Back in Chattanooga.

For the second year in a row, the Montana Grizzlies knocked off an East Coast power to advance to the FCS National Championship. Every year they're discredited. The strength of their conference is picked apart while another undefeated season is scoffed at. To many, the Big Sky is the Big 10 to the SoCon's SEC. There's still one left, but Montana has proven their schedule is irrelevant. They stack up with the best and they win the big games.

Montana's level of play was questioned throughout the year. As teams ahead of them lost, the Griz didn't move up from being the 2nd or 3rd ranked team. There were even weeks when they received the most first place votes yet still were held out of that #1 spot. Obviously, there were those who felt they didn't belong. If there's anyone out there who still believes that, they're ridiculous.

Obviously, there's one more to go. Last season, the Griz were favorites heading into Chattanooga. They had knocked off CAA champion and #1 seed James Madison; only Richmond, who lost to JMU earlier in the year and finished a lowly tie for third in the conference, remained.

This year, it's different. While the Griz hold the #1 seed this time, I think many favor Villanova. The Wildcats finished the season ahead in the rankings (despite having less first-place votes) and play in one of the East Coast power conferences. Sorry to go into minutiae, but this is important.

Last year I drove from Missoula to Chattanooga in hopes of seeing Montana win a National Championship my senior year. After the effort I put in to get to the game, I felt robbed when the Griz came out as flat as I've ever seen them play. Obviously, this year has to be different.

The Griz have faced adversity before, they've been questioned. In the first round they pulled off the biggest comeback in football this year. They blew out Stephen F. Austin before facing a tough App State team. The fact that they were unseeded is deceiving, they won ten straight coming into that game and the two early season losses were without Armanti Edwards. They're a very good team. And Montana beat them.

I have no doubt Montana has the talent and coaching it takes to win the National Championship. Much like last year, that isn't the issue. Montana must come with the level of play they've shown over the last 9 quarters of football. They need that desire, effort and enthusiasm. The difference between this year and last is that, this year, they'll be there. They will not come out flat this time.

Griz play like their hair is on fire, execute on offense, fly around on defense and win a close one. 28-24 Griz.

Note: I don't think I'll be able to make it out to Kirkland in time to get a spot (which I hear would be somewhere around 3:30) so I'll be at Sluggers Sports Bar in Pioneer Square (Seattle), where I hear there will be a few Griz fans. Hope to see a decent group there. Mention this post, and be one of the first people to do so, and I'll probably buy you a beer.

Photo credit: Becky Malewitz for MontanaGrizzlies.com

Resilience.

Marc Mariani touchdown

If you're Appalachian State, Richmond or anyone on this or the other side of your bracket, what transpired Saturday at Washington-Grizzly Stadium was your worst-case scenario.

Montana couldn't be entering their second round game in a more optimal mental state. Against the Jackrabbits, they made mistake after mistake. If this was the "bend but don't break" strategy they were a piece of paper that had been folded in half. Pushed as far as any team could possibly be pushed, they didn't cave.

Going forward, is there any chance a team could push the Griz to a point where they're willing to pack it in, to think they can't win? Absolutely not. Last year, I drove thousands of miles in a shoddy camper to watch Montana fall behind early and never mount any kind of comeback. It felt like we showed up while the team stayed in Missoula.That shouldn't happen this year.

When they weren't tripping over themselves to hand SDSU the game, the Griz were unstoppable. Marc Mariani may be the most dangerous player in the FCS and a legit NFL prospect (see: Wes Welker). This team is every bit as dangerous as last year's impressive group and possibly even better.

But let's look at what could've happened this past weekend: The Giz could've come into Washington-Grizzly stadium clicking in every facet of the game and blown out the Jackrabbits by three scores. With the teams still alive on our side of the bracket, the Griz don't need a thick coating of overconfidence.

Then again, they could've played a low-scoring close game; one where the two teams exchanged mixtakes and it came down to a kick. And how does that look? It's very possible the Griz escape not believing they are truly deserving of their 1-seed.

So what do things look like now? They won't make the same mistakes. They're confident they can move the ball and win games but not so much that they aren't aware of the fact that any potential mistakes could cost them.

Idyllic.

 

 

Bobby Hauck does not deserve to be a head football coach

Bobby Hauck has grown too big for Missoula and the University of Montana. I'm sure this is what he envisioned all along. He'd steer the program to win after win as he transformed into this larger-than-life persona. He's close, but a bit off. Bobby Hauck has put himself above the University, the students and everything an upright program should stand for. 

This recent spat with the editors of The Kaimin is just one more thing to add to his already damaging résumé. Hauck feels as though he doesn't need to comment on the fact that a few of his players may or may not have beat the hell out of a University of Montana student. Sure, that may be true, the case was never reported to authorities, but treat the students who cover you with a bit of respect and possibly even a shred of class. Reporters do not deserve to be ignored at press conferences and swore at when asking questions in other venues. 

Not only has this mistreatment of the local media been a staple of Bobby Hauck's tenure here at Montana, but so have these violent incidents.  It isn't just here either. Bobby Hauck served as the recruiting coordinator at the University of Washington and played a hand in building one of the most purely evil teams in the history of football

So let that be his legacy. Forget the wins, forget that mask. Yes, I know coaches are hired to win football games but it should not come at the cost of a university's pride and dignity. In my mind, the negativity, animosity and separatism that he has brought between the football program and the students who support it is not worth the wins. 

When an athletic director is thinking about hiring him and decides to Google his name to see what people think of him, let them find this. When fans consider suggesting a new coach and want to see what's out there, do not think Bobby Hauck. He will win games, but at what cost? On the field, he is a good football coach. But to the media and in other areas off of it? Certainly not.  Don't hire him.

Sidenote: Griz win.

Update: I've received a few comments on this post after the Griz beat App State to advance to Chattanooga. Before I move on, I have to say I'm impressed by anyone who has the confidence to fire off an anonymous comment two months after this was posted, and only after Bobby Hauck got the Griz to the National Championship game. Takes balls. Well done.

Let me state that I love what Hauck has done on the field. He wins games. Period. I'm a huge Montana fan and definitely a bigtime supporter of Griz football. I'm thrilled the Griz will play for a National Championship game for the second consecutive year and the only disappointment I have surrounding this week is that I won't make it to Chattanooga after I had the opportunity to make the 2,000 mile drive there from Missoula last year.

Nevertheless, I'd be extremely hesitant to hire Bobby Hauck if I were the AD of Pac 10/WAC/Big East/whatever school. Before you say "that's why you're not" let me state that it's a big risk at best and horrible disaster of "how did you not see this coming?!" proportions at worst. I've stated my opinion on the matter and this current run the Griz are on doesn't change anything. He wins games. We knew that. Some people won't agree with my opinion on things, I understand that, but I'll continue to state it. He'll get a job, I know that, and good for him when he does.

You can still see the comments for this post here and I've even posted the ones from people who actually left an email address, even though it's probably fake. At least they tried. As far as new comments, they're really not. I've heard it before and the conversation isn't changing. 

Montana Grizzlies slip to 5th in latest FCS poll

I've always been a proponent of keeping an open mind of moving teams around in the rankings based on performance, not just wins. Sure Montana looked a little bit sluggish in the first half against Western State but I would have thought a 38-0 final result would've kept the Griz where they were in the rankings. Not so.

The Griz fell from third to fifth as Villanova, who rallied to beat Temple, and Northern Iowa, who was back-to-back blocked field goals away from beating Iowa, jumped ahead of them in the polls. Also, Richmond moved to the top spot after being Duke.

Anyway, here are the complete rankings, courtesy of The Sports Network.

Sports Network's FCS College Football Poll

Team (First-place votes) Record Points Previous Rank
1. Richmond Spiders (103) 1-0 3,042 2
2. Appalachian State Mountaineers (10) 0-1 2,740 1
3. Villanova Wildcats (3) 1-0 2,705 5
4. Northern Iowa Panthers (3) 0-1 2,651 4
5. Montana Grizzlies 1-0 2,615 3
6. James Madison Dukes 0-0 2,235 6
7. William & Mary Tribe (3) 1-0 2,204 14
8. Southern Illinois Salukis 0-1 1,980 7
9. New Hampshire Wildcats 1-0 1,952 8
10. Elon Phoenix 1-0 1,846 11
11. Weber State Wildcats 0-1 1,826 9
12. Cal Poly Mustangs 0-0 1,453 12
13. Central Arkansas Bears 0-1 1,350 13
14. Wofford Terriers 0-1 1,262 10
15. South Carolina State Bulldogs (1) 1-0 1,229 16
16. McNeese State Cowboys 1-0 1,109 15
17. Massachusetts Minutemen 0-1 1,027 17
18. Eastern Washington Eagles 1-0 905 18
19. Texas State Bobcats 1-0 805 20
20. Maine Black Bears 1-0 709 19
21. South Dakota State Jackrabbits 0-0 475 22
22. Eastern Kentucky Colonels 0-1 467 23
23. Jacksonville State Gamecocks 0-1 430 21
24. Harvard Crimson 0-0 361 23
25. Holy Cross Crusaders 1-0 348 25

Others receiving votes: Georgia Southern 212, Liberty 183, Eastern Illinois 167, Delaware 158, Florida A&M 158, Furman 146, Colgate 123, Tennessee-Martin 106, Grambling 103, Western Illinois 103, Samford 87, North Dakota State 71, Alabama A&M 61, Hofstra 50, Montana State 50, Penn 48, Northern Arizona 38, Prairie View 38, Rhode Island 37, Hampton 36, Brown 33, Murray State 24, Stephen F. Austin 20, Southern 18, Gardner-Webb 17, San Diego 16, Jacksonville 14, Youngstown State 14, Southeast Missouri State 13, Southern Utah 12, Norfolk State 11, South Dakota 10, Coastal Carolina 7, Southeastern Louisiana 7, Tennessee State 7, Towson 7, Yale 7, Lafayette 6, Virginia Military 6, Chattanooga 5, Stony Brook 4, UC Davis 4, Albany 3, Jackson State 3, Central Connecticut State 2, Duquesne 2, Tennessee Tech 2.

Montana Grizzlies beat Western State, set Wash-Griz record, continue to breath oxygen

If it weren't for the fact that this were the home opener, today would've been quite the ho-hum affair. The Griz seemed to treat it that way in the first half and after a series of mistakes led Western State—who I honestly didn't know which state they were in the western part of until the game started—only 10-0 at the half.

Of course, Montana managed to put things together and ended up thumping Western State (did you know that their home stadium is really high up? Wow, thanks Phil!) by the score of 38-0 despite the ongoing quarterback competition. Greg Rachac of the Billings Gazette openly wonders if Justin Roper managed to distance of himself from Andrew Selle.

It was great to see Selle get the start today. If nothing else it was a nod to Selle for all the work he has done in the last three years backing up Cole Bergquist.

But Selle obviously had some early jitters. He missed four of his first five passes, threw an interception and missed a wide-open Jabin Sambrano on third down that would have gone for a long touchdown in the first quarter.

By contrast, Roper -- aside from a fumble in the red zone that killed a scoring chance -- played better than Selle overall. Roper looked a bit more polished.

I tend to agree, but more than anything else just wish Hauck would pick a quarterback. As the old saying goes, "if you have two quarterbacks, you don't have any." Or something like that. Also, how illegitimate does a team look with two quarterbacks splitting time almost evenly? I mean, does a juggernaut title contender go with quarterback by committee strategy? I don't think so.

In other news, Chase Reynolds did his thing with 100 yards on 18 carries. None of the wide receivers stood out with Mr. Touchdown Marc Mariani (Sauce!!) getting just one grab for 26 yards. But hey, the defense pitched a shutout. That's...pretty good.

The real challenges start next week with UC Davis on the road. Looking forward to it.

Hope everyone in Missoula had fun.

Oh God, it's the return of Phil Buck

For out of state fans, Big Sky TV (at least since it's been free) has been a godsend. Last year was absolutely phenomenal. They used the cameras used at the stadium, the same shots they showed up on the big screens and instead of using the TV calls from Phil Buck, they pulled in the radio feed called by Mick Holien. Needless to say, it rocked. It rocked hard. As good as you could possibly expect from a broadcast of this level. It exceeded what KPAX was putting out by far. Honestly, this free broadcast that was probably quickly patched together beat the hell out of a full-time broadcast squad.

Well, it's a new year. Big Sky TV is brought to us out-of-state fans by something called 'B2 Networks'. Phil is back and I'm pretty sure they're grabbing the TV feed. Seriously, look at this quality:

If I had to guess whether they were paying more or less for this service, I'd probably guess more. The season starts with a slight disappointment.

Falcon PUNCH!

Say this kid were a junior. Would he be at Montana next season? Probably. At least I'd hope so.

Alright, I graduated but I'm going to do what I can to prevent this blog going completely extinct. Gameday tomorrow. Have fun. Pour a little out for me. 

May do a live blog, we'll see. If not, check out Twitter. @colinokeefe.

Beware the hair, some Colt Anderson highlights for Minnesota Vikings fans

Your typical hype video, lots of highlights with music pulled from a Nike ad:

And a very insightful video from Draftguys.com highlighting the many positive attributes in Colt's game:

**

Colt Anderson to the Vikings, Colin Dow to the Bengals

Colt Anderson and Colin Dow are the first two Montana Grizzlies to join NFL Teams. Anderson to the Minnesota Vikings with a three year deal and Dow joins the Bengals with a two year contract. NFL deals don't make much sense as they can essentially be torn up at any point but it's exciting none-the-less.

Here's what Colt had to say, from The Missoulian:

“It was tough watching guys you felt you were better than getting picked up,” admitted Anderson, who walked on at UM and leaves as a Football Championship Subdivision All-American. “It was frustrating to watch teams who you thought were interested in you take another guy.

“But bottom line, when the draft got over and teams started calling you - that was pretty exciting. A lot of teams showed interest.”
...

Anderson said 10 teams had been in contact with him as the draft wound down.

“But it came down to just a couple,” said the hard-hitting safety. “I just felt Minnesota was the best opportunity for me. They thought I could have an impact for them.”

My advice to Colt (besides not trying in any game against the Packers): dye your hair blond in an effort to look Scandinavian and thus more like the Viking mascot. How could that possibly hurt your chances of sticking with the team?

And Dow's take on the whole ordeal:

“It was nerve-wracking,” said Dow, a two-time all-Big Sky guard who kept hearing positive comments on the phone, but seeing other players picked on ESPN. “They said, ‘Hold on and keep your head up.' Nothing came to fruition, in the draft anyway, but I have an opportunity in front of me either way, and I'm going to take advantage of it.” ...

“I had a choice between Chicago, San Diego and Cincinnati,” said Dow, who was flown in for interviews by both Chicago and Cincinnati.

The Bengals won out.

“I decided that was the place I had the best chance to come and maybe make a difference,” he said. “I used a lot of the same variables that I had to when I was choosing between Wyoming and Montana (for college). Hopefully it works out as well.”

Advice for Dow: Umm, keep Carson Palmer healthy, party with Chad Ocho Cinco while managing to not get arrested.

Have fun guys, looking forward to seeing who else will get picked up.

No Montana Grizzlies picked in NFL Draft

Having other things to do today, the only part of the day two of the NFL draft I managed to catch was the last 2-3 picks. I stopped by ESPN's 'Draftcast' to see if any Montana Grizzlies had been picked. Up to that point, nil. I wasn't really hoping for anything until it got to Kansas City and pick number 256, the Kansas City Chiefs.

Why? Because JD Quinn would've made the absolute best Mr. Irrelevant ever. Did you know Mr. Irrelevant gets an entire banquet/week dedicated to him? Oh, and on top of that, Mr. Irrelevant gets to visit the Playboy Mansion. Imagine, an entire week dedicated to JD Quinn, one in which he hangs out with Hef and the girls. Would've been great.

So, we'll wait and see who gets picked up as a free agent and then does what they can to make the team.

Oh, yeah, I'm going to try and write more. If you couldn't tell, things like driving 40 hours (both ways) to watch your football team lose a national championship and having the last Griz hoops game you attend be a heartbreaking loss to the Cats kind of takes their toll.

Just one more

That's it. The team that was expected to lose somewhere around three games is 60 minutes from the U's third National Championship. The CAA and whoever can talk themselves up all they want. The truth is, Appalachian State is the only team that can come close to making the argument that they're more of an FCS powerhouse. After tonight, Montana Grizzlies will have appeared in six of the past fourteen FCS National Championship games.

Now there's just one more. That's it. I'm not sure what I can say. At this point, it's on the players. We'll be bringing thousands of Griz fans, because let's face it, we're as good as they come. We're 2,100 miles away and sold out all our tickets. Richmond had to send some back. We can yell but it's on the guys now.

To conclude, this is ridiculous. I am in Chattanooga, Tennessee, it was close to a 40 hour drive from the zoo. Now let's do this. Just a single game. Let's go Cole. Chase, carry em. Mr Touchdown has this. And Colt 'The Hair' Anderson will be knocking down anyone that makes it to the secondary. I honestly don't know how to wrap this up. It's completely unbelievable. The last Griz game I attend as a student will be a National Championship game.

Ironically, the first Griz game I ever watched was a title game. As a senior in high school, shortly after deciding I'd be going to the University of Montana for school, I watched our Griz get beat on that torn up field. Today will be different. We'll be driving out of this town with championship #4.

28-17 Griz.

Follow twitter.com/colinokeefe for comments and pictures from the game and tailgates.

From Missoula to the final whistle and back to Missoula again

It was a long an winding road before the Montana Grizzlies made it to the National Championship game. However, once they made it there, they got to take a chartered flight. Not me, it'll be 2,100 miles and 31 hours in a van. Awesome.

You can follow the entire trip—with pictures and comments live from wherever their taken or written—from the point we leave Missoula, to the tailgates, to the actual game, to celebrating or mourning at the bars and then finally the return on twitter.com/colinokeefe. Or here, but then the links to images won't work.

I am going to Chattanooga

 You always hear sports fans making a promise where, if their team makes it to their respective championship game, then that individual will go—no matter what. I never made that type of promise. Tennessee? Come on. Flights are ridiculously expensive; oh and don't even tell me about booking in advance. I wouldn't jinx my team like that. And that drive? 2,100 miles. 30 hours. 

Well, I decided that I have to make it.

It's my senior year and the Montana Grizzlies are playing in the National Championship game. This is by far the most enjoyable squad out of the past four seasons. Plain and simple, I cannot justify not making this ridiculous drive. So, upon purchasing six tickets from an Appalachian State fan, myself and five friends will be making the pilgrimage to Chattanooga, TN. I hope to see many Griz fans there. If you're making the trip and have tips (or invites to tailgates?) for some Chattanooga rookies and college students on a budget, drop those in the comments.

Go Griz.

Bergquist got advice from Tony Romo... Hm.

So, we're lucky we won on Friday. Not because JMU was the better team, because that obviously wasn't the case. No, Cole Bergquist got a message from Tony Romo on Friday. Now, that'd be pretty cool, right? But let's think, big game, you want advice from a big game quarterback, right? Yea, that's not Romo. Anyway, we won. And that's still a classy thing for Romo to do. Fixing a random couple's tire, taking a homeless guy to a movie and now this. You hope all of these positive actions pay off eventually, right? Ehhh, I still enjoy seeing the Cowboys lose.

Anyway, here's an excerpt from the original story, reported by the Great Falls Tribune:

After the game in an interview with the Tribune, Bergquist divulged that Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo called him Thursday in Virginia at the team hotel and left a message on his cellphone.

"I've got a little story to tell," said Bergquist from the victorious lockerroom at Bridgeforth Stadium. "I got a call last night from Tony Romo. My sister knows one of his friends, and he left me a message. You know, he played I-AA (Eastern Illinois) football.

"He said a lot of nice stuff, including 'good things happen when you throw to the running back.'"

I don't think bombing it to Reynolds on a wheel route is what Romo had in mind, but then again, Cole's the big game quarterback.

It will be Richmond

Last night, we found out we had one more game. Now we know the Montana Grizzlies will have to beat the Richmond Spiders to earn their third FCS National Championship.

Today's semifinal started out as boring as any football game I've watched in recent memory. You could call it a defensive battle or just slow, boring football. That's up to you. During the second half, things went from a little more interesting to downright ridiculous.

Sidenote: if you want your school, and entire division for that matter, to look completely laughable then play a nationally televised Saturday game on astroturf. Jesus. Get it together UNI.

Back to the game. UNI capitalized on a Richmond fumble and eventually ran the score to 20-7. They couldn't put it away though and proceeded to give up 14 unanswered points. They choked. After giving up the ball on 4th and 1, the Spiders forced a three and out that took only 28 seconds off the clock. With no timeouts and 1:46 left the Spiders drove 62 yards for the score. Richmond kicked it short, which made zero sense with the amount of time left (about 20 seconds). Then UNI attempted to one-up Richmond's odd play choice by running a desperation lateral play when, with one timeout, a bomb down the middle to their stud 6'7" tight end could've set-up a game-winning field goal. That was only a little worse than Richmond's clock management at the end of the second half.

Nevertheless, it was a good, nay, a great game. No one can deny how incredible the drive at the end was, but at the risk of sounding like an arrogant JMU fan, I wasn't that impressed with most of the game. I get the feeling both teams did not bring their best game today, at least for the first 58 minutes and 15 seconds. If Richmond does that again, they'll lose.

See.

If you go to the University of Montana for four years, you should get to see your Griz play in a National Championship. Now I will.

This seemed like it could be the team early on even though they really shouldn't. You could make the case that all of the previous three teams had more talent. From the beginning though, this team had the confidence and the right attitude. They found out what losing a conference game feels like. They had a balanced dynamic offense and the playoff experience of years past. Now it pays off.

One more game.

Let's do this.

I'll be honest, before last Saturday I did not know where James Madison University was located. I knew they were a great team, one that planted itself atop the rankings weeks ago, but I didn't know for sure where they played. After learning last Saturday we'd be facing them in the semis I said something along the lines of "Where the hell is James Madison even? I bet it's someplace with a lot of fast people... like Virginia." A Google search confirmed the location and Rodney Landers confirms the fast part. While Landers' unshed tears may cure cancer, this has never been a one-man game. The Griz have the makeup of a team capable of pulling this off.

ESPN hoops analyst Digger Phelps always talks about undefeated teams needing to lose a game, just to know what it's like. This team, and this program, needed to lose that game to Weber State. They have the invaluable experience of paying for their idiotic mistakes. Not everything can be overcome with talent. Talent was something past teams relied too much upon, they didn't seem to have the look of a championship team. Here's what I wrote about this year's Griz team back in September:

Of the four Griz teams I've seen since coming on campus with the 2005 squad, I'd pick this team to make it to Chattanooga over any of those. It's not about talent, it's about having the attitude and confidence. This team has it.

I stand by that statement. There's something with this team, something different. They have the necessary swagger but also stay honest. They're focused. This team is not going to be intimidated by anyone.

The Griz play smart disciplined football. Stopping Rodney Landers won't be the responsibility of one stud linebacker. It'll be about knowing assignments, reading the play and not overpursuing. It'll be a team defensive effort. Same with the offensive side of the ball. We're not going to pound it over and over again with Chase Reynolds. Cole won't key in on Mariani. Why not? Because we'll lose if they do that. That and because we're balanced.

This is a good team with the potential to be a great one. We find out tonight if this team is as special as I think. Let's do it Griz.

Photo credit: Adrienne Barnett for Montanagrizzlies.com

Sauce.

"Can the Griz win this?"

Are you kidding me?

I've had friends ask me that question with the last meeting between the Griz and Wildcats in mind. My answer? Absolutely yes.

Do you know the type of team it would take to come to Missoula and win today? A great team. Weber State University does not have that team. They're not going to get the opening-round jitters. They're not going to get a stadium 5,000 people beneath capacity. Mainly, they're not getting the Griz team they beat on October 4th, in the conference opener.

No. They're getting 26,000 crazy Montanans who woke up at 8:00 AM this morning so they could drink themselves into a stupor and yell all damn day. They're getting a team that knows it can win in the playoffs, one with veterans who have been here before. They're getting a Griz team that's playing as well as any Griz team in years, certainly peaking at the right time.

This will be different. The Griz will come out with their hair on fire. Weber's character and resilience will be tested early. In the end, we'll be one game away from the National Championship.

35-21 Griz.

Weber State @ Montana: The rematch is on

The Griz knew they would have a chance at revenge if they beat Texas State on Saturday. Whether it was for a 48-28 loss in Ogden or 2005 playoff defeat was in question until the Wildcats straight  out-played Cal Poly down in San Luis Obispo.

For a majority of the first half, it looked like another early playoff exit was in order for the Griz. Yet another fast southern team was going to oust the FCS' version of Ohio State. Then we remembered a supposed powerhouse shouldn't bow out in a first round home game every year.

After clearing the first round hurdle, there's no doubt which Griz team will show up on Saturday. The pressure is gone, the students are back and Wa-Griz will be back at its eardrum-wrecking capacity. And oh look, we have a running game. Boosh.

Weber has been solid throughout the year but a loss to lowly Eastern Washington shows they, like any other team, are susceptible to a major letdown.

Both teams are significantly improved. Weber can't expect to be aided by four turnovers and seven sacks like the last meeting. Weather should be a big factor. Rain hurt Montana's aerial game in the last matchup and it'll be interesting to see who's better at dealing with the cold.

It should be good. I'm looking forward to this game as much as any since being on campus. Hope it's not my last as a student.

That. Was. Awesome. -- Images from the Cat-Griz 2008

Griz-Cat: Live Blog

Follow the feed—which will have updates and pictures from the student section—here or at twitter.com/colinokeefe for live updates and pictures from the game.

Griz still fifth in poll

The Montana Grizzlies hold firm at #5 in the latest FCS poll. The Weber State Wildcats also remain lodged in the top ten at #8. Those are the only two Big Sky teams in the rankings.

Here are the complete rankings, courtesy of The Sports Network:

Team (First-place votes) Record Points Previous Rank
1. James Madison Dukes (106) 9-1 2,986 1
2. Appalachian State Mountaineers (13) 9-2 2,871 2
3. Cal Poly Mustangs (1) 8-1 2,623 3
4. Northern Iowa Panthers 9-2 2,517 4
5. Montana Grizzlies 10-1 2,499 5
6. Villanova Wildcats 8-2 2,355 6
7. Richmond Spiders 8-3 2,188 7
8. Weber State Wildcats 9-2 2,161 8
9. Wofford Terriers 8-2 2,005 9
10. Southern Illinois Salukis 8-2 1,988 10
11. New Hampshire Wildcats 8-2 1,659 13
12. Elon Phoenix 8-3 1,473 11
13. Central Arkansas Bears 9-2 1,448 15
14. McNeese State Cowboys 7-3 1,272 16
15. South Carolina State Bulldogs 9-2 1,231 17
16. William & Mary Tribe 7-3 1,106 12
17. Maine Black Bears 8-3 900 21
18. Tennessee-Martin Skyhawks 8-3 863 20
19. Harvard Crimson 8-1 769 19
20. Furman Paladins 7-4 595 14
21. Colgate Raiders 8-2 506 23
22. Liberty Flames 9-2 409 24
23. Western Illinois Leathernecks 6-4 338 25
24. Jacksonville State Gamecocks 8-3 242 NR
25. Tennessee State Tigers 8-3 238 18
 

Observations from Cat-Griz ticket distribution

While the players get a little time off after their win yesterday over Idaho State, the students do not. Nope, we're in line for Cat-Griz tickets. Here are some notes, which will probably be updated throughout this ridiculously long day.

9:45

  • This blows.
  • Students were not allowed in the doors until 9:00 so anyone lines formed outside before that didn't really matter. This means there were people that got here at 7:00 or before and were behind people that got here at 9:00 because they picked the wrong door. Whatever, if you were part of that first wave of people going through the door, whether you were here at 7:00 or 9:00, you're getting a guest pass. I am not.
  • Like scientists predicting that future wars will be waged over drinking water, I see power outlets becoming a pretty hot commodity sometime around noon.
  • To reiterate, I'm pissed I have to miss the Lady Griz game. There really has to be a better way to do this.
  • Fantasy football roster is set: Brett Favre, Chris Johnson, Brandon Jacobs, Randy Moss, DeSean Jackson, Marvin Harrison, Kevin Boss, David Akers and the Bills defense. Already up 26-0 after Thursday but will miss games today. Too bad because Missoula gets Packers vs. Bears.

11:15

  • Made a run to Finnegans, that was definitely a good idea. The ham and cheese omelette was delicious.
  • So, word is that ASUM scheduled ticket distribution right now. You know what? Screw you guys. It's not your job to look after the professors, look after your fellow students toolbags. There will be no students at the home-opener of the school's best team. God what a terrible move.
  • Why not start selling the tickets right now? Surprise us. It'd be a great PR move. Everyone who's dedicated to getting tickets is here. A majority of the other people will show up around 6 because they know tickets will still be available then. Where's the harm?
  • The Packers/Bears game is underway. I am not watching it. Damn.
  • Currently up 37-25 in fantasy game against my brother Eamon (his defense still has the default 10 points).
  • Some people are starting to leave once they realize they're not getting guest passes—wristbands have already been handed out, I assume to the first 400 people.

1:02

  • My back hurts.
  • If I had more than two days of class per week I would skip a day of class just to spite ASUM and the professors for making me miss the Lady Griz game.

2:30

  • Saw everyone going into the Lady Griz game on my way back from Pizza Pipeline. Really wish I were at that game but just realized the game is on BigSkyTv. Yesss.
  • Shaunte Nance-Johnson looks great at point guard.
  • There's some irritating Irish music playing in the UC right now. Not cool.

5:01

  • For the past couple hours, the internet has been so bogged down with people that it was completely unusable. Awesome.
  • Only an hour left, I'm going to need a drink, or many, after this.
  • There are sections of the line with cute girls and there are sections of the line without them. I am not so fortunate as to be in one of the better segments of the line.
  • Good to see that the Lady Griz won.
  • So, Rhode Island almost beat Duke. Yes, good teams can be sloppy early in the season but they still pull out wins, not get beat by 30.

7:24

  • I finally have my ticket and made it out of there. 
  • Being completely honest, that was kind of a shit show. Once the line started moving at 6:00, we (people on the second floor) moved roughly 70 feet then stood there for another 40 minutes. That was fun.
  • I'm sure I waited all day for nothing. I bet tickets will still be on sale after the entire UC line clears out so unless you got a guest pass, it really wasn't worth waiting all day.

Alright, here's what we should do with that other nightmare fueling mascot....

Griz move up just one spot to #5 in lastest poll

After a complete trouncing of supposed Big Sky contender Northern Arizona, the Montana Grizzlies moved up one place to fifth in the latest rankings. This small step comes after Appalachian State reamed Wofford, 70-24.

I'm starting to think something's up. I don't know if voters are think about past playoff performances or what. Freakin' Cal Poly got a first-place vote and sits three spots ahead of Montana. Ummm, we beat them. On the road. And with the exception of the Weber game (hey, we all got one FCS loss), Montana has taken a giant step forward each game. Whoever thinks Poly is better than Montana--and it's obviously a lot of people--is dead wrong

Here are the complete rankings, courtesy of The Sports Network:

Team (First-place votes) Record Points Previous Rank
1. James Madison Dukes (91) 8-1 2,707 1
2. Appalachian State Mountaineers (17) 7-2 2,617 2
3. Cal Poly Mustangs (1) 6-1 2,373 4
4. Northern Iowa Panthers 7-2 2,296 5
5. Montana Grizzlies 8-1 2,233 6
6. Villanova Wildcats 6-2 2,110 7
7. Richmond Spiders 6-3 1,984 8
8. New Hampshire Wildcats 7-1 1,874 9
9. Weber State Wildcats 8-2 1,767 13
10. Wofford Terriers 6-2 1,747 3
11. Elon Phoenix 7-2 1,690 10
12. Southern Illinois Salukis 6-2 1,650 14
13. Massachusetts Minutemen 6-3 1,262 15
14. William & Mary Tribe 6-2 1,202 16
15. Furman Paladins 7-3 1,081 18
16. Central Arkansas Bears 7-2 887 11
17. Western Illinois Leathernecks 5-3 824 12
18. McNeese State Cowboys 5-3 789 20
19. South Carolina State Bulldogs 7-2 750 22
20. Tennessee-Martin Skyhawks 7-2 527 24
21. Harvard Crimson 6-1 463 23
22. Tennessee State Tigers 7-2 425 25
23. Northern Arizona Lumberjacks 6-3 395 19
24. Colgate Raiders 7-2 207 NR
25. Liberty Flames 7-2 195 17

Others receiving votes: Maine 181, South Dakota State 136, Northwestern State 114, North Dakota State 97, Jacksonville State 95, Lafayette 89, Georgia Southern 81, Prairie View 78, Eastern Kentucky 63, Grambling 54, Holy Cross 41, Morgan State 34, UC Davis 26, Albany 25, Brown 14, Hampton 13, Sacred Heart 12, Dayton 10, Texas State 9, Florida A&M 7, San Diego 6, Nicholls State 5, Montana State 4, Monmouth 2, Penn 2, Jacksonville 1.

Tyrone Willingham is done, Bobby Hauck's job for the taking?

In a move that absolutely no one saw coming, Tyrone Willingham is out as the head coach of the Washington Huskies. Seriously, at an impressive 0-7, coaching one of two winless teams in D-1 football, I thought his job was secure.

Anywhoo, Bobby Hauck's résumé is surely already in the hands of University of Washington Athletic Director Scott Woodward. Hauck has wanted out of Missoula since he figured out recruiting thugs was "frowned upon," but at the University of Washington, where players like Jerramy Stevens can thrive and flourish, he could be seen as a sufficient savior.

Honestly, this is his dream job. He coached at the University of Washington for four years, where "he worked with defensive backs, special teams, and safeties and was considered one of the top recruiters in college football." (from montanagrizzlies.com) One of the top recruiters in college football? God, that's good. Hmmm, let's look at some of the players he recruited. That's just at U-Dub. What about here?

That might serve in his favor though. The Huskies tried the nice coach thing. They tried hiring clean guy Ty and it brought an 0-7 record. Let's bring back what worked. If recruiting people straight from the third circle of hell means winning Rose Bowls, then so be it. Bring back Bobby..... special teams guru.

Griz move up to 6th in latest FCS poll

The Montana Grizzlies moved up two spots to sixth in the latest FCS Top 25 rankings after their mauling of the Northern Colorado Bears (ooo, see what I did there?). Weber State is up three spots to #13 after beating Northern Arizona. NAU is down four places to #19.

Here are the complete rankings, courtest of The Sports Network.

Team (First-place votes) Record Points Previous Rank
1. James Madison Dukes (98) 7-1 2,594 1
2. Appalachian State Mountaineers (3) 6-2 2,457 2
3. Wofford Terriers (2) 6-1 2,324 4
4. Cal Poly Mustangs (1) 5-1 2,210 6
5. Northern Iowa Panthers 6-2 2,033 5
6. Montana Grizzlies 7-1 1,959 8
7. Villanova Wildcats 5-2 1,823 7
8. Richmond Spiders 6-3 1,778 9
9. New Hampshire Wildcats 6-1 1,687 10
10. Elon Phoenix 7-2 1,581 3
11. Central Arkansas Bears 7-1 1,514 13
12. Western Illinois Leathernecks 5-2 1,473 12
13. Weber State Wildcats 7-2 1,461 16
14. Southern Illinois Salukis 5-2 1,391 14
15. Massachusetts Minutemen 5-3 976 17
16. William & Mary Tribe 5-2 792 23
17. Liberty Flames 7-1 763 20
18. Furman Paladins 6-3 722 18
19. Northern Arizona Lumberjacks 6-2 715 15
20. McNeese State Cowboys 4-3 665 11
21. Lafayette Leopards 6-1 585 24
22. South Carolina State Bulldogs 6-2 489 NR
23. Harvard Crimson 5-1 395 25
24. Tennessee-Martin Skyhawks 7-2 270 NR
25. Tennessee State Tigers 6-2 156 19

Others receiving votes: Texas State 127, South Dakota State 95, Maine 70, Jacksonville State 67, North Dakota State 66, Prairie View 63, Georgia Southern 60, Hampton 54, Florida A&M 47, Colgate 44, Northwestern State 33, Eastern Washington 32, Grambling 27, Penn 26, Albany 25, UC Davis 25, Eastern Kentucky 24, San Diego 14, Holy Cross 11, Sacred Heart 10, Monmouth 4, North Dakota 4, Morgan State 3, Dayton 2.

Grizzlies move back into the top 10

The Montana Grizzlies jumped up four spots to #8 after their win over Eastern Washington. The Eagles fell out of the rankings as Northern Arizona and Weber State moved up to #17 and #18 respectively.

Here are the complete rankings, courtesy of The Sports Network.

Team (First-place votes) Record Points Previous Rank
1. James Madison Dukes (105) 6-1 2,649 1
2. Appalachian State Mountaineers (1) 4-2 2,507 2
3. Elon Phoenix 6-1 2,151 6
4. Wofford Terriers 4-1 2,082 8
5. Cal Poly Mustangs 3-1 2,037 7
6. Northern Iowa Panthers 4-2 1,884 10
7. Villanova Wildcats 4-1 1,876 9
8. Montana Grizzlies 5-1 1,804 12
9. Richmond Spiders 4-3 1,608 5
10. Massachusetts Minutemen 4-2 1,497 13
11. New Hampshire Wildcats 4-1 1,458 4
12. McNeese State Cowboys 3-2 1,440 3
13. Central Arkansas Bears 5-1 1,291 14
14. Liberty Flames 6-0 1,152 15
15. Western Illinois Leathernecks 4-2 1,054 17
16. Southern Illinois Salukis 3-2 1,034 16
17. Northern Arizona Lumberjacks 5-1 932 18
18. Weber State Wildcats 5-2 771 22
19. Furman Paladins 5-2 744 20
20. North Dakota State Bison 3-3 645 11
21. South Dakota State Jackrabbits 3-3 348 25
22. Tennessee State Tigers 5-1 333 NR
23. Jacksonville State Gamecocks 4-2 265 19
24. The Citadel Bulldogs 3-3 184 21
25. Hampton Pirates 4-1 173 NR

Others receiving votes: William & Mary 129, Harvard 100, South Carolina State 97, Texas State 81, Eastern Washington 78, Georgia Southen 61, Sam Houston State 60, San Diego 38, Lafayette 29, Tennessee-Martin 25, Delaware 24, Eastern Kentucky 22, Prairie View 21, Northwestern State 17, Grambling 13, UC Davis 12, Colgate 11, Princeton 11, Sacred Heart 11, Eastern Illinois 10, Maine 10, Cornell 9, North Dakota 9, Southern 7, Yale 6, Northeastern 6, Montana State 5, Florida A&M 4, Delaware State 1, Penn 1.

