New coach all about staying in the state

University of Idaho’s new football coach Jason Eck is introduced by Idaho athletic director Terry Gawlik during an introductory news conference Dec. 21 at Idaho Central Credit Union Arena. Eck will be Idaho’s 36th head coach.

A whirlwind week for Vandal football continued Friday with three additions to UI coach Jason Eck’s coaching staff.

Idaho’s new coach is ringing in the new year with a plethora of hires as the group prepares to tear into team building and recruiting ahead of the Feb. 2 national signing day.

Eck announced Rob Aurich as defensive coordinator and linebackers coach, Thomas Ford as special teams coordinator and running backs coach, and Joe Tripodi as offensive line coach.

The trio joins a crew that already includes offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Luke Schleusner and tight ends coach/recruiting coordinator Tyler Sutton.

Aurich joins the program from the University of South Dakota — one of Eck’s rivals during his tenure at South Dakota State — where he served four seasons as special teams coordinator and inside linebackers coach.

In 2018, Aurich oversaw the play of All-American defensive lineman Darin Greenfield, who finished in the voting for national defensive player of the year and was a first-team All-Missouri Valley Conference honoree — one of 12 all-league honors for players under his leadership.

“The opportunity to lead the defense at an historic football program like the University of Idaho is a challenge that I have always looked forward to,” Aurich said in a news release. “In my time coaching in the Missouri Valley, there is no coach’s work I respected more than Jason Eck. His teams were always prepared, violent and blue collar.”

In Ford, the Vandals land a Power Five assistant and former NCAA Division II head coach.

Ford, whose brother Tracy played for the Vandals in the 2000s, spent the past two seasons as an offensive quality control analyst for the University of Washington.

Before that, Ford was the head coach at Simon Fraser — home of Canada’s only NCAA football program.

“I have some amazing memories coming to Moscow as a high school camper and watching my youngest brother play here in the mid-2000s,” Ford said in a news release. “Coach Eck is assembling a phenomenal staff and I can’t wait to help bring Idaho football back to a championship level.”

Eck went back to the Football Bowl Subdivision ranks to land Tripodi, who spent the past three seasons as the offensive line coach at Temple.

During his time in Philadelphia, Tripodi coached All-American and Rimington Award finalist Matt Hennessey.

“Joe is smart. He attended Northwestern, one of the best universities in the country. He has played the position, which is very important to me, especially at the offensive line,” said Eck, who coached the offensive line the last six seasons at South Dakota State. “I’ve known him since he was a GA and have been impressed by his work and his development. He is a good football mind and will help us a lot with the development of the game plans, especially run games and protections.

“Our coaches will have recruiting areas, but I want him to focus on recruiting offensive linemen and getting the guys with the toughness and grit that we want in that room.”

With five assistants inked already, there are a few position groups still missing a coach. Those are receivers, defensive linemen and defensive backs.

Wiebe may be contacted at (208) 848-2260, swiebe@lmtribune.com or on Twitter @StephanSports.

Idaho coaching staff

Head coach: Jason Eck

Offensive coordinator/QBs: Luke Schleusner

Defensive coordinator/LBs: Rob Aurich

Special teams/RBs: Thomas Ford

Recruiting coordinator/TEs: Tyler Sutton

Offensive line: Joe Tripodi

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