Back to coaching on his native defensive line, former Idaho defensive lineman Brian Strandley returned to the Eastern football coaching staff in 2012. He will join Ryan Sawyer as a coach on the defensive line in 2015 after spending the previous three seasons as EWU's tight ends and offensive tackles coach. He spent one previous season in 2006 as EWU’s defensive line coach.
The tight ends he coached in 2013 included third team All-Big Sky Conference selection Zack Gehring, with offensive tackles Clay DeBord (second team) and Cassidy Curtis (honorable mention) also recognized. Gehring finished his 50-game EWU career with 34 starts, 44 receptions, 511 yards and five touchdowns.
Before returning to Eastern, Strandley coached at Idaho State under former EWU assistant and Central Washington University head coach John Zamberlin. Strandley spent four seasons there as the school’s defensive coordinator. After the ISU coaching staff was let go following the 2010 season, Strandley coached defensive linemen in 2011 at Eastern Illinois.
Prior to his single year at EWU in 2006, Strandley spent nine seasons as a defensive coach under Zamberlin at CWU. Eastern head coach Beau Baldwin was a fellow assistant at CWU with Strandley from 1997-2002, as well as at EWU in 2006. One of Strandley’s Idaho teammates was Josh Fetter, who is now linebackers coach at Eastern and was previously on the staff at ISU in 2010. Strandley was also on the CWU staff with current EWU defensive coordinator John Graham.
Strandley coached the leading tackler in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision in 2010 when Idaho State’s A.J. Storms had 146 (13.27 per game). As a team, ISU ranked 40th in the FCS in takeaways with 23.
In 2009 at ISU, despite a second-straight year of massive injuries, ISU’s defense was impressive. The Bengals allowed just 12 points against national runner-up Montana, and had 26 takeaways for the season – the most since the 2004 season when ISU had 30.
In 2008, ISU’s pass defense allowed 112 yards or less in three of the final four games of the season. In his first year with the school, the Bengal defense scored five touchdowns on the year, including game-changing fumble returns on back-to-back drives in a win over Portland State. In all, ISU nearly doubled their takeaways (23, up from 12 in 2006), and they increased their totals in sacks, tackles for loss, passes defended, and forced fumbles. Seven players earned honorable mention All-Big Sky Conference honors, including three defensive linemen coached by Strandley.
In his lone season at EWU in 2006, the youthful Eagles finished 3-8 overall and 3-5 in the Big Sky Conference. He coached All-Big Sky honorable mention selection Greg Peach, who went on to win the 2008 Buck Buchanan Award as the top defensive player in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision.
Strandley was hired at CWU when John Zamberlin - a former EWU assistant coach from 1992-94 - took over as head coach in 1997. He helped the Wildcats compile a 57-36 record in nine seasons, including an 8-2 record in the 2005 season. Central won its last seven games and was undefeated in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference. The 2002 Central team, which 11-1 after an unbeaten regular season, was inducted into the school’s Hall of Fame in 2013.
Strandley lettered four years from 1991-94 at Idaho as a defensive lineman. He was Idaho’s 1993 defensive captain, and finished his career with 101 tackles. When he was a junior, the Vandals advanced to the semifinals of the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision Playoffs (then known as I-AA), and in 1994, Idaho led FCS in rushing defense (65.3 yards per game). He helped Idaho to a 35-14 record, three playoff berths and one Big Sky Conference title in four seasons under head coach John L. Smith.
Included were three victories in four games versus Eastern. Idaho lost to the Eagles 34-31 in overtime his freshman season, but then won the next three meetings by a combined score of 127-46. He had seven tackles, a sack and a pass broken up in four career games versus EWU.
After he graduated from Idaho, Strandley coached at Potlatch (Idaho) High School where he served as defensive coordinator and head junior varsity coach.
He’s a 1990 graduate of Curtis High School in Tacoma, Wash. Strandley lettered in football and baseball, earning All-State honors as a defensive tackle when he and Baldwin led Curtis to the State AAA title in 1989. Eagle offensive line coach Aaron Best is also a Curtis grad (1996), and helped lead his school to a State title in 1995.
Strandley was born June 7, 1971, in Tacoma, Wash. He and his wife, Erika, have a daughter named Brianna (4) and a son named Owen, who was born Oct. 29, 2013.