BOZEMAN — Dennis Erickson, an All-Big Sky Conference and All-America quarterback at Montana State who began his full-time college coaching career with the Bobcats, was elected to the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame on Monday, the NFF announced.
Erickson led the Bobcats to three straight Big Sky titles (1966-68) as the team’s starting quarterback, earning all-league honors as a junior and senior. He was honorable mention All-America following his senior season, during which he set most of the program’s career passing records, and the next season was on the Gatton Field sideline as a student assistant coach.
He moved to Washington State as a student assistant in the spring of 1970, and that fall became head coach at Billings Central High School before again returning to his alma mater.
Erickson worked as offensive coordinator at Idaho (1974-75), Fresno State (1976-78) and San Jose State (1979-81), building a reputation for innovative use of spread formations and the pass game. That philosophy blossomed when he became the head coach at Idaho in 1982, resurrecting the Vandals program with a vaunted aerial attack.
He moved to Wyoming for the 1986 season, then returned to the Palouse as Washington State’s head coach (1987-88). He led the Miami Hurricanes (1989-94) to a pair of national championships before a four-season stint in the NFL as the Seattle Seahawks’ head coach.
His head coaching career also includes stops at Oregon State (1999-2002), the San Francisco 49ers (2003-04), Idaho (2006) and Arizona State (2007-11), and he coordinated Utah’s offense from 2013-16.
The pinnacle of Erickson’s career came in the midst of Miami’s dynastic run in the 1980s and 1990s. His Hurricanes compiled a 63-9 record, and Erickson’s .875 winning percentage remains the highest in school history.
He led Miami to a national title in his first season, only the second Division I coach to accomplish that, and also in 1991. The Hurricanes finished no lower than third in the national polls from 1989-92 and advanced to bowl games in all six of Erickson’s years there.
The Everett, Washington, product also led Oregon State to new heights, winning Pac-10 Coach of the Year honors after leading the Beavers to an 11-1 record with a Fiesta Bowl win over Notre Dame in 2000. That campaign marked Oregon State’s first share of the league title since 1964.
Erickson’s teams boasted 10 finishes in the top 25 of national polls, including five in the top five, and the two-time Sporting News national coach of the year mentored 67 first team all-conference players, three NFF national scholar-athletes, 21 first team All-Americans and three College Football Hall of Famers (Mike Utley, Russell Maryland and Gino Torretta).
Erickson is a member of the Montana State athletic hall of fame, with similar honors at Miami and Idaho and for the states of Montana and Washington.