Like he has for the past five springs, Scott Gragg was driving across the expanses of Montana last week looking to add to his team.

At least one part of his new job will remain the same as what he did in maroon and silver since 2010.

"I recruit," said Gragg. "Except now I'm recruiting teachers and not prospective student-athletes."

Gragg's position as co-offensive coordinator and offensive line coach with the Montana Grizzly football team dissipated from under him during a coaching regime change this offseason. The 6-foot-8 former Griz player who then spent 11 years in the NFL has landed on his feet, though, as the new principal at Fort Benton High.

Gragg, a second-round NFL draft pick by the New York Giants in 1995, was perusing a job fair at Montana State last Thursday looking for new hires to add to his future staff at Fort Benton. He's been back and forth between Missoula and the town of about 1,500 that's 45 minutes northeast of Great Falls in central Montana.

His contract begins July 1.

"You've got your team of players and your team of teachers," Gragg said. "I think my leadership philosophy is mentoring, whether they're players or teachers or students.

"I had the best mentor in leadership in Don Read," Gragg added, referring to Montana's head football coach during Gragg's time as an offensive tackle at UM. "If I could be half the leader he was, I'm doing OK."

High school principal may be a long way off from coordinator with an NCAA Division I football program, but Gragg reminds that he has plenty of ties to both education and the town of Forth Benton.

Before returning to Missoula to join Griz head coach Robin Plugrad's staff, Gragg taught math and coached high school football at Silverton High in his hometown in Oregon from 2006-10.

He also earned his master's degree from nearby George Fox University in education during that stretch -- he'll add an education administration license through George Fox by this fall.

Gragg also used to recruit the area during his time with the whistle. His old college roommate, Chris Halko, has worked in the town for almost 20 years as a pharmacist.


The now former coach Gragg had some options for the next stage of his life earlier this year after Bob Stitt was hired as new Griz head coach, bringing with him a new coaching staff.

"Right out of the gate I had some opportunities to be a (high school) head coach and math teacher back in Oregon," Gragg said. "It just wasn't the right fit with a daughter who's going to be a senior at Big Sky next year."

Because the next job had to be the right job for Gragg with a family in tow. Daughter Anna is just finishing her junior year at Missoula Big Sky while son Brian is a freshman at Valley Christian. Pulling them out of school to move was a last resort.

So Gragg centered his focus on staying in Montana, spending the better part of the winter and spring as a fan in the stands watching Anna and Brian play basketball.

When the Fort Benton offer came along, Gragg and his wife Toni decided the family would stay in Missoula while he put some major miles on the truck -- it's just over 200 miles one way along Montana Highway 200.

At least for one year. They'll re-evaluate next summer when Anna graduates and heads for D-I Liberty University, where she plans to play college volleyball.

Gragg acknowledged he'd like to be present in his new community as much as possible with that being the full-time goal in the near future. Having a principal splitting time was a slight drawback in the hire, incoming Fort Benton Superintendent Jory Thompson said, but Gragg's resume and experience far outweighed the issue.

"He just came across as a true leader: a genuine, high-integrity, kind leader," Thompson told the Great Falls Tribune. "He's someone with enough energy and drive. … We're very excited."

And who knows? Maybe in the future there's an opportunity to help out with the Class C Longhors 8-man football team.

"I might even get a little coaching in," Gragg chuckled.


Gragg is only the latest coach from the Grizzlies 2014 staff to land a new gig.

Kefense Hynson, Montana's quarterbacks coach and Gragg's fellow co-offensive coordinator last year, will be coaching wide receivers at FCS Norfolk State this fall.

Former Griz cornerbacks coach Aric Williams took the same position with FBS Idaho.

After first accepting a coaching job at Bishop Gorman High near Las Vegas, former UM receivers coach Torrey Myers landed a gig with the Baltimore Ravens in quality control.

Former Montana safeties coach Jake Cookus, who also helped out with special teams, joined Hawaii as the program's special teams coordinator.

Strength and conditioning coordinator Mike Gerber is still around the area, working on his own gym, Montana Sport-Strength, in Kalispell.