Bryan Collins, LIU Post football head coach, oversees the team's...

Bryan Collins, LIU Post football head coach, oversees the team's first practice as a Division I squad at the college's Brookville campus in 2019. Credit: James Escher

Bryan Collins, Stony Brook football defensive coordinator and longtime Long Island University head coach, died Saturday morning from a cardiac event, his family said. He was 58.

Collins led LIU (later LIU Post) to six NCAA Tournament appearances and eight Northeast-10 Conference championships over 23 seasons as head coach from 1998-2020.

He joined Chuck Priore’s Stony Brook staff as a defensive line coach in 2021. Stony Brook promoted Collins to defensive coordinator in January.

“There isn’t a better person and man that has served in this profession,” Priore said. “The way he conducted his business on and off the field was above and beyond most people. He was loved by all his players and will be missed greatly by Stony Brook.”

Those who coached alongside him and played for him said Collins elevated everything around him: football teams, players and people.

He earned Coach of the Year honors seven times at LIU, compiling a record of 162-84 as the program’s winningest coach. Twelve of his players earned All-American status.

“He was just a guy who got you ready for the real world,” said Jon Isopo, who played on the offensive line under Collins from 1998-2002. “There were no shortcuts, and what you put in was sort of what you were going to get out, on the field, in life and everything else.”

Collins played linebacker for St. John’s University and earned a degree in business administration in 1987, then joined the LIU staff as an assistant coach in 1991.

After three seasons, Collins moved to the Merchant Marine Academy, where he served as defensive coordinator and linebackers coach for two years.

“He went to Merchant Marine my senior year, and I was crushed,” said Frank Chimenti, who played defensive line at LIU from 1991-94. “Me and the guys were just crushed that he was leaving, but he had to do it. He had to make a move for his career.”

Chimenti, who later coached at LIU alongside Collins, said even as an assistant, Collins expected everyone’s best.

“He knew what buttons to push with different guys, and I think that’s what makes great coaches. You can’t just have one rule for 50 kids, or 100 kids. You have to know what works for each kid,” said Chimenti, who also previously coached Baldwin High School’s football team. “He was probably the main reason I got into coaching. I always wanted to be a teacher and a coach, but he solidified it.”

Collins returned to LIU in 1996 as the defensive coordinator and linebackers coach. Two years later, he became the program’s head coach, a position he held for more than two decades.

Collins led the Pioneers to three undefeated regular seasons — 2002, 2016 and 2018. He also served as LIU director of athletics from 2006-17, helping to navigate the university’s jump from Division II to Division I in 2019.

“He was the perfect guy to have at the helm, so to speak. He was poised, he was emotional, he was driven, he extracted the best out of everyone,” Isopo said. “The majority of our success for those years that he was here at LIU and C.W. Post was attributed to him, his hard work, dedication and sacrifice.”

Collins resigned from LIU in 2021. Priore said it felt like hitting the jackpot when Collins became available for Stony Brook to hire.

“It became a no-brainer to have him be part of us and help in our culture, our relationships within the tri-state area and having him as a friend,” Priore said.

“It was certainly exciting for me. I know it was exciting for him,” Priore said. “I’m really going to miss his input.”

Collins, who lived in Sayville, is survived by his wife, Patti, and children, Tyler and Megan. Funeral arrangements are pending.

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