Sacks returns to Montana to coach defensive line

Sacks playing for the Griz in 1978 against MSU (R) (GoGriz.com)

Head football coach Bobby Hauck has added veteran coach and University of Montana alumnus Barry Sacks to his staff, bringing more than 30 years of experience to the team as the Grizzlies’ defensive line coach.

“Barry is a Montana alum who provides a wealth of experience from around the western United States,” said Hauck. “He has a great passion for coaching defensive football and for the University of Montana. He is a high energy, high effort, college football coach, which is exactly what we are looking for on our defensive line.”

Recruited by former Griz head coach Jack Swarthout, Sacks was a four-year letterman at UM who played linebacker from 1976-79 and earned a bachelor of science degree in health education and physical education. Known as one of the team’s hardest hitters, he posted 79 tackles (10 solo) and had one interception his senior season.

He returns to his alma mater and the city he calls “the crown jewel of Montana” after one season as the defensive coordinator at Humboldt State. Before that, he spent 18 seasons coaching at the FBS level in the Mountain West Conference (formally the WAC), the Pac-12 Conference and professionally for the San Jose Sabercats of the AFL. He also helped coach Boise State to the 1994 D1-AA (now FCS) national championship game.

“There has always been an urge for me to come back to Missoula, and it has been ever-present in my mind through all the coaching zig-zags in my life,” said Sacks.

“My love for Missoula and the university has only increased over the years because you become a lot more aware of how well it’s done football-wise, athletically, how great a school it is, and what a great place Missoula is.”

Sacks and Hauck coached against one another three times in the “Battle for Nevada” during Hauck’s tenure at UNLV from 2010-12. Sacks and the Wolf Pack defeated the Rebels in all three of those encounters, and in 2011 the Nevada defense shut out UNLV 37-0 to win the Fremont Cannon.

They also coached against one another after Sacks returned to the Mountain West Conference for two seasons at New Mexico and a season at San Jose State following one season in the Pac-12 at California in 2013.

The two Montana grads now join forces on the sideline at Washington-Grizzly Stadium.

“Coach Hauck and I have had a great relationship over the years. I’ve always admired the kind of football coach he is, his coaching style, and the type of person he is. I’ve followed his career and saw how successful he was here at Montana, and, as an alum, I was very proud of that success from a distance,” says Sacks. “It’s a dream come true to be back here. If I die out on that field, my life will be complete.”

At Humboldt State, Sacks helped coach the Lumberjacks to and 8-2 overall record and the second-best rushing defense in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference (GNAC).

As the D-line coach at San Jose State in 2016, Sacks coached the Mountain West Conference’s leader in sacks and current Chicago Bear Isaiah Irving, who posted seven sacks for a total loss of 48 yards in conference play.

Coach Sacks’ D-lines at New Mexico (2014-15) also saw an increase in sacks, totaling 24 in 2014, up from just 16 the season before.

Sacks coached future NFL defensive tackle Deandre Coleman during the 2013 season at Cal.  Coleman earned a Phil Steele third-team All-Pac-12 honor under Sacks’ guidance, leading all Golden Bear defensive linemen with 40 tackles.

Sacks spent 11 seasons on the coaching staff at Nevada before his arrival at Cal, with the Wolf Pack playing in bowl games each of his final eight campaigns.

The energetic and enthusiastic coach served in a number of roles during his 11 seasons at Nevada from 2002-12 but was a mainstay on the defensive line in his later seasons.

He developed some of the top pass rushers in Nevada school history, most notably third-round NFL draftee Dontay Moch, who set the WAC record for career TFLs, and first-team All-WAC D-end Kevin Basped, who ranked No. 21 in the nation in sacks his senior season.

Sacks spent three seasons as Nevada’s co-defensive coordinator from 2004-06, helping the Wolf Pack rank 30th in the nation in 2006 in scoring defense (19.15 points per game allowed) and post the country’s 21st-ranked passing defense (190.33 yards per game allowed) in 2004.

Sacks went to Nevada after one-year as the defensive coordinator with the San Jose Sabercats of the Arena Football League in 2001. Before that, he served as defensive coordinator in his first stint at San Jose State from 1998-2000. Sacks also spent one season as co-offensive coordinator at D-II Adams (Colo.) State in 1997.

No stranger to the Big Sky Conference, he spent four seasons as the defensive line coach and recruiting coordinator at Boise State (1993-96), with the Broncos reaching the Division I-AA finals in 1994. BSU also won the conference championship that year, handing the Griz their second conference loss, a 38-14 contest in Boise that saw the Broncos tally a staggering 13 sacks against Montana.

Sacks began his college coaching career with seven seasons as the defensive line coach at, then, D-II Portland State (1986-92), where he coached on five teams that reached the playoffs.

Sacks and his wife, Teresa, have two children: Alexandra and Philip.

The Sacks File

Hometown: Ephrata, Wash.
Alma Mater: Montana, 1980, B.S. Health Education and Physical Education
Playing Experience: Montana, 1976-79
Family: Wife Teresa, daughter Alexandra, son Philip

Coaching Experience

1987-92 Portland State (DL)
1993-96 Boise State (DL/RC)
1997 Adams State (Co-OC/WR)
1998-00 San Jose State (DC)
2001 San Jose Sabercats – AFL (DC)
2002 Nevada (TE)
2003 Nevada (DE)
2004-06 Nevada (Co-DC/DL)
2007-12 Nevada (DL)
2013 California (DL)
2014-15 New Mexico (DL)
2016 San Jose State (DL)
2017 Humboldt State (DL)
2018-Present Montana (DL)

Bowl Games/Postseason (season, not year of bowl game)

1994 Div. 1-AA Finalist
2005 Hawaii Bowl
2006 MPC Computers Bowl
2007 New Mexico Bowl
2008 Humanitarian Bowl
2009 Hawaii Bowl
2010 Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl
2011 Hawaii Bowl
2012 New Mexico Bowl
2015 New Mexico Bowl

Notable Players

  • Coached NFL defensive tackle Deandre Coleman in 2013 at Cal.
  • Coached 2011 NFL third-round draftee, Dontay Moch at Nevada
  • Coached 2011 Sports Illustrated All-America defensive tackle Brett Roy at Nevada
  • Coached Kevin Basped in 2009 – led the WAC in sacks (9.5) and third in TFLs (1.04/G)
  • Recruited quarterback Colin Kaepernick to Nevada in 2006
  • Recruited wide receiver Rishard Matthews of the Tennessee Titans to Nevada in 2009