‘We knew this day was coming’
LARAMIE -- It's never easy to say goodbye.
After 18 seasons as Craig Bohl's right-hand man at North Dakota State and the past seven years in Laramie, Brent Vigen Monday accepted the head coaching position at Montana State University.
"We knew this day was coming," Bohl said Wednesday during a press conference to announce new offensive line coach Derek Frazier and Vigen's replacement, Tim Polasek. "He's a remarkable football coach. So, we want to wish he and the Bobcat Nation the very best with the exception of one game next year."
That, of course, is the season opener Sept. 4 when MSU pays a visit to War Memorial Stadium.
"Let's call it an interesting twist of fate," Vigen called it Wednesday during his introductory press conference.
Vigen started under Bohl as a running backs coach in 2003. The following season he was promoted to passing-game coordinator and quarterbacks coach. In 2009, Vigen took the reins of the Bison offense.
He's been calling plays for Bohl ever since.
"I've been very fortunate the last two decades to work with a lot of great coaches who have had a big impact on me," Vigen said. "Obviously, coach Bohl being at the top of that list."
Most people associate Vigen with recruiting Carson Wentz and developing Josh Allen, a pair of first-round NFL quarterbacks. What Bohl will remember most is Vigen's selflessness and dedication to the brand and his craft.
"Vigen is the best," he said. "He doesn't promote himself, but everything from identifying the great quarterbacks to the relationship he had with Josh Allen -- I know he was the biggest reason why Josh elected to stay another year -- and then identifying our other quarterbacks and working with those guys."
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It's no secret that Wyoming's passing game has struggled since the 2016 campaign when Allen threw for 3,207 yards and led the Cowboys to the Mountain West Championship game. UW has been at or near the bottom of the league in that category ever since while trying to develop the next quarterback in Laramie.
Bohl said coordinators "drive the train" and "butter the bread," but he also added that they get too much blame when things don't go as planned.
Wyoming has lost two defensive coordinators to Power-5 programs in the last three seasons. There was the impression that Vigen wasn't getting calls.
Bohl said that couldn't be further from the truth.
"I think a lot of it was a comfort zone," Bohl said when asked if he is surprised Vigen was with him for nearly two decades and didn't explore a head coaching gig. "You know, there was a time when he was approached by several people in the first couple years here about being head coach. I'm not going to go into what what universities, but he was very comfortable being the offensive coordinator and and didn't want to take on or change his role into a head coach's role.
"Then what began to happen, he and I spent a lot of time outside of this facilities in this arena, and talk about who he was where he was where he wanted to go professionally. He began to have a desire to become a head coach. So, there are certain opportunities that aren't right."
Vigen admitted in his press conference that he might have to make some "quick calls down to Laramie" to chat with Bohl about the complexities of being a head coach.
Bohl can't wait to take those calls. This time as head-coaching colleague.
"I couldn't have learned under a better mentor," Vigen said. "He's allowed me opportunities to have real responsibility. That responsibility has grown in our time together. It's time to certainly forge my own identity. The impact he's had on who I will be as a head coach is obviously tremendous."
Reports surfaced that MSU has been flirting with Vigen for weeks. Bohl said his offensive coordinator was transparent about the entire situation. Selfishly, Bohl said, he would've loved to keep Vigen in Laramie.
"We want what's best for Brent," he said. "Certainly his time as a coordinator was really, really instrumental and helpful for us, but this was the right time. So,
I'm just going to count it as enjoy the 18 years that we had together.
"He'll be sorely missed."
Here are reactions from Wyoming players, coaches and staff about the news of Vigen moving on:
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