Grizzlies beat Eagles with consistent, disciplined ball

The more talented team didn't win on Saturday, but the best one did. The Eastern Washington Eagles came into the 2008 season with their sights set on a Big Sky Conference title and a potential deep postseason run. It's been all disappointment so far. After watching Saturday's game, it's easy to see why. 

I have not followed the Eagles very closely this year so I do not want to directly criticize head coach Beau Baldwin but on Saturday Eastern played like a team that was poorly coached. Costly turnovers and poor special teams play were only the beginning.

In the second quarter, the Grizzlies moved the ball from close to their own goal line to deep in Eastern Washington territory on a drive sustained mostly by idiotic third down penalties. Other plays that stand out: the Grizzlies moving the chain on third and 10+'s using a lucky Bergquist scramble and a draw. The fact that the Griz got zero points out of what was a completely demoralizing drive speaks volumes towards whether the Griz won this game or the Eagles lost it.

Moving past the complete lack of discipline, let's look at what's killed the Griz the past couple games: the deep ball. Even a D-2 team tore up the Grizzly secondary, you'd think what was once one of the best deep ball combos in the FCS could combine for more than 56 yards. It very well could've been the coverage but I don't remember them throwing the ball downfield nearly as much as they should have.

They opened with an impressive running game and clung to that from that point forward If they rolled the opening series into an play-set featuring a wealth of stretch plays and play-action passes—a la the Indianapolis Colts—things could've gotten ugly. Even without any play action, I was still waiting for things to turn South for the Grizzlies. Eventually Boyce and Nichols would click. Eventually they'd start hucking the ball forty yards at a time. Never happened.

The more consistent, disciplined and detail-oriented team won. That's why we're still playing for a playoff berth and they've essentially resigned themselves to the roll of spoiler less than halfway through conference play.

Griz fall down to #12

Many expected next week's matchup between the Montana Grizzlies and Eastern Washington Eagles to be between top 10 teams. Nope. We both lost. Eastern Washington is at #23 and Montana falls to #12. Weber State steps into the rankings at #22.

Here are the complete rankings courtesy of The Sports Network:

Team (First-place votes) Record Points Previous Rank
1. James Madison Dukes (104) 5-1 2,793 1
2. Appalachian State Mountaineers (4) 3-2 2,558 2
3. McNeese State Cowboys (1) 3-1 2,461 4
4. New Hampshire Wildcats (2) 4-0 2,218 5
5. Richmond Spiders 4-2 2,160 6
6. Elon Phoenix 5-1 1,971 7
7. Cal Poly Mustangs 3-1 1,943 8
8. Wofford Terriers 3-1 1,785 9
9. Villanova Wildcats 4-1 1,752 14
10. Northern Iowa Panthers 3-2 1,671 10
11. North Dakota State Bison 3-2 1,599 17
12. Montana Grizzlies 4-1 1,553 3
13. Massachusetts Minutemen 3-2 1,405 18
14. Central Arkansas Bears 4-1 1,038 19
15. Liberty Flames 5-0 975 20
16. Southern Illinois Salukis 2-2 881 13
17. Western Illinois Leathernecks 3-2 751 21
18. Northern Arizona Lumberjacks 4-1 688 24
19. Jacksonville State Gamecocks 4-1 668 22
20. Furman Paladins 4-2 615 15
21. The Citadel Bulldogs 3-2 531 12
22. Weber State Wildcats 4-2 501 NR
23. Eastern Washington Eagles 2-3 458 11
24. Delaware Blue Hens 2-3 406 16
25. South Dakota State Jackrabbits 3-3 286 23

Others receiving votes: Tennessee State 164, Hampton 147, Sam Houston State 126, Montana State 85, Eastern Illinois 57, South Carolina State 55, Harvard 51, Georgia Southern 50, San Diego 34, Cornell 28, Bethune-Cookman 26, Youngstown State 17, Yale 10, Lafayette 9, North Dakota 8, Northeastern 8, Prairie View 8, Sacred Heart 6, Southern 5, Florida A&M 5, Central Connecticut State 4, Eastern Kentucky 4, Grambling 4, Princeton 4, Colgate 4, William & Mary 3, Brown 2, Delaware State 1, Illinois State 1, Northwestern State 1, Portland State 1, Texas State 1.

Other relevant posts:

It had to happen sometime

Well, this is a little closer to the season we were all expecting.

The streak is over and you had to know it'd happen in a game like this. The Griz go on the road, in poor weather and finally have to pay for their mistakes. They didn't just lose to Weber State either, they got straight blown out by the Wildcats. And that's the way it had to go down. This team can screw everything up, try to give games away, but if it's close they'll pull a 'W' out of the back of their pants. Assuming it's not in the playoffs.

There have to be some positives though, right? Not from the actual game—which based on attendance, level of play and production quality looked worse than a high school game—but from losing. They know now they're not good enough to play terrible and win. They also know their defense isn't winning them any games this year. Unfortunately, so does everyone else.

And isn't this kind of fun? We're vulnerable again. I have a buddy who's half-hoping the nation's current economic turmoil turns into a full-blown depression. I never understood that. But I'm starting to. Sometimes people have it so good that they just have to be kicked in their collective taint. This is one of those times. We win the conference every goddamn year. I'm not saying we shouldn't. But you shouldn't be so comfortable doing it. A sprinkle of mediocrity here and there builds character.

On to Eastern next week, where both teams need try to avoid a legit losing streak. I may be there, to see if these flames can't go a little higher.

Griz move up to third in poll despite sloppy win

Even though the Montana Grizzlies barely beat Division II Central Washington, they moved up to #3 in the rankings, behind Appalachian State and James Madison. This comes after #1 Richmond's lost to Villanova.

Here are the complete rankings, courtesy of The Sports Network.

Team (First-place votes) Record Points Previous Rank
1. James Madison Dukes (87) 4-1 2,684 2
2. Appalachian State Mountaineers 2-2 2,528 3
3. Montana Grizzlies (16) 4-0 2,455 4
4. McNeese State Cowboys (1) 2-1 2,360 6
5. New Hampshire Wildcats (3) 4-0 1,976 7
6. Richmond Spiders 3-2 1,733 1
7. Elon Phoenix 4-1 1,653 8
8. Cal Poly Mustangs 2-1 1,337 9
9. Wofford Terriers 3-1 1,242 14
10. Northern Iowa Panthers 2-2 1,228 5
11. Eastern Washington Eagles 2-2 1,206 11
12. The Citadel Bulldogs 3-1 1,193 13
13. Southern Illinois Salukis 2-1 1,155 15
14. Villanova Wildcats 3-1 1,117 19
15. Furman Paladins (1) 4-1 1,043 16
16. Delaware Blue Hens 2-2 935 17
17. North Dakota State Bison 2-2 855 10
18. Massachusetts Minutemen 2-2 784 18
19. Central Arkansas Bears 4-1 703 12
20. Liberty Flames 4-0 687 25
21. Western Illinois Leathernecks 2-2 681 22
22. Jacksonville State Gamecocks 3-1 650 NR
23. South Dakota State Jackrabbits 3-2 559 20
24. Northern Arizona Lumberjacks 3-1 548 NR
25. Brown Bears 2-0 481 NR

Others receiving votes: Eastern Illinois 382, Lafayette 368, Tennessee State 267, Harvard 260, Holy Cross 251, Youngstown State 148, William & Mary 145, Hampton 143, Sam Houston State 130, Prairie View 56, San Diego 50, Weber State 42, Florida A&M 36, Cornell 24, Norh Dakota 10, Sacred Heart 7, Delaware State 6, Montana State 4, Colgate 2, Southern 2, Central Connecticut State 1, Coastal Carolina 1, Grambling 1.

Other relevant posts:

Montana Grizzlies - Central Washington Wildcats highlights

Thanks to montanagrizzlies.com for putting this together and then also to whoever put it on Youtube.

I don't mean to discredit the Wildcats—they did an excellent job of taking advantage of the opportunities given to them—but the Grizzlies almost lost this game, the Wildcats didn't almost win it.

Montana and The Ewing Theory

ESPN columnist Bill Simmons is a tool. That fact is not up for debate. However, this doesn't mean he didn't have any decent ideas. One of those: The Ewing Theory.

The Ewing Theory is the often-seen premise where a team loses their best player(s) and then inexplicably gets better. The examples are endless. There are two I can think of off the top of my head. The Seattle Mariners lost Randy Johnson, Ken Griffey Jr. and Alex Rodriguez all in a relatively short span. In their first season without any of those three they won 116 games. The New York Giants lost Tiki Barber to retirement before last season. That turned out well.

The Patrick Ewing Theory can also apply to scenarios outside the sports world:

Can the Ewing Theory apply to romance?
You betcha. Everyone has one friend who got dumped by their girlfriend/boyfriend, sending them into a tailspin. You worried about them and their well-being, you logged major phone time with them, you wondered if they would ever bounce back... and then, boom! Your friend started working out, dropping 15 pounds and suddenly looking better than ever. They also started going out three times a week, rekindling all their old friendships; within time, they had completely regained their mojo. And inevitably, when they finally started dating again, their new flame put the old one to shame. That's the Ewing Theory in a nutshell.

Right now the Griz, and especially the offense, are livin' the single life.

As most fans probably notice, the Grizzly offense looks a lot different this season. The ultra-conservative offense we'd come to know and hate is gone for the most part. We lost Lex Hilliard and Dan Carpenter (along with Eric Allen and Ryan Bagley) and we're better.

Hilliard and Carpenter are the primary catalysts for the change. We're not pounding the ball into the line on 3rd and 4. We're not settling for three points on 4th and goal from the 2. Hell, we're not kicking field goals on 4th and 5 from the 25 either.

Isn't this fun? The offense is creative. Marc Mariani and Cole Bergquist have combined to form an offensive threat that's every bit as intimidating as the 225-pound Hilliard. They've been given the room and freedom to morph into an almost true spread offense. The options are endless. Pfahler and Ferriter are getting more looks. Mariani is certainly the go-to receiver but not nearly in the way that Lex Hilliard was the go-to player. The options are endless and this team is taking advantage.

Of the four Griz teams I've seen since coming on campus with the 2005 squad, I'd pick this team to make it to Chattanooga over any of those. It's not about talent, it's about having the attitude and confidence. This team has it.

Highlights and press conference from the UC Davis game

Once again, major thanks to the people at Montanagrizzlies.com for putting these on Youtube.



FCS top 5 jostled after interesting weekend.

The Montana Grizzlies remain as the #4 team in the nation after a win that showed more character than anything else. This team drove down the field and scored when it needed to then came back and made the big stop. James Madison's close win over Appalachian State has them leap over the Griz and all the way up to #2 with App State coming down to #3. Completely justified. Appalachian State now has zero first-place votes. Wow. NDSU falls all the way down to #10 after a loss to Youngstown State. Eastern Washington continues to move up, they're at #11 after their first win of the season, a 52-31 victory over Division II Western Washington.

Here are the complete rankings, courtesy of The Sports Network.

Team (First-place votes) Record Points Previous Rank
1. Richmond Spiders (49) 3-1 2,389 2
2. James Madison Dukes (37) 3-1 2,387 5
3. Appalachian State Mountaineers 1-2 2,122 1
4. Montana Grizzlies (12) 3-0 2,095 4
5. Northern Iowa Panthers (2) 2-1 1,979 8
6. McNeese State Cowboys 1-1 1,760 7
7. New Hampshire Wildcats (1) 3-0 1,528 10
8. Elon Phoenix 3-1 1,306 17
9. Cal Poly Mustangs 2-1 1,272 13
10. North Dakota State Bison 2-2 1,257 3
11. Eastern Washington Eagles 1-2 1,197 14
12. Central Arkansas Bears 4-0 1,184 18
13. The Citadel Bulldogs 2-1 1,155 21
14. Wofford Terriers 2-1 1,137 11
15. Southern Illinois Salukis 1-1 1,115 15
16. Furman Paladins 3-1 970 24
17. Delaware Blue Hens 1-2 880 6
18. Massachusetts Minutemen 2-2 870 9
19. Villanova Wildcats 2-1 863 19
20. South Dakota State Jackrabbits 2-2 773 12
21. Eastern Illinois Panthers 2-2 754 22
22. Western Illinois Leathernecks 2-2 743 20
23. Tennessee State Tigers (1) 4-0 576 25
24. Georgia Southern Eagles 2-2 544 16
25. Liberty Flames 3-0 431 23

Others receiving votes: Harvard 331, Youngstown State 276, Northern Arizona 273, Yale 251, Jacksonville State 224, Hampton 106, San Diego 71, Prairie View 59, William & Mary 50, Brown 44, Florida A&M 43, Holy Cross 38, Penn 30, Weber State 28, Sam Houston State 22, Eastern Kentucky 14, Southeastern Louisiana 13, Lafayette 10, Sacred Heart 9, Delaware State 8, South Carolina State 8, Norfolk State 5, Princeton 4, Tennessee-Martin 4, Montana State 1, North Dakota 1,.

Montana vs. UC Davis : Live from The Zoo

The drill is the same as always. Live updates and pictures from the game. You can check the thing beneath or go straight to twiitter.com/colinokeefe. The latter is properly best as you'll need to copy and paste links to images out of the flash widget.

Some late Montana/SUU observations... and highlights

 Above are the highlights from Saturday's game. Well-done and great that they're putting them on YouTube. Anyway, here are a few of my observations from the game.

  • Marc Mariani is a monster. Southern Utah had a better chance of stopping the sun from shining than they did slowing down Mariani. He ran great routes, blew by coverage, caught the ball when it was catchable and made moves in the open field. For the first time in the four years I've been here, it looks like the Griz have a definite go-to receiver.
  • Cole Bergquist loves his first receiver. From the moment he drops back, he will stare so hard at his first progression that he may be able to see into their soul. Berquist's athleticism and mobility are great but can be a negative if he only looks to his first guy then takes off. I mentioned this in the Twitter feed, he stared down his first progression like no quarterback I've ever seen. I bet he looks like Reche Caldwell out there. If Mariani continues the phenomenal play, it's going to become very obvious who he's going to throw the ball to. However...
  • Berquist throws a great ball. He may not read all the way through his progressions but when he tosses it to the first guy, it's normally an excellent throw. The difference between last season and this is obvious. He's throwing with more strength, accuracy and confidence than he ever has.
  • When Selle eventually steps in, there will be do drop-off. He looked every bit as good as the starter. Go back and watch some of the throws, he was placing strong throws between coverage perfectly. On top of that, he has all the mobility of Bergquist. It may have been the fact that he's the backup and therefore less worried about getting hurt, but he seemed to run with a bit more power, lowing his shoulder into linebackers at times. Tebow-esque.
  • Defense is still good. There was much concern about how the defense would look after all the losses. So far, so good. They play with a bit different style. Not as much power but a little more flash. Trumaine Jackson's back-to-back interceptions were both due to great grabs.
  • Kicked down the doors. After a mediocre first quarter, I was worried the Griz would let the inferior Thunderbirds hang in there. Not so. It was nice to see our offense thoroughly dominate and put the game away early.
  • We need to play better teams. It's been said so many times but if you look at it from the fan's perspective, we're getting robbed of games. We only get one half of interesting football. Maybe three quarters. It's nice seeing the offense do well but even that can get old. So if you take a half out of this game, a half out of the next game and probably three quarters of the Central Washington game, that's seven quarters of good football that we don't get to see. We're getting screwed. But hey, at half a mil a game, the administration is happy. And if the administration is happy and profitable, nothing else matters.
  • Bobby Hauck is a joke. When asked during the coach's show about the status of Cole Bergquist, Bobby Hauck did his usual and declined comment, saying "Sometimes I just have to laugh at myself." Oh that's funny, because I always have to laugh at Bobby Hauck. He wants out, he wants to coach big-time football and he thinks (brace for PG-13 language) the beat reporters for schools like Washington, UCLA, Colorado, and Cal are going to put up with that shit? He's your star quarterback and you can't give us an inkling as to whether he's going to play next week? Please. Damn, even Tressel let the media know about Beanie Wells. They were playing USC and he meant a lot more to his team than Bergquist means to the Griz. They may take that crap in Laramie, which is where Bobby Hauck should be going, so good for him. If you got to where you are by being good at special teams (!!), you're not going much further. Please, really, bring up the fact that he's also known for recruiting.

Griz move up to #4 in poll

The Griz looked great on Saturday and that is reflected in the latest FCS rankings. The Griz moved up to #4. Sure it's only one spot, but they added six first-place votes. They now have seven, that's the most of any team besides #1 Appalachian State.

Here are the complete rankings, courtesy of The Sports Network:

Team (First-place votes) Record Points Previous Rank
1. Appalachian State Mountaineers (96) 1-1 2,668 1
2. Richmond Spiders (1) 2-1 2,452 4
3. North Dakota State Bison (5) 2-1 2,417 2
4. Montana Grizzlies (7) 2-0 2,355 5
5. James Madison Dukes (2) 2-1 2,294 7
6. Delaware Blue Hens (1) 1-1 2,027 6
7. McNeese State Cowboys 1-1 1,920 8
8. Northern Iowa Panthers 1-1 1,905 9
9. Massachusetts Minutemen 2-1 1,677 3
10. New Hampshire Wildcats (1) 2-0 1,535 10
11. Wofford Terriers 2-0 1,458 12
12. South Dakota State Jackrabbits 2-1 1,448 13
13. Cal Poly Mustangs 1-1 1,337 14
14. Eastern Washington Eagles 0-2 1,271 16
15. Southern Illinois Salukis 1-1 1,201 11
16. Georgia Southern Eagles 2-1 1,030 17
17. Elon Phoenix 2-1 962 18
18. Central Arkansas Bears 3-0 945 19
19. Villanova Wildcats 1-1 740 21
20. Western Illinois Leathernecks 1-2 618 15
21. The Citadel Bulldogs 1-1 445 22
22. Eastern Illinois Panthers 1-2 415 20
23. Liberty Flames 3-0 248 25
24. Furman Paladins 2-1 244 NR
25. Tennessee State Tigers 3-0 194 NR

Others receiving votes: Harvard 185, Youngstown State 170, Northern Arizona 146, Delaware State 96, Yale 87, Holy Cross 86, South Carolina State 56, Jacksonville State 49, Sam Houston State 44, Prairie View 29, Norfolk State 27, Northwestern State 26, UC Davis 23, Sacramento State 22, Hampton 21, Weber State 20, Eastern Kentucky 18, San Diego 16, Dayton 15, Albany 12, Lafayette 11, Brown 10, Montana State 9, North Dakota 5, Sacred Heart 4, Florida A&M 3, Southeastern Louisiana 2, Maine 1, Nicholls State 1, William & Mary 1.

Images from the Griz home opener

This is for those who don't want to scan through my Twitter feed to see the pictures taken from Saturday's game. Here they are, in one place, after the jump. Enjoy.

Continue Reading...

Live from The Zoo: Opening Day

Those of you who check in here during basketball season know the deal. It'll be short little comments live from the student section in the box below. Also, instead of having a separate page for live images from the game, there will be links in that feed as well. You can also see the complete feed at twitter.com/colinokeefe

Griz eve

Almost there. Come here for live comments and--depending on how my cell phone service is--pictures from the game tomorrow.

Griz still ranked fifth

After an impressive road win over Cal Poly in what Dave Coulson called the 'FCS game of the week,' the Montana Grizzlies are still ranked fifth, receiving one first place vote. I'm not sure anyone can definitively say the Griz are better than the fifth best FCS team in the country but if the Griz play like they should this weekend and thump SUU, I expect a move up.

Eastern Washington dropped from 7th to 17th while Northern Arizona sits just barely outside of the top 25.

Here are the complete rankings from The Sports Network.

Team (First-place votes) Record Points Previous Rank
1. Appalachian State Mountaineers (85) 1-1 2,976 1
2. North Dakota State Bison (22) 2-0 2,775 2
3. Massachusetts Minutemen (1) 2-0 2,647 4
4. Richmond Spiders 1-1 2,606 3
5. Montana Grizzlies (1) 1-0 2,572 5
6. Delaware Blue Hens (1) 0-1 2,561 6
7. James Madison Dukes 1-1 2,470 8
8. McNeese State Cowboys 1-1 2,218 10
9. Northern Iowa Panthers 1-1 1,504 9
10. New Hampshire Wildcats 1-0 1,400 15
11. Southern Illinois Salukis 1-0 1,343 12
12. Wofford Terriers 2-0 1,293 13
13. South Dakota State Jackrabbits 1-1 994 21
14. Cal Poly Mustangs 1-1 962 11
15. Western Illinois Leathernecks 1-1 918 18
16. Eastern Washington Eagles 0-2 866 7
17. Georgia Southern Eagles 1-1 833 16
18. Elon Phoenix 1-1 820 17
19. Central Arkansas Bears 2-0 597 22
20. Eastern Illinois Panthers 0-2 517 19
21. Villanova Wildcats 0-1 470 23
22. The Citadel Bulldogs 1-1 411 20
23. Youngstown State Penguins 0-2 228 14
24. Harvard Crimson 0-0 191 25
25. Liberty Flames 2-0 147 NR

Others receiving votes: Northern Arizona 125, Furman 113, Delaware State 95, Sam Houston State 89, Fordham 65, Eastern Kentucky 54, Jacksonville State 51, Hampton 46, Tennessee State 43, Yale 42, Holy Cross 41, South Carolina State 21, San Diego 18, Norfolk State 17, UC Davis 16, Montana State 15, Sacramento State 15, Grambling 13, North Dakota 12, South Dakota 12, Prairie View 10, Dayton 8, Coastal Carolina 8, Albany 7, Colgate 5, Hofstra 5, Stony Brook 5, Nicholls State 3, Northwestern State 2, Lafayette 1, Texas State 1.

Is this the most important game in the history of the FCS?


Video from AppFan

No one thinks it can happen again. No one thinks it'll even be close. But what if? Has there ever been more of a "games like this are the reason we play sports" type of game?

App State won't blow away LSU's defense like they did to Michigan. (Sidenote: anyone else remember that Michigan beat Florida?). Then again, they won't be facing as good of an offense. At the most important position in football, the Mountaineers have the advantage.

The Tigers will likely start Andrew Hatch, whose only college football experience comes as a backup quarterback at Harvard. Harvard! There are at least four Big Sky quarterbacks who are better than him. None of those guys are even close to as good as Armanti Edwards.

Even so, it'll be speed against speed. Very dissimilar to the Michigan game. That upset is only one example of many times when a Big 10 power was exploited by a more athletic opponent (see: BCS Championships).

But can App State get enough breaks to make it a game? Ask the Chicago Bears what it's like to have everything but a quarterback. It's about as fun as riding a Schwinn with no handlebars.

So what if the Mountaineers did drop another upset a-bomb? What if they simply made it a game? Do people start giving the FCS a little more credit?  Right now, the Football Championship Subdivision gets about as much respect and credibility as it deserves--that being very little. If this happens, things could change.

I'm sure they're aware, but it should be said as much as possible: the Mountaineers are playing for a lot more than just themselves.

Jerry Glanville is more than impressed with MSU's recruits

There should be a set of large quotation marks floating above Jerry Glanville at all times. In an Oregonian article on Montana's conference domination, the Portland State head coach had this to say about Rob Ash's first recruiting class at Montana State.

"Montana State did something that I think will change the conference," Glanville says. "They signed 14 kids out of Texas in one year. How does that change them? Well, everybody in Texas runs 'rapidamente.' There are no slow players in Texas. They're all fast. So that will change Montana State."

I hope it does so the Griz can learn something. Montana's lack of speed was apparent in the playoff losses to UMass and Wofford.

Dan Carpenter profiled in the Miami Herald

This whole thing has to be a little surreal for Dan Carpenter. There probably a few times when he thought that missed kick against Wofford was the last big moment in his football career. Not quite.

From The Miami Herald:

''I'm probably still in the pinch-me phase,'' Carpenter admitted Tuesday as he walked off the practice field and toward an NFL career that begins for real in 11 days. ``I think it'll sink in once the regular season starts and the Jets come to town.''

Many Dolfans, concerned about swapping proof for potential, were worried coach Tony Sparano and the new management had made a risky choice.

''We were shocked, too,'' Carpenter's mother, Diane, said Tuesday. ``We're still not believing it. It still does not feel real to me.''

Starting about the middle of his junior year, I thought Dan had a shot at making the NFL. Then it became apparent that he would be a legitimate pro after the Dolphins cut Feely. After a great preseason (he hit 4 FGs in a game against Jacksonville), I was definite he wouldn't only be a decent pro but an amazing fantasy football kicker. Then former Kaimin sports editor Amber Kuehn stole my sleeper pick in 5th(!!) round. Damn you.

Info on new student ticketing system

Word of a new ticketing system has been floating around for a few weeks. Most fans want to get rid of the old paper system to prevent students from scalping, this new route should do it.

From montananewstation.com:

Students will no longer be receiving an actual ticket when they go to get one on the Monday before the game, instead they will get an electronic ticket credited to their Griz Card.

UM athletics department representatives say that paper-less tickets are the wave of the future for universities around the country.

Students will then swipe their Griz Card at the south east corner of the football stadium and receive a wristband if they need to exit the game and re-enter. [...]

"I think there's a lot of positives to it" said UM Associate Athletic Director Chuck Maes. "We may have a few wrinkles in the first game or so that we'll have to work out. We're hoping we can try and be as organized and well prepared as we can but its hard to know what's going to happen right out of the gate."

The article also says that student guest passes will not only still be available, but that there will be 100 more for sale. I've only sold Griz tickets once, but the one time I did it was with guest passes. It remains to be seen whether or not these tickets will still be in paper form or if students receive two 'credits' to their Griz card.

Western Carolina fans will call plays--Phen thinks this is a good idea

There have been times when I've questioned our marketing department but I'd start filling out my transfer papers if UM dipped as low as the Western Carolina Catamounts.

This is from an actual WCU press release [via AppFan]:

The Western Carolina University Athletic Department today announced an exciting new aspect to Catamount Football this season - the "Armchair Coaching Series," sponsored by Wal-Mart. This new feature will allow local fans the opportunity to put their creative football knowledge to use by creating their own play, with the chosen scheme to be used by the WCU coaches in a game.

That's right; the WCU coaches will actually select an offensive or defensive play submitted by fans for each home game this season.

Oh there's more. Fans will receive prizes based on the results of the play:

Offensive Plays

  • 0-3 yard gain = Western Carolina logoed t-shirt
  • 4-10 yard gain = $25 gift card to Wal-Mart
  • 11-19 yard gain = $100 gift card to Wal-Mart
  • 20+ yard gain = 10 megapixel camera or gift card
  • Touchdown = 32" flat screen television or shopping spree

Defensive Plays

  • Less than 15 yard gain = Western Carolina logoed hat
  • 0-3 yard gain = $25 gift card to Wal-Mart
  • Tackle for Loss = $100 gift card to Wal-Mart
  • Interception/Turnover = store selected home theater system or gift card
  • Defensive TD/Safety = $1,000 shopping spree

Now, let's start looking at the extremes. A defensive play gives up the game winning touchdown: you're suited up and out there as a wide-receiver on a post route while the QB lobs one over the middle. Offensive play wins the game: offensive coordinating gig on the FCS level.

Dave Griffiths of the Tenzone Blog has Griz as fourth-best in BSC

Before I launch too far into this, I want to point out that abcmontana.com's The Tenzone Blog has been pretty solid. The writers there have provided readers with excellent coverage; they often have insight and video straight from the Bobcats' and Griz fall camps. So, on that, well done. Now, other issues...

Dave Griffiths has the Montana Grizzlies as the fourth best team in the conference. I'm not trying to be a homer, honestly. In the four years I've been at the University of Montana, I've never been less hopeful going into a football season. But fourth in this sorry group of teams with high school stadiums? I don't think so.

Preemptive strike to the "wow, does a nice stadium equal a good team?" and "eventually the Griz will get what's coming to them" comments: it's nice having you back because you apparently missed the last ten or so years of Big Sky football. The Griz fall backwards out of windows into conference [co-]championships. Worst case scenario: they finish third and eGriz.com members threaten to burn the Adams Center offices to the ground unless Bobby Hauck, the football coaching staff and Jim O'Day resign immediately.

Here's Griffiths' blurb on Montana, a few of my comments in brackets.

When you've had a share of 10 straight conference titles, it's very hard to rank you down at 4th in a preseason poll, but as Varun has said in his blogs [This needs to be clarified. The Tenzone is a blog. What you, Varun and myself are writing are 'posts' or 'entries.' What articles are to newspapers, 'posts' or 'entries' are to blogs. You don't write multiple blogs on a blog. Wouldn't make sense. Glad we could figure that out], 10-12 freshmen should get a lot of playing time. With Coach Bobby Hauck relying that much on the young guys, I can't put UM any higher than fourth right now. Also, when I spoke with Hauck at a spring scrimmage, he said to me clear as day "we plain don't have a good football team right now". That might be coach speak, but hey, I can use that as a reason to put UM this low to start out. I expect junior QB Cole Bergquist [he's a senior] will be very good in his second full year as a starter, and he could even rival Matt Nichols for best QB in the conference [no he couldn't]. However, replacing the production of departed runningback Lex Hilliard will be impossible. On defense, former walk-on now senior S Colt Anderson is the leader of this team, and he'll have to be with several corners coming in with zero college football experience.

Lastly, get a working RSS feed. Please.

I have steps in my hair and a silly grin. I am your Bobcat starting quarterback.

That would be Cody Kempt. Today, Montana State head coach Rob Ash named the Oregon transfer as the Bobcats' starting QB.

Here's what Ash had to say on the matter, from The Cat-Griz Insider:

“This was an excruciating decision for our staff, because both quarterbacks played extremely well in the entire pre-season camp.

“Their statistics for the three weeks of practice were almost exactly even, and they are both excellent leaders with an impressive understanding of the game. We have great confidence in both young men.”

I would like nothing more than an MSU student to comment and confirm my suspicion that this kid wears an atrocious amount of Hurley and Abercrombie. Second on the list of things I want to happen related to Cody Kempt: this.

Yessss.

Brief reader report on Tuff Harris

Jerry Winkler, someone who came to this site looking for a little more information on Tuff Harris, had this to say about the former Griz standout.

I attended the Tennessee Titans final open practice yesterday and came back to do some research on the new guy - Tuff Harris that was signed on Tuesday.  Head Coach Jeff Fisher spent quite a bit of one on one time with Tuff during practice - and he looked decent during drills.  Could very well see him in action vs Atlanta this weekend.

He was 3rd string DB in drills, but 2nd string on returning punts and kicks.

Harris' interaction with Jeff Fisher, whose son Brandon plays for the Griz, shouldn't come as much of a surprise as most Griz fans already assumed he had a large hand in the signing.

The Titans play the Falcons tomorrow night at 5:30 Mountain Time. If you're a Griz fan with the NFL Network, you can see the game at 7:00 AM on Saturday. Yes it's early but it's a rare opportunity to watch two former Griz play in the same NFL game.

Montana Grizzlies 8th in Sports Network's FCS Top 25 Rankings

The Montana Grizzlies enter this season as the eighth best team in the Football Championship Subdivision according to the Sports Network's most recent top 25 rankings.

This is one spot behind conference rival Eastern Washington and six spots ahead of #14 Cal Poly, UM's first opponent of 2008. Those two are the only Grizzly opponents in this preseason poll. Here are the complete rankings:
 

Team (First-place votes) Record Points Previous Rank
1. Appalachian State Mountaineers (97) 13-2 2,546 1
2. North Dakota State Bison (1) 10-1 2,275 9
3. Northern Iowa Panthers 12-1 2,204 4
4. Richmond Spiders 11-3 2,162 5
5. Massachusetts Minutemen 10-3 2,148 7
6. James Madison Dukes (3) 8-4 2,078 12
7. Eastern Washington Eagles 9-4 1,951 8
8. Montana Grizzlies 11-1 1,848 10
9. Delaware Blue Hens 11-4 1,747 2
10. McNeese State Cowboys 11-1 1,687 11
11. Southern Illinois Salukis 12-2 1,286 3
12. Youngstown State Penguins 7-4 1,228 16
13. Wofford Terriers 9-4 1,158 6
14. Cal Poly Mustangs 7-4 1,081 24
15. Elon Phoenix 7-4 1,028 23
16. New Hampshire Wildcats 7-5 760 14
17. Georgia Southern Eagles 7-4 656 17
18. Eastern Illinois Panthers 8-4 622 18
19. South Dakota State Jackrabbits 7-4 547 19
20. Eastern Kentucky Colonels 9-3 487 13
21. Villanova Wildcats 7-4 396 NR
22. Central Arkansas Bears 6-5 374 NR
23. The Citadel Bulldogs 7-4 317 NR
24. Harvard Crimson 8-2 316 21
25. Western Illinois Leathernecks 6-5 299 NR

Others receiving votes: Northern Arizona 249, Fordham 212, Delaware State 198, Jacksonville State 195, Yale 170, Sam Houston State 166, Montana State 146, Furman 120, Liberty 115, Jackson State 79, South Carolina State 76, Holy Cross 74, Hofstra 61, Colgate 56, Grambling 55, Norfolk State 48, Coastal Carolina 44, Hampton 41, Southern 32, Northwestern State 30, Tennessee-Martin 30, UC Davis 22, Weber State 17, Lafayette 16, Alabama A&M 10, Texas Southern 9, Brown 9, Nicholls State 9, Dayton 6, Tennessee State 5, San Diego 4, Albany 4, Maine 1, Prairie View 1.

 

Montana State's turf looks better

Don't give me all the nonsense on "The Ashtray", "Kitty Litter" and "The Streak." Try to look at this alone. Montana State's new field looks better than the new turf the University of Montana is putting down.


Photo courtesy of eGriz user FTGRIZ.


Photo courtesy of Bobcat Nation user TIrwin24.

The Washington-Grizzly turf does not look bad nor is it completely installed. I understand that. But it won't look as good as the turf in Bozeman. Please hold off on everything else, I know the rest of that stadium is mediocre and so is the team most years but on this topic alone, they have UM beat.

Montana State chose to go with FieldTurf, the industry leader for these artificial grass surfaces. FieldTurf is used by 22 NFL teams and countless Division I colleges.

The University of Montana went with Sprinturf. Washington-Grizzly stadium is the highest profile job they've done.

I do not know all the advantages and disadvantages of each. I do know one: Sprinturf is uglier.

Portland State football player replaced by Brett Favre

There's a chance Condrew Allen would've never made the Green Bay Packers' final roster anyway--let alone play in an NFL game--but had certain circumstances not arisen, he would've made it at least one more day. Those circumstances: the cargo-shorts-wearing savior that is Brett Favre climbed off his private plane and took his roster spot.

Condrew Allen, a safety with Portland State, played in 11 games last season and recorded 29 tackles. On November 3rd, he picked off a Cole Bergquist pass and took it for six at Washington-Grizzly Stadium. Well, Griz Nation can smirk now.

It's not the worst case scenario though as Allen was placed on the injured reserve and will get his full 2008 base salary.

Washington-Grizzly Stadium will have new turf for '08 season

Just like MSU, the University of Montana will be getting brand new turf installed in its stadium for the 2008 football season. The Missoulian is reporting that the new Sprinturf will be installed by September 1st.
[...] the Montana Board of Regents approved $320,000 to fund replacing the turf on July 9.

Another $150,000 will supplied by the manufacturer.

Unofficially, the turf will be a lot like the one in place now - which could be removed as soon as next week. One wrinkle would be the end zones, which will be maroon with “Montana” and “Grizzlies” in white lettering.

The current field was installed in 2001, and was guaranteed to last eight seasons. This fall would mark the eighth season, and the surface has been showing some wear. The chance to upgrade the petroleum-based surface now could mean UM will avoid prohibitive costs down the road.
New turf + new sounds system + 2,000 more seats > new turf.

The next Griz uniforms?

I know the Montana Grizzlies just got new football uniforms but with a few very small changes, these new Cal uniforms would look pretty slick.







Quick look at the Cal Poly offense

For the first time in years, the Montana Grizzlies football team will go on the road and play a formidable FCS opponent as part of their non-conference schedule. That'd be Cal Poly on September, 6th. So now the fans can stop asking "will a weak schedule come back to haunt us?" (the answer is yes) and start asking more concrete football questions like, you know, "will we win?" The Griz haven't lost a regular season game since the first game of the '06 campaign, that's 21 in a row. Cal Poly looks very worthy of ending that streak.

Saturday Sound Offs has a brief preview on the Mustangs (scroll down). Here's their take on what could be one of the FCS' best offenses:
If you're not an FCS fan, you should be a fan of Mustang QB Jonathan Dally. His legs do more damage than his arm, if you can believe that. Cal Poly was fifth last year in rushing, gaining over 270 yards a game. Dally was the leading rusher statistically. That, however, doesn't mean he can't chuck it as well. Dally was second in the FCS in passing efficiency which is the holy grail of QB stats. Cal Poly relies on FB Jon Hall more than most teams utilize that position and James Noble did a good job at RB last year with over five yards a touch. Tredale Tolver and Ramses Barden team up to make a pretty impressive combo at WR and the line did its job finishing 27th in sacks allowed. In the FCS, there's just about no offense as feared as Cal Poly's.
Dave Coulson of the The Sports Network has more on Dally in his FCS quarterback rankings:
Dally made an immediate impact last year as a JC transfer, beating out the now-departed Matt Brennan and finishing second to San Diego's Josh Johnson in NCAA passing efficiency. Dally is one of the new breed of QBs who can beat you with both his arm (2,238 yards) and legs (763 yards), and leads an offense that ranked second in total offense a year ago.
My take: they leave our young defense more torched than a Montana forest in August. In the playoffs last year, Wofford's option offense blew up a much more formidable Griz D for 333 rushing yards. Not only do the Mustangs bring a similar offensive ground game, but also a much more skilled quarterback.

A lesson in handling negative press, courtesy of Paul Wulff

The Montana Grizzlies football team has suffered more than enough negative exposure. Throughout most of it the administration, and especially Bobby Hauck, have been relatively silent. We'll get a blurb in the newspaper story on how the actions of a few should not reflect poorly on the rest of the team but not much more. Never do we see the openness and level of accountability current Washington State head coach and former Eastern Washington head coach Paul Wulff displayed after the Seattle Times published a scathing article on the Cougars' past transgressions.

