Allan Henry-US PRESSWIRE
WSU linebackers coach Jeff Choate is reportedly interviewing with Idaho for the Vandals' vacant head coaching job.
I started paying attention to Jeff Choate last spring, just after he was hired to coach the linebackers at Washington State. I watched how he coached and how he interacted with players, and came to a conclusion pretty quickly. One day I turned to Christian and said "[Choate] is going to be a defensive coordinator someday soon." It was a pretty obvious thought.
I get the feeling Choate left Boise State because he'd been kind of pigeonholed. He was a special teams coach and little else, and it wasn't like he was moving up the chain. So he came to Washington State without really taking an increase in pay. It was an opportunity to separate himself, prove himself in the coaching ranks.
And he has. Choate has been pretty dang great, and his linebackers are bette than I thought they'd be. As a result, he's getting noticed.
Thinking Choate may be a defensive coordinator soon might have been underestimating him. Instead, Choate will reportedly interview for the Idaho head coaching job -- a job Robb Akey was fired from a few weeks ago. Football Scoop reported the news last night. No idea if he'll get it, but I do think very highly of him.
Of course, there is a bit of awkward associated with this interview. Earlier this fall, Choate laid into Idaho for going independent. It was his opinion that Idaho should drop down to FCS. The conversation stemmed from a question about a former Boise State recruit who went to Idaho, with Choate saying he'd light up FCS, but it wasn't fair to have these kids playing in body bag games.
Perhaps it's a sign of Idaho's future plans. If Choate is being brought in to interview after all that, one would have to think a move to FCS could be possible -- more so if he's hired. But who knows.
More to the point, Choate is a great coach that players seem to genuinely like. He has a way about him, and tends to be more of a players' coach. He's firm when he needs to be, and does yell when it's necessary, but he's the guy out there celebrating, hooting and hollering. He takes guys aside, gives them a pep talk and taps them on the helmet or shoulder pad, as if to say "good job." In other words, I like his style, and his players seem to respond.
On one hand, I'd love to see Choate get an opportunity. On the other, I'd hate for WSU to lose him. He's good, and he's going to be good for quite some time. And he's been a valuable asset to WSU.