Chris Tormey
Biographical details
Born (1955-05-01) May 1, 1955 (age 66)
Omaha, Nebraska
Playing career
Position(s)Defensive end, outside linebacker
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
1978–1979Gonzaga Prep (WA) (assistant)
1980–1981Washington (GA)
1982–1983Idaho (DL)
1993–1994Washington (DC)
2004–2008Washington (LB/RC)
2009–2010Hawaii (ST/secondary)
2011Washington State (LB)
2012–2013Wyoming (DC)
2014South Whidbey HS (WA)
2015Montreal Alouettes (LB)
2016–2018BC Lions (LB)
2019Saskatchewan Roughriders (LB)
2020Ottawa Redblacks (LB)
Head coaching record
Overall49–54 (college)
Accomplishments and honors
1 Big West (1998)
2× All-Big Sky (1976–1977)
Big West Coach of the Year (1998)

Christopher Joseph Tormey (born May 1, 1955) is a former American football coach.

Formerly the head coach at and Nevada and Idaho, his alma mater, Tormey was an assistant coach for 16 seasons at Washington (1984–94 & 2004–08); he also spent two seasons there as a graduate assistant (1980–81). He returned to the high school level in 2014 as the head coach at South Whidbey in Langley, Washington.[1][2] then moved up to CFL as an assistant in 2015.

Early years

Born in Omaha, Nebraska, Tormey grew up in Spokane, Washington, where he played high school football at Gonzaga Prep under longtime head coach Bill Frazier (1908–2000).[3][4] All-city as a junior in 1971,[5] a mid-season knee injury in 1972 ended his high school career early.[6]

After graduation in 1973, he played college football at the University of Idaho in Moscow, ninety miles (145 km) to the south. Tormey had a standout sophomore season in 1974 for the Vandals under first-year head coach Ed Troxel,[7] but incurred a knee injury in final game of the season which required surgery.[8]

Tormey redshirted in 1975,[9] and returned in 1976 and was named the team's outstanding defensive player.[9][10][11] He was all-conference (Big Sky) in 1976 at defensive end and at outside linebacker in 1977;[12] Idaho changed from a five-man defensive line to a 4–3 defense after the 1976 season.[13][14] Tormey was a member of Phi Gamma Delta fraternity,[15] and completed his bachelor's degree in education in 1978.

Coaching career

Assistant coach (1978–1994)

Tormey had a brief stop with the Washington Redskins of the NFL in July 1978,[16][17] then began his coaching career as a high school assistant back at Gonzaga Prep in Spokane,[18] where he also taught geography. In 1980, his collegiate coaching career began as a graduate assistant at Washington in Seattle, a position he left in 1982 to coach the defensive line at his alma mater in Moscow, serving under newly hired Idaho Vandals' head coach Dennis Erickson.

After two years on the Palouse, Tormey returned to the Huskies in Seattle for eleven seasons, 198494, coaching tight ends, linebackers, and the secondary for Don James and Jim Lambright. Undefeated UW (12–0) shared the national championship with Miami in 1991. For the 1994 season, Tormey was promoted by Lambright to defensive coordinator.[19]

Head coach

Idaho (1995–1999)

Following the 1994 season, John L. Smith left Idaho and Tormey returned to Moscow to succeed him as head coach. His first season in 1995 was the Vandals' last in the Big Sky and Division I-AA; Idaho joined the Big West in Division I-A in 1996. His starting salary in 1995 was $71,868.[20]

In Tormey's five seasons at the helm in Moscow, Idaho went 33–23 (.589), including the Vandals' first-ever bowl appearance in 1998 in the Humanitarian Bowl, a 42–35 victory over 16-point favorite Southern Mississippi.[21][22][23][24] The Vandals earned the bowl berth by winning the Big West title with a dramatic one-point overtime win over rival Boise State, on the road in Bronco Stadium in Boise.[25] (Although this was Idaho's 15th win in the last 17 games in this rivalry, the 1998 win remains their most recent over BSU.) The bowl victory propelled Idaho to an impressive 9–3 record in 1998, their third season back in Division I-A, and Tormey was named coach of the year in the Big West. Before the season, the Sporting News had Idaho ranked last of 112 teams in Division I-A.[26] Tormey interviewed in early January for the open position at Washington in Seattle,[27] which went to Rick Neuheisel. He also interviewed at Oregon State,[28] which hired Dennis Erickson to replace Mike Riley.

