BILLINGS – On Thursday, Rocky Mountain College announced Chris Stutzriem as its 18th head football coach. Stutzriem will replace Jason Petrino, who recently accepted the defensive coordinator position at Southern Illinois University.
“After reviewing applications from across the country, the search committee unanimously agreed that Coach Stutzriem is an excellent fit for the program,” said Rocky athletics director Jeff Malby in a press release. “Chris’s experience with the program and his commitment to academic and athletic excellence stood out amongst the candidates.”
Stutzriem is returning to Rocky after serving as an assistant at Southwestern Oklahoma State University, an NCAA Division II program, for the past season. Prior to that, he served two years as the Rocky Mountain College offensive coordinator under Petrino.
Stutzriem told Q2 News in a phone interview Thursday night it’s been a whirlwind couple of days. The former offensive coordinator was tabbed as one of 5 top targets early last week and interviewed for the position on Monday.
“It’s a great feeling, excited to be back. There’s great kids on campus, they’re a great administration, and it’s a great football team,” he said.
This will be Stutzriem’s first head coaching gig, and while he has big shoes to fill, he will definitely feel more comfortable when he sees so many familiar faces.
“I don’t know if it’s exactly easier, but it’s more comfortable for me,” Stutzriem said. I’m definitely calling all the guys right now on the roster and it’s just good to talk with them. Definitely feel comfortable about being in Billings and recruiting to Billings and the players that are there, and the staffs that’s there as well. So I don’t know if it’s any easier because I have pretty big shoes to fill with Coach Petrino and with what he did, but I’m very excited for it and I felt as though it was a very good opportunity for me.”
Stutzriem says his first order of business is to catch up on some sleep, but he understands he has to get right to work. He hopes meet with the current players and staff in the next few days and aims to be on the road recruiting shortly after the new year.
Stutzriem will arrive in Billings next week and will officially begin soon after. Rocky will conduct an official press conference at that time.
Reporting by Dan Dragan, Q2 Sports