AOL's Fanhouse has his response:
In response to the Sunday story, Wulff hopped on the sports radio airwaves yesterday on KJR-AM in Seattle. You can give it a listen here. Most of all it was a chance for Wulff to respond in his own voice, beyond just a couple of lines in the story about what WSU is already doing to correct the problems of the past.

For example, since the APR debacle, academics have taken on a whole new level of importance. In Wulff's first semester in Pullman, the football team just turned in a 2.72 GPA for the spring, the highest in the last 30 years. The goal for this fall is to turn in the highest GPA in team history. And Wulff has already implemented a team "Unity Council", a 16-player group that will sit in judgment in dealing with players who stray off the beaten path. They will recommend punishment to the coaching staff, and the input will be part of the ultimate decision on each player.
The closest thing we have? Bobby Hauck appearing on his weekly KPAX show and ripping into the reporters who first covered the home invasion story.

An FBS move success story

There are a myriad of examples Griz fans bring up when attempting to argue for or against moving the football team to the Football Bowl Subdivision. The discussion normally revolves around the success of Boise State and the apparent failure of Idaho University. It makes sense, considering the schools' proximity to Missoula. However, here's a school we rarely hear about: Troy University.

Troy University began its first season in the FBS in 2001, only eight seasons after they moved up from Division II.  They haven't simply made the transition; according to an article in the TimesDaily (membership may be required, it let me in then it didn't), they have thrived since the move.
"We felt confident when we made the move because we had a great university and good tradition in our football program," [Troy head coach Larry Blakeney] said Tuesday before speaking to the Russellville Civitan Club. "We did well when we went to Division I-AA and then the crowning jewel was moving to I-A. There is no doubt that it has paid off for our team, but especially for the university."
Troy has something special with Blakeney. He's coached at Troy since 1991, having the fourth longest tenure coaching a Division I football team. He saw the program move from Division II to the FCS and then from there to the FBS. The odds of Bobby Hauck being in Missoula in five years, let alone staying with the program when (probably if) it moves to the FBS, are probably around the same as Cole Bergquist winning the Heisman.

Their résumé since the move: three Sun Belt titles, two bowl game appearances and a home win over Missouri (then ranked 17th) in 2004. Now, they're looking for something more.
"We're proud of the progress we've made, especially going to two bowl games in four years," Blakeney said. "Now, we want to move toward getting a home-and-home series with an SEC or ACC team."

How about Alabama or Auburn?

"We would love to play in Jordan-Hare or Bryant-Denny Stadium," he said, "but that's probably not going to happen in the foreseeable future. It's political more than anything, and you hear the argument that those schools have nothing to gain and everything to lose by playing us. I don't blame them, but we would sure relish that opportunity."
It's tough scheduling tough opponents when you're not on their level, especially getting them to come to your place. However, Troy hasn't given up and settled for playing lower-tier teams. In 2008, they play the two teams from last year's national championship game: LSU and Ohio State.

Let's be honest, the Bobcat stadium plans look pretty good

Montana State University's football stadium is terrible. It has heinous fairground-like metal bleachers and an old looking grandstand. The worst part: it's probably one of the best in our conference and is second only to UM in conference attendance. The Big Sky Conference: where D-1 ball at high school football stadiums happens.

Anyway, they're looking to make some major improvements. I have to say... not too shabby.


Going off the video, it looks great. Their goal is to have 22,000 seats in eight years. Two major problems: the money and whether or not they can even put fans in that many seats. If I recall correctly, there were even a few empty seats for last year's Griz-Cat game. Not good.

However, this video and these plans would get me legitimately pumped to be a Cat fan. I almost want to donate money myself.

Montana Grizzlies podcast with Jim O'Day

The posts haven't been as frequent as we sink into the offseason and the Missoula weather starts to change but here's something new: the first ever Grizzoulian podcast. I hope to do one more this month then make it a more consistent feature in the fall.

My guest on the first one is University of Montana Athletic Director Jim O'Day. We start by talking about next years hoops team then move onto football scheduling, the draft, the expansion and more.



To download the half-hour long podcast, right-click on the link below and select 'download link target' or something similar.

The move--should Montana move to the FBS?

For the tenth year in a row, the Montana Grizzlies football team exited spring practices with the title of “reigning Big Sky Champions.” In August, they’ll resume practices and begin preparing for a season that could hold their fifteenth consecutive playoff appearance. Until Missoula brings another gorgeous autumn and with it, football season, Griz football fans can only talk and speculate. There’s one debate that reigns over all the rest. It’s something every passionate Griz fan has an opinion on: whether or not the Griz have grown too big and too good for this level of competition.

Continue Reading...

New take on the Montana meth ads



We've all seen them so I feel like it fits in on this blog. The great barstoolio (via Deadspin) gives a college football version of these ads.

I'm not great with Photoshop so I can't fix these and take the text out but if someone wants to make a not too terrible UM version, I'll toss it right up.

Another Wash-Griz Stadium expansion picture

For you Dolphins and Falcons fans...



Above is the last regular season game for now NFL-players Lex Hilliard, Kroy Biermann and Dan Carpenter. Hilliard gets three touchdowns, Biermann chases down a wide receiver way down field and Carpenter knocks a couple big ones through, including a 50-yarder.

After the jump are highlights from Biermann's award-winning season. Continue Reading...

Appalachian State gets ESPN game under the lights


Appalachian State gets even more love as their November 1st game against Wofford gets pushed back a day so the game can be televised Halloween night on ESPN2.
There are numerous intriguing storylines that make the matchup appealing for ESPN2’s national audience. The contest pits the defending Southern Conference co-champions and is the first between the two teams since Appalachian had its 17-game winning streak snapped by Wofford, 42-31, last Sept. 22 in Spartanburg, S.C. ASU rebounded from the loss to Wofford to go 13-2 en route to its third-straight NCAA Division I national championship, while Wofford (9-4) earned the SoCon’s automatic postseason bid and advanced to the national quarterfinals.
The timing's not great as there will be a decent chunk of people out doing whatever adults or college students do on Halloween, but whatever, it's exposure for the FCS and App State program. Good for them.

So, will something like this ever happen for Montana? One of two things would have to happen: we'd need to get lights. ESPN2 could be interested in a Friday night Cat-Griz game under the lights. It's one of the oldest rivalries in college football and, along with App State, Missoula is one of the best FCS venues in the nation. Otherwise, we have to schedule someone great. An App State, Georgia Southern, what have you. Even then, you probably still have to beat Michigan and win a string of National Championships.

FCS gets 24 players drafted

The 2008 NFL draft was pretty kind to the subdivision formerly know as I-AA. The FCS got 24 players drafted by NFL teams. The Bison Media Blog has them all:
Round Pick # Overall Team Athlete Pos. School
2008 Draft 24 student-athletes
1 16 16 Arizona Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie CB Tennessee State
1 18 18 Baltimore Joe Flacco QB Delaware
2 15 46 Cincinnati Jerome Simpson WR Coastal Carolina
2 27 58 Tampa Bay Dexter Jackson WR Appalachian State
3 3 66 Miami Kendall Langford DT Hampton
3 16 79 Houston Antwaun Molden CB Eastern Kentucky
3 17 80 Philadelphia Bryan Smith OLB McNeese State
3 33 96 Washington Chad Rinehart OT Northern Iowa
4 4 103 Tennessee William Hayes DL Winston-Salem St.
4 26 125 Oakland Arman Shields WR Richmond
4 34 133 Baltimore David Hale OT Weber State
5 11 146 Detroit Jerome Felton FB Furman
5 14 149 Arizona Tim Hightower RB Richmond
5 19 154 Atlanta Kroy Biermann OLB Montana
5 25 160 Tampa Josh Johnson QB San Diego
6 11 177 Cincinnati Corey Lynch FS Appalachian State
6 14 180 Washington Kareem Moore DB Nicholls State
6 27 193 Minnesota Jaymar Johnson WR Jackson State
6 34 200 Philadelphia Joe Mays ILB North Dakota State
6 38 204 Miami Lex Hilliard RB Montana
6 41 207 Cincinnati Matt Sherry TE Villanova
7 3 210 Kansas Brian Johnston DE Gardner-Webb
7 12 219 Buffalo Demetrius Bell OT Northwestern State
7 18 225 Arizona Brandon Keith OT Northern Iowa
Besides the 24 total, four were taken in the first two rounds. Also, Montana had as many as Appalachian State. Then again, I believe Montana lost more seniors.

Two more Griz get chances with pro teams as free agents

Both Hilliard and Biermann get their shot in the NFL through draft. Now two more Montana Grizzly football players will get a chance as undrafted free agents. Offensive tackle Cody Balogh will get a chance with the Chicago Bears and Dan Carpenter signed with the Miami Dolphins.

With Lex drafted, the Dolphins now have two Grizzlies. Maybe they saw Carpenter knocking a 50-yarder through while watching Lex rip apart the Cats. The Dolphins would've had three Grizzlies, but they cut Tuff Harris the day before the draft.

Griz drafted around some interesting company

On Sunday, Montana Grizzlies and Montana-natives Kroy Biermann and Lex Hilliard officially became professional football players. Bierman went in the 5th round (#154 overall) to the Atlanta Falcons. Hilliard went in the 6th round (#204 overall) to the Miami Dolphins. The interesting thing is that both were drafted two spots away from players who were, at one point, legitimate Heisman Trophy candidates.

Biermann was drafted two spots ahead of Oregon quarterback Dennis Dixon, who went 156th overall to the Pittsburgh Steelers. This one makes some sense. Dixon lost his Heisman hopes to a blown out knee late in the season. I was still somewhat surprised his stock was so low. I mean, Willis McGahee went in the first round, 23rd overall, after he blew out his knee at Miami.

The situation with the player near Lex is different. Lex was drafted only two spots behind Michigan running-back Mike Hart, who went 202nd overall. Going into the season, Hart wasn't viewed as highly as, say, McFadden, but he was a legit pro prospect and Heisman contender. If you would've told me at the beginning of the season that Hilliard would go only two spots behind Hilliard I would've said that's about as likely as the Griz losing in the first round of the playoffs to a school with less than 1500 students App State beating Michigan Montana moving up to the FBS. Crazy stuff.

FCS playoffs to expand in 2010

The Montana Grizzlies have made the playoffs for 14 straight seasons. If they make it to 16, it'll get a little easier after that. The NCAA approved playoff expansion to 20 teams in 2010.
As part of the expansion, the Big South and Northeast Conference champions will receive automatic bids to the playoffs beginning in 2010 and can earn access into the field in 2008-09 by attaining certain criteria adopted this week during the Board of Directors meeting.

The Division I playoff committee adopted changes in the selection process that will guarantee entry into the postseason for any conference champion that wins at least eight games against Division I opponents, wins two non-conference games against teams from auto-bid leagues and ranks 16th or higher in an average of the Sports Network top-25 poll, the coaches poll and the Gridiron Power index (GPI) computer ranking.
So, now we can lose to even smaller schools in the first round.

Some shots of the stadium expansion

Appalachian State appears in Nike ad, sort of



It's not much but having your logo appear in a Nike ad because your team upset Michigan and won three straight national championships beats the hell out of Monte appearing in a Capital One commercial because a bunch of eGrizzers voted for him.

Damn, I love Nike ads.

Stadium expansion coming along



For quite a while, it seemed there wasn't a lot of progress. Well, in the past couple weeks, things have changed.

Go Pack.

If an eGrizzer had a billion dollars

While there aren't nearly as many now, the beginning of the football offseason—started by a first-round home playoff loss for the second time in three years—brought a lot of chatter on the coaching abilities of Bobby Hauck. After seeing an article today stating that one University of Washington booster pledged to give the school 100k if they fired coach Tyrone Willingham. I don't doubt that there are those who would do the same at Montana if they had the money to do so.

I'd just hope they'd be willing to pony up and put down the money to advance the program. I'm saying something similar to what SMU boosters did to lure June Jones and his dynamic offense away from Hawaii: 20 boosters are paying 100k per year for five years.

So, are there any boosters out there willing to throw down $1 million per for Bill Cowher?

NCAA now has limits on frequency while live blogging

For the reporters out there who think they can endlessly update their live blogs on NCAA bowling, watch out. Your days of giving up-to-the-minute, detailed reports on strikes and spares are over. The NCAA has set a limit on the number of updates that can be given in a live blog on an NCAA event. If the reporter exceeds the limit, they'll lose their press credentials.

Deadspin has the complete .pdf and a list of just how many updates you can give per sport:
Fall Sports
Soccer: Five times per half; one at halftime
Field Hockey: Five times per half; one at halftime
Volleyball: Three per Competition; one in between Competitions
Football: Three per quarter; one at halftime
Cross Country: Ten per day/session
Men's Water Polo: Three per quarter; one at the halftime

Winter Sports
Ice Hockey: Three per period - one in between (includes overtime)
Basketball: Five times per half; one at halftime; two times per overtime period
Wrestling: Ten per session
Indoor Track and Field: Ten per day/session
Swimming and Diving: Ten per day/session
Bowling: Ten per day/session
Gymnastics: Ten per session
The best response I've seen to this comes from a commenter on Deadspin:
Help Wanted: NCAA Blog Wrangler

Must have prior experience looking over other people's shoulders. Abacus provided for counting, but applicant must procure own horse-and-buggy ride to/from athletic facility.
The reason behind the regulation: the NCAA is worried fans will go to a live blog instead of getting their updates from media who paid for the writes to broadcast the game. Yeah, right. I read a lot of live blogs and I've never thought of reading one instead of watching or listening to a game. Who would? Well, I could watch this game on tv... or I could read a sarcastic and satirical post on it without any play-by-play. Right.

The NCAA needs to wake up. Not only does this have little effect seeing as most live blogs are done by people who themselves are at home watching games watching TV, but it also negatively affects college sports. More coverage means more exposure and attention for athletes. It means more information for fans. Why limit that when, realistically, it isn't hurting anyone? On top of limiting the big time sports, they limit posts on other, non-revenue, ones as well. If a member of the press wants to provide an endless stream of updates to a cross country or a track meet that otherwise has no media exposure, why stop them?

Ft. Collins paper calls Hauck a "longshot" for CSU job due to off-field troubles

It was bound to happen. How could a potential employer possibly look past all the transgressions that took place this past season under Hauck's nose? It's unsure whether or not this reason comes straight the administration or it's an assumption from the press but odds are if it's in the local paper, the administrators are factoring it into their decision-making.

Here's the excerpt from The Coloradoan:
Another potential successor — Montana’s Bobby Hauck — appears to be a longshot. Even though Hauck, a former University of Colorado assistant, has won five consecutive Big Sky Conference championships, his program has been criticized for a series of off-the-field incidents involving his players. At least seven players have faced a variety of charges within the past year, including murder, armed robbery, assault and DUI.
Whether Hauck is hired this year, next year or some year following, what happened in Missoula during the '07 football season will stick with him wherever he goes. When Hauck was hired for the UM job, it was supposedly due to an incredible interview. Imagine the type of interview he's going to have to give after this.

Quinton Jackson's story shows the other side of Griz recruiting

With this past season's arrests, it was tough for Griz fans not to call Bobby Hauck's recruiting practices into question. After seeing the turmoil caused by a few bad apples, it's no wonder Griz fans started wondering why Hauck and his staff gave some of these guys a second chance. An article/editorial by Bill Speltz in Sunday's Missoulian points out that there are second chances that don't go awry.

Such is the case of cornerback Quinton Jackson:
"Montana took a chance on me and I want to thank them for that," he said. "All the people who wanted to associate me with people who make bad decisions. It's been like that my whole life.

"I get joy out of proving people wrong in that aspect. A lot of people thought, 'He's a troublemaker and hangs out with the wrong people. He's a thug.' It's funny, you can't judge a book by its cover."

Too often success stories like Jackson's drown in a media cesspool of well-documented failures. Folks read about the players that went to jail on Page A1, while the Quinton Jacksons go largely unnoticed.

You know the familiar criticism: (Team name) never should have taken a chance on (fill in the blank) because he stumbled in the past and he's a risk. Somebody must have been asleep at the wheel to recruit him.

Sound familiar? Of course it does. That's why it's important testimonials on players like Jackson reach the public.

Think back on your life and try to remember if someone showed faith in you. Can't think of a time? Think a little harder.
Great article with a very, very good point.

Montana Grizzlies 2008 football schedule

The 2008 football schedule is out. As reported on here first, the Griz will open their season down San Luis Obispo against the Cal Poly Mustangs.

Here's the complete schedule:
Date ..... Opponent ..... Time
9.6 ..... at Cal Poly ..... TBA
9.13 ..... Southern Utah ..... 1:05 p.m.
9.20 ..... UC-Davis (Homecoming) ..... 1:05 p.m.
9.27 ..... Central Washington ..... 1:05 p.m.
10.4 ..... at Weber State * ..... TBA
10.11 ..... at Eastern Washington * ..... TBA
10.18 ..... Sacramento State * ..... 1:05 p.m.
10.25 ..... at Northern Colorado * ..... TBA
11.1 ..... Northern Arizona * ..... 12:05 p.m.
11.8 ..... at Portland State * ..... TBA
11.15 ..... Idaho State * ..... 12:05 p.m.
11.22 ..... Montana State * (108th meeting) ..... 12:05 p.m.

* Conference game
The OOC is alright. We probably shouldn't be playing a DII school but whatever. Here's O'Day's rationale on playing schools from a lower division. It's his response to playing Ft. Lewis last year but fits around the fact that we're playing Central Washington:
Last year, we played Fort Lewis (Don Read loved the Division II schools to let young kids get experience) and UM Athletics netted about $300,000 - not counting what the Adams Center received for ticket fees ($1 per ticket), or what dining services produced in sales, or the bookstore... not counting what the Missoula economy saw by another home game (estimated at between $5-$7 million per home weekend).  We admit that was a "money game," as do most teams at our level.   Still, it is no different than Oregon hosting Montana for $450,000 or Iowa hosting Montana for $650,000.  Their fans expected big wins at our expense, and they, too, need to produce funds to pay their bills.
After the non-conference slate, what should be two of our toughest BSC games are on the road: we have to go to Portland to play the Vikings and to the Cheney to play the Eagles. Those should be two very challenging games. Then we cap off the season with the Brawl in Missoula and hopefully another Big Sky Championship.

"Free Jimmy Wilson"



That's the sentiment expressed by Griz cornerback Chris Clark. Or at least that's what his shirt said at a dance/party at The Other Side on Friday night. Not going to express any opinion on it. It is what it is. Here's the back.

Montana Grizzlies to play five year series with Cal Poly

For the 2007 campaign, the Griz's non-conference slate consisted only of cupcakes. That will not be the case over the next five years. According to UM Athletic Director Jim O'Day, two games down at Cal Poly will bookend three straight years of the Mustangs coming up to play at Washington-Grizzly Stadium. The first game is September 6th, down in San Luis Obispo.

Here are O'Day's comments on the series:
If history prevails, each game will be very well contended. Cal Poly is a very well respected academic institution with an excellent athletic program. Like Montana, they have a lot of trouble attracting people to play in their venue because of their home winning successes and travel costs to get into their areas.

The 2010 game was scheduled two years ago, while we just finished the details on the new two home-and-home series. This is, and always has been, a good series for the two schools. We have very high respect for them, as do they for us. The Mustangs will be very tough next year... but they seem to be every year.
While the Mustangs did not make the playoffs, they did finish at #24 in the final Sports Network FCS rankings.

These are exactly the type of games the Griz and the entire FCS needs. It's a long series between perennially rank teams. Would you be surprised to see this grow into a legit inter-conference rivalry? I wouldn't. In 2005, Cal Poly knocked us out of the playoffs in the first round. That's worth some hostility. It can be our own West Coast, FCS version of Notre Dame/Michigan. Yes, I know that ended. Still, very well done by O'Day. I look forward to these games and hope the rest of the conference and division can step up and establish more sets of games like this.

The news and comments come via a great email with O'Day. I will have further comments, on a variety of subjects related to the schedule, up in future posts.

Sporting News: CSU job is Hauck's for the taking

Accoring to this blog from the Sporting News, the head coaching position at Colorado State University is Hauck's if he wants it. Here's writer Tom Dienhart's actual words:
Word is Colorado State has a front-runner: Montana coach Bobby Hauck. It looks like it is his job to accept or reject.
I hope Hauck takes it. I'm not one of those nuts who believes Hauck should be fired for losing in the first round of the playoffs but I think both the University and Hauck have a lot to gain by moving on. Hauck obviously has more to gain than the school losing a coach with a winning percentage over .700 but this could be beneficial for the Griz.

The Griz have won the Big Sky Conference and made the playoffs every year of Hauck's tenure but this team is in a rut. I know, 11-0 doesn't sound like it. However, losing in the first round of the playoffs twice in three years does. No single person can be blamed for the team stalling once it gets into the postseason but a new start could be what the program needs to get it over the hump. Then again, bringing back a talented coach isn't bad either.

Expansion construction is underway



Yesterday, work officially began on the 2,000 seat addition to Washington-Grizzly Stadium. The crews could've started earlier but probably weren't prepared for the Griz's early exit in the playoffs.

I'm not sure what is underway, but according to this, they've started.
Construction will begin Monday, Dec. 3, on a 2,000-seat expansion to the east side of Washington-Grizzly Stadium at The University of Montana. Drivers are asked to slow down and expect possible delays on Campus Drive.

Then on Dec. 15, a section of Campus Drive east of the stadium will be closed to through traffic until the building project is completed in August 2008.

"We were able to start this project a little early when the Grizzlies were eliminated from the playoffs," UM architect Jerry Ballas said.

Though a section of Campus Drive will be blocked off, students, University staff members and the general public will still be able to access the Facility Services building and Public Safety office from the south by entering campus on Beckwith Avenue. The entire Campus Drive loop will not be open to public travel.
Yeah, that's going to be great. While I'm looking forward to the expansion, I'm even more excited to be sitting on the bus, waiting 20 minutes just to get through the light at Beckwith.

It would've been one helluva game

One more game-winner by Dan. One more big stop by our D. One more touchdown instead of a field goal. One of these things and the Montana football team would've been playing this weekend to set up one of the greatest games in the history of Montana football. It would've been a Richmond win away, but imagine one of these...

Appalachian State @ Montana, Dec. 7, 5:30 p.m.
The Montana Grizzlies, arguably the most successful FCS team of the past ten years, face off two-time reigning national champions Appalachian State on friday night in Missoula. In the first round, the Griz beat one of the two teams who beat Appalachian State this year. Did you know the Mountaineers beat Michigan this year? It will be one of the nation's best defenses against the explosive Mountaineer offense. This game almost came to fruition earlier in the season but things fell through. Well, it's happening now, friday night on ESPN2.



Eastern Washington @ Montana, Dec. 8, 12:05 p.m.
After the first match-up, most Eagles fans probably thought they'd have to wait until next year for a much-desired rematch with the vaunted Grizzlies. The Eagles were not intimidated by the Griz D or the noisy crowd as they racked up 565 yards of total offense, 451 coming through the air, and were a 4th and 10 stop away from upsetting the Griz. Now they have their shot. Media outlets across the nation picked on the Big Sky Conference for being weak, now it's two teams from the 'Sky who will face off for a trip to Chattanooga.

Wofford uses back-breaking drive to beat Griz, 23-22

For the second time in three years, the Montana football season ended in the first round of the playoffs. In the game's final minutes, the Terriers used a lengthy scoring drive that put them up five with only 32 seconds remaining. After running the ball down the Griz's throats, the Terriers of course used a pass from the 5 yard line to beat the Griz. This came after the Griz scored and failed to convert a 2 point conversion that put would've put them up 7.

Even though there was almost no time left, the Griz nearly won it. When the Terriers kicked off with 32 seconds remaining, the Griz ran the ball out to mid-field. A few Bergquist completions moved the ball near the 30. Carpenter had a shot at a 47 yard field goal to win it. Of course it came to that. The call started with "Carpenter drilled it" until the vacuum sucked all the emotion out of Washington-Grizzly and he finished the call with "he missed it."

I'm sure Dan feels like he's gonna die but you cannot hang this loss on him. The Terriers turned the ball over three times and the Griz failed to cash in any of them.

The entire season the Griz wanted their respect. You have to earn it. Today, they did not.

A look at the Wofford Terriers



The video above is a series of highlights from Georgia Southern's 38-35 victory over the Wofford Terriers set to some awful music. The video gives a decent look at what it takes to beat Wofford but more than anything else it makes you kind of glad the Griz aren't playing Georgia Southern.

2007 FCS Playoff Bracket

As everyone already knows, the Montana Grizzlies play the Wofford Terriers in the first round of the FCS playoffs. The Griz got the 3 seed, meaning they're not guaranteed home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. If the Griz make it to the third round, they could potentially play McNeese State in Lake Charles, LA. However, McNeese has a rough road to that game, the offensively potent EWU in the first round then one of the two teams who have won the last three National Championships: James Madison or Appalachian State.

Below is the 2007 FCS (I-AA) Playoff Bracket. This bracket comes from The Sports Network.

Imagine, Missoula as a basketball town



On the Saturday of Cat-Griz, The Missoulian dared to run an article on basketball. While the article, titled "Football rules in town once known for hoops," is only half about basketball while the other half describes football's ascension, it's good to see this town's history of hoops get some press.

Whenever someone asks me about Griz basketball in comparison to football or tells me this is a football town and basketball will never make it, I always counter with something very similar to the lead of the article.
This was a basketball town 25 years ago. No ifs, no ands, no buts about it.

Missoula may not have been the most feared place on the planet for an opposing college basketball team to visit, but it ranked up there. The courtside student section filled to the gills an hour before tip-off, and thousands of town folk filed in behind them.

The atmosphere was electric. The crowds were both feared and revered by opposing coaches, who often talked about how basketball-savvy the fans here were.

For several years in the late 1970s and early 1980s, the Grizzly men averaged - averaged, mind you - more people at home basketball games than the current Dahlberg Arena (capacity: 7,500) can even hold. If today's basketball team sold out every single home game, it would still never touch a University of Montana attendance record.

Football, on the other hand?

There was a November day in the late 1970s that stands out, but only as a monument to Missoula's apathy toward Grizzly football back then.

It was the final home game of the regular season. It was cold, snowy, and the wind was howling through the unprotected bleachers at Dornblaser Stadium.

Less than 1,000 people showed up to watch Montana. Imagine that: A Grizzly home football game with more than 90 percent of the seats empty.
I encourage everyone to read the full article, which gives a great depiction of football's ascension in comparison to the fall in basketball. After the jump is one more excerpt, with O'Day describing his hopes for the future of basketball. Continue Reading...

Images and a video from Cat-Griz 2007



In the video above, Lex scores his second of three touchdowns. At this point in the game, the Griz were only up 7 and needed another score to put the game out of reach. This was it.

After the jump are some pictures for the game. As usual, email me if you'd like some high resolution shots. Continue Reading...

Griz finish undefeated season with win over MSU in 107th Brawl

The score, 41-20 Griz, doesn't reflect it but the game was close throughout. The two teams were separated by only one possession through most of the game.

In the fourth, the Griz were up 13 (after an EA catch 1:15 into the quarter) until the Cats scored with about ten minutes left. The Cats punched it in but the extra point was blocked and almost run back for two points. On an ensuing possession, the Griz drove down to the two. After a third down run from the two or three that got pretty much got stuffed, the scoreboard read 4th and 2. For some reason, a measurement was taken. Somehow, it led to a first down Montana. The Griz punched it in a play or two later on a leaping Lex Hilliard TD run. There'll be a video up tomorrow.

On the next Cat position, Rolovich was about to be sacked  then he hucked it up underhanded. It was picked off and Lex ran it in from 15-20 yards out on the ensuing possession. Twenty one point lead, back-to-back Brawl wins and an undefeated regular season.

Where can I watch the Cat/Griz game?



Just about every week I receive an email from someone who's curious about watching the Griz in their hometown. I know I'd want to if I wasn't here. The advice I return is always the same. If you need  a spot to watch our beloved Griz, try checking out the UM Alumni Website. They have a map of places that show the Griz-Cat game. I've heard the game will also be available through ESPN Gameplan so if you have DirecTV or another provider that carries it, you should be able to order the game through that.

Despite off field troubles, Griz stay at #3

Even with all that's happened, the Griz have only one playoff-eligible team in front of them. On top of that, the EWU Eagles five spots to #20.

Here are the complete rankings from The Sports Network.
Team (First-place votes) Record Points Previous Rank
1. Northern Iowa Panthers (70) 10-0 2,474 1
2. North Dakota State Bison (23) 10-0 2,291 2
3. Montana Grizzlies (10) 10-0 2,269 3
4. McNeese State Cowboys (3) 10-0 2,260 4
5. Southern Illinois Salukis 9-1 2,084 5
6. Appalachian State Mountaineers 8-2 1,982 7
7. Richmond Spiders 8-2 1,845 9
8. Massachusetts Minutemen 8-2 1,841 8
9. Delaware Blue Hens 8-2 1,591 6
10. Delaware State Hornets 9-1 1,538 10
11. Yale Bulldogs 9-0 1,417 12
12. Eastern Kentucky Colonels 8-2 1,408 13
13. Wofford Terriers 8-3 1,366 15
14. James Madison Dukes 7-3 1,253 16
15. Eastern Washington Eagles 7-3 942 20
16. Georgia Southern Eagles 7-3 892 11
17. Youngstown State Penguins 7-4 742 21
18. Fordham Rams 8-2 672 22
19. Grambling State Tigers 8-2 653 17
20. New Hampshire Wildcats 6-4 568 14
21. Eastern Illinois Panthers 7-3 539 25
22. Hofstra Pride 7-3 380 18
23. Alabama A&M Bulldogs 8-2 307 NR
24. Elon Phoenix 6-4 223 19
25. Cal Poly Mustangs 6-4 188 24
Others receiving votes: Harvard 158, South Dakota State 140, Norfolk State 138, Dayton 124, The Citadel 97, Villanova 68, San Diego 63, Western Illinois 59, Liberty 53, Nicholls State 42, Colgate 36, Central Arkansas 30, Furman 23, Hampton 12, South Carolina State 11, Southern 9, Montana State 6, Sam Houston State 5, Albany 4, Prairie View 4, Missouri State 1.

Students to get a lot more football seats

Jim O'Day is already trying to give students better basketball seats. Now he's doing the same for football. This comes from an article in yesterday's Kaimin.
The expansion will provide about 700 new student seats by relocating some season ticket holders to the new area.  The student section will grow into the section next to it, wrapping further around the south side of the stadium to bring the total number of student seats to 4,000.

“It moves over one more entire section,” UM Athletics Director Jim O’Day said.  “We wanted (students) to be down low, and that’s where they wanted to be.”
So the students, in a way, get more than a third of the new expansion. We should've gone with the 5,000 seat option.

More Hauck press

If someone put the over under for Hauck's seasons left in Missoula at one, I'd have a very tough time taking the over. At the pace things have gone, there is no way he stays past next season. Everyone else seems to have that idea as well.

From Tom Dienhart of the Sporting News:

A name to watch when jobs start opening: Montana coach Bobby Hauck. He almost got the Stanford job last year. It's only a matter of time before a bigger school snaps up Hauck. Washington State? Colorado State?

Other places: UCLA, UW, Wyoming. Odds are, he'll be at one of the aforementioned schools come this time next season.

Montana Grizzlies move back to #3 in TSN rankings

With their win over Portland State, and UMass's loss to Rhode Island, the Griz moved up one spot to #3 in the latest rankings from The Sports Network. Because NDSU is ineligible for postseason play, there's only one playoff team ahead of them. If the playoff seedings were based on this, which they are not, the Griz would get home field advantage all the way to Chattanooga. Also, EWU move up four spots to #20.

Here are the complete rankings courtesy of The Sports Network.
Team (First-place votes) Record Points Previous Rank
1. Northern Iowa Panthers (61) 9-0 2,687 1
2. North Dakota State Bison (42) 9-0 2,540 2
3. Montana Grizzlies (7) 9-0 2,462 4
4. McNeese State Cowboys (2) 9-0 2,455 5
5. Southern Illinois Salukis 8-1 2,279 6
6. Delaware Blue Hens 8-1 2,187 7
7. Appalachian State Mountaineers 7-2 2,058 9
8. Massachusetts Minutemen 7-2 1,847 3
9. Richmond Spiders 7-2 1,799 11
10. Delaware State Hornets 8-1 1,547 13
11. Georgia Southern Eagles 7-2 1,514 17
12. Yale Bulldogs 8-0 1,414 15
13. Eastern Kentucky Colonels 7-2 1,378 16
14. New Hampshire Wildcats 6-3 1,222 8
15. Wofford Terriers 7-3 1,215 10
16. James Madison Dukes 6-3 1,140 12
17. Grambling State Tigers 8-1 1,083 18
18. Hofstra Pride 7-2 857 20
19. Elon Phoenix 6-3 736 14
20. Eastern Washington Eagles 6-3 585 24
21. Youngstown State Penguins 6-4 467 22
22. Fordham Rams 8-2 342 NR
23. Western Illinois Leathernecks 6-4 325 19
24. Cal Poly Mustangs 6-3 289 NR
25. Eastern Illinois Panthers 6-3 264 NR
Others receiving votes: Norfolk State 181, Alabama A&M 142, South Dakota State 94, Dayton 85, Villanova 82, Harvard 76, Jacksonville State 71, Northern Arizona 50, Holy Cross 39, Liberty 29, Jackson State 26, Nicholls State 22, Southern 20, Albany 19, San Diego 17, Colgate 12, South Carolina State 11, The Citadel 9, Central Arkansas 8, Furman 7, Gardner-Webb 7, Hampton 7, Sam Houston State 6, Austin Peay 4, Rhode Island 2, Iona 1, Northeastern 1.

Griz bumped down to #4 in TSN poll

After what could be considered the Griz's most impressive win of the season, they were moved down spot in the latest FCS rankings by The Sports Network. Eastern Washington moved into the poll at #24.

Here are the complete rankings via The Sports Network.
Team (First-place votes) Record Points Previous Rank
1. Northern Iowa Panthers (59) 8-0 2,558 1
2. North Dakota State Bison (37) 8-0 2,456 2
3. Massachusetts Minutemen (6) 7-1 2,330 4
4. Montana Grizzlies (7) 8-0 2,300 3
5. McNeese State Cowboys (3) 8-0 2,272 5
6. Southern Illinois Salukis 7-1 2,069 7
7. Delaware Blue Hens 7-1 1,866 9
8. New Hampshire Wildcats 6-2 1,828 8
9. Appalachian State Mountaineers 6-2 1,689 10
10. Wofford Terriers 7-2 1,612 11
11. Richmond Spiders 6-2 1,454 14
12. James Madison Dukes 6-2 1,432 6
13. Delaware State Hornets 7-1 1,284 12
14. Elon Phoenix 6-2 1,215 16
15. Yale Bulldogs 7-0 1,179 13
16. Eastern Kentucky Colonels 7-2 1,068 17
17. Georgia Southern Eagles 6-2 850 22
18. Grambling State Tigers 7-1 789 21
19. Western Illinois Leathernecks 6-3 624 24
20. Hofstra Pride 6-2 518 15
21. Alabama A&M Bulldogs 7-1 404 NR
22. Youngstown State Penguins 5-4 292 20
23. Villanova Wildcats 5-3 253 NR
24. Eastern Washington Eagles 5-3 245 NR
25. Nicholls State Colonels 5-3 224 18
Others receiving votes: Eastern Illinois 208, Holy Cross 179, Cal Poly 147, Central Arkansas 127, Fordham 109, The Citadel 88, Norfolk State 87, Montana State 76, Dayton 59, San Diego 50, Harvard 47, Jacksonville State 36, South Dakota State 25, Hampton 19, Northern Arizona 15, Iona 11, Albany 9, Prairie View 5, Liberty 2, Winston-Salem State 2, Colgate 1.

Castles in the Big Sky: Week 9



This weekly feature is actually becoming weekly as it's back for consecutive weeks.

Griz get two game lead with victory over NAU. It's the Griz's most impressive win of the season and it almost guarantees them at least a share of the Big Sky championship. Lex carried for 130 yards in the second half and essentially carried the Griz to victory. Finally, we are starting to see the team everyone thought to compete for a National Championship.

Montana State embarrassed by Northern Colorado. Northern Colorado finally got its first win over a Big Sky team since joining the conference. It wasn't over a bottom-feeder like Sac State or Idaho State either. It was over 19th ranked Montana State. This will undoubtedly knock MSU out of the rankings, the BSC title chase and probably the playoffs.

Weber State 73, Portland State 68. Um, what the hell? It's the most points scored in an NCAA football game since these types of things were first recorded. Freshman quarterbacks—one a redshirt and one a true freshman—combined for 13 passing touchdowns. Portland State QB Drew Hubel, a true freshman making his first start, passed for nine touchdowns. I'm sure Mouse Davis likes to see that but I doubt this is what Glanville had in mind when he said PSU would have the hardest hitting defense on the West Coast.

Eastern Washington hands Sac State another close loss. Half the conference decided they weren't going to play defense this weekend. The Hornets and Eagles amassed more than 900 total yards in EWU's 31-24 win.

Idaho State thumped by Cal Poly, 48-28. Here's another team who felt defense really wasn't essential. Cal Poly quarterback Jonathan Dally threw for 453 yards and ran for 119 more. Idaho State is now 3-5 overall and 2-3 in conference.

Northern Colorado beats Montana State



The Northern Colorado Bears finally have their first win over a Division I team since moving up. After losing 16 straight, the Bears beat the Bobcats 16-13.

For moments at the end of the game, it seemed as though the Bears were trying to lose. Well, the Bobcats tried to lose a little bit harder.

After a partially blocked Northern Colorado punt, MSU went down and scored with roughly 50 seconds on the clock. The Bears burned two timeouts trying to ice the kicker on the extra point. It didn't work. Neither did MSU's kickoff coverage. The Bears returned the ball to the MSU 40 and completed a long pass to the 20 on an ensuing play. They kicked a 37 yard field goal and with that, the Bears are on a winning streak for the first time in a season and half.

