Former Montana Grizzly Andy Thompson named head football coach at Sacramento State

Andy Thompson.jpeg
Posted at 6:47 PM, Dec 13, 2022

(Editor's note: Sacramento State media release)

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Andy Thompson has been named the 12th head football coach in Sacramento State history, it was announced by Director of Athletics Mark Orr on Wednesday.

"I want to thank President (Robert S.) Nelsen and Mark Orr for trusting me to lead this program," Thompson said. "My family and I are truly humbled and thankful to be staying here at Sacramento State. This is a dream opportunity that we are excited to take. I look forward to continuing our program's success in graduating our student-athletes and build upon what we have accomplished on the field. It truly is a great day to be a Hornet. "

A collegiate coaching veteran with nearly 20 years of experience, Thompson has served as the Hornets' defensive coordinator and linebackers coach since 2019. While at Sacramento State, he has been part of a staff that went 30-8, won the first three Big Sky Conference championships in school history, and earned three NCAA Football Championship Subdivision playoff appearances.

"I'm thrilled to appoint Andy Thompson as our next head football coach," Orr said. "He has been a critical part of the unprecedented success Hornet football has experienced in the last three seasons. He has extensive experience and familiarity with the Big Sky Conference and a great vision for the future of the program. I look forward to partnering with Andy to continue in our pursuit to bring national championships to Sacramento State."

Thompson's defenses have accounted for the top two scoring averages in the school's Div. I era. During his first year (2019), the Hornets allowed 22.5 points per game and gave up 132 fewer yards per game than the previous season. The unit recorded 44 sacks — the second most in program history — and were led by All-American defensive end George Obinna, defensive tackle Dariyn Choates and cornerback Daron Bland who each earned first team all-Big Sky honors. Sacramento State also led the Big Sky in defensive pass efficiency, red zone defense and first downs allowed.

The 2021 team set the school record by allowing 19.1 points per game and was even stingier in Big Sky play, limiting the opposition to 15.3 ppg. That season, defensive end Josiah Erickson was named first team all-Big Sky after leading the team with 18.5 tackles-for-loss and 10 sacks.

This past season, nickelback Marte Mapu and linebacker Armon Bailey were named first team all-league. Mapu also was named the Big Sky Defensive Player of the Year, becoming just the second player in school history to earn the honor. The defense also played a large role in Sacramento State's historic 12-1 season, recording stops on potential game-winning or tying drives in the final two minutes in four games.

"Championship football is here to stay at Hornet Stadium," Sacramento State President Robert S. Nelsen said. "The Sac State Football team was absolutely spectacular this year. Next year, with new Head Coach Andy Thompson, the Hornets will continue making the Miracle on J Street come true, fireworks and all. He is the right coach for the right time."

Prior to coming to Sacramento State, Thompson spent 13 seasons at Northern Arizona, including the final 10 as defensive coordinator. The Lumberjacks ranked third in the Big Sky in total defense in 2018 after allowing a league-leading 1,797 passing yards along with 17 interceptions.

NAU also ranked first in the Big Sky in 2014 in pass defense and opponents third down percentage, and was second in scoring defense, pass efficiency defense and opponent first downs per game. The year prior, the Lumberjacks led the league in total defense, pass defense, pass efficiency defense, first downs allowed, third-down percentage and fourth-down percentage. That team also led the FCS with eight touchdowns.

A native of Walla Walla, Wash., Thompson played for Montana for four seasons (1999, 2001-03). The Grizzlies won five Big Sky championships and one national championship (2001) during his career in Missoula. He played in 44 career games with 103 total tackles, including 8.5 tackles for loss.

Thompson graduated with a degree in health enhancement from Montana in May of 2004. He and his wife, Mikal, have three sons (Mac, Austin, and Teague).