BOZEMAN, Mont. (AP) Montana State hired Washington assistant Jeff Choate as its head football coach Friday.
Choate replaces Rob Ash, fired two days after the Bobcats lost to Montana to finish the season 5-6 overall and 3-5 in the Big Sky Conference.
''This is what I've worked my entire career for - to lead a college football program,'' Choate said in a statement released by the school.
Choate spent the past two seasons as the Huskies' defensive line coach and special teams coordinator, reuniting with former Boise State coach Chris Petersen. The former Montana Western linebacker was at Boise State from 2006-2011, spent 2012 as Washington State's linebackers coach and 2013 as Florida's linebackers coach and special teams coordinator.
''Jeff Choate is a well-respected person who has enjoyed coaching success throughout the Northwest and beyond at the high school and college level,'' Montana State athletic director Peter Fields said in a statement. ''He impressed everyone who came in contact with him during this process with his energy and integrity, as well as his ability as a football coach. He knows our state, and his background suits him for this job.''
Choate also has coached at Eastern Illinois, Utah State and Montana Western. His only previous head coaching experience came at Idaho high schools in Challis and Post Falls.
''When I got into coaching I didn't just set out to be a head coach,'' Choate said. ''I've always wanted to be a Big Sky Conference coach. It's the league I grew up around, and I have strong ties to Montana. One of my most enjoyable years in coaching was at Eastern Illinois in the FCS level because it's a great balance between a great brand of football, talented players, and the commitment of the kids to getting an education, which is the reason we're all in this.''
Ash was 70-38 in nine seasons at Montana State, going 2-7 against Montana.