The Vandals went 7–4 in 1999, including a 28–17 win over neighboring Washington State, eight miles (13 km) to the west.[29] It was Idaho's first football victory in the Battle of the Palouse in 34 years, breaking the Cougars' 14-game winning streak in the lopsided series.[30] Tormey's salary in 1999 was $155,000.[31]

Nevada (2000–2003)

Following the 1999 season, Tormey moved south to Reno to coach the Nevada Wolf Pack,[31] which was leaving the Big West to join the WAC.[32][33] He succeeded Jeff Tisdel, a former All-American quarterback for the Wolf Pack. Tormey was the head coach for four seasons (200003) and compiled a 16–31 record (.340).[34] While his win totals improved each season (2, 3, 5, 6), he was released from the fourth and final season of his contract at the end of the 2003 season, the final game marked by a 56–3 blowout loss at #18 Boise State. Most notably, Tormey failed to defeat bitter in-state rival UNLV in the annual Battle for the Fremont Cannon; his teams were also winless against Boise State and Fresno State.[34] The Wolf Pack did defeat the Washington Huskies 28–17 in Seattle that final season (UW finished at 6–6). Nevada's athletic director Chris Ault hired himself to succeed Tormey; his third stint as head coach of the Wolf Pack went for nine years, through 2012, for a total of 28 seasons.

Assistant coach (2004–2013)

Tormey was quickly rehired at Washington in 2004 as a defensive assistant under head coach Keith Gilbertson, continuing on with the new coach Tyrone Willingham when he also became the recruiting coordinator.

Following the dismissal of Willingham after Washington's winless 2008 season, Tormey joined head coach Greg McMackin at Hawaii as an assistant coach for two seasons.[35] McMackin was a defensive coach at Idaho during Tormey's last two seasons as a player.

Tormey returned to the mainland and the Palouse in 2011 to join the Washington State staff as the linebackers coach under fourth-year head coach Paul Wulff.[36] The coaching staff was relieved of its duties in December and Mike Leach was hired as head coach for 2012.

In late December 2011, Tormey joined the staff of head coach Dave Christensen at Wyoming for 2012 as the defensive coordinator and secondary coach.[37] Christensen played at Washington in the early 1980s when Tormey was a graduate assistant. On October 29, 2013, Christensen fired Tormey after two straight losses in which the Cowboys surrendered more than 50 points a game.[38] Christensen was fired as head coach a month later.[39]

High school coach (2014)

In May 2014, Tormey returned to western Washington as the head coach at South Whidbey High School in Langley on Whidbey Island.[2] The Falcons compete in Class 1A, with about 500 students in four grades.[1]

Canadian Football League (2015–2020)

In January 2015, the Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian Football League announced the hiring of Tormey as linebackers coach. He was recruited by fellow Idaho alumnus and coach Don Matthews, former head coach of the Alouettes, who was hired as a consultant in 2014. Tormey replaced Greg Quick, who left to become defensive coordinator at Saskatchewan, and served under head coaches Tom Higgins and Jim Popp.

After a season in Montreal, Tormey moved west to Vancouver with the BC Lions in January 2016, also as linebackers coach, under head coach and general manager Wally Buono. In 2019, he went east to Saskatchewan[18] and Ottawa in 2020.

Head coaching record

Year Team Overall Conference Standing Bowl/playoffs
Idaho Vandals (Big Sky Conference) (1995)
1995 Idaho 6–5 4–3 T–2nd L NCAA Division I-AA First Round
Idaho Vandals (Big West Conference) (1996–1999)
1996 Idaho 6–5 3–2 T–3rd
1997 Idaho 5–6 2–3 T–4th
1998 Idaho 9–3 5–1 1st W Humanitarian
1999 Idaho 7–4 4–2 2nd
Idaho: 32–23 18–11
Nevada Wolf Pack (Western Athletic Conference) (2000–2003)
2000 Nevada 2–10 1–7 9th
2001 Nevada 3–8 3–5 T–7th
2002 Nevada 5–7 4–4 T–4th
2003 Nevada 6–6 4–4 6th
Nevada: 16–31 12–20
Total: 49–54
      National championship         Conference title         Conference division title or championship game berth


