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Assistant coaches Kent Baer, Barry Sacks step down from Montana Grizzlies football program

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Posted at 5:16 PM, Jan 23, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-23 19:24:11-05

MISSOULA — Some shakeups within the Griz football coaching staff are beginning to take place.

UM announced on Monday afternoon that defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Kent Baer and defensive line coach Barry Sacks have stepped down from the program.

According to a media release sent out by the school, Sacks is retiring from coaching after 42 years while Baer, who just completed his 50th year of coaching, is leaving for "personal reasons."

"Both coach Baer and coach Sacks have done a tremendous job coaching here at Montana," UM head coach Bobby Hauck said in a media release. "We're sad to see them step away from the game but also pleased they're getting to do what they want and need to do. They're both great men and great mentors to the young people on our team. It will be hard to replace two veteran coaches with so much knowledge, but it will be even more difficult to replace good friends and colleagues on our staff."

Both coaches just completed their fifth seasons with Montana after they joined UM's staff in 2018 after being hired by Hauck when Hauck returned to coach the Montana Grizzlies. Sacks, a UM alum who played for the Griz from 1976-79, coached at FBS programs from 1998-2016, including a run at Nevada from 2002 to 2012. Sacks was at San Jose State in 2016 and at Humboldt State in 2017 before coming back to Missoula in 2018.

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Montana defensive line coach Barry Sacks walks to the locker room before UM's FCS playoff game against North Dakota State on Dec. 3, 2022 in Fargo, North Dakota.

"I'm so extremely thankful coach Hauck gave me the opportunity to come back and coach football at my alma mater," Sacks said in a media release. "It's been a dream come true. I can't thank him enough for providing such an incredible work experience with such incredible football players, student-athletes, and coaches. It was so much fun and a great challenge to coach at the flagship program in FCS football.

"It's come time for me to retire, and I look at my career as complete because of this opportunity. I wish coach Hauck and the rest of the staff the very best. The sky is the limit, and I know they're going to get there."

Baer joined UM after three seasons at UNLV. His coaching career included time as interim head coach of Notre Dame in 2004 as well as San Jose State in 2012. He served as the defensive coordinator for nine different FBS programs before coming to UM.

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Montana defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Kent Baer, left, shakes hands with linebacker Tyler Flink (54) before UM's second-round FCS playoff game against North Dakota State on Dec. 3, 2023 in Fargo, North Dakota.

Under Baer, the program saw linebacker Dante Olson win the 2019 Buck Buchanan Award, as well as linebacker Patrick O'Connell and cornerback Justin Ford finish as top-four finalists for the 2021 Buck Buchanan. The duo saw the Grizzlies make the FCS quarterfinal round in 2019 and 2021 as well as a second-round appearance this past season in 2022.

In the last two seasons with Baer and Sacks, the Griz led the Big Sky Conference in sacks and ranked second in total defense.

"Coming to the University of Montana has been an experience I will always treasure," Baer said in the release. "I am so appreciative of coach Hauck, the coaching staff, all the support staff, the amazing fans, and most especially the players for all they have done for me. I have had experiences and gained relationships I will always cherish. I appreciate having had the opportunity to coach the Griz over the past five years."

According to the release, UM will name their replacements in the "near future."