TSN's Coulson picks 'Jacks over Griz

It could've been all the angry letters sent to The Sports Network's Dave Coulson or it could be that NAU is really that good, but the TSN columnist is picking the Lumberjacks to upset the #3 Grizzlies.
No. 3 Montana (7-0, 4-0) at Northern Arizona (5-3, 4-1)

Another strong team that finds itself on the playoff bubble is Northern Arizona. The Lumberjacks have lost to Arizona and Appalachian State, but an even more damaging defeat was to Big Sky Conference rival Sacramento State. But NAU is 3-0 at home and will provide a strong challenge for Montana. RB Chris Garrison (22 carries, 134 yards) and QB Lance Kriesien (24 carries, 126 yards) both exceeded the century mark in rushing last week in a 29-20 win over Weber State on the road. NAU's defense forced four turnovers last week and has 12 takeaways in the past four games and 22 on the season (fifth in FCS). CB K.J. Gerard is tied for the lead nationally in interceptions with six. Montana finally got its offense untracked in a 52-7 win over Northern Colorado, but keep in mind that the Bears are winless in eight games and rank dead last nationally in defense. RB Lex Hilliard had a promising 112 yards and two TDs rushing and QB Cole Bergquist added 292 yards passing and four TDs. The Grizzlies will need a similar effort against NAU and must also put ball security as a high priority.

Northern Arizona 24, Montana 21
I'm not going to say I agree or disagree. We could very well lose this game. But we could also stymy their offense while continuing the offensive strength we saw against UNC. Either way, I'm looking forward to another exciting Saturday like the one we saw three weeks ago. I don't want this to come down to a leaping grab on 4th and 10 though.

J.R. Hasty could be Lex Hilliard's successor

J.R. Hasty, the highly touted halfback for the Washington Huskies, has decided to leave UW and pursue football elsewhere. Hasty, who has struggled with both his weight and grades, said he wasn't getting a fair shot. Bob Candotta, who writes the Washington Huskies blog for the Seattle Times, speculates where Hasty could end up: here.

Hasty could end up at Montana, a Division I-AA program. Because he has only two years of eligibility and would have to sit out one year if he transfers to another Division I program, Division I-AA is a a stronger possibility.

Bobby Hauck, a former Husky assistant, is the Montana head coach. Craig Chambers, a former UW wide receiver, transferred to Montana, as did former Washington State quarterback Josh Swogger.

His decision ends a career that never lived up to the hype that greeted his arrival in 2005 when he was the most highly-touted member of the Class of 2005, Willingham's first as Husky coach.

I say you take a flyer on the kid. He was part of Bellevue's great run a few years ago. I believe they had the longest high school winning streak in the nation for a bit. It's a sorry state of affairs when we have to resort to scooping up kids like this but we're an FCS school and this is what we do.

NAU hoping this is their time of the decade

While the Montana Grizzlies have defeated the Northern Arizona Lumberjacks nine times in a row, history is, in a way, on the 'Jacks side. This clip comes from an article on NAU's website.
NAU has lost nine consecutive games to UM, the last win coming during the 1997 season and corresponding to the last non-title season by the Grizzlies.

NAU won 27-24 in front of a sellout crowd at the Walkup Skydome on Oct. 25, 1997...
Will 2007 provide the same magical game as the game 10 years ago?

History might be a leading indicator. NAU also posted victories over Montana in 1977 and 1987. Maybe there is magic in the air. The game in '77 was the Walkup Skydome opener and Tom Jurich hit a 54-yard field goal to win the game. In 1987, NAU won 24-17 in the second game of the season.
On a sidenote: this is NAU's homecoming. What does it mean when two teams play their homecoming against you even though you're best team in the conference?

Northern Arizona: lookin' back



Above is a good highlight video of last year's Lumberjacks. It includes some cool clips from last year's game in Missoula.

Griz remain at #3 in TSN poll, lose a lot of votes

The University of Montana Grizzlies still sit as the third ranked team in The Sports Network's I-AA rankings. While the Griz did not get bumped down in the rankings, they now have only 11 first-place votes after having 40 first-place votes last week. It looks like NDSU, who beat Minnesota this weekend, picked up most of those votes.

Here are the complete rankings, courtesy of The Sports Network.
Team (First-place votes) Record Points Previous Rank
1. Northern Iowa Panthers (56) 7-0 2,696 1
2. North Dakota State Bison (47) 7-0 2,621 2
3. Montana Grizzlies (11) 7-0 2,473 3
4. Massachusetts Minutemen (4) 6-1 2,411 4
5. McNeese State Cowboys (2) 7-0 2,335 6
6. James Madison Dukes 6-1 2,155 8
7. Southern Illinois Salukis 7-1 2,101 9
8. New Hampshire Wildcats 5-2 1,821 11
9. Delaware Blue Hens 6-1 1,679 14
10. Appalachian State Mountaineers 5-2 1,665 5
11. Wofford Terriers 6-2 1,533 7
12. Delaware State Hornets 6-1 1,340 15
13. Yale Bulldogs 6-0 1,240 16
14. Richmond Spiders 5-2 1,110 18
15. Hofstra Pride 6-1 1,057 10
16. Elon Phoenix 5-2 1,000 24
17. Eastern Kentucky Colonels 6-2 849 13
18. Nicholls State Colonels 5-2 849 13
19. Montana State Bobcats 5-2 813 20
20. Youngstown State Penguins 5-3 719 12
21. Grambling State Tigers 6-1 514 23
22. Georgia Southern Eagles 5-2 503 NR
23. Norfolk State Spartans 6-1 432 25
24. Western Illinois Leathernecks 5-3 288 17
25. The Citadel Bulldogs 5-2 282 NR
Others receiving votes: San Diego 250, Alabama A&M 211, Eastern Washington 147, Cal Poly 104, Eastern Illinois 96, Villanova 59, Holy Cross 56, Jacksonville State 40, Northern Arizona 38, Fordham 37, South Carolina State 33, Illinois State 30, Central Arkansas 23, Harvard 19, Hampton 12, South Dakota State 9, Sam Houston State 3, Austin Peay 2, Albany 1, Dayton 1.

Castles in the Big Sky: Week 8


Photo by Todd Goodrich for Montanagrizzlies.com

This weekly roundup on action in the Big Sky has been less than weekly but here it is for this weekend's games.


The Bears are who we thought they were, but are the Griz? The Griz racked up an impressive 627 yards and 52 points in their dominant win over Northern Colorado but who really knows what that means? Will the win set the Griz offense on a track that leads toward Chattanooga or is this simply a good win over a bad team? Griz fans can hope for the former but the next two games should be a better indicator than this win over a team that hasn't beat a Division I team since moving up.

Bobcats survive Sac State. As many Griz fans expected/hoped for, the MSU offense had a bit of trouble against the Hornet defense. The Cats were down 6-0 at the half but outscored the Hornets 20-3 in the final two quarters. They've now won eight straight in what has effectively been dubbed "The Ashtray."

Weber ends NAU's two game BSC win streak. Not a whole lot going on in this one. The Lumberjacks had a chance to tie it with about 9 minutes left in the game but a two point conversion was batted down. A few plays later, Weber scored and the game was out of reach.

Portland State falls to Idaho State, 38-20. Going into this season, Portland State had hopes for a Big Sky championship. It doesn't look like that's going to happen. Sorry Jer. The Viks were up 13-3 at halftime but the Bengals scored four third quarter touchdowns with two of them being on defense. The Vikings are 2-5 overall and 2-2 in the Big Sky. The only thing that may salvage their season: an upset over UM. I'm not too frightened but it is on my mind.

Eastern gets crushed by BYU. Fans of FCS, or at least Big Sky teams, hoped EWU's impressive offense would at least put a little fear into BYU, maybe make a game out of it. That did not happen. While the Eagles suffered a 42-7 defeat, they did get $325,000 for making the trip.

What a good offense does to Northern Colorado



Youtube highlights of the Hawaii/Northern Colorado game, complete with the obligatory horrendous rock music.

It could be worse for the Griz, they could be the Bears

Many Griz fans are a but more than discontent with the way the season has gone so far. Sure the Griz are 6-0, but the offense has looked horrible and outside of Ft. Lewis, we've yet to play a really dominating game. As the title indicates, things could be much worse. We could have lost 15 games in a row.

How it feels for the Bears of Northern Colorado, from The Missoulian:
“It is real frustrating, and it is real depressing,” UNC quarterback Dominic Breazeale said in a postgame interview with the Greeley Tribune. “It is hard to go through a season with so many losses considering we had so many losses last season, too. This season was supposed to be a breakout for us, and we are sitting here with no wins right now and it is not a good feeling at all.”

“It's just frustrating because our plays are set up, and they're right there,” UNC tight end Ryan Chesla said. “Their defense didn't beat us. We just didn't play our game.”

“For whatever reason, it seems like everybody plays a pretty good game against us and we are going to have to play one perfect in order to pull one out,” UNC head coach Scott Downing said to the Tribune. “But that's part of it. That's what we call pounding the rock.”

“I'm not disappointed in our kids, our coaches or anything, our support staff, our strength coach, our trainers,” Downing said. “Everybody is busting their butt for us. These kids, they deserve a win, but I don't know how it's going to happen.”
The program deserves a win, but they're probably not going to get it this weekend. I feel for Northern Colorado fans, this is like Montana riding postseason success, moving up to the WAC then losing for two years straight. Well, the Rockies are in the World Series. At least they have that.

Griz drop to #3 in TSN Poll

The way the Griz were playing, it was going to happen sooner or later. The mighty have fallen...all the way to #3...in a poll that has no bearing on playoff seeding.

I'm glad it happened, not because it "takes the target off our back" but because we deserved it. The Griz have played awful. They're lucky to be undefeated as they play down to all the competition. You can't be a #1 team without an offense.

Oh, and the Cats dropped nine spots to 20 after their loss to EWU.

Here's the complete poll from The Sports Network:
Team (First-place votes) Record Points Previous Rank
1. Northern Iowa Panthers (35) 6-0 2,577 2
2. North Dakota State Bison (23) 6-0 2,443 3
3. Montana Grizzlies (40) 6-0 2,431 1
4. Massachusetts Minutemen (4) 5-1 2,280 4
5. Appalachian State Mountaineers (3) 5-1 2,231 5
6. McNeese State Cowboys (2) 6-0 2,154 6
7. Wofford Terriers (3) 6-1 2,113 8
8. James Madison Dukes 6-1 1,883 9
9. Southern Illinois Salukis 6-1 1,735 7
10. Hofstra Pride 6-0 1,700 10
11. New Hampshire Wildcats 4-2 1,468 13
12. Youngstown State Penguins 5-2 1,444 12
13. Nicholls State Colonels 5-1 1,326 14
14. Delaware Blue Hens 6-1 1,275 15
15. Delaware State Hornets 5-1 1,054 17
16. Yale Bulldogs 5-0 1,006 16
17. Western Illinois Leathernecks 5-2 935 19
18. Richmond Spiders 4-2 705 20
19. Cal Poly Mustangs 4-2 633 22
20. Montana State Bobcats 4-2 584 11
21. Eastern Kentucky Colonels 5-2 584 23
22. Eastern Washington Eagles 4-2 514 NR
23. Grambling State Tigers 5-1 319 25
24. Elon Phoenix 4-2 306 NR
25. Norfolk State Spartans 5-1 293 NR
Others receiving votes: Eastern Illinois 237, Hampton 204, Alabama A&M 175, The Citadel 166, San Diego 153, Georgia Southern 64, Villanova 44, Central Arkansas 21, Holy Cross 19, Fordham 15, South Carolina State 14, Jackson State 10, Furman 8, Lehigh 8, Northern Arizona 8, Southern 8, Jacksonville State 7, Illinois State 6, Lafayette 6, Harvard 3, Missouri State 2, Sam Houston State 1, South Dakota State 1.

Another reason to idolize Boise State



I'm not talking about their offense.

I don't want this to be another "look at this reason to move up" post. It's more of a "look at this example of creative marketing." The WAC currently has a great deal with ESPN; under the 6-year $6 million contract signed in 2004, the conference gets 46 nationally televised games over the six year span. ESPN has the option of televising five Boise State games per year. ESPN is jumping all over that.

It's not just that Boise State has games on ESPN, it's the time as well. Over the last few weeks I've managed to catch a few Boise State games on Sunday night on ESPN. Maybe it's just me but I can't stand watching just one game at once. On Saturday afternoon I was switching between Cowboys/Pats and Professional Bull Riding out of habit. The Broncos get these Sunday night games and football fans can't help but come across them. It does help when they're four overtime games with 136 total points.

My proposal: let's get some lights in here and get our own night. Friday maybe? We'd be competing with high school football but how fun are night games? Maybe it's not such a huge scale. Say we start playing on Saturday night with games televised on Altitude. Or maybe we do this as a whole FCS thing. An FCS game of the week televised Friday or Saturday night on the deuce. Come on, we need some creativity.

Griz last in conference in total offense

So you've been to all the games and can't help but think wow, the Griz offense just isn't clicking. You'd be right. No one is clicking less than the Griz right now as they rank last in the Big Sky Conference when it comes to yards per game. Here are the stats courtesy of bigskyconf.com.

While the Griz offense struggles in this category, they do a bit better with other statistics. Their scoring offense and rushing offense are both ranked sixth in the conference. With this amount of talent, sixth doesn't sound any better.

Happy Birthday to the ugliest mascot in the world



It's Herky the Hornet's birthday and somebody made a video. Enjoy.

Editorial cartoon from Ogden Standard-Examiner

Sac State is a trap game



I'm not saying we will lose, I'm just saying if we did, it wouldn't totally shock me. This is they prototypical trap game. Outside of against D-II Ft. Lewis, the Griz have yet to play a game where they looked solid all-around. They're coming off a big rivalry came with a ton of emotion. Odds are they're not going to take Sac State too seriously. Sac State idiotically scheduled their Homecoming against the Griz so they should be riding a little bit of something, right?

For most of this season, Sac State hasn't looked very good. They lost at Portland State 24-35 and at Weber State 7-26. In the one game the Hornets played at home, they looked great. They beat the normally formidable NAU 38-9. They have the athletes to put up some points.

There are two scenarios, the Griz come in and give us fans the gave we've been waiting for or they play down and live or die in another close one. I don't know if the Griz can pull out another close game. I see either a Griz blowout or loss.

Kaimin responds to Hansen editorial

Brandon Hansen's editorial did what it was intended to do in getting a rise out of everyone. The Kaimin published their response to the humorous article today.

Here's an excerpt:
What we have here in Missoula is anything but pathetic. We have a town who loves its football and community members who show their student athletes support on any given Saturday. It’s the kind of school spirit akin to that at Pac-10 and Big Twelve schools, despite merely being a Football Championship Subdivision team. The magnitude of volume in the stadium is often too much for opponents to handle, and teams spend many practices prior to playing the Griz attempting to emulate the noise they will have to put up with in Washington-Grizzly Stadium. When the fans yell the “first down Montana” cheer or alternate the “Montana Grizzlies” chant from one side of the stadium to the other, it’s enough to send chills down your spine.
The whole article has a similar tone and feel. It's a bit softer than Hansen's original. It would've been funny to see the Kaimin really rip into EWU and its athletics but oh well, good to see something. Well done.

Griz stay at #1

Well, another close win over a ranked opponent didn't hurt the Griz as they remain at the top spot in  the TSN poll.  The Griz actually picked up three more first place votes. The entire top nine stayed the same and Montana State moved up to 11 from 13.

Here are the complete rankings courtesy of The Sports Network.
Team (First-place votes) Record Points Previous Rank
1. Montana Grizzlies (55) 5-0 2,683 1
2. Northern Iowa Panthers (29) 5-0 2,659 2
3. North Dakota State Bison (24) 5-0 2,612 3
4. Massachusetts Minutemen (5) 4-1 2,487 4
5. Appalachian State Mountaineers (2) 5-1 2,356 5
6. McNeese State Cowboys (2) 5-0 2,260 6
7. Southern Illinois Salukis (1) 6-0 2,218 7
8. Wofford Terriers (3) 5-1 2,217 8
9. James Madison Dukes 5-1 1,917 9
10. Hofstra Pride 5-0 1,719 12
11. Montana State Bobcats 4-1 1,473 13
12. Youngstown State Penguins 4-2 1,434 10
13. New Hampshire Wildcats 3-2 1,433 15
14. Nicholls State Colonels 4-1 1,278 17
15. Delaware Blue Hens 5-1 1,244 11
16. Yale Bulldogs 4-0 1,039 18
17. Delaware State Hornets 4-1 923 20
18. Hampton Pirates 4-1 814 21
19. Western Illinois Leathernecks 4-2 775 22
20. Richmond Spiders 3-2 551 14
21. Georgia Southern Eagles 4-1 454 NR
22. Cal Poly Mustangs 3-2 442 24
23. Eastern Kentucky Colonels 4-2 259 NR
24. Eastern Illinois Panthers 3-3 252 16
25. Grambling State Tigers 4-1 228 NR
Others receiving votes: Alabama A&M 221, Lafayette 138, San Diego 127, Missouri State 105, Southern 99, Sam Houston State 97, Eastern Washington 95, Villanova 85, Norfolk State 78, Elon 76, The Citadel 62, Furman 32, Drake 23, Towson 23, South Carolina State 14, Illinois State 14, Lehigh 12, Central Arkansas 11, Holy Cross 11, Northern Arizona 11, Austin Peay 7, Fordham 5, Morehead State 4, Southeastern Louisiana 3, Tennessee Tech 2, South Dakota State 2, Portland State 2, UC Davis 1.

Where can I watch the Griz game?



Just about every week I receive an email from someone who's curious about watching the Griz in their hometown. I know I'd want to if I wasn't here. The advice I return is always the same. If you need  a spot to watch our beloved Griz, try checking out the UM Alumni Website. They have a map of places that show the Griz-Cat game. If they show Griz-Cat, I'm assuming there's a decent chance they show all games or are willing to if you ask. Give them a call, offer to bring in the satellite coordinates and maybe they can hook you and your fellow Griz fans up.

We're better because we have less fans!

For those of you who haven't already checked out Brandon Hansen's humorous Easterner column on the Montana Grizzlies and their fans, I strongly suggest doing so.

Hansen likes to poke at UM's obsessive fans and seems to believe the Eastern side of Washington is so much better than Montana. Does he realize Eastern Washington is Montana without any of the scenery? I've made the drive from Seattle to Missoula countless times and the 500 miles between those two great cities is comparable to Mars. Well, everything outside of Couer d'Alene.

Here's some of Hansen's commentary:
Griz fans will roll out of their Victorian-style single-wide trailers on Saturday and rumble over to their stadium in their four-miles-to-the-gallon Ford F-350 Jumbo Cab (their pride has to sit somewhere) and walk up to the ticket office at the stadium just before the game.

"Milford Tilly, age 40, residing with mom, currently the assistant manager of Taco Bell, here is your season ticket."

Unfortunately for Tilly, his beloved Griz are playing the Eags: The same Eags who handed Montana a 34-20 home loss in 2005 when they ranked as the second-best team in the country. Every time EWU slogs into the state (the beer-guzzling, mud-flap toting, red-headed and freckle-faced cousin of Wyoming), they seem to play with a chip on their shoulder. In fact, EWU has been the victorious team over Montana in four of its nine league losses all-time at Washington-Grizzly Stadium.

Win or lose, when EWU fans wake up on Sunday morning they'll be able to root for a pro football team from their own state. And then when they wake up on Monday, they'll be able to go to work instead of spending the entire day on the Grizzly football forums talking about UM head coach Bobby Hauck's latest hairstyle.
Well written and well-played. I'm from Seattle so I could wake up and root for my homestate team, but I won't. No, the Packers are much better. Yeah, with satellite TV and NFL Sunday Ticket I can pretty much root for anyone. But NFL Sunday Ticket won't ever bring you the atmosphere of a great gameday. That's what we have in Missoula. It's something you'll never have in Cheney.

Eastern coach is confident going into game with Griz

Paul Wulff, head coach of the Eastern Washington Eagles, is optimistic and confident heading into this weekend's game against the Griz at Washington-Grizzly Stadium. Why shouldn't he be? The Eagles have won more games (4) at the daunting Wash-Griz than any other road team.

Here are a few quotes from Wulff in The Easterner, EWU's weekly student newspaper.
"We didn't execute well against Portland State and as a coach that drives you nuts," said Wulff. "But we'll improve and get it done. I know our players like to play in Missoula and it will be a huge challenge for us like it always is. But it's a game that is winnable and our players know that. If we can improve our execution in all facets of the game, we expect that we will have a great chance to win the game when the fourth quarter rolls around."

"We're going get a game plan, get our kids ready to play hard, go in and execute and go in and win the ballgame," Wulff said.
This is going to be a good game. As many have already said, if the Griz give the Eagles they same amount of effort they gave Weber, EWU is going to add a fifth victory at Washington-Grizzly Stadium.

Look, an eagle!



Why? Because it has bears, eagles and it's funny.

Let's hope something metaphorically or literally similar to this doesn't happen on Saturday.

National Championship tickets now on sale



That's right, if you're confident enough, you can purchase your tickets for the Football Championship Subdivision National Championship in Chattanooga. Don't you love that our National Championship is played in Tennessee? Who made that call? Pasadena, Miami, Arizona? Hell no! We're going to Tennessee. Oh, and the capacity of Finley Stadium is a about 2,000 less than Washington-Grizzly. God this is great.

Tickets are $15. As for the rest of the expenses, if you want to land the day before and take off the day after, flight and hotel for two people is about $700 on Orbitz right now.

Are the Cats better than the Griz?

I don't think so, but Greg Rachac of the Cat-Griz Insider does.
The Grizzlies? After they struggled in an 18-10 victory over winless Weber State, they have some questions to answer. Sure, they’re (still) the No. 1 ranked team in the nation, but UM has been bolstered by a weak schedule (their four opponents are a combined 2-14) and they still won’t play a road game until midway through October. Plus, who knows the status of Lex Hilliard’s shoulder injury? Bobby Hauck mentioned that he just hopes that Hilliard can come back at some point this season. That is certainly not good news for UM. The Griz will have to play much better this week against Eastern Washington.

The Bobcats, on the other hand, have been cruising thus far. A loss in their season opener at Texas A&M was expected, but since then they’ve been rolling. Granted, they, too, struggled against Weber State, but for the most part the Bobcats have been clicking on both offense and (especially) defense, making coach Rob Ash’s first tenure at the helm a success thus far.

All I’m saying is this: If Montana and Montana State were to play right now, the Bobcats would win. That may not be the case on Nov. 17, but it is certainly the case now.
Right now, we're going off the Weber games because the Griz and Cats don't have any other comparable opponents until the Cats play Southern Utah next week.

Griz still sit at #1 in FCS poll, actually gain votes

Despite a very depressing and weak win at home against a now 0-4 Weber State team, the Griz team hung in at #1 and somehow gained more first place votes. Last week the Griz received 46 first place votes, this week: 52. They were helped out by a UMass loss. That loss? To 14th ranked (FBS) Boston College. It wasn't even a bad loss either. UMass hung in there with the final score being 24-14.

Here are the complete rankings from The Sports Network.
Team (First-place votes) Record Points Previous Rank
1. Montana Grizzlies (52) 4-0 2,573 1
2. Northern Iowa Panthers (23) 5-0 2,564 3
3. North Dakota State Bison (19) 4-0 2,496 4
4. Massachusetts Minutemen (11) 4-1 2,422 2
5. Appalachian State Mountaineers (2) 4-1 2,294 5
6. McNeese State Cowboys (7) 4-0 2,236 6
7. Southern Illinois Salukis (2) 5-0 2,115 7
8. Wofford Terriers (3) 4-1 2,084 8
9. James Madison Dukes 4-1 1,878 9
10. Youngstown State Penguins 4-1 1,811 10
11. Delaware Blue Hens 5-0 1,693 12
12. Hofstra Pride 4-0 1,376 14
13. Montana State Bobcats 3-1 1,229 18
14. Richmond Spiders 3-1 1,041 25
15. New Hampshire Wildcats 2-2 895 11
16. Eastern Illinois Panthers 3-2 894 19
17. Nicholls State Colonels 3-1 785 23
18. Yale Bulldogs 3-0 746 22
19. Sam Houston State Bearkats 2-2 744 15
20. Delaware State Hornets 3-1 652 NR
21. Hampton Pirates 3-1 587 13
22. Western Illinois Leathernecks 3-2 566 17
23. Illinois State Redbirds 2-3 339 16
24. Cal Poly Mustangs 3-2 289 NR
25. Southern Jaguars 5-0 279 NR
Others receiving votes: The Citadel 261, Eastern Washington 180, Georgia Southern 118, Lehigh 109, Furman 86, South Carolina State 75, Grambling 65, Alabama A&M 57, Lafayette 54, San Diego 52, Elon 47, Eastern Kentucky 31, Portland State 26, Princeton 19, Villanova 17, Drake 16, Gardner-Webb 10, Tennessee Tech 7, Norfolk State 5, South Dakota State 5, Towson 5, Missouri State 3, Northwestern State 3, UC Davis 3, Alabama State 2, Morgan State 1, Northern Arizona 1.

Castles in the Big Sky: Week 5

It wasn't here last week, but this weekly recap of Big Sky games is back for week 5.

Montana very unimpressive against WSU. It was a lot like the USC-Washington game. Both the Trojans and Griz were ranked number one but put up less than inspiring performances against decent yet unranked teams who wore purple and had school names starting with a W. I don't think the Trojans committed nearly as many penalties though.

Portland State beats Eastern Washington, 28-21. The Viking offense looked very strong in the win as they racked up 520 yards of total offense. Even so, it was a close game. The game ended when Portland State picked off a desperation pass in the end zone.

Sac State rolls over Northern Arizona, 38-9. NAU head coach Jerome Souers didn't give the Hornets much credit, saying "it was one of those games that whatever could go wrong, did go wrong." You know what, you got stomped. It wasn't just things going wrong. Sac State obviously played well.

Montana State rallies from 10-0 deficit to beat Idaho State. The Bobcats had a strong third quarter and Demetrius Crawford ran for 173 yards on 23 carries as the Bobcats' 40-20 win put the Bengals 0-2 in the conference.

Northern Colorado loses to Cal Poly, 56-21. What can I say? They got this losing thing down.

Homecoming



Well I'm off. Parade starts at ten, and game starts at 1:00. Hope everyone else enjoys the game. I'll try not to do what I did last week. For the record, that was with my parents at the GSA Tailgate. So everything I did, I did in support of Griz athletics.

Once again, enjoy the game everyone.

Yell Night pictures

The quality is awful but here they are nonetheless. More after the jump.

Continue Reading...

Look familiar?



Pictured above is one of the 'Griz Nation' student fan club t-shirts. Recognize the design? It's loosely based off the design for the basketball shirts. I'm not really sure where you get these Griz Nation shirts. I believe they cost between $10 and $15 and include discounts to places around town. Might want to start by asking at the McDonald's by the Campus Inn, they have a lot of them.

As for the Griz hoops shirts, I do know where to get those. The first 1,000 students to get in the Colorado State game will get one for free.

Just glad to be here



Last night was a great night to be out on the Oval. Not because the weather was great, but because homecoming officially kicked off with a bonfire and pep rally.

Before I continue, I want to note that I haven't done this for a while. I've stayed away. They've been doing their thing and I've been doing mine. No point in constantly critiquing them but I think this is warranted.

If you read the Montana Kaimin this morning, you'd have no idea that alumni, students, administrators, professors and football players gathered on the Oval to celebrate Homecoming. There is absolutely zero mention of what really was a great night.

There was music, athletes and coaches speaking, fireworks, popcorn and everyone just feeling good about being a Griz. Instead of running something on this, the Kaimin chose publish a front page picture of girls wrestling in lube. I know this paper is for the students but if you were an alum returning to your alma mater and saw this front and center, what would you think?

For those of you who didn't make it out last night, sorry, you really missed out. I'll have some pictures up later. Some that aren't of the grainy cell-phone variety.

Homecoming kicks off with pep rally

The major homecoming festivities will start tonight with "Yell Night" on the Oval. There'll be a pep rally, bonfire and "Singing on the Steps." Here's a description from MontanaGrizzlies.com.
From 7:00-7:30 free pop and popcorn will be served. A 14-foot projector screen will show UM’s recent award-winning commercials and tunnel walk.

The UM Marching Band, Spirit Squads, Monte, and the Griz Football team will arrive at 7:30 p.m. Speakers include UM Athletic Director Jim O’Day, Head Football Coach, Bobby Hauck, and a few Griz football players.

The 2007 Homecoming Student Ambassadors will be announced at the event. Other activities include singing by the UM Jubileers, the Bonfire which is hosted by the UM Forestry Club, the Lighting of the “M,” and an on-campus fireworks show concludes the rally.
For a complete schedule of homecoming events, visit the University of Montana Alumni site.

Griz move to #1

After trailing Appalachian State for the last two years, the Griz have finally slipped into first with the Mountaineers' loss to Wofford. They fell all the way to fifth as the Griz received 46 first-place votes.
Team (First-place votes) Record Points Previous Rank
1. Montana Grizzlies (46) 3-0 2,396 2
2. Massachusetts Minutemen (18) 4-0 2,345 3
3. Northern Iowa Panthers (12) 4-0 2,272 4
4. North Dakota State Bison (14) 3-0 2,269 5
5. Appalachian State Mountaineers (8) 3-1 2,108 1
6. McNeese State Cowboys (2) 3-0 1,951 6
7. Southern Illinois Salukis (1) 4-0 1,833 7
8. Wofford Terriers (2) 3-1 1,821 13
9. James Madison Dukes 3-1 1,651 8
10. Youngstown State Penguins 3-1 1,616 9
11. New Hampshire Wildcats 2-1 1,522 10
12. Delaware Blue Hens 4-0 1,486 11
13. Hampton Pirates 3-0 1,170 12
14. Hofstra Pride 3-0 1,086 15
15. Sam Houston State Bearkats 2-1 872 17
16. Illinois State Redbirds 2-2 815 14
17. Western Illinois Leathernecks 3-1 782 19
18. Montana State Bobcats 2-1 772 18
19. Eastern Illinois Panthers 2-2 567 20
20. Furman Paladins 1-2 538 16
21. Eastern Washington Eagles 3-0 415 25
22. Yale Bulldogs 2-0 369 21
23. Nicholls State Colonels 3-1 336 NR
24. Elon Phoenix 2-1 263 NR
25. Richmond Spiders 2-1 171 NR
Others receiving votes: Cal Poly 166, Delaware State 119, The Citadel 111, Villanova 107, South Carolina State 55, Southern 42, Northern Arizona 41, Grambling 39, Lafayette 37, Alabama A&M 36, Lehigh 31, Holy Cross 30, Missouri State 27, San Diego 22, Alabama State 19, Eastern Kentucky 17, Georgia Southern 14, Gardner-Webb 9, UC Davis 9, Drake 8, Tennessee State 6, South Dakota State 5, Stony Brook 4, Chattanooga 3, Harvard 2, Dayton 1, Jackson State 1, Norfolk State 1, Northwestern State 1, Towson 1.

Student tickets sell out fast

Apparently, students don't care about the weak schedule. Last year, student tickets were still available until about noon on Tuesday. This year, not so.

For this week's Weber State game, the student tickets sold out by 10:30 and the line for the guest passes was hundreds long by quarter to 7, a full hour and fifteen minutes before they went on sale. The most likely reason: tickets are now free for students.

Until we have to start showing up this early just to get a normal student ticket, this system is fine. Showing up before 9 or 10 isn't too terribly difficult.

Student season tickets are a possible alternative. As if the biannual Griz-Cat chaos isn't enough. I don't think we can trust the UM ticket office to divvy out tickets for an entire year worth of Griz football. Based on what? Seniority? Lottery? Camping out for two weeks? It'd be awful.

Notes on Albany

Their program has grown from nothing. Head coach Bob Ford built the program from the ground up.
The football program grew from a club team in 1970-72 to Division III from 1973-1994. The Great Danes climbed into Division II in 1995 and the Football Championship Subdivision in 1999.
They keep changing up their gameplan. One has to wonder if this is really an act in deception or just the Great Danes trying to find something that works. Albany is 1-2 on the season with losses to Colgate and Hofstra.
Montana quarterback Cole Bergquist said film study during the bye week showed certain defensive tendencies on the part of the Great Danes. Then the Griz watched film of Albany's 28-13 Saturday home loss to No. 15 Hofstra, and things had changed.

"They ran some totally different stuff," Bergquist said. "Now it's just like any game - we have to be ready for everything."
Bob Ford has coached the Albany Great Danes forever. This is an interesting contrast to our situation. Not that there's anything wrong with BH wanting to move on. Who wouldn't? I doubt there are many coaches would've rather sit at the FCS instead of moving. There is at least one though.
"When I first came here I thought I was going to stay three years, use it for a professional stepping-stone and move on," Ford said.

"I started the program from scratch,” Ford said. “As other opportunities came up to go other places that paid more money, it was sort of my baby, I guess, and I just didn’t want to walk."

Quick glance at Albany tradition


The video above shows University of Albany successfully setting the record for the world's largest pillow fight. The school also held the record for largest game of musical chairs. I believe both these records were broken on Fountain Day. Some insight into what that is:
Fountain Day is UAlbany’s annual rite of spring when the main fountain at  the center of the Academic Podium is turned on for the season. This event draws a huge cross-section of the University Community, gathering students, faculty, and staff for an afternoon of festivities. Fountain Day began in 1978 as Human Awareness Potential day. The University President is usually on hand to preside over the ceremony by tossing out the “First Frisbee” of the season. In recent years, Fountain Day has been shaped into a carnival-esque atmosphere complete with beach balls, free caricatures, free massages, fried dough vendors, tropical smoothie bars, music, contests, giveaways, and more fun!
Sounds interesting.

Maroon-out vs. Albany



Wear maroon or don't come. Really, it's not that hard.

Griz still sit at 2nd in TSN Poll

The Griz sit in their usual spot while Montana State moved from 20th to 18th. Eastern Washington debuts in the poll at #25 and Portland State is working on climbing its way back in.

Team (First-place votes) Record Points Previous Rank
1. Appalachian State Mountaineers (90) 3-0 2,250 1
2. Montana Grizzlies 2-0 2,055 2
3. Massachusetts Minutemen 3-0 1,985 3
4. Northern Iowa Panthers 3-0 1,943 4
5. North Dakota State Bison 2-0 1,843 5
6. McNeese State Cowboys 2-0 1,763 8
7. Southern Illinois Salukis 3-0 1,662 7
8. James Madison Dukes 2-1 1,641 9
9. Youngstown State Penguins 2-1 1,626 6
10. New Hampshire Wildcats 1-1 1,426 12
11. Delaware Blue Hens 3-0 1,344 10
12. Hampton Pirates 2-0 1,122 13
13. Wofford Terriers 2-1 1,053 11
14. Illinois State Redbirds 2-1 971 17
15. Hofstra Pride 2-0 794 19
16. Furman Paladins 1-2 728 15
17. Sam Houston State Bearkats 2-1 693 16
18. Montana State Bobcats 1-1 564 20
19. Western Illinois Leathernecks 2-1 505 22
20. Eastern Illinois Panthers 1-2 468 14
21. Yale Bulldogs 1-0 417 21
22. Lafayette Leopards 3-0 324 25
23. Alabama A&M Bulldogs 3-0 184 NR
24. Cal Poly Mustangs 1-2 160 NR
25. Eastern Washington Eagles 2-0 155 NR
Others receiving votes: Delaware State 154, Nicholls State 150, Drake 99, Georgia Southern 98, The Citadel 87, Towson 85, Richmond 59, San Diego 58, Northern Arizona 57, Alabama State 40, Villanova 34, Portland State 33, South Carolina State 30, Jackson State 26, Missouri State 22, Tennessee State 21, North Carolina Central 18, Holy Cross 17, Dayton 13, South Dakota State 13, Southern 13, Lehigh 12, Grambling 11, Texas State 11, Albany 8, Prairie View 8, Gardner-Webb 6, Princeton 6, Stony Brook 4, Harvard 2, Liberty 2, Northeastern 2, William & Mary 2, Coastal Carolina 1, Cornell 1, Iona 1, UC Davis 1.

Castles in the Big Sky: Week 3

Portland State saves their season with a 35-24 win over Sac State. The Vikings probably went into this game the same way Michigan will go into their conference schedule. PSU will not get great playoff seeding but they can still win the conference and make the playoffs. Unlike the Wolverines, the Viks can still win a National Championship. It's not likely, but as a Cubs fan, I like to think anyone can win once they get in the playoffs.

Montana State kills Dixie State, 61-7. Nice job guys, nice job. Some people mark this as some sort of sign that MSU is fine and will be something of a contender. The win is what it is. If you're proud of a D-II shilacking, that's not good. I'm not saying the Cats will or will not be a factor in the 'Sky but the only message this sends is that they can blow out a team from a lower division. Good to know.

NAU falls to Appalachian State, 34-21. It would've been nice to see a Big Sky team get mentioned on SC for beating the giant-killers from Boone, but it didn't happen as the Mountaineers won their 17th straight game. It could've been worse. If NAU can keep it within two possessions, maybe the Griz can pull off a win.

Weber State blown out by Cal Poly, 47-19. The Weber State secondary allowed Mustangs quarterback Jonathan Dally to rack up Colt Brennan-esque numbers in the loss. The kid tossed 6 TDs on 328 yards.

Northern Colorado loses to San Diego, 49-13. This type of score was expected with the Bears coming off a huge loss to D-II Chadron State. On a positive note, they did find a running back. David Woods finished with 180 all-purpose yards.

Eastern beats UC Davis, 41-31. It wasn't Bengals-Browns but the Eagles and Aggies combined for almost 1,000 total yards. The Aggies had more yards and the Eagles had more points.

Idaho State trounced by Oregon State, 61-10. You know the deal. Big Sky team plays FBS opponent, Big Sky team loses by 30+ while the FBS team puts up huge numbers. Whatever pays the bills.

O'Day: neutral site games a real possibility down the road

I've ranted about this more than enough. The Griz football teams needs to schedule games against strong opponents in their non-conference schedule; not just to better the program, but the entire FCS. University of Montana athletic director Jim O'Day explained that there are so many things getting in the way of such games. The travel, the guaranteed money each team wants, the challenge of planning out games in following years, etc. Turns out there may be a smoother way to manage this stuff.

Upon hearing a rumor that UM may be playing Grambling State down in Vegas, I decided to email Jim again. The response wasn't what I was hoping for but it could've been worse.
[The Grambling game] was a possibility earlier, but doubtful at this time due to scheduling conflicts.  Maybe down the road something like this will happen.

This idea, with promoters pushing it and guarantees for both teams at a neutral site, could be a real positive for our division down the road.  It would allow some interesting cross-country rivalries to take place.
OK, so not being able to cheer on our Griz down in Sin City is a downer, but the fact that our AD is exploring every avenue for landing a challenging out of conference opponent is good to hear.