  1. ^ a b "Chris Tormey, longtime Husky assistant, to coach at South Whidbey". Seattle Times. May 9, 2014. Retrieved May 10, 2014.
  2. ^ a b Watanabe, Ben (May 10, 2014). "Ex-college coach takes over Falcon football". South Whidbey Record. Archived from the original on May 13, 2014. Retrieved May 10, 2014.
  3. ^ Derrick, Merle (November 30, 1972). "Zag coach Bill Frazier will retire". Spokane Daily Chronicle. Washington). p. 25.
  4. ^ Price, Jim (April 8, 2000). "Prep sports loses one of its legends". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). p. C1.
  5. ^ Larrigan, Bob (November 21, 1971). "Eight Saxons head All-City". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). p. 3, sports.
  6. ^ "Tormey out for season". Spokane Daily Chronicle. (Washington). October 10, 1972. p. 18.
  7. ^ "Sky honors Idaho soph". Spokane Daily Chronicle. (Washington). UPI. November 6, 1974. p. 12.
  8. ^ "Vandals Comstock, Tormey require surgical treatment". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). November 26, 1974. p. 15.
  9. ^ a b "Idaho captain Tormey overcomes injuries". Spokane Daily Chronicle. (Washington). September 14, 1977. p. 48.
  10. ^ "Yarno, Tormey honored". Lewiston Morning Tribune. (Idaho). December 2, 1976. p. 4B.
  11. ^ "Idaho captain Tormey overcomes injuries". Spokane Daily Chronicle. (Washington). September 14, 1977. p. 48.
  12. ^ "Boosters honor Tormey". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). January 31, 1978. p. 14.
  13. ^ "Troxel claims defense key at Idaho". Spokane Daily Chronicle. (Washington). Associated Press. September 7, 1977. p. 42.
  14. ^ "'Potato Bowl' major game for Vandals". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). November 24, 1977. p. 45.
  15. ^ Sahlberg, Bert (October 14, 1995). "Kinship only goes so far". Lewiston Morning Tribune. (Idaho). p. 1B.
  16. ^ "Redskins give Tormey the ax". Lewiston Morning Tribune. (Idaho). August 2, 1978. p. 2B.
  17. ^ "Tormey cut". Spokane Daily Chronicle. (Washington). Associated Press. August 2, 1978. p. 25.
  18. ^ a b Harriman, Peter (April 12, 2019). "Chris Tormey's extended football coaching journey started with a beer and sandwich at Jack & Dan's". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). Retrieved August 5, 2019.
  19. ^ "Tormey moves to coordinator". Moscow-Pullman Daily News. (Idaho-Washington). December 14, 1993. p. 1C.
  20. ^ "Board approves Tormey contract". Moscow-Pullman Daily News. (Idaho-Washington). March 23, 1995. p. 1D.
  21. ^ Meehan, Jim (December 30, 1998). "Idaho looks for huge upset". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). p. C1.
  22. ^ Blanchette, John (December 31, 1998). "Destiny smiles on Idaho". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). p. C1.
  23. ^ Pond, Alex (December 31, 1998). "Vandals win! Vandals win!". Moscow-Pullman Daily News. (Idaho-Washington). p. 1A.
  24. ^ "Chris Tormey". College Football Data Warehouse. Retrieved October 9, 2009.
  25. ^ Pond, Alex (November 23, 1998). "The call to glory". Moscow-Pullman Daily News. (Idaho-Washington). p. 1C.
  26. ^ Pond, Alex (December 31, 1998). "Vandals victorious: from chumps to champs". Moscow-Pullman Daily News. Idaho-Washington. p. 1C.
  27. ^ Meehan, Jim (January 5, 1999). "Tormey interviews at UW". Spokesman-Review. Spokane, Washington. p. C5.
  28. ^ Pond, Alex (January 23, 1999). "Just happy to be here". Moscow-Pullman Daily News. (Idaho-Washington). p. 1D.
  29. ^ Blanchette, John (September 19, 1999). "Down for the long count". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). p. C1.
  30. ^ Pond, Alex (September 20, 1999). "Vandals rule the Palouse". Moscow-Pullman Daily News. (Idaho-Washington). p. 1B.
  31. ^ a b Pond, Alex (December 9, 1999). "Nevada's jackpot". Moscow-Pullman Daily News. Idaho-Washington. p. 1A.
  32. ^ Meehan, Jim (December 9, 1999). "Tormey accepts Nevada head coach job". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). p. C1.
  33. ^ Pond, Alex (December 9, 1999). "Idaho players understand coach's decision". Moscow-Pullman Daily News. (Idaho-Washington). p. 1B.
  34. ^ a b Meehan, Jim (December 1, 2003). "Nevada fires coach Tormey". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). p. C3.
  35. ^ "Chris Tormey". University of Hawaii. 2009 football coaching staff. Retrieved May 10, 2014.
  36. ^ "Tormey back in Palouse at WSU". Seattle Times. (Spokesman-Review). January 21, 2011. Archived from the original on 2011-01-24.
  37. ^ "Football: Chris Tormey joins Wyoming football coaching staff". University of Wyoming. December 28, 2011. Archived from the original on December 20, 2016. Retrieved March 26, 2012.
  38. ^ "Wyoming fires Chris Tormey". ESPN. Associated Press. October 29, 2013. Retrieved May 10, 2014.
  39. ^ Vorel, Mike (December 1, 2013). "Wyoming fires head football coach Dave Christensen". Casper (WY) Star-Tribune. Retrieved May 10, 2014.