MOSCOW, Idaho – Bobby Daly made quite the name for himself during his playing days at Helena Capital High School and Montana State University. Now he’s taking a crack at the coaching world as linebackers coach for Paul Petrino’s Idaho Vandals.
“It’s been a lot of fun. I’m excited to get back to working with the linebackers, that’s the position that I played and something that I know very well,” Daly said. “I’m really excited for the year.”
This fall will be Daly’s first as a full-time assistant coach for Petrino, the former Helena Capital and Carroll College quarterback. Daly coached the Vandals’ defensive line in the 2016 Famous Idaho Potato Bowl and was promoted to linebackers coach in the offseason.
It’s the latest in a long line of promotions for Daly, who joined the University of Idaho staff in 2013 as a graduate assistant and vaulted to director of football operations last season. The Helena Capital connection between Daly and Petrino is obvious, but his knowledge and eagerness to learn helped him land the initial job.
“It’s an interesting story, I was coaching high school football at Bozeman High School and we brought our team out here for a summer camp,” said Daly. “I had met Coach Petrino several times, my dad coached him when he was in high school, and he gave me an opportunity to be a graduate assistant on the defensive side of the ball back in 2013, four years ago now, and the rest is history, I guess.”
His is a history piled with wins and records. Helena Capital was arguably the top football program in Montana at the turn of the century, winning six Class AA state titles and earning two runner-up finishes. Daly says being a member of the Bruins’ football family meant joining elite company and offered memories that last a lifetime.
“In 2002 we won a state championship at Capital High School, I was a junior that year,” Daly recalled. “Kyle Samson, who’s coaching at Flathead High School now, led us to that state championship so that’s probably my fondest memory at Capital High School.”
There’s that Petrino connection again. Samson is the nephew of the Vandals’ head coach offering another tie to his eventual landing spot in Moscow.
But Daly’s career in football was still littered with challenges. Despite being an all-state selection and career sacks leader at Helena Capital, he was forced to walk on at Montana State. A redshirt season allowed him to learn the speed, schemes and terminology of the college game, but Daly still played with a chip on his shoulder.
As a redshirt freshman he earned playing time on the Bobcats’ special teams and was a full-time starter as a sophomore. MSU won the 2005 Big Sky Conference championship and Daly went on to enjoy an all-American campaign and played a key role in one of the biggest Bobcat victories in program history – a 19-10 win at the University of Colorado where Daly recorded 10 tackles, a sack and a pass breakup.
“When we went down and beat the Colorado Buffaloes early in the year for a money game (was one of my favorite memories),” Daly said. “Obviously it was a game we weren’t supposed to win and we went down there and got the upset. Those are the two most memorable moments I had (in my career).”
Now Daly’s memories are recorded from the sidelines, watching his athletes make big plays. He points to last season’s bowl victory, the 61-50 win over Colorado State as the highlight thus far, but says he expects bigger things from the Vandals’ defense this fall.
Daly has been a sponge at every stop in his career, soaking up football knowledge from Mark Samson at Helena Capital, Rob Ash at Montana State and even his coaches during an indoor football career with the Billings Outlaws. He’s now under the tutelage of former University of Montana assistant Mike Breske, the current defensive coordinator with the Vandals.
“How to grind,” Daly said of the most important lesson he’s learned from Breske. “We work hard in this business, there are a lot of Xs and Os, there’s a lot to learn about football and I’m learning from some of the best. I’m very privileged and very honored to be a part of it.”
If history is any indication, Daly will find success again this season and perhaps one day find himself in the head coaching position of a Division I program.
“If I work my butt off every day good things happen when I do that,” he said.