Griz football back to #2 in rankings

I'm not sure how thumping a D-II school impresses anyone but the Griz's 49-0 victory over Fort Lewis was enough to push the Griz back up to #2 in The Sports Network's FCS Top 25.

Team (First-place votes) Record Points Previous Rank
1. Appalachian State Mountaineers (77) 2-0 1,925 1
2. Montana Grizzlies 2-0 1,849 3
3. Massachusetts Minutemen 2-0 1,726 2
4. Northern Iowa Panthers 2-0 1,630 8
5. North Dakota State Bison 1-0 1,625 4
6. Youngstown State Penguins 1-1 1,411 6
7. Southern Illinois Salukis 2-0 1,386 11
8. McNeese State Cowboys 1-0 1,374 7
9. James Madison Dukes 1-1 1,366 10
10. Delaware Blue Hens 2-0 1,051 13
11. Wofford Terriers 2-0 1,044 14
12. New Hampshire Wildcats 0-1 1,030 5
13. Hampton Pirates 1-0 826 15
14. Eastern Illinois Panthers 1-1 749 12
15. Furman Paladins 1-1 725 9
16. Sam Houston State Bearkats 2-0 709 16
17. Illinois State Redbirds 1-1 556 17
18. Nicholls State Colonels 2-0 475 25
19. Hofstra Pride 1-0 394 NR
20. Montana State Bobcats 0-1 356 21
21. Yale Bulldogs 0-0 280 23
22. Western Illinois Leathernecks 1-1 273 24
23. Towson Tigers 2-0 260 NR
24. Delaware State Hornets 2-0 214 NR
25. Lafayette Leopards 2-0 134 NR
Others receiving votes: Cal Poly 131, Northwestern State 96, Princeton 82, Richmond 81, Texas State 74, Alabama A&M 70, Drake 69, The Citadel 65, Missouri State 65, Tennessee-Martin 60, Portland State 58, Georgia Southern 50, South Carolina State 46, Eastern Washington 35, Eastern Kentucky 34, Southern 34, Northern Arizona 31, South Dakota State 29, Villanova 24, Alabama State 23, Liberty 23, San Diego 20, Austin Peay 14, Holy Corss 12, Maine 12, Stony Brook 10, Norfolk State 9, Grambling 7, Central Arkansas 6, Harvard 6, Colgate 4, Prairie View 4, Rhode Island 2, Tennessee State 2.

Castles in the Big Sky, Week 2

This is a weekly segment quickly recapping the past week's games in the Big Sky.

Montana beats Fort Lewis 49-0. If there was college fantasy football and you had a few Montana Grizzlies on your team, you would've looked pretty good this weekend. Too bad there's no such thing as college fantasy football and we just wasted our time watching our school trounce a Division II squad. At least the offense was rolling.

Portland State loses again, this time to UC Davis 26-17. This past offseason I said Jerry Glanville has done everything he possibly could to promote and manage the PSU football program. Well, there's more to promoting. The Vikings have flopped coming out of the gate. It will be interesting to season if the preseason hype can survive this awful start. The Viks were up 17-3 at one point before giving up 23 unanswered. Not good.

Northern Arizona fell to the University of Arizona, 45-24. These are the type of games FCS powers need to schedule. Games against beatable FCS teams. NAU isn't a FCS power and was just looking for a local and almost but not quite rivalry-esque game. Those are fine too. The UA offense rolled over the Lumberjacks as their quarterback passed for five touchdowns.

Northern Colorado gets reamed by D-II Chadron State, 31-0. This is the second year in a row a Big Sky team has lost to Chadron St. Why are the Griz playing all these easy games now? What are we preparing for? Conference games? Come on. Sure, Chadron State is one of the best teams in D-II, but so was Northern Colorado before they moved. You can't get shut out, at home, by a team in a lower division.

Idaho State beats NAIA Southern Oregon "respectably," 37-11. That's kind of close for an NAIA school. Probably too close. The Bengals' freshman quarterback Russell Hill completed 20 of his 31 passes. They played well, but it was NAIA so it doesn't really matter.

Fort Lewis, woohoo!

Wow, this is going to be a great weekend. We got a Division II team coming in and we're going to beat the holy hell out of them. Isn't this great? Really? We don't have to risk going on the road and playing a challenging opponent. That means we are much less likely to lose. Yep, bring on all the home playoff games we'll be completely unprepared for. What does it matter when it's all about the money?

A majority of Griz fans come into this game a little less than enthused. Hell, it's a Division II school. They have eight kids on scholarship. If you don't already know how I feel about the game, you're an idiot. Here's how the Fort Lewis coach feels about the game:
"We're tired of going against each other," Skyhawks head football coach Ed Rifilato said Thursday, just before the team boarded its buses for Missoula, Mont., and its Saturday game against Division I-AA opponent the University of Montana.

"We're looking forward to playing a game."

"We just have to play our butts off - fight," Rifilato said of the money game. "Next week we get (University of Nebraska at) Kearney, and that's what this game is for. We just need to find a way to compete, that's the biggest thing."

Fort Lewis is 0-5 in the Subdivision the last three years, games that leave little chance of victory but big gains financially in the program's pocket book. Montana defeated Fort Lewis 55-0 two years ago at Washington-Grizzly Stadium in Missoula.

"I'd like to see us be aggressive, work hard and know our assignments," Rifilato said. "They're going to out-athletic us anyway.

"We're getting closer, we just need to play and see what we're made of."
You're made of eight scholarships and Division II mediocrity. If we don't win, the football program should be shut down and all funding should go towards hoops.

Could Montana play with Appalachian State?


No. As a Griz and Fighting Irish fan, I'm sorry to say the game would end up looking like the one above with the Griz as ND and App St as LSU.

Appalachian is just too fast. Montana's weakest spot, currently the secondary, would have a tough time hanging with the Mountaineers fast skill players. However, the Griz could make it a game if the Lex and the offensive line played out of their minds. Even then, it'd still be a tough matchup.

Portland State loses starting QB and FB for season

The Portland State Vikings came into this season with as much hype as any team in college football. There was a Jerry Glanville feature story in every paper in the Northwest. Well, things opened with a huge dud as the Vikings fell to McNeese State, 35-12, down in Louisiana. As Ian Ruder notes, the game did not go well. The Cowboys tried to give the game away and the Viks wouldn't take it.

On top of looking terrible and getting blown out, the Vikings lost their starting quarterback and fullback for the season. Quarterback Tygue Howland is out with a serious injury to his foot while fullback Bobby McClintock blew out his knee.

Colorado transfer Brian White takes over at quarterback. I wasn't too impressed at first but he showed last year that he's capable of running the offense. On McClintock: he's the second fullback they've lost for the year so there will be a couple running backs behind the line for the remainder of the season.

Griz drop to #3 in TSN poll

The Griz could've been more impressive in their 37-17 victory over Southern Utah and that was reflected, if only a little bit, in the latest Sports Network FCS Top 25.

Here's the complete poll:

Team (First-place votes) Record Points Previous Rank
1. Appalachian State Mountaineers (88) 1-0 2,200 1
2. Massachusetts Minutemen 1-0 2,077 3
3. Montana Grizzlies 1-0 2,075 2
4. North Dakota State Bison 0-0 1,826 4
5. New Hampshire Wildcats 0-0 1,815 6
6. Youngstown State Penguins 0-1 1,611 5
7. McNeese State Cowboys 1-0 1,607 10
8. Northern Iowa Panthers 1-0 1,550 9
9. Furman Paladins 1-0 1,440 11
10. James Madison Dukes 0-1 1,343 8
11. Southern Illinois Salukis 1-0 1,282 12
12. Eastern Illinois Panthers 1-0 984 17
13. Delaware Blue Hens 1-0 979 19
14. Wofford Terriers 1-0 902 14
15. Hampton Pirates 0-0 864 16
16. Sam Houston State Bearkats 1-0 593 18
17. Illinois State Redbirds 0-1 592 7
18. Portland State Vikings 0-1 528 13
19. Texas State Bobcats 1-0 449 NR
20. Tennessee-Martin Skyhawks 0-1 398 22
21. Montana State Bobcats 0-1 395 21
22. Cal Poly Mustangs 0-1 373 15
23. Yale Bulldogs 0-0 275 24
24. Western Illinois Leathernecks 1-0 264 NR
25. Nicholls State Colonels 1-0 256 NR
Others receiving votes: Towson 232, Delaware State 192, South Dakota State 136, Lafayette 117, Northern Arizona 87, South Carolina State 69, Drake 72, Princeton 69, Alabama A&M 65, San Diego 64, Liberty 44, Northwestern State 44, Georgia Southern 39, Lehigh 39, Maine 35, Central Arkansas 34, Eastern Washington 34, The Citadel 29, Colgate 24, Southern 18, Harvard 17, Holy Cross 16, Eastern Kentucky 11, Gardner-Webb 6, Missouri State 6, Stephen F. Austin 6, Richmond 4, Winston-Salem State 4, Coastal Carolina 2, Mississippi Valley State 1.

Five questions with Appalachian State AD Charlie Cobb



Appalachian State's win over Michigan has been called the greatest upset in the history of college football. Now here's one of the people who helped put it together: Appalachian State athletic director Charlie Cobb.

Grizzoulian: What do you believe this win does for your program? What do you hope it does for your program? More attention, more recruits, more donations?

Charlie Cobb: Exposure is obviously tremendous. Our hope is that it gives some national credit to Coach Moore, his staff, and the players.

Grizzoulian: What affect does this win have on the FCS as a whole? Does it give the whole division a bit more legitimacy?

Charlie Cobb: I think it shows that you still have to play the games. My favorite picture from the game Saturday - besides the scoreboard shots - is the one from the coin toss to start the game. Their left tackle is 6'7" and 320. Our guys don't even hit his chest, yet somehow we stayed in the game. As for a lasting legacy, I think it's going to take more wins by the better programs over FBS schools to start any kind of national movement. The scary part is how many of these schools are going to get a chance.

Grizzoulian: Did you schedule this game? If so, what were your thoughts when you set it up? What was the amount paid to the Mountaineer program for making the trip to Ann Arbor?

Charlie Cobb: We were paid $400,000 for the game.  I've told many people that we didn't play the game for money.  Coach likes the challenge of playing FBS schools.  I don't ever want to be the kind of administrator that puts his program out for bid because I think it cheapens the whole deal.  We needed games and Michigan was still looking for a 12th game and we were able to make it happen. Jay Sutton, our Associate Athletic Director, deserves all the credit for getting the game done on our end.

Grizzoulian: The University of Montana and Appalachian State almost had a game set up, why did that fall through? Do you think games like that are essential for the progression of the FCS?

Charlie Cobb: We talked with Montana about a game and still have interest in playing. Travel and expenses really seem to be the biggest hurdle. These types of games are what make our season interesting. Unfortunately, both of us seem to be at the end of the spectrum in terms of getting other FCS schools to play.

Grizzoulian: Is Appalachian State taking a potential move to the FBS into consideration at all? Does this win make you consider it a bit more?

Charlie Cobb: Let's enjoy the win and not make it a one-game referendum on going to the FBS. We want our entire athletic program to mirror our university in being the best that we can be. Our Chancellor, Dr. Ken Peacock, wants Appalachian to be the very best - academically, athletically, and in the arts. That's our goal.

College football is back

Pictures from the home opener



More shots after the jump. Right click and press 'view image' for high resolution shots. Continue Reading...

Congrats to Appalachian State


The image above is currently being displayed on the front page of ESPN.com.

Congratulations to the Mountaineers. It's not often you applaud the efforts of a rival, but this is one case where it's warranted. The win not only reflects well on the Appalachian State program, but also lends a sense of legitimacy to the entire Football Championship Subdivision.

Gameday

It's here. It's finally here. We've spent the past offseason talking at length about moving up, playing cupcakes and recruits. Driving drunk, murder and abuse. Practice, injuries and coaches. It's over. None if it matters now. It's gameday. The Griz will kick off against Southern Utah in a mere three hours. I just drove to the grocery store and you can tell the whole city can sense the approaching kickoff. Everyone picks up their hotdogs and Pabst as the discussion switches to wins and losses, offensive tackles and defensive ends, Walter Payton Award Nominees and All-Americans. It's finally here. Have a great gameday everyone.

For those of you who won't be one of the roughly 23,000 in attendance, a local Montana affiliate should be carrying the game. For those not in our 'last best place,' there's the sometimes awful BigSkytv.org for streaming video. As far as audio goes, some local radio stations with websites should have the game. I've heard KOFI radio out of Kalispell has the game pretty clear. There's also MontanaGrizzlies.com for live audio coverage.

Once again, enjoy the game everyone.

Go Griz.

Get ready


It was a slow day for Griz news and I can't leave a crime story sitting up top with less than 48 hours until the gametime.

SUU head coach welcomes tough schedule

THe University of Montana is coming off a season in which they won 12 games for their 21st consecutive winning season. Southern Utah won three games in a season that finished with seven Which do you think would line up nine ranked teams? Yeah, that'd be the Thunderbirds. After all the losses, you'd think the head coach would be sick of tough opponents. Nope.

From the Great Falls Tribune:
"I love to tell people we have one of the toughest schedules in the country," SUU coach Wes Meier said Tuesday before practice in Cedar City, Utah. 
     
"Our Athletic Director, Ken Beazer, put it together, but it's a schedule we look forward to. When I got here (four years ago) I told our AD we want to play the best teams we can play ... people think I'm crazy, but I don't want to play weak teams."

No danger of that.

Besides UM, the T-Birds will take on No. 4 North Dakota State, No. 6 Youngstown State, No. 9 Northern Iowa, No. 11 Southern Illinois, No. 12 McNeese State, No. 14 Cal Poly, No. 19 South Dakota State and No. 22 Montana State. Those are the preseason rankings of the new FCS Coaches Poll.
Go back to what Hauck had to say about UM's soft schedule. Doesn't it seem a bit off? The school with no success on the field lines up the tough opponents while the Griz stay home and line up cupcakes. I've said this before but it's worth mentioning again. I understand the difficulties in scheduling someone tough but the coach shouldn't be content with easy home games, no matter how hard it is to schedule tough road ones.

Should stadium expansion money go elsewhere?


The Montana Kaimin raises an ancient debate: should public money go towards sports facilities? I'm sure it was something the Romans argued about when someone suggested adding a couple more rows to the Colosseum. Emma Schmautz argues that the part of the student athletic fee currently going towards Washington-Grizzly Stadium expansion would be put to better use on dorms or educational buildings.
This year’s addition of 2,000 seats to Washington-Grizzly Stadium is an unacceptable misuse of money when other vital components of campus require more immediate attention.

The University’s first and foremost responsibility is education. While Griz football games can add pride, camaraderie, publicity and even revenue to UM, ultimately academics must come before entertainment.

Over a million dollars of the stadium expansion – approved by the Board of Regents as a 5.5 million dollar project – will come from the extra $10 tacked on to student athletic fees each semester for the next five years.

If the University feels compelled to increase student fees to improve a UM structure, the money should go toward a more pressing cause that currently needs improvement.
There's no right answer to this. No one can definitively trump the other side's argument. This issue is similar to one in Minnesota a month or so ago. Someone argued that money going towards a new baseball stadium for the Minnesota Twins would've been better off going towards bridge and transportation repairs. Here's a summary of the best response: you can't piggy-back one issue on top of another. Argue each individually.

Students are paying for less than a fifth of the total expansion project. You know why? Because the athletic department has generated a great deal of revenue it can afford to spend on an expansion. If a dorm or educational building were to go up, tuition and taxes would have to front the entire cost.

Let's pretend for a second, for the sake of simplicity, that 1/5th of the expansion project comes from student tuition and 4/5ths comes from the athletic department. We're paying $10 per student, they're paying $40 per student. If this was for a dorm or educational building, the students would be paying all $50 per person for a building many students wouldn't use or a dorm many students wouldn't live in.

It's also worth noting that we're paying $10 for the entire year while not paying a dime for football tickets. Last year it was $6 per game.

To reinforce the point, I'm not trying to argue that athletic facilities are more important than educational ones. The issues have to be argued separately. If you want educational facilities, write the next editorial on how we should raise tuition $50-100 while plowing part of campus or the University Golf Course. It might not get the best response, but those are necessary steps down the road towards a new dorm or educational building. Arguing about a separate project is a sideroad not worth taking.

Craig Chambers will be making a comeback

Turns out today's Kaimin includes more than just old news. The article on the return of an experienced Griz football team contains this nugget of excellence:
Four of the top five receivers from last year are back, and the fifth, senior Craig Chambers, could be back if he can recover from a troublesome shoulder injury he sustained during the spring. Chambers said Monday he expected to join the team at practice this week.
I mean no disrespect to the fine trio of Eric Allen, Mike Ferriter and Ryan Bagley but based on talent alone, Chambers is the best wide-out on this Griz team. When he's healthy and going all-out, there isn't a defensive back in the conference or probably all of the FCS that can stay with him.

From what I heard, there were times during the offseason where things looked real dire for Craig. Dire as in he may not have played again. Congrats to Craig for making it back. He has the potential to make a big impact.

Sac State linebacker: we have the best D

Sacramento State linebacker Cyrus Mulitalo gave Kroy Biermann, Tyler Joyce and the rest of the Griz defense some bulletin board material when he discussed the Hornet defense with the SacBee.
"As a total unit, we should be one of the top defenses in the nation," said Mulitalo, a 6-1, 245-pound junior. "Definitely top in the league, easy."
This looks like he's touting and maybe even challenging his defense but in reality, this could place the burden on his offense. If the Griz see this and pin it up in the locker room, they'll have plenty of motivation to shut down the Hornets.

The Missoulian should put the dogs away



Who let the dogs out? Really? That's what you're going with?

The Missoulian redesigned its GrizMania page and decided to go with this gem of a banner. Overall, the ridiculous and out of date slogan is one of only two qualms I have with the redesign. The amount of content on the site is great. The site is to articles and reading material what KPAX's Grizcentral.com is to audio and video.

With the amount of content out there, and the product each sport is putting on the field, this will be a very good time to be a fan of the Griz.

Back to the GrizMania redesign, the other problem I have with the site is the lack of RSS. For a basic explanation of RSS or 'Real Simple Syndication,' please do take a look at this video. The only sports page on the Missoulian's site with RSS is the Griz Tracks Blog. The problem with this blog is that it's updated less than once every two weeks. Solution: feed all the articles found on the GrizMania page. I really hope the current state of things is a technical issue and not a decision made because someone higher up believe RSS means less readers. If so, wake up.

First look: Southern Utah

Seven. It's not just a great name. Of all the rankings and statistics in football, seven is the biggest number coming into this game. The Southern Utah Thunderbirds have lost seven games in row leading up to the season-opener against the Griz.

In 2006, the Thunderbirds went 3-8 last season and 0-4 in the Great West Conference. Their last game was a 59-0 reaming by Southern Illinois. The Griz and Thunderbirds had one common opponent last year: Weber State. The Griz beat them 33-30 on the road and SUU lost 24-13 in their matchup in Ogden.

SUU's game notes give us SUU head coach Wes Meier's take on the Griz:
“Offensively I think their strength is in the running game but they definitely have good receivers and are good at throwing it down the field. They’re balanced with good personnel everywhere but I think they’re excited to have a guy like Lex Hilliard back and look forward to using him a lot.

“Defensively they’re a pretty standard 4-3 look and they play pretty straight up. They’ll run some zone and man blitzes but they usually keep it simple because they’re so sound and tough. Troy Bierman is an all-American and there’s no question he’s a good player. Their safeties and linebackers are also very good players. They have good speed all around and really get after you.”
Meier on his own squad:
“This was by far the best pre-season camp we’ve had in my four years here. While there are still areas we’ll need to work on this week we feel pretty good about where we are heading into the season.

“We’ve seen the defense really step up the last couple of weeks but [Saturday] I really liked the way our offense – particularly our first offense – looked.

...

“We’re going to be ready and we’re going to be excited. Montana presents a huge challenge for us but we’re looking at it as an opportunity. It’s an opportunity to come out and go head-to-head with one of the best teams in the nation and see how we fare.”
Another interesting note: the last matchup between the Griz and the Thunderbirds. Southern Utah hung 45 on our Griz here in Missoula--and still lost. The final score was 68-45. This might be an indication echoing what many Griz fans have already said: Southern Utah can put up a fight.

Joyce's Journal 2007 -- it's blowin' up



Tyler Joyce's online journal is back and now includes both video and some royalty free (or homemade) hip hop music. Overall, a nice job by Joyce, who's a fellow journalism major.

However, I wish the formatting was better. As I type this, the tab I'm writing in is completely messed up from the .wmv file streaming in a separate window. Wish it was available for download or possibly on YouTube.

On the subject of the video: Joyce and roommate Craig Mettler discuss the atmosphere at Washington-Grizzly, Southern Utah, reading an offense, the coaching staff and the beginning of class.

I strongly advise any Griz fan take a look or listen.

Any Mac users, be sure to download the Flip4Mac plugin.

Hauck: it's all about economics

The University of Montana has the luxury of drawing 1 in every 40 Montanans to each of their home games. It's a luxury that keeps everything steady and the administrators happy. Unfortunately, this luxury may also hurt the program. More money means less risk. More money means no reason schedule challenges.

The scheduling issue has been discussed at length, with the best explanation coming from UM Athletic Director Jim O'Day. An article in the Great Falls Tribune gives Hauck's stance on the subject. It's not one every Griz fan would agree with.
"It's a good schedule," Hauck said in a recent interview. "There's no good reason to go on the road (for nonconference games). The big factor in the equation is economics. We can't afford to go play people like Maine or Hofstra ... the only reason to go on the road and play (big-name opponent) is dollars.

"Our fans want to watch us play at home. They want us out here. If we can't make more money (on the road) than we bring in at home, there's no good reason to do it."
If it doesn't make dollars, it don't make cents. No talk of the benefits of challenging his team against a mid or lower level FBS team. No desire for a big time FCS brawl with Appalachian State. It just wouldn't make fiscal sense.

This is an odd mentality for the head coach. Let the AD worry about the money. Hauck should be worried about getting his team prepared and advancing the program. Can't he understand the difficulties and still wish the schedule was a little bit more solid? Glanville is looking at lining up Pac-10 and SEC opponents while Hauck is content with a D-II school and Southern Utah.

Here's my hope for the next few years: UM lines up paydays against BCS schools and takes its lumps but also saves that chunk of change for home-and-homes with the likes of Appalachian State and Georgia Southern.

Who remembers what this used to be called?



This is a coupon book put out by the Missoulian. It went by a different name last year. Kind of funny that they changed.

One of the few good things about the NFL preseason

Watching preseason football is usually a horrendous experience. The stars don't play much and hardly try. However, if you're patient and interested in watching someone who isn't a star -- say, former Griz Tuff Harris -- then you might see some effort.


Photo from last night's game against the Buccaneers.

One week

That's it. Seven days. That final Josh Swogger pick will be completely rinsed from our collective conscience and a new season's potential will be shaped into reality. Student tickets available Monday.

In case you want to lead your own Don Read offense

Bobcat fans probably wish this item went on eBay a little bit sooner. An 1989 University of Montana Offensive Football Playbook can be yours for less than $10.

Head Coach Don Read's 1989 University of Montana Split Back Offensive Playbook. Plays Outlined and Described Position by Position with Assignments. Offensive Terminology, Signal System, Formations, Running Plays, Passing Plays, Defensive Recognition, Numbering System, Blocking Rules, Plus More. This is a Printed Version, Not a CD.

I'm being moderately serious when I say I'm considering buying this. Can anyone think of a better coffee table book for a college apartment?

Bobby Hauck's next job

Bobby Hauck's goal of moving up in the coaching ranks as soon as humanly possible is no secret. Since the 'if' is resolved, it comes down to when and where. If this year's Griz football team lives up to expectations, it's very likely the 2007 season will be his last in Missoula. So, where will it be?

The Coaches Hot Seat has ranked all 119 FBS coaches based on the temperature of their figurative chair. Here's the top ten:
  1. Houston Nutt, Arkansas
  2. Tyrone Willingham, Washington
  3. Al Groh, Virginia
  4. Joe Glenn, Wyoming
  5. Ed Orgeron, Ole Miss
  6. Tommy Bowden, Clemson
  7. Tommy West, Memphis
  8. Karl Dorrell, UCLA
  9. Phil Bennett, SMU
  10. Randy Edshall, Connecticut
Let's have fun and assume all ten of these programs take major steps backward and fire their coaches. Washington, Wyoming and UCLA are the most likely destinations. Hauck has past coaching experience at Washington. UCLA is a regional school for Hauck's Pac 10 ties. Wyoming is a nearby school that Hauck may settle for if all other options fall through. However, it seems more likely Wyoming would turn him down before he turned down Wyoming. Would the Cowboy program really hire another Montana Grizzlies head coach immediately following the firing of another?

Rankings found via The Wizard of Odds.

Hilliard, Biermann and Balogh named Sports Network All-Americans

This year's Sports Network FCS All-American team stars three Montana Grizzlies: running back Lex Hilliard and tackle Cody Balogh were named to the second team offense while defensive end Kroy Biermann was named to the first-team defense.

The Missoulian notes this trio's longevity:
Lex Hilliard, Kroy Biermann and Cody Balogh are all members of the Sports Network Division I FCS Preseason All-American team that was released Wednesday.

And they have something else in common.

All three seniors played as true freshman for the Grizzlies, who will enter the season on Sept. 1 as the second-ranked team in the nation.

Hilliard, of course, was set to finish out his eligibility last year, but the 230-pound running back out of Kalispell tore his Achilles tendon in fall camp. His medical redshirt is one reason there are 24 seniors on this year's Grizzlies.

Another reason is eight current players suited up as true freshmen in 2004. That was out of a large recruiting class of 23. Nine of them played in the Grizzlies' run to the '04 FCS (then I-AA) championship game.

That includes Biermann, who had 22 tackles and three sacks that season, and Balogh, who started at right tackle in the Grizzlies' final three playoff games.

“We were forced to play a bunch of guys as true freshmen because we weren't talented enough to win without them,” said Bobby Hauck, then in his second year as the Grizzlies' head coach. “Now we've got essentially two classes together.”
Also interesting to note that the Big Sky Conference leads all conferences with 11 All-Americans.

Lloyd Phillips will not play for the Griz

Several sources, including a commenter on this blog, have indicated that JC point guard Lloyd Phillips will not play for the Montana Grizzlies this year.

For the speedy guard who was enrolled in summer school classes at UM this summer, it was a combination of eligibility issues and the possibility of bigger offers to come. Unfortunately, I never got a chance to see this kid play but from what I hear he was a potential high-major player who would've stepped right in as the starter at point guard. We'll have to wait and see how this trickles down.

Odds are, this moves Cameron Rundles back to the 1, his natural position, and then putting someone like Ryan Staudacher or Matt Martin at the 2. Losing someone of Phillips' nature is big but it's something the Griz should be able to overcome.

Phillips will be playing his ball at Iowa Western Community College this year.

Griz football places second in another poll

Another poll, another second place spot for the Montana Grizzlies. As Usual, Appalachian State is sitting pretty in the top spot. The Griz received three first place votes,  not as high as the sixteen they received in the AGS Poll.

Here's the complete poll:

Team (First-place votes) Record Points Previous Rank
1. Appalachian State Mountaineers (67) 14-1 1,771 1
2. Montana Grizzlies (3) 12-2 1,680 3
3. Massachusetts Minutemen 13-2 1,551 2
4. North Dakota State Bison 10-1 1,548 5
5. Youngstown State Penguins 11-3 1,417 4
6. New Hampshire Wildcats (1) 9-4 1,393 6
7. Illinois State Redbirds 9-4 1,227 8
8. James Madison Dukes 9-3 1,149 9
9. Northern Iowa Panthers 7-4 1,141 17
10. McNeese State Cowboys 7-5 1,059 21
11. Furman Paladins 8-4 1,058 12
12. Southern Illinois Salukis 9-4 935 7
13. Portland State Vikings 7-4 866 19
14. Wofford Terriers 7-4 810 23
15. Cal Poly Mustangs 7-4 719 16
16. Hampton Pirates 10-2 567 11
17. Eastern Illinois Panthers 8-5 546 15
18. Sam Houston State Bearkats 6-5 352 NR
19. Delaware Blue Hens 5-6 340 NR
20. South Dakota State Jackrabbits 7-4 336 22
21. Montana State Bobcats 8-5 332 10
22. Tennessee-Martin Skyhawks 9-3 300 13
23. Coastal Carolina Chanticleers 9-3 272 14
24. Yale Bulldogs 8-2 166 25
25. South Carolina State Bulldogs 7-4 133 NR
Others receiving votes: Princeton 130, Towson 111, San Diego 95, Central Arkansas 94, Lafayette 90, Stephen F. Austin 80, Lehigh 77, Georgia Southern 59, Northern Arizona 58, UC Davis 55, Alabama A&M 54, Liberty 45, Delaware State
Three Big Sky teams crack the top 25 with Montana State at 21 and Portland State at 13.

New FCS column on the way

At this point in time, The Sports Network hosts one of few columns on the Football Championship Subdivision. They recently got a new columnist, David Coulson, and not everyone is overly thrilled. College Sporting News has another batch of FCS columns, but there's still not enough. When there's not a lot of product out there, then there's not much competition and the quality suffers. The current FCS columns haven't been bad, but they haven't been great either. Well, there's another FCS column coming down the pipe. It's from the random vastitude of the internet, but trust me, it'll be good and possibly great.

Let me give you some background, the writer is Scott Garner, who back in 2004 wrote a column for I-AA.org. During that time he voted for the I-AA All Americans, the Walter Payton Award and other postseason awards. He now writes a blog titled The Lanier Drive Institute of Higher Thinking.

Here's his description of the future column:
Despite all the changes in how plugged in I am to the sport, I'm going to strive to post a weekly "Cult of I-AA" column. It will focus mostly on Georgia Southern and the Southern Conference but it will also have whatever opinions I've formed about the rest of the country's I-AA programs based on what I get from the web.

Just don't expect "The Cult of I-AA" to be just about college football.

When I began writing the column back in the I-AA.org days, I likened the fans of I-AA to a cult; a cult that followed a team and a sport not because it was popular or trendy or easily accessible on 20 different cable channels. Nope, I-AA fans loved their schools, their sport, their playoff system and seemed to revel in their perpetual underdog status (especially when facing schools with athletic budgets 20 times larger than their own, like GSU versus Georgia, left in 2004). That made them special, and made the subdivision special.
I hate to fluff on about this, but I'm really looking forward to this. For a taste of his work, you can either go to his archive of I-AA.org articles or try reading a previous post on moving from the FBS to the FCS. I wrote about it before but it's worth mentioning again, it's the best opinion I've read on the subject.

Athletes need to recognize and respect their privilege

Montana Grizzlies athletes who come to school in Missoula on scholarships aren't here for free. Sure, it's free to them, but it's not free. Someone is paying for it. Whether it be through those spiffy Griz license plates, buying season tickets or simply donating straight to the GSA, there are people paying for the athletes' education.

There's a great article by Dan Thompson in today's Idaho State Journal on this issue.
Coaches like to say their athletes aren't unique in regards to life experience and that they can't track their players whereabouts outside of practice. In this, coaches are correct.

''These are good, solid people coaching these teams,'' Montana coach Bobby Hauck said at the Big Sky meetings in July. ''There are good kids on these teams. I'm around enough of them on a daily basis to say these college football players are no different than anyone else on campus.''

Hauck is right about the first part, but he's only half right about the second. Yes, college football players are the same age as their classmates, prone to all the same whims and wiles.

But college athletes are also being paid, and therefore they are not like other students. They are the faces of their institutions, the same as a professor or a student body president would be. It comes with the money.

Players, then, cannot simply be defined by their actions on the field. Even moreso, they will be remembered for their transgressions away from competition. Get burned by a wide receiver and fans will forget. They won't forget a DUI so easily.

Perhaps the NFL's renewed emphasis on character will make players like Quinn realize a scholarship isn't a pass for stupidity, and that the next level won't tolerate such repeated idiocy. It doesn't take much to follow the law. Millions of people do so successfully and without incident their entire lives.

Coaches know all about privilege, and they preach it. But it shouldn't take a coach's speech to get athletes to understand the concept. Athletes simply need look at people sitting at the desks around them.

Then they will understand what privilege really means.
Scholarship or not, college kids are college kids and some will make stupid mistakes. However, when you're an athlete getting what's almost a $100,000 value (out of state tuition is about 22k per year) for free while other's have to pay that, we get to hold you to a higher standard. That's the deal.

If Jimmy Williams runs around town acting like an idiot and showing off his pistol, we get to be pissed. When he commits a terrible crime and has the press mention University of Montana and murder in the same sentence, we get to hate him. And when JD Quinn commits his third DUI after getting kicked out of his previous school for taking money he didn't earn, we have the right to be a little irked and start thinking that he may not be such great guy. Sure, Bobby got you here, but it's the fans who paid the way.

Northern Colorado punter found guilty of assault

The former Northern Colorado backup punter who was accused of stabbing the starter in order to get the starting gig  was found guilty of assault. It could've been worse for Mitch Cozad, who did escape charges of attempted murder.

Cozad faces up 16 years in prison for stabbing Rafel Mendoza in the leg in a dark parking lot. The attempted first-degree murder charge Cozad escaped carried a sentence of up to 48 years.

Here is the AP article on the case, which could've gone differently if Colorado admitted certain pieces of evidence.
Cozad shook his head as the verdict was read. His fiancee, Michelle Weydert, broke into uncontrollable sobbing as the cuffs clicked shut around his wrists.

Cozad's mother, Suzanne Cozad, shouted at prosecutors, "You all know he passed the polygraph, you all know it."

[Attorney Joseph Gavaldon] told reporters Cozad had taken a polygraph test and had passed, but he said polygraph results are inadmissible in Colorado courts.

Either Cozad is innocent or he has the lying capacity of George Costanza. I hope he's got Costanza's superpower because an innocent engaged college kid with the whole world in front of him going to jail is not cool.

And so it begins: Griz football practice gets rolling



This football season may very well end with the Griz winning their third FCS National Championship. It could also end with the Griz missing the playoffs for the first time in more than a decade -- but I wouldn't count on it.

The campaign for a team that many believe is the best Griz squad in years officially got underway yesterday with the first full-team practice.

The practice marks the first time the transfers in the secondary have gotten reps with the team. The Missoulian has some background on the pack of FBS transfers in their article on yesterday's practice.
[Ciarre Campbell], 6-foot-2 and 195 pounds, is a Colorado State transfer whose brother, Severin, is a redshirt freshman linebacker for the Griz. Ciarre Campbell redshirted at CSU in 2005 and lettered last season, and was athletic enough to take second in the Mountain West Conference indoor track championships in the long jump, marking 25 feet.

[Joseph Smith], out of Mount San Antonio College, is 5-10 and 185. He started in 2006 for the Mounties, who were the Mission Conference champs and won the Beach Bowl title.

[Mike Vandenberg] played mostly receiver at New Mexico last year, after spending the 2005 season as a redshirt. He had 11 interceptions and 85 tackles as a senior at Campolino High School in Moraga, Calif.; he also had 35 catches and nine touchdowns as a receiver.

Campbell is from South High School in Denver, and Smith prepped at Damien High in LaVerne, Calif.
MontanaGrizzlies.com has a chunk of media from fall camp, including a several great images and some interesting interviews.

Griz take their cupcakes and eat them too

The University of Montana football program is just fine playing lackluster non-conference games. Why shouldn't they be? The Griz could play anyone and 23k would show up, sporting all maroon if that's what the marketing department called for. On top of that, playing Sisters of the Poor Nunnery year after year increases the odds of more home playoff games. More home playoff games means more money.

Joe Kusek of the Billings Gazette points to one place where it may have started.
Coach after coach pointed out it doesn't matter who you play, a loss is a loss and a loss means a drop in the national rankings. And the farther down you are in the national rankings, the less chance of hosting a home playoff game or two.

Plus, more players get an opportunity to get on the field in those blowout wins. And when those players get called upon later in the season because of injury situations, they'll be more prepared.

The longer I watched, the more I understood the thinking.

In 1991, the Grizzlies traveled to Louisiana for consecutive road games at Louisiana Tech and McNeese State. UM lost both.

The first words from Don Read when the team returned? "Never again," replied the popular coach.

When Wayne Hogan was the athletic director, he discussed bringing the top I-AA teams to Missoula as a way to reward UM's devoted fans. But that talk eventually faded and Hogan resigned amid budget problems.

Now we're back to schedules that Read would love.
The don't want to play these teams because they don't want the losses. I mean it makes sense that a coach doesn't want his team playing tough opponents on the road in back-to-back games. But why not a home and home? It was on the table with Appalachian State but things fell through.

Here is the reasoning from Jim O'Day.
Would love to play App State, but the cost may be too high for both schools. Trouble flying in and out of Boone and Missoula. We both estimate about $125,000… which most likely won’t be doable for either this year as we try to pay our bills. The cost of travel to some of these “remote” places is making scheduling more and more challenging and difficult. Everyone has to pay their bills, and wants some money in return for making the trip. Boise is paying in the neighborhood of $185,000 for a guarantee game, and we’re already at $125,000 being offered… with few takers. They say it would cost almost that much just to fly into Missoula and pay accompanying bills.
O'Day went into further detail on the issue. I suggest reading the if full letter you haven't already.

In response, I believe the Griz will eventually take chances on playing tougher opponents. I'm not completely sure, but I've heard there is a rule forbidding the athletic department or the school in general go in the red.

Just a few years removed from going seven figures into debt, O'Day is understandable timid towards taking financial risks. With time, this should fade. Hauck is on his way out. One more winning season and he should have a job elsewhere. Then there are two options for the next coach. The yes-man who comes in, keeps playing practice squads or the brash guy who wants to make an impact. The guy who wants to schedule Georgia Southern, Appalachian and Boise State in back to back weeks all while begging to move up. I hope for the latter.

Portland State unveils new uniforms

It's Vikings Day here at the Grizzoulian. Portland State officially announced the arrival of their new uniforms and it's not pretty. The helmet design is original, but doesn't look great. The jerseys look decent at best but are far from original.

Some quotes and images:




Todd Van Horne, Creative Director for Nike, led a team that created the stylized and Viking-inspired spear logo and uniforms. The Viking uniforms lean heavily toward Glanville's favored black color scheme, while the helmets will have the new spear logo running over the crown.

