assistant coach from 1992-94 - took over as head coach in 1997. He helped the Wildcats compile a 57-36 record in nine seasons, including an 8-2 record in the 2005 season. Central won its last seven games and was undefeated in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference.
Strandley was Idaho's 1993 defensive captain, and finished his career with 101 tackles. When he was a junior, the Vandals advanced to the semifinals of the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision Playoffs (then known as I-AA), and in 1994, Idaho led FCS in rushing defense (65.3 yards per game). He helped Idaho to a 35-14 record, three playoff berths and one Big Sky Conference title in four seasons under head coach John L. Smith, who is now head coach at Weber State.
Included were three victories in four games versus Eastern. Idaho lost to the Eagles 34-31 in overtime his freshman season, but then won the next three games by a combined score of 127-46. He had seven tackles, a sack and a pass broken up in four career games versus EWU.
After he graduated from Idaho, Strandley coached at Potlatch, Idaho, High School where he served as defensive coordinator and head junior varsity coach.
He's a 1990 graduate of Curtis High School in Tacoma, Wash. Strandley lettered in football and baseball, earning All-State honors as a defensive tackle when he and Baldwin led Curtis to the State AAA title in 1989. Eagle offensive line coach Aaron Best is also a Curtis grad (1996), and helped lead his school to a State title in 1995.
Strandley was born June 7, 1971, in Tacoma, Wash. He and his wife, Erika, have a daughter named Brianna who will turn 2 in April.