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Bryce Erickson

Bryce Erickson led the Rebels to a 3-6 record this season after the program went winless in 2011. (Jesse Skoubo/Democrat-Herald)

It was an opportunity Bryce Erickson just couldn’t pass up.

Erickson arrived at South Albany High School this past summer and brought with him a new energy and hope for the future.

But the chance to get back into Division I college football came calling.

Erickson has been hired an assistant coach at the University of Idaho under recently hired head coach Paul Petrino, brother of former Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino.

Erickson, the son of former NFL and college head coach Dennis Erickson, was offered the Idaho job Monday night and accepted it after talking with his family.

His last last day at South Albany, where he was a weight room teacher in addition to head football coach, is today.

“I couldn’t turn it down,” Erickson said in a phone interview Tuesday evening.

Thursday he’ll fly to Moscow, Idaho, to start his new position. By Friday he will likely be headed for California to recruit junior colleges for the Vandals.

Erickson said the number-one factor in taking the Idaho job was financial. The change will allow him to double his currently salary.

There was also his goal of eventually becoming a collegiate head coach, and this was a step in that direction.

Erickson met with South Albany football players Tuesday to give them the news.

The Rebels went 3-6 this past fall, with wins against North Eugene, Dallas and Woodburn.

South was coming off a 2011 season in which the Rebels went

0-9 with just one game decided by fewer than 19 points.

Erickson took over for Tony Matta, who moved into a new role as South’s athletic coordinator at the start of the current school year.

“Bryce is a coach that’s able to cast vision for young kids,” South principal Brent Belveal said. “An absolute blessing for us, even if he was here for a short time.”

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Erickson said the biggest element he tried to bring with him to the South program was “just confidence and belief in yourself. I wanted to instill confidence in them and let them know somebody believes in them.”

A first-time teacher, Erickson said he gained a great deal of respect and admiration for teachers during his time at South.

He appreciated the support he got from the players’ parents and the greater community.

“I really would have liked to see this thing play out,” he said.

The move allows Erickson to be closer to his father, who lives in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, roughly 84 miles from Moscow.

Dennis Erickson spent several weeks in Albany this past season helping his son with the South program.

“This is back to the roots of coaching right here,” he said during a South practice in August. “Just seeing them improve and get better is what it’s all about.”

Bryce Erickson was previously an assistant coach at Arizona State, where his father was the head coach for five years through the 2011 season.

Prior to the Sun Devils, Erickson coached offense at New Mexico Highlands, his alma mater, for three seasons.

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