"When Coach (Glanville) came to town it was an opportunity for inspiration," Van Horne said to the media. "We (at Nike) huddled together and said 'there's energy here'. We needed to bring that energy very visually to the field. So we came down, had a nice conversation with coach and said 'hey, we've got a different point of view.'

"Coach describes black as not a color but an attitude, and we thought 'well, there it is.' Let's bring a new attitude and show a visual difference where Portland State University is now," said Van Horne. "I think you will see the very distinct difference of color, and the distinct difference of spear design that is much more aggressive, fitting into that new attitude."

I like the idea behind the spear. The way it runs up the helmet is something we haven't seen much of on a football uniform. The problem is, it looks like a retarded tatoo.

I don't like the jerseys. The plain black and white color is somewhat original but the jerseys are the same thing we've seen countless places. It looks like Nike just swapped out the colors on the Montana template.

Glanville has obviously brought attention and attitude to Portland State. I was hoping the new uniforms would match the enthusiasm. Nope, just another gimmicky Nike design.

Jerry Glanville has worked with vikings before



This is why I love YouTube. You can pull up ridiculous things from any celebrity's past. Also, there's video of someone playing a videogame. Why is this on there? Who is watching this besides me?

Anyway, the footage is from Jerry Glanville's Pigskin Footbrawl. Wait for the 1 minute mark to see what Glanville did with his previous Vikings team, where he was the "leader of a renegade band of WARRIORS WITH A BAD ATTITUDE." Is Jerry modeling his real Portland State team after a fictional videogame squad?

Where to find Griz jerseys...in Seattle



I spotted this on my way from the office to Starbucks. I managed to take a quick picture with the cell phone. This is the first time I've seen the new Griz jerseys in a brick and mortar store. Also the first time I've seen any Montana apparrell at a store in Seattle. This store is down in Pioneer square, on First Ave on the way to the Seahawks Stadium/Safeco Field Area.

Notice who we got a spot next to. No, not the Mets. Other side. Yeah, not too bad.

Optimism Week, it can't be worse than Who's Now

This week marks the beginning of fall practice for college football teams across the country. It also marks a time when lunatics across the country hope their team actually has a shot at winning. Most fans know only a handful of teams have a legit shot, but they invest all their emotions whether their team is in that select group or not.

David Jackson, the Associate Athletics Director at Appalachian State, has an idea for ESPN: take all this hope and toss it in your face until it makes you nauseous.
ESPN has created just about every athletics-related week you can imagine. There is Feast Week, Rivalry Week, Championship Week – the list goes on as college sports junkies tune in world wide to get their fix of “weekdom.”

Listen up Bristol, I have a new one for you. It’s called “Optimism Week.” Take about seven crews and send them all across the country during the first week of preseason football camp. The result – an over-played, over-hyped, sure-to-pump-up-even-the-longest-of-longshots series that will spell out how everyone who puts on a helmet this week has a shot to end up in the title game.

It almost seems cruel to play with fans deepest emotions (remember, I’m a Cubs fan – I know all about this). I can just see Sal Paolantonio now – standing out front of Team X’s training camp, filing the following report: “I spoke with Coach Smith today after practice and he said despite not winning a game in four years he and his staff have assembled the top recruiting class in the country and they are smelling a title run. Now, those recruits chose to sit out practice today because there was a Saved By the Bell marathon on local cable, but he says the team will be ready for the opener and ready to prove the doubters wrong. Reporting from LaLa Land – Sal Paolantonio – E-S-P-N.
If this idea ever comes to fruition, it must include Rachel Nichols. She says the 'N' in 'E-S-P-N' while opening her mouth. Seriously, say 'N' right now. I bet your mouth doesn't stretch wide open. Her over-exaggerated annunciation is mesmerizing. I need to watch less ESPNEWS.

Montana Grizzlies start fall practice

"Fall practice" doesn't quite have the same ring as "pitchers and catchers report," but to most people living in Montana, the former is a bit more popular.

The Griz football team opens practice today at the Dornblazer Fields with freshmen and transfers taking part.

Here's a look at the upcoming schedule from the Great Falls Tribune.
Practices are held at UM's South Campus Field, located by the Dornblaser track and field complex,from Aug. 8-22. The Grizzlies will hold single practice sessions from Aug. 8-12, and they begin two-a-days (every other day) from Monday, Aug. 13 to Friday, Aug. 24.

Two scrimmages are slated for fall camp and will be held in Washington-Grizzly Stadium. The first scrimmage is Saturday, Aug. 18 at approximately 10 a.m, with the final scrimmage set for Thursday, Aug. 23 at around 9:15 a.m.

Also on tap for Aug. 23 is the 12th annual Great Griz Encounter, where players and coaches are introduced and the players sign Griz football posters. The Great Griz Encounter is held in conjunction with the Missoula Downtown Association's weekly "Downtown Tonight" event in Caras Park.
Unlike when "pitchers and catchers report," fall practice means football season is very close. It's a month, less than a month really. I mean you subtract showers and meals, it's like twenty minutes.

Appalachian State getting some added attention

The Appalachian State Mountaineers, who are coming off back-to-back FCS National Championships and will face Michigan in their open, will be getting some extra TV exposure prior to the game against the Wolverines.

News comes from What's hAPPening!, an Appalachian State alumni blog, that the Mountaineers will be featured as part of Fox Sports Net's Under the Lights series. The show reminds me of MTV's Two-A-Days.
FSN camera crews will shadow the Mountaineers throughout much of the month of August, beginning with players reporting to campus, through the team’s first practices of the season, media day, Fan Fest and the dog days of summer camp and concluding with the Apps’ season-opening trip to the 107,051-seat Big House in Ann Arbor, Mich.
I normally think shows like these are unentertaining and a potential distraction to their subject but in this case I welcome the exposure. The more TV time for the FCS, the better. Now let's hope the Mountaineers can at least put a scare into the National Championship contending Wolverines.

Portland State getting new uniforms as well

You can add the Portland State Vikings to the list of teams getting new Nike uniforms this season. Word of this first came from Ian Ruder's Vikings Blog, but it looks like a new Portland State uniform can be found at the same site where the Griz jerseys first surfaced.



Ian's description of what he saw differs a bit. It sounds like he saw a schematic of the road uniforms during his interview with Jerry Glanville.
The Nike helmets opt instead for a gray spear running straight down the top-center of the helmet, coming to a point above the face hole. The spear is stylized with a feather-like gray tail at the back of the head. The rest of the helmet is black, the overall look being very minimalist.

The jerseys follow suit. The majority of the uniform is white with the shoulder pad area black. There is no green and as far as I could tell no lettering. That could change I guess.

The uniforms are not flashy but evoke the understated-seriousness that many associate with the Oakland Raiders. Whether fans will miss the green and Viking logo mainstays remains to be seen, but the new unis would seem to be in line with Glanville's emphasis on black and the hard-hitting image he wants for the team.
After Ian's description, it's hard to say how close these will be to the final product. The site's depiction of the Griz jerseys wasn't exactly the same as the final product but it was very close.

My opinion on this:
  • It's great that Jerry Glanville made an effort to design a uniform. So what if he didn't 'design' a uniform so much as take another logo and alter the colors. Just try to imagine Bobby hearing that Nike was designing a new Griz uniform then stomping into his office yelling "F that, I'll design the damn jerseys."
First off, the Vikings have to get it done on the field. And if they do, Jerry has to stay. But if both of those fallsinto line, Glanville is just the type of coach to push for some major change at PSU. He has the charisma to demand and maneuver for a move to the FBS. I've mentioned this before: from an off-the-field perspective, this is an excellent hire.
  • It's good to see a majority -- well at least two -- of Nike's new designs moving towards a simple look. 'Clean and simple' is in. Training bras and metal plates, not so much.
UPDATE: It's not them. From Ian Ruder:
Saw your post on the jersey redesign. The photo you posted is definitely not the new jersey. My understanding is that Nike only designed one new jersey and it is VERY different than anything psu has ever had – ditching the green for a mainly white look with black and a totally new spear logo on the black helmets. I think the photo you posted is an old replica jersey nike makes. I’ve seen people wearing those in the past. Based on my conversations, even Glanville hasn’t seen the new jersey outside of drawings, so I doubt Nike (or anyone else) would be selling it on line. Look for an official press release in the next 2 weeks.
Still hoping they stay away from a fancy redesign. PSU had the trendy, elaborate, newfangled jerseys before so something VERY different should be more of an old-school look.

It's not about the label

A column in this mornings The Post and Courier out of Charleston, South Carolina, discusses the new FCS label given to I-AA football.

At least AA sounded upbeat. A double-A label is twice as good as single-A in professional baseball and bond ratings.

Any "Subdivision" designation is degrading.

"Sub" isn't something you usually want, unless it's a sandwich. Negative connotations abound.

"The substandard Subdivision team was pummeled into submission," for instance.

I think he forgets that the upper division is called the Football Bowl Subdivision. Nevermind that though. I think once the names stick, they will sound a lot better than I-A and I-AA. What sense does it make sense to call the lower division AA? In the end, the FCS still has to earn their recognition and it's all only about playing football.

"I don't know if that's a shot at us or not," [Furman fullback Jerome Felton] said after reflection on the new FCS label. "I really haven't put that much thought in it. But it's a title and all that matters is the football you play within that title. I feel like we play some great football down here and that's all that really matters.

Exactly.

J.D. Quinn should not have keys

I imagine J.D. Quinn as the big guy at the party who brags about how good he is at drinking and driving. The guy who claims to possess the ability to sober up immediately. He may say he's even passed a few field sobriety tests in his day. Look at me, come on, do I look drunk? I had eight beers! Eight! That's it! I can raise and lower my BAC at will. He's the guy you have to drive to the party because you know he'll always drive home once he's there, just to prove to everyone he could do it.

This recent arrest marks the third time Quinn has been arrested for drinking and driving. This comes from an article in the The Norman Transcript on the last time he was arrested for driving under the influence.
Oklahoma offensive lineman J.D. Quinn was arrested Tuesday and has been charged with one misdemeanor count of driving under the influence of alcohol in Cleveland County District Court.

According to a police affidavit filed with the charge, Quinn, 19, was stopped at 803 Beaumont Square for speeding and failure to use a turn signal.

The affidavit states Quinn admitted to consuming beer and consented to and failed a breathalizer test.

A Dec. 13 court date is scheduled.

Court records indicate it was Quinn’s second alcohol related offense since coming to OU. On April 30, 2004, he was arrested for actual physical control of a vehicle while intoxicated and possession of a fictitious identification card.
Is J.D. trying to get caught? If I were trapped someplace, let's say in the wilderness with an impending blizzard, and absolutely had to drive home with a BAC slightly above the legal limit, I can guarantee you I wouldn't be going a single mile per hour over the speed limit. J.D speeded while intoxicated twice. No one knows how the first one played out but it did include him giving a fake ID to a cop. Nice.

Josh Swogger is now a quarterback consultant

In a move that seems a little off, The Tribune Chronicle in Warren, Ohio, is reporting that Josh Swogger has become a quarterback consultant for kids making the move from high school to college. Up first is Mike Ryan, who's headed to Eastern Kentucky.
Swogger has become a quarterback consultant, trying to emulate the job NFL quarterback coach Jerry Rome has done for many pro athletes. However, the former Ursuline standout is trying to ease the transition for high school student-athletes to the collegiate level. His business is located near Liberty.


‘A lot of kids don’t have the knowledge and don’t know what they’re getting into their first year of college,’’ Swogger said. ‘‘I’d like to help them out and make the transition. I’m going to let them know what’s going to be ahead for them.’’

He derives from his experiences, even some brief pro stints.

‘‘You gain so much knowledge in being in different places,’’ Swogger said. ‘‘I had three different quarterback coaches at Washington State. I had two at Montana and being with the (Kansas City) Chiefs, the (Buffalo) Bills and the Colorado Crush (AFL). You pick up different things everywhere you go — tidbits of knowledge.’’
Swoggers' workouts  begin with him hanging a tire from beneath the goal post. The trainee then stands at the 35 yard line and focuses on trying to fire the ball through the tire. The trainee then proceeds to chuck the ball through the goal posts.

Josh is still hold out hope for living the dream.
‘‘Everything is kind of dead right now, training camp starts again in July. I’m going to try to hook on with a developmental league or something like that and see what it’s doing,’’ he said. ‘‘If it’s not the NFL, maybe Canada next year or something like that. We have to wait and see what happens.

‘‘Take off this year and work out and stuff and try to grow this business and get it going.’’
All teasing aside, I wish Josh luck. As I'm sure I'll do when the time comes, Josh is doing everything he can to avoid growing up and getting a real job. Put it off as long as possible.

JD Quinn gets a DUI

I'm speechless. I'm without speech. I have no comment other than it had been just a little too quiet for the past couple weeks.

From the Cat-Griz Insider:
More trouble in Grizzlyville. J.D. Quinn, the troubled Oklahoma transfer, was apparently arrested for DUI early Sunday morning in Missoula. Details have been few and far between, but here was coach Bobby Hauck’s reaction:

“As always, there will be firm disciplinary measures taken, and those measures will be handled within our football team. One of the disciplinary actions will include mandatory alcohol counseling.”

Interestingly enough, Jason Washington, who was recently removed from the team by Hauck, bailed Quinn out.
Could someone please Youtube this like the last time we talked about JD?

At this point, I'm getting a little numb to all of this. DUI? At least he didn't kill someone or sell cocaine, right? I know it's not right, he could've killed someone too. But still.

I feel like this kid needs constant supervision. Or an electric collar. Maybe a tape-delay on everything he says. Probably all three.

Griz football ranked 2nd, again

I'm not sure how many polls I've glanced at this year--they all have similar names--but the Griz have come in at number two in  every generically named FCS poll I've seen. Why can't we just have coaches and media?

Here's the College Sporting News Top 25:
  1. Appalachian State
  2. Montana
  3. North Dakota State
  4. Youngstown State
  5. New Hampshire
  6. James Madison
  7. Northern Iowa
  8. Massachusetts
  9. Illinois State
  10. McNeese State
  11. Furman
  12. Southern Illinois
  13. Portland State
  14. Cal Poly
  15. Wofford
  16. Tennessee-Martin
  17. Sam Houston State
  18. Yale
  19. Hampton
  20. Eastern Illinois
  21. Lehigh
  22. South Dakota State
  23. Montana State
  24. Delaware
  25. Princeton

    Also receiving votes (in order): Towson, Maine, South Carolina State, UC Davis, Liberty, Lafayette, San Diego, Alabama A&M, Coastal Carolina, Harvard, Villanova.

A look at the worst FBS teams

ESPN columnist Pat Forde takes a look at the worst 20 teams in the FBS. It's not surprising to see that many are programs who recently made the jump from the FCS.
The basement is where we find most of Boise's peers from the 1990s land rush from I-AA to I-A: dead last at No. 119 we have Buffalo (moved up in 1999); at No. 113 is Louisiana-Monroe (moved up in '94); at No. 107 is Arkansas State (moved up in '92); and at No. 106 is Idaho (moved up in '97).

And don't forget the most recent additions, No. 117 Florida International (started football in 2002 and currently owns the worst winning percentage of them all) and No. 105 Florida Atlantic (started football in 2000).
Look at the have-nots and you can see that Boise is the ultimate exception to a hard-and-fast football rule: Upgrading is an incredibly painful, slow and humbling process. Ambition comes with a heavy price tag.

Nouveau riche strivers tend to get their brains beaten in by the old-money bullies. They lose games and lose money, oftentimes stretching former I-AA budgets to the breaking point in the upgrade effort. Stadiums must be expanded to meet I-A specs, and other facilities must be built or refurbished to recruit against the established powers.

When the red ink flows, they take on "guarantee" games against power programs, accepting six-figure checks in exchange for fearful whippings on the road. That's the college football version of the poverty cycle, making the road from I-AA to BCS glory and riches a boulevard of broken dreams.

Yet more and more schools want a piece of it, with I-A membership growing from 111 a decade ago to 119 today, and 120 tomorrow. Western Kentucky will be the newest member, giving up habitual I-AA success to join the downtrodden Sun Belt Conference in football.
Boise State is the Holy Grail for every Montana fan who wants the Griz to move up. But for every Boise, there are a lot of Idahos. Even so, no one can say we wouldn't make it until we try.

Jerry Glanville looking at playing SEC

In a move that doesn't include jumping to a team that won't get killed by teams from power conferences, Portland State head coach Jerry Glanville is looking at scheduling games with SEC teams.
"When we were at Hawaii, we had a chance to go to Alabama and I promise you, none of our kids will ever forget that trip," said Glanville, who was the Falcons' head coach from 1990-93 and the defensive coordinator from 1979-82.

Glanville said Portland State will open with a Pac-10 team for three of the next four seasons but he still wants to bring his team South. Glanville said he's talking to "a couple of SEC teams" but won't reveal which ones they are.
For what's it's worth before he's coached a single game, this Glanville hire is looking very very good. If PSU displays any kind of success in these FBS games and Glanville sticks around for a few years, I would not be surprised to see PSU take a very serious look at moving to the FBS. Based on his brash personality alone, Glanville looks like the type of coach who could get them there.

NCAA Football 08 gives Montana a kick to the groin

On Tuesday evening I drove up to the local nerdy video game retailer and picked up a copy of NCAA Football 08 for the Xbox 360. Before I bought the game, I was almost positive the Griz would not be 'In the Game.' Even so, there was still that glimmer of hope one always gets right before they find out their earlier assumptions were true. Nevermind that, I was content playing without UM for another year. No biggie.

The funny thing then when I decided to try out their 'Campus Legend' game mode. In this gimmicky waste of time, you create a high school player, play through the high school playoffs, get recruited by a college and then go from there.

So I create a guy -- Cameron Young -- and play through the playoffs. I plug in Sentinel as his high school. The game generates a little state playoff bracket complete with names of real Montana cities -- all 16 of them. So I battle my way through the first two or three games on a small high school field. The championship game is against Columbia Falls and it's not on a tiny field anymore. No, a bigger grander stage for this epic game.

You know where it was played? On the big blue duck killing smurf turf! That's right. According to EA Sports, the Montana high school state championship game should be played in Idaho. Nothing more realistic than that.

Griz football nabs solid transfer cornerback

According to the preseason all-conference team, the Griz have the best safeties in the Big Sky. Now they're looking at having one of the better corners as well. From Draft Daddy, an NFL Draft Blog, comes news of a transfer from New Mexico.
11. CB Mike Vandenberg ~ New Mexico to Montana (Soph) -- The speedy Vandenberg, who played some wide receiver at New Mexico, led all California prepsters with 11 Int's as a senior. Has a chance to replace Tuff Harris, who is currently with the Miami Dolphins.
This should be a big boost to the secondary but one can't overlook the addition on offense as well. The Griz may have lost the dynamic Craig Chambers so the addition of a speedy FBS transfer is needed.

Grizzlies land nine on preseason All-Conference football team

More than 30 percent of this year's preseason All-Big Sky Conference football team will come from the University of Montana. Here's the complete team, with the Montana kids in bold:

Offense
  • QB-Cole Bergquist, Montana
  • RB-Lex Hillard, Montana
  • FB-Bobby McClintock, Portland State
  • TE-Shaun Fitzpatrick, Northern Arizona
  • OL-Cody Balogh, Montana
  • OL-David Hale, Weber State
  • OL-George Yarno, Idaho State
  • OL-Matt Alfred, Eastern Washington
  • OL-Brennan Carvalho, Portland State
  • WR-Alex Watson, Northern Arizona
  • WR-Eric Allen, Montana
  • WR-Eddie Thompson, Idaho State
  • K-Dan Carpenter, Montana
  • KR-Bryant Eteuati, Weber State
Defense
  • DE-Kroy Biermann, Montana
  • DE-Cole Smith, Portland State
  • DT-Aaron Papich, Montana State
  • DT-Dallas Mauga, Sacramento State
  • LB-Cyrus Mulitalo, Sacramento State
  • LB-Epikopo King, Montana State
  • LB-Tyler Joyce, Montana
  • LB-Bobby Daly, Montana State
  • LB-Jordan Senn, Portland State
  • CB-KJ Gerard, Northern Arizona
  • CB-Ricky Wilson, Northern Arizona
  • S-Torrey Thomas, Montana
  • S-Colt Anderson, Montana
  • P-Dan Zeidman, Idaho State
  • ST-Kenneth Mackins, Portland State
The most debatable UM selection has to be Cole Bergquist at quarterback. Odd that a guy who's never really been #1 on the depth chart and still hasn't been tabbed as the Griz starter would be voted the best signal-caller in the conference.

With almost half their starters on the all-conference team, it's not much surprise they were unanimously voted as the favorite to win the conference.

New Griz football unis will be unveiled at Great Griz Encounter

I exchanged emails with Jim O'Day on Friday and he said the new Griz football uniforms will be on display Thursday, August 23 at the Great Griz Encounter.
Actually had a chance to see the new uniforms, and they look pretty close to the replica jerseys --- except maybe the sleeves. Looked good … both white and maroon.
At first glance, the new jerseys looked pretty lame but the more I see them, the more attractive they get. If basic uniforms like these are good enough for Texas, Oklahoma, USC, and the Indianapolis Colts then we should be fine.

The best article on jumping to the FBS

Now that we're done talking about all that crime, it's time to get back to the other topic of conversation we're really sick of talking about: moving to the FCS! The following article is old, like two months old, but because it's the crummy offseason, nothing has changed since then and I can post this without looking too retarded. Here is a humorous look at moving to the FCS from a Georgia Southern fan. The article is beyond long, it's about two hundred words short of matching the Old Testament. Or a Bill Simmons chat transcript.

Here are the first couple paragraphs from the article on The Lanier Drive Insitute of Higher Thinking:
There are two types of debaters in the I-A/I-AA argument, and I don't mean those who are for moving up and those who are for staying put. I call them the "heads" and "hearts."

The first type is composed of people who make every one of their points based on facts and figures. I suspect a good number of them are lawyers and accountants, although I have no way of knowing for sure. What is obvious is that this demographic of message board advocate has access to every school's athletic budget from 1863 to the present, they know the exact cost to fly a women's volleyball team from Fayetteville, Arkansas to Lake Charles, Louisiana, and they actually read and understand the minutes from the Division I Management Council's June meeting as reported in the NCAA News. I admire these people because of their ability to track down real and verifiable information. They also scare me, because they are the types of folks who could get on Google and compile a list of every woman I've ever slept with, forward it to my fiancé and then post the resulting apocalypse on YouTube. Not good.

The second type of debater is less concerned with hard facts and figures. This type of GSU fan relies more on anecdotal evidence and believes in the power of persistence and the strength of human resolve. Among Eagle fans, this subculture has a devotion to the school's meteoric initial rise to football prominence that borders on belief in the mystical. Some, I think, keep Eagle Creek water handy the way Borat holds on to gypsy tears. This isn't to say that they are unaware of the facts and figures, just that they consciously believe that every else's situation is irrelevant (or at least inconsequential). If I admire the "heads" then I truly love the "hearts." These people were English majors, they drink to excess (or smoke pot) and they cried at the end of the Western Kentucky game in 2002.
I strongly suggest going to the site and continue reading the article. You don't have to read the whole thing. I didn't. It's too damn long. But there's still more than what's above and you should check it out.

He goes on to look at timing and the future atmosphere of college football. To be simple, it's the best article I've read on a move to the FBS.

JD Quinn is getting real sick of this


Found via the Fanhouse.

I'm sure Bobby Hauck was disappointed to hear that his star offensive lineman had shot his mouth off again after already placing a gag order on him earlier in the season. Well, when you watch the video above you'll see that he did try to give the 'no comment' response most fans and coaches wish he would use.

It's hilarious to hear him say "get a real job" as if pretending to work at a car dealership or playing football were "real jobs" but even so, he tried to say no and the reporter kept pestering like a salesman. No means no. It's a joke that reporters still try to grab a quote from anything. How about "JD Quinn didn't want to comment on the situation?"

JD Quinn does not give a s**t

The ESPN story has been updated to include some great quotes from Quinn.

When reached on his cell phone, Quinn said he did not pay any attention to the infractions committee's ruling on Oklahoma, calling it "dumb" and referring to it with an expletive.

"I have no idea," Quinn said. "I don't care."

Sounds about right. From the stories I've heard and pictures I've seen, he's an O'Doyle. He's a big fat offensive lineman from Texas. He's a bully. He's a jock. It's great. I'm being completely honest when I say that I love having him here. He's beyond entertaining. He's a college kid who acts like one and lets everyone know he's doing so.

There's a rumor he was drinking one night when he heard what the columnist from the school paper had to say about about him then proceeded to ask everyone at the party if they knew the guy so he could go beat him up. Come on, who hasn't done that? He's like Ozzie Guillen, except not annoying.

J.D. RULES!

JD Quinn and Rhett Bomar did not win a single game as Sooners

Today, the NCAA announced penalties for the Oklahoma Sooners football program stemming from a scandal where current Griz JD Quinn and Sam Houston State QB Rhett Bomar were paid for work they did not perform during their time as Sooners.
The Oklahoma football program must forfeit all wins from the 2005 season and will lose scholarships as a result of players being paid for work they had not performed.

The penalties, announced Wednesday by the NCAA, stem from a case involving two players, including Sooners starting quarterback Rhett Bomar, who were kicked off the team for being paid for work they had not performed at a Norman car dealership.
So this is what the NCAA does during the summer. It seems so random that it comes out a year later in the middle of July. Are a couple guys sitting around saying "Hey, you think we should deal with that Oklahoma stuff today?" "Sure, how bout this: the season doesn't count and we'll figure out how many scholarships they lose later" "Sounds good."

UPDATE: Here's some details on the ruling.

NIU sells out Soldier Field

This fall, the Northern Illinois Huskies will play Iowa at storied Soldier Field. Tickets are already sold out. Yeah, Soldier Field sold out for a game hosted by a FBS team. This isn't just the lower bowl either. All 61,500 seats are sold out.
"This is a historic occasion for Northern Illinois University and for the Huskie football program," said NIU Associate Vice President/Director of Athletics Jim Phillips. "When discussions about the opportunity for Northern Illinois and Iowa to play at Soldier Field began, this is the kind of response both schools envisioned. Chicago is a great sports town and the response of NIU fans, Iowa fans and college football fans in the city has been overwhelming. We are looking forward to a beautiful Labor Day Weekend in Chicago and a tremendous game at Soldier Field on Sept. 1."
Last year, NIU lost to the Hawkeyes 24-14 in Iowa City in a game that wasn't decided until the 4th quarter. Last year the Griz played Iowa, there's a video clip that's about as long as the Griz-Hawkeye game was interesting.

When I mentioned yesterday that if FBS teams want attention, they have to do it themselves and make people care. Even though half the fans may be from Iowa, a sold out Soldier Field on Labor Day should make people care.

O'Day says new replica isn't the exact same as final product

For all the Griz fans that already ordered their replica jerseys, it might be time to panic. University of Montana AD Jim O'Day says he's not sure the new replica posted last week is the exact same as the new official uniforms.
Don’t believe the uniforms have been sent yet. Equipment Manager Steve Hackney has also been on vacation – so they may be packed away at this time. However, they do not look exactly like the version I say (saw?) when ordering. For example, don’t know if the number has been put on the sleeves… although that could have been a late change. Lettering, etc., also look different… so no, I don’t think this is a replica of the exact jersey.
Now this may be a little fib to keep us on our toes and give the actual announcement a bit of excitement. Then again, it could be completely true and a bunch of people ordered jerseys that will never be worn by UM. If anyone did this and bought Orlando Magic tickets after Billy Donovan was hired, you win a prize.

UPDATE: The new uniforms have arrived but have not been unpacked yet. O'Day has not seen the pants yet but can confirm that the helmets are not changing.

NDSU touts new commercial


Yesterday I randomly ranted about the approach of football season and posted the great Griz Nation intro video. There's a similar post on the Bison Media Blog. The video is above and for comparison, here is the ad the Griz run. Of course I'm preferential to the Griz ad but I'm not sure how great it'll look once the uniforms are out of date.

Team USA obliterates Korea, 77-0

No it's not arena league, it's the third American Football World Cup. Here's some irony: it's not in the United States and America has never competed in the American Football World Cup. I'm trying to think of a comparison but there really isn't one. Maybe if the Red River Shootout were played between Oklahoma and Rutgers.

Well, America is here and we're not dicking around.
Special teams and defense accounted for 42 points as the United States rolled to a 77-0 victory over Korea in Team USA's opening game at the 2007 World Championship of American Football on Tuesday evening.
 
Team USA set seven single-game tournament records including total defense as Korea finished with a net loss of 31 yards offensively and did not record a first down. Team USA amassed a tournament record 289 return yards and nine different U.S. players found the end zone.
It's almost like when you've played a video game for a while, you know, you're playing at like 'All-Star Legend' difficulty or something then decide to turn it all the way down to rookie just to see if you could score on every single play of the game. "You think I could plug Gilbert Brown in at running back and still get 150 yards?" How bad is this Korean team? Who else in America could beat them? An NAIA team? The JV squad from a Wyoming high school? The WNBA All-Stars?

It'll be a while before 'I-AA' disappears

In a post today, the author of the Paladin Walk wonders when everyone will start using Football Championship Subdivision instead of I-AA. I apologize for quoting the entire post but it's all relevant.
I just read this post form the Anderson Independent Online, that reviewed the upcoming season for Clemson. The post again shows the complete lack of knowledge by some sports journalist.

“Sept. 15 vs. Furman: The Paladins are a decent I-AA team, but that won’t get them much today. Clemson 42, Furman 3.”

First Furman is not a decent IAA team. Furman plays in Division 1 (FCS) Football Championship Subdivision.

Second I wouldn’t be surprised to see Furman be the Tigers toughest out of conference opponent.  Hopefully FCS teams such as APP, Furman, JMU, UMass, GSU, Montana, etc… will chalk up some wins in the early seasons of the FCS classification, and the IAA tag will start to disappear.
As far as comparisons go, I think the Los Angeles Angels are as close as I can come. Both the FCS and LAA name changes weren't needed and were only done to be associated with a more valuable entity when they actually weren't. The Angels didn't want that soft Anaheim look, they wanted the bright lights and LA attitude. The NCAA wanted I-AA football to be grouped with I-A as Division I football. Neither party had done anything to really earn the name.

I don't know if the name will ever really stick. By labeling both I-A and I-AA as 'subdivisions,' the NCAA is trying to tell us that they're the same. Yea, right. They're both equally talented, some teams would rather have playoffs. Mm hm.

For a this misnomer to disappear, it has to be talked about frequently. The Los Angeles Angels name stuck because it was used often. Major media outlets are going to discuss a Major League Baseball team a lot more than some bush league football teams. Currently, no one cares enough about the FCS to mention it by its proper name.

The solution: make people care. The blog I mentioned is correct. Some early season wins against FBS teams would go a long way towards getting rid of 'I-AA.' It's not going to happen but if the Mountaineers knocked off Michigan, that story would lead with "Back to back FCS National Champions Appalachian State upset Michigan." If it starts with "Michigan trounces I-AA Appalachian State," you'll know there's a long way to go.

College football is almost here


Every summer I work full-time in Seattle when I'd much rather be back in Missoula. This puts me in the awkward position of looking forward to the end of summer. Well, in my estimation, we're almost there. The end of summer not only means a return to the Zoo, but also the return of Griz football. July 4th is past and we're no longer getting into summer, but trotting towards the end. The preview magazines are starting to come out and NCAA Football '08 hits the stores next week. It's almost here. Now if only I had more to look forward to than Southern Utah.

New Griz football uniform?



The above uniform is selling on these two sites. At $58.00 and a title of 'Montana Grizzlies #37 Maroon Replica Football Jersey' this is probably what the Griz will be wearing next year.

I'm not sure what to say. I guess old school is in and Nike bibs are out. The outlined numbers look pretty cheesy but it might be OK. The uniforms could've been better but they definitely could've been a whole lot worse.

It's a good move for Nike, who will sell a whole new batch of $60 uniforms only two years after producing some new ones. However, UM just spent money on commercials and an introduction video for the football team, which now may look a bit out of date.

Jimmy's new in town: Weber State adds solid I-A transfer

Besides more arrests, the last thing most Griz fans want is another dropdown quarterback. After the Josh Swogger experience, it looks like an incoming QB is more likely to figure out where the hell the bees went sooner than learn the Rob Phenicie offense. Don't worry, we're not getting another one -- but Weber State is. Alabama transfer Jimmy Barnes has decided to spend the next three years playing football at Weber State.
"Jimmy was a big time player on the high school level,” said McBride. "All the major schools in the country were after him. Not only does he have a strong arm, but he is a student of the game and makes intelligent decisions in the heat of battle...I have full confidence he will learn our system quickly and be ready to compete in Fall camp."

...

"I was really impressed with the campus and the school," said Barnes. "Coach McBride and Coach McGiven are both great football coaches and I look forward to learning a lot from them."

With Hauck's affinity for dropdown QBs and "win now so I can peace out ASAP" attitude, on first glance it seems like he would go after this kid. But then one has to think, who in their right mind would want to Ogden, Utah to play for a team coming of a 4-7 record? What was the appeal there? Maybe Hauck had enough confidence in his young quarterbacking core to restrain from attempting to chase down Jimmy.

Washington-Grizzly Stadium expansion, it's freakin' sweet


Sometimes the marketing at UM amazes me. You think once anything like this was available, they'd trumpet it from the top of Sentinel. Oh well. As you can see, the expansion is going to look amazing.

For more information, pictures and a 3-D fly-by (almost as cool as it sounds), go to this site.

UPDATE: The site has been taken down. Apparently, we weren't supposed to find out about it quite yet.

Jimmy Wilson "no stranger" to the police

When someone decides they're going to drive over to another guys house, shoot them, and then be on his way; it's likely said person has been a bit irrational before. It looks like this is the case with Griz cornerback Jimmy Wilson, who's reported to have partaken in quite a bit of violent shenanigans.

From The Missoulian:
James “Jimmy” Leon Wilson, 20, had numerous run-ins with police in Missoula through the years, though none of the incidents resulted in criminal charges, said Missoula Police Sgt. Travis Welsh, who assisted California authorities with the recent homicide investigation.

“He's no stranger to us,” Welsh said.
...

Welsh said Missoula police have fielded numerous complaints about Wilson's behavior in town through the years, while another detective acknowledged questioning Wilson in at least one assault case.

“There's been past contact,” said Missoula Police Detective Guy Baker.

Police would not elaborate on those instances because Wilson was never charged with a criminal offense in Missoula County.

Over the years, complaints of violence also were brought to officials in UM's athletic department by local residents who contacted the Missoulian in the wake of Wilson's arrest. All asked to remain anonymous in news stories, for fear of retribution.

Among the complainants is a Missoula man who says Wilson threatened him with a gun during an altercation in October 2005, and a Missoula woman who says her son was assaulted downtown in April 2006 by a group of men that included Wilson.

The man said he reported the incident to police and to UM football coach Bobby Hauck, but was told nothing could be done.

In that incident, Wilson allegedly chased the man onto the freeway after an altercation, then stood outside the car and threatened him. The man said Wilson lifted his T-shirt to reveal a pistol tucked into his pants.

Police investigated the downtown assault as a potential felony case, but in May 2006 the victim told authorities he didn't want the investigation to go any further, Welsh said.

According to family members of the victim, he called a halt to the investigation because he feared retribution.

On Tuesday, Bobby Hauck referred all questions to UM associate athletic director Dave Guffey, who directed inquiries to UM executive vice president Jim Foley.

In response to the Missoulian's questions about how the athletic department responded to local residents' complaints, Foley would only reference the murder charges filed in Los Angeles County.

Welsh went on to say he had no knowledge of calls being made by the police department to the UM athletic department. However, this doesn't mean calls weren't made my individual citizens. With the amount of rumors I've heard on Wilson's idiotic, violent and "thuggish" antics, it's extremely unlikely the athletic department had no knowledge of his poor character.

I'm not sure whether Guffey, Foley or O'Day would know but Hauck would have to. Why would this person lie and if Hauck honestly had no knowledge of Wilson's actions, why wouldn't he come out and say so? The wall around the garden of Griz football might save them in this situation because no one has any idea what anyone knew or when they knew it. However, maybe the lack of wall would've led to an investigation on previous incidents. Maybe Jimmy getting kicked out of school was what he needed to snap out of it. Maybe Kevin Smoot wouldn't have gotten shot. It's a lot of maybes but I'll take a few maybes over a couple kids without a dad.

Jimmy Wilson arrested for murder

I don't know what to say. I'm sick of writing about this stuff. It gets real old trying to comment on drug charges and murder. It's too much. I don't know how to react to more stuff like this.

From the Great Falls Tribune:
A University of Montana football player is being held in a California jail facing murder charges and will be arraigned in court today, according to a Los Angeles County Sheriff Department deputy.

University Executive Vice President Jim Foley confirmed that starting cornerback James "Jimmy" Leon Wilson, 20, is in the hands of the California court system and the school's athletic department and administrators were attempting to learn more about the case Wednesday night.
...

Wilson is accused of shooting and killing Kevin Smoot, 29, at Smoot's home on June 2, authorities said. Smoot was shot in the upper torso while he stood in the driveway of his house. He died at the scene, deputies said.

Wilson allegedly fled the scene after the shooting, deputies said.

Authorities said Wilson was involved in an altercation with Smoot and his girlfriend, who is related to Wilson, Los Angeles County authorities said. Wilson, accompanied by his attorney, turned himself in to authorities Tuesday in Lancaster, Calif., about an hour northeast of Los Angeles, deputies said.

The victim's mother, Leslie Smoot, told a Palmdale, Calif., newspaper that her son had two young children with his 27-year-old girlfriend. She did not know the relationship between Wilson and the woman. She learned of Wilson's arrest Wednesday after she buried her son, the newspaper said.
What is going on? We're Montana.  Is there anything else we can do to make the universities in this state look worse? Really. I don't think you could do much more damage in an offseason. This recent incident isn't as closely tied to the school and area as the MSU one but that doesn't make it better. I really can't land an opinion on this other than that it's horrible.

Sounds like Jason Washington got screwed

Jason Washington has been kicked off the University of Montana football team and it's sound like fairness and reason weren't really an issue.

From the Missoulian:
“The only reason I was kicked off the team was - and I quote Bobby's word - I was ‘defiant,' ” Washington said. “I was like, ‘Defiant? What's your definition of defiant?'

“He said, ‘Not doing what I say.' ”

Washington said he had concerns about going beyond the NCAA limit of eight hours per week for offseason training, that the treatments were voluntary, that he did not in fact miss a treatment, and that his hamstring injury precluded him from the conditioning drills.

