FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Jeff Malby, Associate Director of Athletics
Office of Sports Information
Battlin’ Bears name football finalists
BILLINGS, Mont. – January 5, 2016 – Five candidates, including two with Division I experience and one with direct ties to Rocky, have emerged as the finalists to become the 17th head football coach at Rocky Mountain College, announced today by Rocky Director of Athletics, Bruce Parker.
The five finalists who have accepted on-campus interviews (listed alphabetically) are Matt Hollowell, Jason Petrino, Robin Pflugrad, Mark Samson and Zach Tinker.
Hollowell has spent the past seven seasons as Rocky’s assistant head coach and defensive coordinator under the recently departed head coach Brian Armstrong. He spent the 2007 and 2008 seasons at Rocky as the Battlin’ Bears’ linebackers coach.
Hollowell’s defenses finished in the top three statistically among Frontier programs three of the last five seasons. He coached 20 All-Conference players the past seven seasons.
Hollowell came to Rocky after spending seven seasons as the head football coach at Belgrade High School, where he led the Panthers to a 41-26 record and six Class A playoff appearances.
The Hysham native earned a degree from Dickinson State University, where he played football for the Blue Hawks under legendary and NAIA Hall of Fame head coach, Hank Biesot.
Petrino enters the field after spending the past four seasons as the defensive coordinator/defensive backs coach for the recently retired Joe Glenn at the University of South Dakota.
The Kalispell (Mont.) native has served as a defensive coordinator, eight of the past 10 seasons. In 2013, the Coyotes’ defense topped or ranked near the top of the Missouri Valley Football Conference in several statistical categories.
Petrino’s coaching career began in 2000 at Carroll College, where he coached the defensive backs. He played for the Saints from 1995-99. Prior to his tenure at South Dakota, he made coaching stops at the University of Mary, the University of Wyoming, Winona (Minn.) State University and the University of Central Oklahoma.
During his 16-year career, Petrino has guided seven players to the NFL.
Pflugrad is a 32-year veteran of collegiate football. He began his career as an assistant at Portland State, his alma mater, in 1983. From there he moved to the University of Montana in 1986, serving as an assistant in charge of wide receivers and running backs. From 1991-94, he served as the assistant head coach and recruiting coordinator under Don Read at Montana.
Pflugrad then spent 1995-2000 as an assistant at Arizona State, and 2001-06 as an assistant at Washington State. From 2006-09 he coached wide receivers and special teams at the University of Oregon.
In 2009, Pflugrad received his first head coaching position when he was hired by the University of Montana. In 2011, he led the Grizzlies to a Big Sky championship, which earned him BSC Coach of the Year, and was also a finalist for the Eddie Robinson National Coach of the Year Award.
After Montana, Pflugrad was the offensive coordinator at Weber State from 2013-14.
He served this past season as the assistant head coach/offensive coordinator at Phoenix College (Ariz.).
Samson is a long-time coach with strong Montana and Frontier Conference ties. He began his coaching career in 1981 as an assistant at Helena High School under former Montana State University head coach Mike Kramer. His first head coaching position was at Missoula Loyola from 1987-89.
Samson’s college coaching career began in 1990, while serving as an assistant under NAIA Hall of Fame coach Bob Petrino at Carroll College, where he spent time as the offensive coordinator until 1997. He then took over as the head coach at Helena Capital High School (1997-2003). At Capital, Samson compiled a 67-12 record, appeared in six playoff games and won three state AA titles.
In January of 2004, Samson took over as the head coach at Montana State University-Northern, where he racked up several honors such as the 2006 Frontier Conference Coach of the Year along with the NAIA Region 9 Coach of the Year honors. That same season, his Lights qualified for the program’s first-ever NAIA playoffs.
This past season Samson led the Havre High Blue Ponies to an 8-3 record and the Class A state semifinals.
Tinker is currently the offensive coordinator and assistant head coach at South Dakota School of Mines & Technology. He came to the NCAA Division II program from Frontier Conference member Eastern Oregon University in 2012.
Tinker was a 2014 finalist for the American Football Coaches Association Division II Assistant Coach of the Year.
Tinker began his coaching career in 1999 at Meridian High School in Bellingham, Wash. In 2003 he moved to his alma mater, Western Washington University, where he served as the recruiting coordinator, tight ends coach and offensive line coach. He then spent the majority of 2007 as the special teams coordinator and wide receivers coach at Southern Oregon, before moving on to Eastern Oregon.
This season, Tinker’s high-powered offense helped lead the Hardrockers to just their third winning season (2nd in last three seasons) since 1986. Also, they led the GNAC in total offense, passing offense, first downs and red zone offense, and were the least penalized team in penalties per game and penalty yards per game.
“We are very fortunate and proud to have attracted such a quality group of finalists,” Parker said. “The position attracted over 80 applicants, which says a lot about the quality of program Coach (Brian) Armstrong built, as well as what Rocky Mountain College and the city of Billings have to offer.”
Each finalist will have an on-campus interview before a final decision is made. The first interview will take place Monday, Jan. 11.
“We expect to announce our final decision following the completion of the on-campus interviews,” Parker said.
There will be open community forums with each candidate. Members from the Billings community are encouraged to attend. The dates and times for the public forums will be announced when they become available.