“He kicked me off the team for not showing up for a punishment workout on Saturday and Sunday at 6 a.m.,” Washington said. “I didn't agree with it, I had a pulled hamstring at the time. When am I supposed to do it? I can't practice, and you're going to make me run?”
Hauck refuses to comment on any disciplinary actions so that's all we have. The head coach denies going over that eight hour limit.

All of this sounds a bit like that fishy Craig Chambers suspension. From what I've seen, a Griz football player is required to abide by whatever a coach says, completely and silently, no matter how ridiculous or unfair the actions may be. If they don't, they're off the team.

I remember waiting for a spring semester Anthropology class in the Gallagher Business Building lobby when Hauck strutted into the building wearing some goofy looking cowboy boots and jeans that were just a bit too tight.

"Jason Washington, just the man I was looking for."


It's odd seeing this pan out in the news a couple months later. It just goes to show how high the barbed fence is around the Griz football program.

Is there a better "fall guy" than Kramer?

Until some major news services, I'm going to try make this the last post on the Mike Kramer fiasco. In an article in today's article Bozeman Chronicle, Bozeman-area attorneys were painting Mike Kramer as the "fall guy" for all the problems at Montana State. It's hard to argue against the idea that someone had to take the fall for all of this. Things were just too bad to plod down the path without some serious changes. The question I have is, why shouldn't Kramer be the "fall guy?"

Take a look at three of the most prominent football-related arrests: Rick Gatewood, Andre Fuller and Eddie Sullivan. All three of these guys were brought in by Mike Kramer during as part of the '03 recruiting class. Here is a incredible quote from Mike Kramer on that '03 class.
"We added some big kids, we addressed some needs, but most importantly this is a very high-quality recruiting class," Kramer said of his fourth class as MSU’s head football coach. "There are no hidden hopefuls, no maybes, in this class. This isn’t the biggest class we’ve had in terms of numbers, but that allowed us to get strong reads on every single kid we signed in terms of character. There aren’t any partial scholarships or any reaches in this class. This is the kind of class, up and down the list, that I envisioned being able to attract to Montana State when I took this job."
Hah, really?

It is entirely possible that all of this crime -- the cocaine, the busts, the murder -- is connected to the cocaine-dealing ring Gatewood helped bring into Bozeman. Hell, I'd go far as to say it's probable. However, without Kramer bringing in a shady character like Rick Gatewood, who's to say none of this ever happens? Maybe Kramer was just giving a kid a chance, but even so. He brought Gatewood to Bozeman. Gatewood brought cocaine and a wave of crime to Bozeman. Someone at MSU had to take the fall for this. I'm not saying only Kramer should be blamed, but if anyone at MSU is going to take a fall, why wouldn't it be him? Once again, I do have sympathy for Kramer and his family but the more I like at the firing, the more it looks like it had to be done.

For MSU, does it matter if perception isn't reality?

I'm having a tough time trying to figure out what my opinion is on the whole Mike Kramer firing. Obviously, something had to be done to straighten out the program. Maybe Gatewoord & Co were no longer athletes when they were arrested, or maybe Kramer had no idea what was going on or maybe he was just trying to give a guy a break. Even so, something had to be done. But then, this whole thing could've been handled much better.

An article in today's Great Falls Tribune by Scott Mansch compares perception to reality. He says through all this MSU is still serving its function as an academic institution and the perception is not reality in Bozeman.
Certainly drug use and academic lapses are not confined to the campus in Bozeman. Anyone who thinks the problems occur only at MSU is kidding himself. But the headlines indicate otherwise these days.

So the administration at Montana State is in the process of hiring a football coach to replace Kramer and, by all accounts, has a list of fine finalists. The slate will be wiped clean and we can only hope that forevermore the problems are over.

A pipe dream, to be sure.
...
The perception? Montana State has turned into Animal House. Or worse.

The reality? An exceptional institution of higher learning.
However, does it really matter what's perception and what is reality? At this point in time, outsiders' perception must be horrible. When you're trying to bring in solid students and recruits, isn't how they perceive the school extremely important?

Unless you're at a phenomenally gifted school where science research is making all the big headlines, athletics are going to get the most exposure. In a way, they are the face of the school. When Montana State beat CU and made headlines, that was phenomenal. However, when news came out that MSU athletes brought cocaine into Bozeman, that didn't look so hot. How are parents going to justify sending there kids to MSU when the latest headlines out of Bozeman is that there is a major cocaine problem.

The reality, most likely, is that there are drug problems at many universities. The perception is that it's much worse at Montana State. If MSU continues on its way and didn't do anything in reaction to the problems, what would parents of recruits and prospective students think? With so much riding on the perception of the school, I don't have any qualms with a fix that changes the perception of the school even though it's not guaranteed to fix the reality. I understand one man's career is on the line, but the perception needed to be fixed and this termination had the best chance of doing so. More to come on that in a bit.

Washington-Grizzly Stadium: it's not in the game

It remains highly unlikely that the Montana Grizzlies, or any FBS team for that matter, will make an appearance in the next-gen version of EA Sport's NCAA Football 08 but some do still hold out hope. After all, the Griz do appear in the 06 and 07 versions for Xbox (not 360). The only downer was that you had to play in some big empty stadium instead of the crowded Washington-Grizzly Stadium. Well, for anyone hoping that the Griz would not only be in the 360 version, but also play in a fully rendered Wash-Griz, I'm sorry.

TeamXbox.com
has screenshots from every stadium in the Xbox 360 version of the game and Washington Grizzly is not one of them. I really didn't think the stadium had any chance of making it in the game -- the team as a whole probably doesn't either -- but it sucks to know for sure. How sweet would this be in a video game?

After the jump are some of the small-ish stadiums that did make it into the game. None of them are from the FBS. Continue Reading...

Griz AD Jim O'Day's take on moving up

As all things Grizzly seem to be at a stand still, one discussion continues to stagnate. The topic of that discussion is whether or not the University of Montana football team should make the jump to Football Bowl Subdivision (I-AA to I-A). Every eGrizzer has heard all the arguments and most are pretty sick of it, but they haven't heard Athletic Director Jim O'Day's take on the situation. For as much as the fans talk about it, you'd think the administration would discuss the matter once in a while. Nope.

"No, we really don’t spend much time discussing this issue. It, most likely, would have to be made by the university, then the Board of Regents, and possibly, the state legislature," said O'Day. "At this time, there does not seem much interest by any of the decision-makers to even look at a move – or even talk about it. I haven’t heard anything."

In an exchange of emails, O'Day pointed to some of the issues most eGrizzers have raised. Starting with, 'which conference would the Griz go to?'

"If you did move to the Football Bowl Subdivision (I-A), which conference affiliation would you be aligned with? That is a big question mark and would be critical in the decision-making process," said O'Day. "It’s hard enough to schedule now… let alone if you’re an independent."

O'Day also posed the question of whether or not this would mean less Montana kids making it on the team. He offered no answer because no one really can. He pointed to Robin Selvig's success building a competitive program with local kids but also stated "that would be hard to duplicate if you were starting from scratch today."

O'Day brought an issue I haven't heard much about: the fact that most I-A conferences require 16 varsity sports. We only have 14.

"Which sports would you add (the minimum is 16, and UM currently offers 14) – and where would the money come to pay for the needed facilities, scholarships, travel, coaches salaries, etc." asked O'Day.

"Right now, the UM Athletics budget is approximately $11.5 million. To move into I-A (we are in I-A in all sports except for football) would probably result in a budget of at least $16 million … to even be competitive. Would fans be willing to pay considerably more to watch these teams in football and men’s and women’s basketball. Hard to say. It is very doubtful taxpayers would be willing to make up the difference."

A solution I've proposed before was that the UM athletic program take something of a financial hit to play some lower I-A or WAC teams, just to see how we would stack up against potential competition. O'Day thoroughly explained why this may be very tough to do.

His exact response: "As for scheduling, it is becoming increasingly demanding – for all of our revenue-producing sports. Few want to play a top I-AA opponent in football, and others don’t want to travel to a Big Sky Conference school to play basketball unless they’re rewarded with healthy financial guarantees (say $50,000 for men’s basketball --- and right now we can only afford $15,000 ---- Wyoming paid us $55,000 last year). Many conferences are now establishing policy to not allow their schools to play football at the home sites of FCS schools --- especially ones like Montana, Appalachian State, Georgia Southern, etc. They really have nothing to gain. As far as game guarantees are concerned, we’re already paying large sums to get other I-AA schools here. For example, we’re paying Albany $125,000 to come to Missoula… while Boise State is offering slightly more at $175,000 to Weber State (who can make some money by busing as opposed to flying). Appalachian State paid Northern Arizona $175,000 to travel to the east coast… The trip alone will cost NAU at least $100,000… resulting in a net $75,000 --- or about the same as one of their home games. Currently, UM home conference games “net” us about $350,000 --- with any non-league guarantee taken out of that figure… Thus, Albany will help our bottom line in our financial picture by about $225,000. It is a “must” that we do our best to meet our budgetary needs – and that becomes increasingly more challenging each day with mounting expenses for salaries, travel, utilities, etc."

O'Day went on to acknowledge that the FBS scene "is not a rosy one." O'Day said he is meeting with the FBS Athletic Directors in Florida this week and "we may know more after that."

"In the meantime, we will continue to improve facilities, build the program and do our best to make UM Athletics the special place it has become --- knowing that some day we might have to make a decision that will affect the future of our athletics program and its fans. Only time will tell. Stay tuned."

Mike Kramer is about to make things frivolous

After his recent firing from the Montana State head coaching position, Mike Kramer has decided  it really wasn't fair and hired Montana Attorney Cliff Edwards to represent him. Kramer and Edwards said they're not ready to sue Montana State but they do want some money.

From the Cat-Griz Insider:
Edwards said the following: “The way this was handled has indelibly stained Mike’s coaching career, and it may well have ruined it at 52-years-old. With no notice or no opportunity to do anything about this, when coach was working to correct problems, I think it’s absolutely intolerable. We will work with Montana State University, and they need to recognize they have substantial monetary and legal exposure, and that needs to be addressed. But this is the start of giving Mike a chance to redeem himself publicly.”

Kramer said: “It is with a very sad and heavy heart that we have to have this occurrence here today. What has happened is that our university has connected a legal transgression to the efforts of a very fine coaching staff, a very fine football team and an outstanding university. What the university, through its own comments to the media, has done is damage its own reputation, our athletic teams’ standing, and tarred and sullied the tremendous accomplishments of an outstanding football program.”To be fired on the 18th of May, after spring ball, at the end of the semester, beyond the scope of the guys in the program, that’s not right.”
I have no doubt Kramer will end up getting some money. But let's look at this, who is more at fault for tarnishing Mr. Kramer's reputation, MSU or Kramer himself? Let's say all this stuff came out in November and Kramer was fired in December, at the end of his contract, would he have a better chance at a future job? No. It's his former players who are making him look bad, not MSU. Kramer took a chance on questionable recruits and now it's coming back to bite him. Risks are not always rewarded.

John L. Smith in running for Montana State job

When all these shenanigans started, I predicted the Bobcat coaching would be filled by Mike Van Diest if he chose to take it. Well, turns out the job is not his for the taking as former Michigan State, Louisville and Idaho head coach John L. Smith is a fellow front-runner for the position.

From the Cat-Griz Insider:
Montana State’s search for a new football coach has been narrowed down to 11 candidates.

Whle no names have officially surfaced, a couple of the front-runners appear to be Carroll coach Mike Van Diest and former Louisville and Michigan State coach John L. Smith.
John L. Smith has proven he can coach in the Big Sky. He went 53-21 in his six seasons at Idaho in the early '90s. His 53 wins are the most by a coach at that school -- that's kind of like having the home run record for a minor league baseball team -- where he led the Vandals to the FBS playoffs in five of his six seasons.

After Idaho, he coached at Utah State and Louisville, where he took the Cardinals to five straight bowl appearances and back-to-back Conference USA titles in 2000 and 2001.

I'm not going to go out on a limb and say the job is his for the taking because I've made statements like that twice before, and been wrong both times but Smith is definitely an extremely qualified candidate. Yes, his tenure at Michigan State was rough but he's shown he can be a great coach in a non-major conference.

On a side not, Smith's interest makes me wonder if Jerry Glanville has brought some sense of legitimacy to the Big Sky Conference. You'd figure that with his track record he'd have a better job, assistant or head coach, available elsewhere.

Brawl of the Wild voted FCS game of the year

Grab your Carhardts and watch out for the cocaine dealers as this College Sporting News FCS Game of the Week and Game of the Year Surveys are in and this year's Griz-Cat matchup was voted the game of the year.

Yep, that's right, the very best regular season FCS game of the year will be played at Bobcat Stadium in Bozeman. Man, we really need to get out of this division.

Yes, the results were generated from a user survey and Montana fans have shown they kick ass at these type of things but how seriously does the FCS expect to be taken when this is the game of the year? Imagine if ESPN televised this and touted it as the best FCS game of the year. People would come across it on ESPN 2 or ESPNU, take a look at the stadium -- "F-C-S...that's high school football, right?"

This is honestly not intended to bash this great rivalry but come on, game of the year? Really?

Tell me again how MSU isn't a cancerous program

I am not trying to say the Montana State football program is awful and hasn't experienced it's own run of success recently, what I meant in an earlier post is that it's almost as if this team sold its soul for wins. Mike Kramer and other coaches at MSU sacrificed the integrity of the program to win some ball-games and now it's catching up to them like steroids caught up to the great homerun hitters of the late 90s. They took a risky and easier rout to success and it ended coming back to punch them in the gut.

The Angry T makes an interesting and inevitable comparison to the Cincinnati Bengals:

The Bobcats don’t mess around with the petty stuff, like domestic violence, or giving alcohol to minors like those pussy Bengals.  The latest arrest of a Montata State player involves former wide receiver Rick Gatewood who is accused of using his athletic scholarship money to traffic cocaine from California in the Bozeman, Montana area.   That arrest makes A.J. Nicholson looks like a boy scout.  Gatewood was the sixth former Montana State athlete arrested or charged with crimes involving drugs or murder in the past year.  That’s right folks, the Bobcats don’t limit their aggression to the football field, just like any good band of criminals

Montana State Andre Fuller is being investigated because he allegedly sold cocaine to an informant last June.  Wide receivers Edward Sullivan and Derrick Davis, Jr. were just trying to fit in when they got busted for selling drugs last summer.  Also last June, former player John Lebrum and Bobcat basketball player Branden Miller were charged with murder and kidnapping in the death of another drug dealer.  I know Montana is boring, but do you really need this many drugs to make it fun.  The answer is probably yes, but that still seems like a lot of people selling drugs for a state with a population of 915 people. The icing on the felony cake is that assistant football coach Joe O’ Brien was sentenced to four years in prison for his role in a methamphetamine distribution conspiracy.

You can't say this is all coincidence and could happen at any other school. You know why? Because it didn't. It happened at Montana State, where administrators -- athletic and otherwise -- did not have control of their program. Do people honestly think the firing of Mike Kramer completely eliminates the problem? As shown the humorous article, the problems have spread and simply chopping off the head of the football program will not cure the infection.

Portland State continues push for publicity



If you pause the video, let it load all the way then click ahead to the one minute mark you'll get to see Portland State's new ad.

Well, it's not as good as the Griz football ad, but it is something. They don't have much to brag about so they put in what they could -- Jerry Glanville's swagger and the fact that season tickets are only $60

It will be very interesting to see just how much of an effect all this publicity will have on the Portland State Viking program. Glanville & Co have been getting exposure, but will it result in more fans and a better program? One could say that the Vikings are the only show in town that time of year, but that's not completely the case. Fans have the 'Blazers and minor league baseball overlapping either ends of the season.

Hell, Blazers hype alone should have a decent shot and completely overshadowing any mention of Portland State. Seriously, for the next few months, not a single sports fan in Portland is going to care about anything other than the Blazers.

On top of this, it's so hard to get fans of teams like Oregon and Oregon state to cheer on a I-AA team. When I first came to UM, it took a little while for me to believe that I-AA football wasn't a joke. However, it all starts with wins. Glanville will bring in some fans but he can only keep them if the team is doing well.

One more important question: what happens if the fans just don't come? From every story I've read on Glanville, his goal is to create an incredible gameday atmosphere like that of Green Bay. What if, despite Glanville winning a bunch of games, it just doesn't happen? Would he consider continuing his climb back towards mainstream ball? I'd say so.

Van Diest will take a look at Montana State job

According to the Griz-Cat insider, Carroll College head coach Mike Van Diest is interested in coaching the Montana State Bobcats and will interview for the position vacated by Mike Kramer.
“I’d like to take a look at it,” Van Diest said. “I don’t know where it will go — I have no assurances on either end — but I certainly want to pursue it at this time.

“There’s a great tradition and history at Montana State University. And there’s always excitement in new challenges. I’m not unhappy (at Carroll), but this is an opportunity. I want to take a look at a new opportunity.”
He says he has no assurance of what will happen, but he has to be the favorite, doesn't he? He ran a clean, successful program at Carroll and has to be the only applicant out of the supposed 25 who would generate the most excitement. With the decision to fire Kramer already being called into question, would they dare not hire the guy most would prefer as his successor? This means the decision would likely be up to him.

If I'm Mike, I'd say no. As I mentioned in yesterday's post on the subject, if he's planning on leaving Carroll, he might as well wait for the UM job. Odds are the Griz job will open up sometime in the next two years and he would be a favorite in that race as well. If he went to the Griz, he'd have instant success at the state's premier school and one of the FCS's marquee programs. If he goes to MSU, he has to try and cure a cancerous program where no one really knows how deep the problem goes. The soonest he's going to have the successful, clean program he wants at MSU is a year, and probably later. He could wait the same amount of time — about a year or two — and be handed the reigns to the always successful Griz program. Mike probably aspires to coaching heights past both UM and MSU so which job is more likely to absolutely kill your coaching stock?

However, it's not like both jobs are open now. If he wants to leave now, he probably can. If it were up to me, I'd wait it out and probably try to sneak a phone call to Mr. O'Day.

Would Van Diest coach the 'Cats?

With the firing of Mike Kramer, Cat fans now have to wonder who will try to drag the MSU program out of the hole it's in. Most Cat fans pray it will be Carroll head coach Mike Van Diest. He's the hottest available commodity and there's no question he'd be a good fit -- similar to Lou Piniella with the Cubs during the '06 baseball season. It's very likely the job will be his if he wants it, but a couple questions have to be asked first.

The first major question is whether or not he wants to leave Carroll. He's experienced so much success with the Saints and probably does not want to put the program in a tough spot by leaving for MSU. He also may think the MSU program is just in too much turmoil.

If Van Diest does in fact want to leave, there is another important question -- when does he want to do it? Yes, the Bobcat job could very well be his if he wants it. However, the head coaching spot at the University of Montana could be his for the taking by the end of the '07-'08 season with Hauck likely getting out of Missoula as soon as he can find a sub-mediocre I-A team that's willing to take him. However, if he waits it out, he may not get the Griz  job. He'd probably be one of the favorites but I assume it'd be a bit tougher to land than the MSU gig.

AGS announces 2007 FCS Preseason Poll

Any Given Saturday released its preseason poll and after the offseason, Appalachian State still sits at the #1 spot. They've lost a lot of starters but you're the best until somebody beats you. The Griz come in second having gathered 16 first-place votes.

Here is the complete poll:
Any Given Saturday Poll Preseason Top 25
(First place votes in parenthesis)
1. Appalachian State (97)
2. Montana (16)
3. North Dakota State
4. Youngstown State
5. Massachusetts (1)
6. Northern Iowa (1)
7. New Hampshire
8. James Madison
9. Furman
10. Cal Poly
11. Illinois State
12. McNeese State
13. Southern Illinois
14. Portland State
15. Hampton
16. Wofford
17. Tennessee-Martin
18. Delaware
19. Eastern Illinois
20. Sam Houston State
21. Montana State
22. South Dakota State
23. Lehigh
24. Coastal Carolina
25. Yale

Others receiving votes (minimum of 5 votes): Towson (61), UC Davis (59), Lafayette (40), Princeton (39), Maine (33), Harvard (26), San Diego (26), South Carolina State (22), Georgia Southern (17), Eastern Kentucky (14), Northern Arizona (14), Richmond (12), Central Arkansas (10), Liberty (10), Northwestern State (8), Western Illinois (8), Delaware State (7), Northeastern (7), Albany (6), Colgate (6), Texas State (6), The Citadel (6), Alabama A&M (5), Jacksonville State (5).

BIGGEST RISING TEAM FROM 2006: Northern Iowa, Wofford (tie)
BIGGEST FALLING TEAM FROM 2006: Montana State
It's really a shame that App. State/UM game never came together. An early season, 1 vs 2 Ohio State/Texas-esque game would've been great and who knows, maybe it would've gotten some TV exposure.

Woah, don't look at us

So, something pretty cool happened here at the Grizzoulian on Saturday; this blog was mentioned on Deadspin.com, arguably the best sports blog on the web. Problem is, when they went to write up their entry on the whole MSU cocaine scandal, they typed it up saying it was UM athletes who were bringing a different kind of snow to the Big Sky area.
When a college football team and a drug cartel are linked, quick, what school might you suspect it would be? Correct, it is the U of M, but it's not that one.

It's the University of Montana, where the athletes are also entrepreneurs.
Ouch.

Well, the Grizzoulian hasn't faired so well with media exposure. The Kaimin story on the blog had some errors and was paired up with an excellent example of great investigative journalism -- a Valentine's Day centerpiece on vibrators. Deadspin has a bit more journalistic integrity than the Kaimin -- pretty sure a random Facebook note does as well -- so it was kind of funny to see this slip-up.

Montana State head coach Mike Kramer fired

Greg Rachac on the Billing Gazzette's Cat-Griz Insider is reporting that Montana State football coach Mike Kramer has been fired. This comes in the wake of arrests of former football players for dealing cocaine.
An e-mail from Montana State SID Bill Lamberty Friday afternoon announced that Bobcats coach Mike Kramer has been fired. The e-mail stated that, “Montana State University Athletic Director Peter Fields announced Friday that the University is exercising its option to terminate the contract of Mike Kramer, MSU’s head football coach for the past seven seasons.”

Fields was quoted in the e-mail, “Looking at the football program as a whole and in light of the recent criminal activities of former student-athletes connected to it, I believe there is something broken with our football program, and we need to take decisive steps to fix it.”
There is also information in a press release on MSU's athletic page:
[MSU Athletic Director Peter Fields] met with MSU President Geoff Gamble and Vice President for Student Affairs Allen Yarnell on Friday. He said Gamble and Yarnell concurred that the cumulative effects of the program's troubles pointed to a "crisis in leadership" in Bobcat football.

"It starts with leadership," Fields said. "When you look at our football program's recent history, it is apparent that its direction does not fit with what this University is all about.
It is very impressive to see the administration step up on this one and attempt to get rid of what has been on-going problem. They very easily could've passed it off by saying that these are former players who are no longer affiliated with the program but they didn't. It also makes me wonder just how deep this whole situation goes.

Bobcats brought cocaine to Bozeman. Seriously.

Like a 6'2" slow lanky white receiver going over the middle for a poorly thrown and floating pass, this story is lined up just perfectly for the safeties that are all those Griz fans who think the Montana State football team is made up of a bunch of criminals. I want to say this story is more sad than it is comical, but that's just not true. They were MSU grads (well, one was, not sure about the other) selling coke. They couldn't be smart enough to get away with it for too long.

Out of the Bozeman Daily Chronicle, here's the first few paragraphs:

A drug-dealing cartel consisting of former Montana State University athletes who were known as the main suppliers of cocaine in Bozeman was busted this week after the arrest of a former MSU football player and his brother.

Former wide receiver Richard Demond Gatewood, 23, and his brother, Randy Lamar Gatewood, 21, both of Bozeman, appeared in federal court in Missoula Wednesday on two federal complaints alleging they were selling cocaine and conspiring to sell cocaine in Bozeman from June 2005 to May 2007, according to court records.

Both men are being held in Missoula County's jail. Bail has not been set.

According to federal court records, another former MSU football player who goes by the street names of “Demetrius,” “D” or “DW” has been the leader of a drug-dealing gang with at least six drug “runners” in Bozeman for two years.

One of those runners, Rick Gatewood, allegedly used his athletic scholarship money to help bring cocaine to Bozeman from “DW's” supplier in Fairfield, Calif.

It's somewhat ironic that a major cocaine distributor shares the same name as a character from children's books and a PBS cartoon.



UPDATE
-Here's an article with the Cats' history of trouble with the law.
-Here's the AD's response.

Josh Swogger brings his talents to the NFL

Every single Griz fan knows how frustrating it can be to have Josh Swogger at quarterback. Well, Dwayne Bowe and the Kansas City Chiefs are starting to understand now too.
At LSU, Bowe played with strong-armed quarterback JaMarcus Russell, chosen by Oakland as the first pick in the draft.

On Saturday, the passers were a couple of NFL wannabes, Jeff Terrell and Josh Swogger.

Both are undrafted rookies. Terrell, from Princeton, was signed by the Chiefs last week. Swogger, from Montana, was rented by the Chiefs just for the duration of the camp.

Their throws were frequently off target, frustrating Bowe. After one such pass, he shouted to Swogger, “Come on, get it to me.”

“All I can do is run routes and catch the ball,” Bowe explained later. “Quarterbacks are going to change. Different quarterbacks, some throw it this way and some throw it that way. All I’ve got to do is worry about catching the ball.”

Right now Swogger is an NFL quarterback. Savor it buddy, savor it. It's looking like it may be the only time he'll be able to call himself that. "Yeah, I played four years in NFL Europe" probably doesn't get you a drink or a girl at the local bar.

Man in black gets even more press

I woke up this morning--my third after returning from Zootown--to find Portland State and Jerry Glanville splattered across the front of my sports section. It wasn't exactly what I wanted to find on this fine Mother's Day. The story is extremely well written and I have no doubt the increasing number of articles like this will only lead to further success of the Portland State program.

The man made famous during decades spent coaching in college and the NFL, for careers in broadcasting and car racing, for, above all, the character known as Jerry Glanville, is now the coach at Portland State.

And he wants you to be a Viking.

He wants to play you the music that will announce his team's entrance during home games, all war horns and tribal drums beating into crescendo — Star Trek meets Scandinavia. He wants you to see the Viking hull and Viking statues in his office. He wants to tell you the first city the Vikings conquered: Portland, England, in 789.

He's rolling now, ever the salesman, trying to bring Vikings into vogue. He grabs a vintage Viking helmet, made of steel, bought on eBay, from behind his desk.

"You're going to love this," he says, invoking his favorite phrase. "Everybody has worn that thing. The president. The players. Me. Put that bad boy on."

Further proof that Glanville can sell blind men glasses rests awkwardly atop your head. You wear the helmet. You met Glanville 45 minutes earlier.

You want to be a Viking.

One can only hope that his personality brings more success and attention to the Big Sky and I-AA football. One can also hope that after bringing in said attention, he pulls a Bob Huggins and peaces out before kicking the pedestal out from under the Griz.

This is what a non-conference schedule should look like

Last season, the Griz were very over-matched in their semifinal loss to UMass. From what I saw, the score was much closer than what was happening on the field. Coming off that loss, the Griz go into an extremely weak non-conference schedule. I don't think our AD schedules this far in advance but take a look at some of the team coming down the pipe for the Minutemen.

Courtesy of the UMass Football Blog, here's a look at some of the BCS opponents the Minutemen will be playing in the future:
Their ability to schedule Boston College as a regional rival is impressive. Even though it will never happen seeing as it would please the fans too much, it would be great to see something similar happen with former BCS foe Boise State.

It's also interesting that while our opponents are playing teams like Michigan and BC, we play Ft. Lewis and Southern Utah. I understand we played Iowa last year and got paid well to do so, but that doesn't mean we should get a year off from decent competition.

NAU snatches up App. St game

It is now official: Northern Arizona will play defending FCS National Champion Appalachian State on September 15. It was rumored that the Griz were interested in such a match-up but it never really panned out as the logistics didn't work for either school.

For those of you wondering why the Griz has such an awful schedule this year and why UM is not playing the Mountaineers, I point to a previous entry containing an email with UM AD Jim O'Day.

Here's a brief excerpt with O'Day's words on Appalachian State. For other information, read the complete email.
Would love to play App State, but the cost may be too high for both schools. Trouble flying in and out of Boone and Missoula. We both estimate about $125,000… which most likely won’t be doable for either this year as we try to pay our bills. The cost of travel to some of these “remote” places is making scheduling more and more challenging and difficult. Everyone has to pay their bills, and wants some money in return for making the trip. Boise is paying in the neighborhood of $185,000 for a guarantee game, and we’re already at $125,000 being offered… with few takers. They say it would cost almost that much just to fly into Missoula and pay accompanying bills.
It's really disappointing that even though we have some of the best attendance in all of the FCS, money was a deciding factor in whether or not this match-up occurred. It's kind of frustrating when you remember that—I believe this is true, comment if I'm wrong— the trip to Flagstaff is about as difficult as it gets.

Oh no, what did the cat cough up now?!


A Bozeman area sponsor has decided to pick up the tab on the hideous monstrosity pictured above. Yep, that's right, the 2007 Montana State Bobcats will be vomited from a giant inflatable cat. Get excited.

Alright Jim O'Day, here's the plan

Forget the Bergquist/Selle quarterback race, the biggest debate surrounding the Griz football program is always whether or not we should jump to I-A and play with the big guys. At this point, it's pretty hard to figure out what this would take and just whether or not it would be a good thing. Well, Texas State University has laid out what we should do.
Texas State University-San Marcos President Denise M. Trauth said she will ask the President's Athletics Task Force to conduct a comprehensive feasibility study on moving the university's football program to the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) level of competition in the future.

"There appears to be a groundswell of enthusiasm surrounding our football program right now," University President Denise Trauth said in a news release Sunday. "If we can carry that momentum forward and build on it, then the feasibility of moving the program to the FBS competition is something we need to examine."
If a team that got beat by Northern Colorado can examine the possibility of going to I-A, why can't we? Seriously, these guys are willing to take the risk because they know the support they have right now may later fade. Griz football fading isn't completely impossible. If it did, don't you think we'd regret never even looking at the possibility of moving up?

Pair of Griz football players sign with NFL teams

As it turns out, some NFL GMs were in the market for a scaled back version of JaMarcus Russell. While Russell was probably recovering from a night out spending his Under Armor endorsement money and making it rain, Swogger spent the day sitting and staring at that ESPN draft frame before signing as an undrafted free agent with the Kansas City Chiefs.

It was a tough draft for quarterbacks as even the one who led his team to a National Championship didn't hear his name called so it was somewhat expected that we weren't going to hear the Griz QB mentioned in the later rounds. This may turn out alright for him as he's going to a pretty good situation; well, at least it's a good situation for  a backup quarterback who's trying to secure a job

Griz defensive back and returnman extraordinaire — hey, he just signed with an NFL team, ridiculous cliche superlatives are fine  — Tuff Harris signed with the Miami Dolphins.
“They'd seen film, and they came and visited last spring,” Harris said. “They have good corners, but they're all young - nobody over two years, I guess. He (Miami secondary coach Mel Phillips) said it's a good opportunity, a good chance to compete.”

The kicking game could be a factor for Harris. Miami's first-round pick, receiver and return man extraordinaire Ted Ginn, Jr., out of Ohio State, is nursing a sprained foot.

“He has an injury and probably won't be doing anything until two months from now,” said Harris, who averaged 14.5 yards per punt return with two touchdowns last fall. “They also mentioned (returning) which is good. I kind of like doing that.”
The only question is, which one of these guys is going to really get lit up first? We all saw what happened to Trent Green last year and God only knows what a training camp punt coverage team — filled with guys trying to earn a job too — will be thinking when they see the undrafted 6' sub 200 lb kid from the boonies head back to field a kick.

First look at Southern Utah

With the coming and going of the Spring Game, it will be quite some time before we see the Griz football team on the field again. When we do see them in actual competition again, it will be against Southern Utah University. I don't know much about them other than that they want to join us in the Big Sky Conference. To find out a bit more I checked on Youtube to see if I could find any informative embarrassing video.

Here's the result:


Wow, where have I heard that song before? Oh, yeah. Let's hope it produces similar results.

Cats get spring game on TV while Griz don't, oh well

Well I just logged on to TVguide.com to see if for some odd, convenient reason the Griz's spring football game would be televised. Of course, it's not. Interestingly, the Altitude TV network will be showing Montana State's Triangle Classic from Great Falls.
Montana State may be playing its final spring football scrimmage in Great Falls on April 28, but Bobcat fans in Bozeman won't have trouble watching.

In fact, Bobcat fans spread far and wide will be able to catch the action thanks to Altitude Sports and Entertainment. The regional cable television network will carry the Triangle Classic, beginning at 2 pm, a contest that caps an event that has become a north-central Montana tradition.
I guess that's fair. I mean we get a FCS Semifinal on the deuce and they get their spring game on Altitude. I think I'll take that trade every year... which is about how frequently it'll occur. Well, unless the Colorado Avalanche make the playoffs.

Stu Mayes at wide receiver?

Just about every Griz hoops fan is disappointed to see Stuart Mayes go. He will leave a void at the guard and forward positions that will be very hard to fill. This doesn't meet Stu is done trying to help out UM athletics. This week Stu began trying out for the Griz football team.
The Griz found another receiver this week in former Grizzly basketball player Stuart Mayes. The 6-foot-7 senior just completed his basketball eligibility at UM. “He wanted to come out and try it,” Montana football coach Bobby Hauck said. “We'll see.”

Other UM non-football players have ventured onto the gridiron. After Scott Zanon hung up his basketball shoes for UM, he joined the football team and returned a punt for a touchdown in 1987. Cornerback Tuff Harris, a senior in 2006, was originally a track and field recruit. Of course he became a football recruit as soon as he played a game, which could be a rub for Mayes and the Griz.

“He's got a fifth year, and we get into an issue with him where we have to makes some decisions, because he'll count against our (scholarship) numbers if he competes,” Hauck said. “We'll have to see how things go.”
I don't know what to say other than I really really hope this works out. Our wide receiver position is already pretty stacked but any fan of Griz hoops can tell you that Stu is extremely athletic. It would not surprise me if he found a way onto the team.

Who is Bobby Hauck texting?

Bobby Hauck is a state employee and a public official. Because he holds these titles, all his phone records — amongst other things — are open to the public if one wishes to file a request through the state's Freedom of Information Act. Well, one fan did this with Arkansas head coach Houston Nutt (great name) and there were some interesting results.

I'm sure many fans would be curious to see just what's inside Bobby Haucks text message inbox.  Would this be a possibility?
Rob Phenicie: Why do our players refuse to respect my genius?

Bobby Hauck: No comment. That is a personnel issue and I refuse to answer such questions at this time. Who is this anyway?

Rob Phenicie: It's the Phenster, man; who else besides one of the greatest young offensive minds in college football?

Bobby Hauck: How do I know?

Rob Phenicie: My number is programmed in your phone. I've seen it.

Bobby Hauck: I know that, but how do I know that a member of the press hasn't stolen your phone in a desperate attempt to get behind the maroon curtain and find out who our quarterback is?

Rob Phenicie: Come on man. You have an embarrassing birth-mark on your right thigh in the shape of a bobcat.

Bobby Hauck: Fine, what's up?

Rob Phenicie: I really think we should have a rule that says a player can't be at a restaurant or bar when a coach is there.

Bobby Hauck: Why?

Rob Phenicie: Because no one should cramp or draw attention away from my incredible offensive intellect. Plus I already kicked a player off the team for violating it.

Bobby Hauck: Jesus Phen, remember the last time you made up a rule before telling me about it? Swogger went the whole season under the impression that he had to count to five-Mississippi before passing and was under no circumstances allowed to throw the ball away.

Rob Phenicie: Throwing the ball away makes us look weak! Plus sacks create third-and-longs that open things up and allow our tight ends to get down the field.

Bobby Hauck: We don't pass to our tight ends.

Rob Phenicie: That's not the point, Craig shouldn't of been there. I retroactively created this rule and he violated it.

Bobby Hauck: You kicked Craig off the team?! He's a U-Dub kid! First you hardly pass to him now you kick him off the team?!

Rob Phenicie: No one is above me, er, the team. No one is above the team... or its rules.

Bobby Hauck: It's not even a rule!

Rob Phenicie: It is now.

Bobby Hauck: No, no it's not. Alright, I've got to go call Craig and get this sorted out. I'll talk to you at practice.

Rob Phenicie: Fine, I'll go draw up some more variations on the shuffle pass; just as you asked for.

Bobby Hauck: I didn't.

Rob Phenicie: I know, I'm so smart I thought one step ahead and figured you would.
Please do not take this too seriously. It's the offseason and there's not much news. Stifle.

Josh Swogger on the NFL's interest in him

I'm sure many of you are aware that Josh Swogger has garnered some attention from folks up in the No Fun League. There's an interesting story in this morning's Kaimin with Swogger's reaction to the attention and press he's been getting.
“It’s tough to say what’s going to happen in the draft, because you just never know,” Swogger said. “You can run yourself in circles trying to figure out who likes you and who doesn’t, so I’m just going to wait and see what happens.”

“It’s nice to have articles that give you that recognition,” Swogger said. “But in the end, the only thing that matters is what the teams think."
The article says that the Packers have been coming after him a bit. As a Green Bay fan, I like hearing this because I am just scared to death of the weak-armed Aaron Rodgers lining up under center in Lambeau. Yes, Swogger lining up at QB on the Tundra is slightly more terrifying but at least it would be fun to watch. Swogger said he has also spoken several times with the Cleveland Browns — Brady Quinn's sloppy seconds, holla — and the Vikings, Steelers, Colts and Eagles have also shown interest.

While there has been a fair amount of positive press on Swogs, some media members — myself sort of included — have pointed out his flaws.
But not all teams at the Combine were impressed. In an online scouting report, the Miami Dolphins wrote that he did not have an NFL arm. On nfldraftcountdown.com, analyst Scott Wright wrote that despite Swogger’s strong arm and good size, he couldn’t cut it against top competition. He said he has limited mobility, and “makes a lot of bad decisions … he’s still just a developmental guy.”
I really disagree with the first statement as Swogger could probably have his own Powerade commercial if he could manage to hit a single section of bleachers. I think Wright is pretty dead-on in his assessment, based on what I've seen at Montana. Hopefully, once Swogger gets settled into an offense he can reduce these bad decisions.

Weber State safety defines what it means to be an athlete-student

Remember when Vince Young supposedly scored a six on the Wunderlic test and we all thought he was completely incompetent before that was corrected to a 16? Well, someone has done worse and they're from right here in the Big Sky Conference.

Every Day Should Be Saturday is reporting that Weber State safety Bo Reed has scored an abysmal four on the test. This comes within just one point of that all-time low, a three held by Ravens' linebacker Roderick Green.

He really should've just gone for the outright record of two seeing as he really won't gain any recognition otherwise.

Scrimmage impressions

It's really hard for me to give you any good impressions from Friday's Griz football scrimmage because I really didn't walk away feeling very impressed. It wasn't that we played bad, it's just that nothing really stood out.

I went into the scrimmage not expecting much with the two guys I would most like to see, Craig Chambers and JD Quinn, were out with shoulder and "undisclosed" injuries respectively. Even so, I was interested to see the quarterback race and how our running backs were doing.

Here are some pretty basic observations:
  • The quarterback race seems pretty hope but I believe the job will be Bergquists almost by default as none of them really stood out. I think I may have developed some bias against Bergquist after seeing him next to Swogger. He just seems so small and weak-armed after watching Swogger play. It's like watching Brett Favre and being afraid of when Aaron Rodgers time eventually comes. However, Bergquist has the mobility inside the pocket that Swogger just didn't have.
    • They really did not pass the ball much during the scrimmage, at least not with the first team. It was really kind of discouraging. With there being something of a quarterback controversy, I figured they would want to air it out more.
    • The only real good pass of the day was about a 35 yarder from Bergquist to Allen. Seemed like it may have been due to strong pass protection as Cole had a lot of time to go through his progressions before coming back to hit a wide open Eric Allen.
  • The backs played well, just about all of them making strong moves in the open field. It was good to see Lex out there. Not sure if he played much or at all in the 11 on 11 scrimmage. This is one of our deepest positions with TBF, Lex, and Coleman all being great players.
    • We ran the swing play a ton. The type of thing Baylark of UMass killed us with. However, the play was rarely run smoothly. Quarterbacks were consistently tossing bad passes out in the flats that were either incomplete, too high or behind the receiver.
    • The offensive line was not opening up holes and often letting guys into the backfield. Our backs were forced to make a move or break a tackle before they even got to the line of scrimmage.
  • I almost felt robbed. The whole thing lasted about 90 minutes, maybe a bit less. They spent probably 70 minutes running a normal practice and 20 minutes scrimmaging. I mean watching practice is worthwhile but I wasn't interested in watching the QBs hit wide open receivers and having no idea where they were actually trying to throw it.

JD Quinn: "All I did is take money"

University of Montana offensive lineman JD Quinn has finally voiced how he feels about being kicked off the Oklahoma football team. It sounds a bit like what Maurice Clarrett said following his departure from from Columbus. One of those "you don't know half of what's going on" stories.

"All I did was take cash," Quinn said. "I didn't break any laws and I get kicked off the team, but there's people on the team that are breaking laws and failing drug tests and stuff like that, and there's nobody getting kicked off the team for that type of stuff."

Quinn declined to provide details of his allegations about other players, but said it was not necessarily about players on the OU team.

"I was just saying around the country. I wasn't saying it in the context of Oklahoma. There's just people I've heard of doing things."

"I didn't hurt anybody," he said during a 23-minute telephone interview Monday, during which he expressed both remorse and bitterness. "I don't understand why the punishment was so harsh."

In a second interview Tuesday, Quinn said "All I did was take money from somebody that wanted to give it, but I didn't hurt anybody or anything like that. People have gotten second chances for worse things."

With all the stories like this, you really have to wonder if a good portion of it is true. Even so, getting 8k for doing nothing should have some negative impact your eligibility. The punishment may be a little harsh but I, for one, believe that it wasn't excessive. On the other hand, I think him losing a year of eligibility and being allowed to stay on OU would've sufficed as well.

Bobby Hauck does not want to talk to you

There's an interesting editorial/complaint in the Montana Kaimin today about how the football team and their media relation skills kind of, well, blow. The article compares Kaimin reporters' efforts to get in contact with Bobby Hauck (as well as Cole Bergquist) and Larry Krystkowiak.
This week, one Kaimin sports reporter encountered people eager to provide information and quick to return calls, while another experienced gag orders, stonewalls and canned answers.

The ironic part of this scenario is that the former situation was dealing with an NBA team under much greater public and media scrutiny than the team that caused the difficulties: the University of Montana’s own Grizzly football team.
Access this week to the Milwaukee Bucks’ new head coach, former Griz basketball coach Larry Krystkowiak, and NBA player Lynn Greer was easy and straightforward.

But, when asked who was leading the Grizzly quarterback race, head coach Bobby Hauck responded that it’s way too early to tell and that it’s a wide-open race between four players. Quarterback Cole Bergquist couldn’t talk about his chances since the Athletic Department has made him unavailable to the media.
This just seems to me like an example of the Griz football team knowing that they are the kings of the state, or at least Missoula, and thinking they don't have to give anything back. It's really kind of upsetting. One thing that kind of irked me, and no one else seemed to notice, was that after the loss to UMass, they did nothing to acknowledge the crowd's support throughout the year. After the last home game, I've seen many college teams make they way over to the student section and show some form of gratitude to the students that have invested so much in them.

Another reason for the snubbing of reporters is that I don't think that they realize that we, the media, are actually out to help them. I recently tried to get in contact with a couple basketball players and never heard back. You do realize that Dahlberg was pretty empty this year and that media coverage only means more attention. More often than not, the media helps, not hurts, teams.

RELATED:
Krystkowiak adjusts to life as NBA head coach                     
Griz QB position still undecided

Let's all try and get a grip

As many of you have probably heard, former NFL head coach and Hawaii defensive coordinator Jerry Glanville has decided to become the head football coach of the Portland State Vikings. Jerry seems pumped going into this thing, probably too pumped for coaching I-AA football, and has said some interesting things. One thing he mentioned is that he would like to turn Portland into the Green Bay, WI of I-AA football (sorry Jer, that's already taken). This really isn't the funniest analogy in this whole fiasco; that would come from Will Leitch over at Deadspin.
The Green Bay for I-AA football. Now there's a goal! Actually, we think Portland State is to college football what Jerry Glanville's Pigskin Footbrawl is to legitimate football video games.
Needless to say, it's going to be fun having this nut in the Big Sky Conference.

He ain't no Julius Erving

Thought I'd point out this blip from Danny Davis' recent column:
Clarification Note: After last week’s column regarding nicknames, the Montana Kaimin was informed that Matt Dlouhy’s “Doc” nickname originates from his initials, not from comparisons to NBA Hall-of-Famer Julius Erving as was previously assumed. The Kaimin somewhat regrets the error.
"The Kaimin somewhat regrets the error." Keep it up guys, keep it up. Not gonna lie, I sent in this correction in after hearing about it from a commenter(UMTBuds). Danny Davis once asked me at a basketball game why I kept calling Dlouhy "Doc" and at the time I didn't have an answer; it was just what I wrote on his little blue cup when I volunteered for a brief stint handing out water at practices. DD didn't know so he kind of based an entire column on an assumption.

Oh well. I'm not gonna go on too much about this, I just wish DD or someone would write some more columns about Griz sports. You know, ones that get the fans interested in athletics right here on campus, come around more than once a week and, you know, aren't based entirely in fiction.

RELATED: Foresters take ax to Kaimin coverage of Ball [Montana Kaimin]

JaMarcus Rusell: A rich man's Josh Swogger

As many of you have probably heard, Montana Grizzlies quarterback Josh Swogger is headed to the NFL Combine, where he will do everything he can to prove himself. JaMarcus Russell will be doing the opposite as he'll probably be walking around  just trying not to slip on any laminated Wonderlic exam booklets and go out George Costanza style. Sure, a guy who's going to be drafted first and one who will be lucky to sign as a free agent are going to have some big differences, but they also have some key similarities.

So if you're an NFL GM who's looking for a guy like Russell but don't have the #1 spot and already used up all your draft picks on players who are actually worth a damn, Josh Swogger is your quarterback of the future.

 
Continue Reading...

Montana Grizzlies 2007 Football Schedule

The last spot to be filled has finally been announced. The Griz will be playing USC Appalachian State the University of Albany Great Danes. Yes, they are FCS.

Here's the complete schedule:
2007 Montana football schedule
9/1...Southern Utah...1:05 p.m.
9/9...Fort Lewis...1:05 p.m.
9/15...Open...----
9/22...Albany...1:05 p.m.
9/29...Weber State (homecoming)...1:05 p.m.
10/6...Eastern Washington...1:05 p.m.
10/13...at Sacramento State...3:05 p.m.
10/20...Northern Colorado...1:05 p.m.
10/27...at Northern Arizona...3:05 p.m.
11/3...Portland State...12:05 p.m.
11/10...at Idaho State...TBA
11/17...at Montana State...12:05 p.m.
Yep, seven home games and five to start the season. Gotta pay for that expansion.

You know how that ended, right?


So this is a video of the opening game from last year...before things really started to go downhill. So yeah, it pretty much just includes the players coming out and the kickoff. It would've been pretty tight had we hung in there or maybe even upset the Hawkeyes but as it stands it's a video of us about to stomped set to an awful System of a Down song. Understandable why the video doesn't continue. As Dave Chapelle put it: nobody wanna get their ass beat to a soundtrack and shit.

Bobby or Krysko?

Just like Larry Krystkowiak at the end of last basketball season, it feels like (not just feels like, it is) Hauck's departure from Zootown is inevitable. However, I believe their own aspirations for taking their coaching to careers to the next level are a bit different.

When LK was about to leave, he didn't seem quite as desperate to get out. He did put his name in for the job at Pepperdine before seeing all the good that he had right in UM and getting out. He saw that UM had a great program on the rise. They just beat Nevada to get to the second round of the NCAA tourney and, before he was mentioned as a candidate, I didn't even know Pepperdine had a basketball program.

So he got out of it. He told his players he would not take any other college job. He wanted to build the Griz program into one it had the potential to be. He wanted to make this school love its hoops program again and he was well on his way.

What would be said if Hauck had a similar chat about his aspirations with the Griz football team?
"Listen guys, I know when I recruited you I asked that you dedicate the next four to five years of your life to this football program but... I'm not gonna lie, as soon as something decent opens up at the next level and they're willing to hire a I-AA coach to run their program, I'm taking the next overpriced non-direct flight out of here."
I'm not blaming him or calling him a bad guy, it's just kind of disappointing that he's such a lame duck. He needs to go elsewhere to take his game to the next level and wants to do so as soon as humanly possible.

The question I have for you is this: who do you think is the better coaching prospect, Bobby Hauck or Larry Krystkowiak?

Hauck signs one year deal

Bobby Hauck has signed a one year deal to continue coaching the Griz, just prolonging his inevitable departure from Zootown.

Hauck chose to sign the one-year deal after the he and the University of Montana could not come to terms on a three-year deal. Sounds like it's not his fault.

However, it wasn't the signed deal that prolonged his inevitable departure; it was his inability to get a decent job at the next level.

"It's JD Quinn"


One of the very best parts about being a college student, and cheering for your school's team's has to be how often you get to see the athletes in situations you don't expect to see them in. My personal favorite has to be seeing Griz offensive lineman JD Quinn at the Foresters Ball (if you went to UM you know what it is) on Saturday night. A close second was seeing Mike Chavez at The Queen the night before the Griz beat Weber State.

Back to Saturday night, I was walking back from the Port-O-Potties in a somewhat altered state and couldn't help but yell out "Hey, it's JD Quinn" while walking up the stairs. I wasn't really expecting a response so when he said "yes?" and looked at me I think I almost turned to stone. I uttered a "good luck next season" and continued on my way.

If you look up above you can see him off to the left. When the picture was taken, the girl front and center wasn't supposed to be included. Turns out it's UM cheerleader Kelsey Poore. Odd seeing them out of their natural environment.

Hauck supposedly close to inking deal

The Montana Kaimin reports that Griz head coach Bobby Hauck is going to sign a one-year contract instead of the three-year one that was on the table.
Athletic Director Jim O’Day said he would prefer to sign Hauck to a long-term contract because that would provide more stability to the program.

“If that’s what he’s going to do we’ll respect his wishes,” O’Day said.

O’Day said he would like to know if Hauck is going to stay with Montana by the end of January or the recruiting period, which ends on Feb. 7.

“It’s time to get moving one way or another,” O’Day said. “I can understand his concerns and I’m sure he can understand ours.”
On how the shortened deal will affect recruiting:
One of the major drawbacks to not signing a long-term deal will be recruiting. Hauck realizes that this will weigh heavily on some recruits’ minds, wondering if he will be there to see them play out their collegiate careers.

“I know it does have an effect on it for sure,” Hauck said. “It’s just something I need to address with the kids we’re recruiting. It’ll be a huge negative for us in recruiting.”
However, the last time the Kaimin reported that UM and someone were close to a deal was in Tuesday's paper, when they said UM was very close to acquiring Highlands Golf Course. In Wednesday's paper, they confirmed that the deal is off.

O'Day: Money may be too great an obstacle for game between Appalachian St and UM

I mentioned earlier in the week that there was a strong possibility that Appalachian State, back-to back FCS National Champions, would be coming to Missoula during the 2007 season. I exchanged emails with AD Jim O'Day earlier today and it looks like the matchup is unlikely for a wide variety of reasons.

I have only skimmed his response and wanted to get it up as soon as possible before doing any real analysis or stating my opinion.

His email, in its entirety, is after the jump. Continue Reading...

Appalachian State coming to the Zoo?

Once again, I don't have a link to the article because their site isn't updated, but the Kaimin is reporting the potential for a matchup in Missoula against Appalachian State.

According to the paper, the reigning I-AA National Champions are really pushing to be the ones who get to fill the void on UM's schedule.
"Appalachian State is pushing harder than anyone," O'Day said. "They're even willing to come here and play."

"They're not afraid to play anybody," O'Day said. "But you also look at it and say, are we ready to play them? I know the fans would love it, but I'm not so sure the coaches would."
As a fan, I would love it but I am afraid of what could happen if things did go wrong. This game, I believe, would be early in the season and a poor showing could hurt their confidence going into conference play. A bad loss against one of I-AA elite could also serve as a measuring stick once it came time for seeding the playoffs.

Even so, you need to have faith in your program and your fans. Trust that WaGriz will be louder than ever and the players will probably be as up for this game as they would be for Griz-Cat. A win over the back to back national champions would give the players and fans a huge boost.

Wash-Griz growth approved by Montana Board of Regents.


This may come as old news to most Griz fans but the Montana Board of Regents approved a 2,000 seat expansion to Washington-Grizzly Stadium.

The expansion will be completed by the 2008 season and was designed with the intention of allowing for futher expansions.

It will be very interesting to see how Wash-Griz will look a quarter-century from now. Also, if this expansion continues, it'll be more interesting to see if the Griz are still romping through I-AA or taking their shot with the big guys.

The image above was posted by ronbo on eGriz. The expansion is not exactly what the final product will look like seeing as the seats will stretch farther, but it gives a general idea.

Hauck not chosen for Minnesota coaching job.

ESPN.com is reporting that Denver Broncos' tight ends coach Tim Brewster will be taking over as the head coach of the Minnesota Gophers.

This comes as good news for Griz fans as head coach Bobby Hauck was considered a candidate for the position.

I don't really know how they could've gone with this guy when there were so many other candidates that seemed superior. I said before that if USC offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin wanted the job he would probably get it, I guess I was wrong. Either he didn't want it or the folks at the University Minnesota aren't too bright. I'm not going to say which I think it was because I didn't get in there.

Griz won't open with USC, for now.

There have been rumors floating around that our Montana Grizzlies will be flying down to LA on the opening week of the season to play the USC Trojans for more money than what is normally offered on Deal or No Deal. Turns out there's probably no truth to that rumor.

This Fritz Neighbor article in the Missoulian says that AD Jim O'day hasn't heard anything from the land of Troy.
“You would always listen,” he said of playing the Trojans, who finished No. 4 in the final Associated Press poll. “But I haven't heard from anybody. I don't know where they would've come from.”
Not sure whether or not the falsehood of this rumor is a good or bad thing. I mean I did manage to beat USC in the Fiesta Bowl while playing as UM in NCAA '06 on XBox but I'm guessing the outcome wouldn't be quite the same in real life.

Bobby Hauck to the Gophers?

The Minneapolis Star Tribune is reporting that Bobby Hauck may be a candidate to coach the Minnesota Gophers.
Rumors are rampant at the national coaches convention in San Antonio. Two names that have surfaced are Montana coach Bobby Hauck and TCU coach Gary Patterson. It's unclear whether either coach has been contacted.
It is important to note that this information is in the last paragraph of an article on the possibility of USC offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin taking over.
"It's an extremely attractive job," Kiffin said. "It's a place that's close to my heart. I've always wanted to move back someday and raise my family there. It's a great university, and the program is going in the right direction."
Kiffin went to high school in the area and one has to figure that if he wants this job, he is probably going to get it. This man directed and recruited some of the greatest offenses in college football history.

Kiffin isn't the only high profile name ahead of Bobby, other candidates include: longtime NFL and college assistant Marc Trestman, former Miami coach Larry Coker, former Iowa State coach Dan McCarney and LSU defensive coordinator Bo Pelini.

The school has said their dream candidate is Indianapolis Colts coach Tony Dungy, but that is probably not going to happen.

It's only a matter of time before Hauck leaves Missoula but I think the odds that he will be coaching the Gophers in the homerdome next year are about the same as those on Tony Dungy.

Thanks to Charlie for the tip, I haven't heard anything on the Missoula end of things. There is nothing in the Missoulian today and this appears to be the only reference to him being a candidate.

We would've been fine had Hauck left.

This is the argument Great Falls Tribune columnist George Geise makes in today's paper. I'm not saying I disagree, I'm just wondering if the reasons are right.

In the article Geise's basic argument is the fact that UM is good, was good and inevitably will be in the future. It's not like there is a great assistant waiting in the wings, just a long line of coaches who want to join such a great program. He points to the past coaching exchanges and this year's young Grizzly team.
[Mike] Dennehy's last team went 9-3, and [Joe] Glenn's first team went 13-2, losing in the I-AA championship game to Georgia Southern.

Glenn's final team went 11-3, and Hauck's inititial squad went 9-4 in 2003. But Bobby had the Griz back in the national-championship game the very next season, falling to James Madison.

Hauck's team was 12-2 this past season, with a squad dominated by underclassmen. Now that it appears likely Hauck will be back in Missoula in 2007 (although it's possible a job like Air Force might have some lure), Griz fans will expect at least 13 victories next season.
I'm not at all saying Geise is wrong, I mean he's the sports editor of the paper and covered BSC sports for almost three decades, but this notion that Griz fans have, which he mentions, that we will always be good is kind of scary.

The reason the Griz are so good is because they draw in great talent (coaches and players) and the reason they draw in talent is because they're so good. I understand this is the paradox presented to every college sports program but the undying expectations aren't so high at most schools. If you expect to be great, no matter what happens, eventually you won't be.

Don't you think Miami of a few years ago or Notre Dame, well, always, believed they couldn't do anything but be great?

As a Notre Dame and Griz fan, I have high expectations that will not be lowered, but at the same time it does cause some concern.

Boston Globe shows Grizzly D some love.

This article in the Boston Globe does a good job of talking up the Montana defense. Well, it's a good job when they don't use poor analogies and run-on sentences.
UMass fans who have visions of star running back Steve Baylark running wild over the Grizzlies could be in for a rude awakening. The only thing that runs through Missoula when the Montana defense is on the field is the Clark Fork River (the book "A River Runs Through It," which was adapted into a movie in 1992, was set in Missoula).
The article goes on to explain that the Griz defense plays like the Patriots, something Boston natives can understand without seeing a movie or reading a book.

UMass: the walking wounded?

For the UMass Minutemen, this really isn't a good time for a short week.

According to this Daily Hampshire Gazette article, several players are trying to heal before Friday night's game with the Griz.
University of Massachusetts football coach Don Brown said his team was a collection of casts, ice and braces on Sunday as the players battled injuries of varying degrees while they prepared for Friday night's Division I Football Championship semifinal game at Montana.

'We looked like a MASH unit on Sunday, but I told the kids by Tuesday make sure that we're unmashed,' Brown said. 'The old adrenaline gets running as the week goes along and I'm sure we'll be ready to go Friday night' at 7:30 p.m

The article also offers some insight from the Sports Network's Matt Dougherty. He says that the offense has definitely improved in these playoffs. I don't think any Griz fan could disagree when he says the play of Josh Swogger has improved and frosh Thomas Brooks-Fletcher has emerged as the Griz's #1 back.

It may have been immediately following a Jamarcus Russel or vintage Daunte Culpepper-esque run but at one point the student section was definitely chanting "Swogger, Swogger, Swogger."

He also talks about what weekends are like in Wash-Griz:

'It's a feeling unlike any other I-AA venue,' he said. 'When I was there they came in with parachuters before the game, stuff you'll usually only see at NFL stadiums. When the teams are in the north end zone inside the 20, it's unbelievably loud. The seats are very close to the field. People come from all over the state. It's a very lightly populated, but huge state, a lot of people make long drives every week. It's a pretty unbelievable atmosphere.'

If anyone wants a to feel a little of the Wash-Griz atmosphere from the comfort of their laptop, check out the YouTube clip after the jump.

Continue Reading...

The enemy...


This photo is courtesy of the UMass Football Fanzone, a blog operated by UMass fan Frank Smith. Check out his blog for more information and images on the Minutemen.

Griz one game away from I-AA National Championship Game

With their victory over the Southern Illinois Salukis, the Griz have moved within one win of a trip to Chattanooga Tennessee for the I-AA National Championship Game. This kind of blows my mind: the Superbowl is in Miami, the BCS title game is in Glendale, Arizona and the I-AA National Championship Game is somewhere in Tennessee. That seems unfair.

This game will be played Friday night at  5:30 against the University of Massachusetts Minutemen. The game will be telecast live on ESPN as they'll bring in portable lights for the game. This comes after Appalachian State, who stomped Ms. U, chose to play their game Saturday afternoon. Sure it may feel like Lambeau, in January, on Pluto, but I'll take the atmosphere a night in the Zoo brings.

Time for another "maroon-out?"

Hauck leaving the Zoo?

Griz football Head Coach Bobby Hauck seems to be a moderately warm commodity when it comes to I-A head coach openings. He was reportedly already a candidate for the Iowa State head coaching job. That job is likely headed to San Diego Coach Jim Harbaugh, but it doesn't mean Hauck won't be mentioned for other head coaching positions.

Hauck has I-A experience as he was an assistan at both the University of Washington and the University of Colorado. Along with that, he is considered to be an excellent recruiter. He was the recruiting director for each of these schools for at least part of each tenure.

This recent ESPN article lists him one of the coaches in a non-BCS conference most deserving of a job in one of the six BCS conferencecs. Check the article out soon, it's part of ESPN's Insider free preview. I really hate this whole Insider thing.

We're talking about playoffs -- Griz get #2 seed in I-AA bracket.

As long as the Griz keep winning, they will be at home all the way until they travel to Chattanooga for the I-AA National Championship.

The Griz earned the #2 seed and will face McNeese State University, who earned the automatic bid from the from the Southland Conference.

Next Saturday's Griz/Cowboys game won't be the only one played in Montana. The Bobcats will be playing host to the Furman Paladins. That is one of the weirdest sports names I've ever heard. After doing a Google image search I think a Paladin is a World of Warcraft character. Nice.

The #1 seed is first-ranked and defending champion Appalachian State.

Check out the press release on nccasports.com for more information on the playoffs; I'll try to get a bracket up once I figure out the complete seedings

Maul of the wild, Griz beat Cats in 106th meeting.


As most Montanans already know, the Griz were victorious in this year's Brawl. The AP article on the game leads with Josh Swogger's statistics but everyone who watched the game, including the Cat-Griz Insider, knows he wasn't the reason our Griz won this game.

It's pretty easy to see the QB wasn't the deciding factor; just look at Swogger's complete stat-line or the final score. They are 17/41 241 yds 1 TD 2 INT and 13-7 respectively. Swogger did have his one moment with the spectacular TD pass to Eric Allen right in front of the student section. This made me (sitting in the front row) react during the play the same way someone would act if Ken Griffey Jr (10 years ago) were jumping up and robbing a homerun that would've otherwise nicked off their knee. I was really in awe and kind of stood back as it happened but once EA dove past the pylon I erupted along with everyone else around me. After this grab, all the momentum shifted and defense decided the Cats were not going to win this game.

From this point on, the Griz defense stepped up every time they needed to. Whether it was stopping them about a Pabst can short of the first down with 5 minutes left or sacking the Cats on the crucial 4th down to [pretty much] end the game, the Cats' resiliency just wasn't working out.

I really could not have enjoyed my first Griz-Cat game any more than I did.

I will try to put more photos up in another entry and also toss up anymore reaction pieces I come across

College football legend passes away before "this century's game."

I'm pretty sure that just about every Montana citizen thinks that this weekend's Griz-Cat game is the grandest thing this side of the globe. It's important for Montanans to know that there are not just bigger college football games, but more importantly, bigger college football people. One of these people was Bo Schembechler.

Bo Schembechler, the best coach in Michigan history and one of the best  in all of college football, passed away today at age 77. This is a day before the biggest "Big Game" of the all as his old Wolverines, ranked #2, take on the #1 Buckeyes.

My dad put it plain and simple: "college football would not be where it is without people like him."

This from Michigan Fanhouse:
He retired when I was ten, but by the time he left he had imbued the program with the direction and personality it maintains to this day: stodgy, cantankerous, fiercely loyal, kind, and honest. Do I love Michigan so because I am or aspire to those things? Or am I the person I am because of Michigan? Because of Bo? Today I think the latter. Goodbye, Bo. Thank you.
From a really incredible entry on Michigan Against the World:
The irony of Bo's death is not lost on me. Bo blew off an appointment with his doctor last night to speak to the Michigan team. Bo was always talking about his heart, joking that it was going to get the best of him sooner or later, so he might as well live life the way he wanted. Believe me, that he did. I think that while Bo wouldn't be able to watch the game in Columbus, he's now going to be doing one better. Bo will fittingly get to watch the biggest game ever with a birds-eye view, with his old pal Woody.

Thank you, Bo. For the memories you gave me.

Go Blue, Win for Bo.
Here's a quote from Bo out of an ESPN article from today:
"If you think my career has been a failure because I have never won a national title, you have another thing coming," Schembechler said a few weeks before coaching his final game. "I have never played a game for the national title. Our goals always have been to win the Big Ten title and the Rose Bowl. If we do that, then we consider it a successful season."
It'd be great if college football were still this simple. No BCS, no National Championship Game; you just try to win your conference so you can go and face the best of the Pac-10 in Pasadena. If the press thinks you're the best team in the land, so be it. You did all you could.

Bo's foe and friend, Ohio State coaching great Woody Hayes, once said "There are three things that can happen when you throw a pass, and two of them are bad." Bo and Woody coached in a different Big 10; after the jump is a video of what the "Big Game" was like when Bo was at the helm. Continue Reading...

This is Griz Nation, the best commercial ever.

Since I saw the Griz's  new opening video on Griz Vision a few weeks ago I've been dying to find it on the internet. Finally, it's turned up. It's not the complete version, but here is a similar ad the University of Montana has been running on TV. I absolutely loved when I was surprised by this treat during SportsCenter.

Just in case you're not as pumped as you should be or are still reeling from camping out for tickets, I suggest you watch this ad repeatedly. I know I've probably seen it about 25 times and  could not be any more ready for this game.

Also, if you're looking for the full game-opener version it's available on YouTube. It's a poor angle but it gives Griz fans the same type of experience this David Ortiz clip gives to people like Bill Simmons.

Also, here's a more dramatic and emotional ad. It's  good, but I'm just not feeling a softer  side during Griz-Cat week.

Where can I watch the Griz-Cat game?

University of Montana alumni are spread out all over the country and I've received a couple of emails from individuals asking where they can watch the game somewhere the game isn't normally broadcast. The best option is probably to find a sports bar somewhere near you showing the game. However, it's usually hard to find if you live, say, 500 miles away.

If you don't mind possibly being huddled in a corner while everyone else watches Ohio State-Michigan, this map on the University of Montana Alumni site gives locations for individuals living in just about every state. If you don't want to miss the game, check the site out.

Griz-Cat tickets for sale.

In my opinion, being part of the student section is the single greatest experience in sports. Right now I have two extra tickets for  the student section to the biggest event in Montana. Please leave a comment with an offer if you are interested in attending the 106th Brawl of the Wild and I will get back to you as soon as possible.

I was planning on giving them to family but they can't make it out this weekend. Just scroll down or click on the "Griz-Cat" tag to see what a friend and I had to go through to get these tickets.

UPDATE: The tickets are sold. Hope anyone interested finds their way to the game.

Griz stay at #2 after going Ohio State on UNC.

The Montana Grizzlies remain in the second slot on this week's Sports Network I-AA college football poll after they used the University of Northern Colorado as a practice squad to get their offense rolling. It was pretty much the same scenario as the Ohio State's rout of Northwestern, except with less defense.

It kind of worries me that the Bears managed to toss up 21 points on our stingy D. Even so, at least we didn't have to sneak by them for a shot at the BSC crown.

Next week's Brawl of the Wild will be a showdown between the #2 and #15 I-AA teams as Montana State jumped up three spots during their idle week; this is probably something a team full of George Costanzas would aspire to do as often as possible.

One reason for the bizarre jump is NDSU's absolute demolition of Cal Poly. The Bison romped the Mustangs by a score of 51-14. This is the same Mustang team the Griz needed a last second field goal to beat.  The Bison sit at #4 and received eight first-place votes. Yeah, it really is a shame they're postseason ineligible. Not.

About that field goal: I just saw the replay of that this week and that kick barely made it inside the left upright. Because I watched the game from the student section I really had no idea it was that close. After the kick Dan Carpenter was jubilant. I think in that scenario I probably would've just passed out from relief if I was that close to greatly disappointing so many intoxicated Montanans.

Anyway, complete rankings -- as usual -- after the jump. Continue Reading...

Victory.


It took a grand total of 13 hours inside the stuffy, loud and stiff UC before I finally got those tickets. I was there at two and, thank God, they started handing tickets out a little early -- around 4:30 or so.

I was surprised to see how many people showed up. More specifically, I was even more surprised to see how many really odd/nerdy(ish) people showed up. Of all the sweaty people that seemed to be pushing on me from all sides as we waited for tickets, I really couldn't picture many of them at some cold intense college football clash of rivals.

Just one little anecdotal piece of evidence: I overheard one guy's scheme to buy seven PlayStation 3's and then sell them to desperate Christmas shoppers to make a profit. Aren't there better things to invest in than an overpriced toy? And does this man really belong at Saturday's game? This was one of the many bizarre things I overheard-- you tend to overhear a lot while waiting in line. With the extreme proximity to one another and the overwhelming boredom it's really the only form of entertainment available.

Also, props to the wristband cutter/staff who said he enjoyed reading my blog. It's really good to hear from someone; honestly, thanks. Oh, and sorry I didn't do more than just utter an elongated "yeah" and keep on walking. I was a little worn out from the night and focused on not knocking over those metal bars.

Guest pass -- five hours, fifteen minutes to tickets.


I've officially gotten my wristband that says when the time comes I am allowed to purchase a ticket along with an additional ticket for a guest of my choosing. It doesn't actually say that on the neon yellow paper band but that's what it means.

I'm kind of missing the point on why we have almost 90 minutes for wristbands then go through the line again for tickets. I guess it prevents us lining up at 10 last night but it's still pretty frustrating.

On top of these two waits tonight I plan on getting into Saturday's game as early as possible to snatch a seat along the rail. We'll see.

Above is an image of the last room before getting tickets. A friend compared it to waiting at Ellis Island; Griz fans young and old gathering all their worldly possessions -- blankets, iPods, sleeping bags, laptops, pizza boxes -- and travelling through some hot muggy room just for the chance to enter the stadium next Saturday.

My love.

It's 7:30 pm and the line has grown to the point that it has extended all the way downstairs. Ten hours until tickets and the Justin Timberlake is blaring; this is what college football is all about.

The entire third floor of the the UM University Center is filled with students waiting for tickets to the next best thing to Ohio State - Michigan. At least that's what I think, it may be entirely untrue. Here's another image from the night. Time to watch Fargo to pass the time.

When the night closes in.

The line for tickets continue to grow. It's probably closing in on 500 people. The girlfriend says "close to a thousand" but I highly doubt it. I wonder what it's like getting Ohio State - Michigan tickets. I also wonder if ND can make it to the national championship.

Well, here's another image from the wait, this from the UC ballroom. It's much more full than that and people keep on coming. Rumor is all line-goers will be greeted by a Bobby Hauck wake-up call. Gee, I can't wait to hear that voice at four in the morning.

Twelve and a half hours left.

It's close to 4:30 and the line has probably grown to about 350 people. Once people realized they weren't going to get guess passes they decided they were going to come back later instead of waiting through the line.

The recent update is that the staff realized they were going to number everyone's hand to prevent cutting and such. My number: 196. The ticket is either going to one of my brother's, a friend's brother or the highest bidder. We'll see.

And so it begins -- T-minus 15 hours

It's about two o'clock and I've officially entered the line for Brawl of the Wild tickets. Personally, I think this name is a on better than Griz-Cat. I know the latter gets to the point but the first name sounds so much better. Not gonna lie, I first heard the name and story while playing NCAA Football 2006 and thought it was pretty damn great.

Wristbands are handed out at 10 tonight; once you have a wristband, you're getting a ticket. The tickets don't actually go on sale until 5 tomorrow morning.

So right now I've been told I'm about 180 back. From what I heard before, the first 300 students who want one get a guest pass. It's looking pretty good.

The Sport's Network: UM @ UNC Preview

Here's the Sports Nework's preview of the the UNC game this weekend. Matt Dougherty says the Bears will not make even close to the showing they did against the Cats. He also says, essentially, that the Griz will basically use the Bears as a practice squad to get the offense rolling.

While Montana State gets to sit and wait for the Nov. 18 showdown with the Grizzlies in Missoula, Montana gets a chance to go on the road and clinch at least a share of the Big Sky title for the ninth year in a row by winning at Northern Colorado. That should be a pretty easy task, though the Bears were in the game until the end in a 13-10 loss against the Bobcats last week. Still, this should provide a good opportunity for Montana to get the offense going after a few so-so performances. Quarterback Josh Swogger (1,618 yards, 9 TD/7 INT) came through with a gamewinning drive in the final minutes of Montana’s 10-9 victory over Cal Poly last week, but he’ll try for a better overall performance after completing 12-of-30 passes last week and less than 50 percent over the past two weeks. Northern Colorado should provide that opportunity with a pass defense that allows 63 percent of passes to be completed and 222 yards per game. The Montana running game can get going as well against a porous run defense, and the Grizzlies should just keep dominating on the other side of the ball. Montana’s defense only gives up 100 yards per game on the ground and has 13 interceptions, and should just boost those numbers against a team with 16 interceptions and only four touchdown passes. Montana might look past this game a bit with Cal Poly in the rear view mirror and the Bobcats coming up next week, but that wouldn’t really matter anyway against a team that is struggling so much. Northern Colorado offered a good performance last week, and isn’t likely to do it two weeks in a row in a game that should end up in a Grizzly blowout. Prediction: Montana 35, Northern Colorado 10

Better or different?

On tap this week is Northern Colorado, and the only thing that makes them slightly similar to UM is their name. The Griz are a Big Sky power with a history of dominance in the conference and the Bears are stumbling through their first season in I-AA. UNC really couldn't be any different -- or any worse.

This Great Falls Tribune article points to the many "contrasts" between the Griz and Bears:
  • The Grizzlies are 8-1 overall; the Bears are 1-8.
  • Montana is 6-0 in Big Sky play; UNC is 0-6.
  • UM leads the league in turnover margin (+9); UNC is second to last (-7).
  • Montana is second in scoring offense (27.9) and is tops in scoring defense (18.8).
  • Northern Colorado is last in scoring (11.7) and next-to-last in defensive yield (29.6).
"Our team doesn't even take a practice off," Hauck said Tuesday. "I can't imagine them ever taking a Saturday off."

Even so, it has to be impossible not to look past this game. I know I am.

After close win, Griz still dug in at #2.

Saturday's Griz-Cal Poly game lived up to all expectations. It was a defensive battle between #2 and #6 and had the game been I-A, Corso and the gang would've been there and it would've been an Instant Classic.

The best Griz game of the year ended on a Favre-like drive -- one of the the vintage ones where he doesn't throw a pick halfway through -- by Josh Swogger to set up 21 yard game winning kick by Dan Carpenter. This means the Griz hang in at #2 in the latest Sports Network I-AA Football Poll and this game goes down as another one Skip Bayless would've hated.

The win also means everything is in order for a Brawl of the Wild with BSC title implications. It's just like the Michigan-Ohio State game, except with the S and the C switched. The Griz have Northern Colorado coming up and the Cats just beat them, barely. Can you say settling for a moral victory?

Ms. U moved up on spot to #18 after their sixth straight win.

Complete rankings after the jump. Continue Reading...

J.D. Quinn: done for the season.

Oklahoma dropdown JD Quinn returned to practice today. Too bad it doesn't matter because the NCAA ruled today that he and former Oklahoma teammate Rhett Bomar are ineligible for the 2006 season.
Offensive lineman J.D. Quinn, who transferred to Division I-AA Montana, must pay $8,137 to the charity of his choice. Quarterback Rhett Bomar, who transferred to Sam Houston State, must pay $7,407.

"The NCAA reinstatement staff has assessed the facts presented by Oklahoma and
agrees with its contention that both Mr. Bomar and Mr. Quinn willfully violated NCAA rules regarding preferential treatment and benefits," said Jennifer Strawley, NCAA director of membership services and student-athlete reinstatement.
Both players lose a year of eligibility and will only have two more at the college level.

They were kicked off the Oklahoma team before the season after getting a lot of money from a Chevrolet dealership while doing very little work.

This is a big blow to the Griz as their offensive line has done about as good of job at preventing opposing teams from getting to Swogger as event security has done at keeping peppermint schnapps out of the student section. Yeah, that schnapps led to a certain fan close to me showing everyone what he ate for breakfast.

This guy really hates the Griz.

The Montana Grizzlies football team has it pretty good. They've been in the playoffs pretty much every year since the beginning of time and average more than 20,000 fans a game. What's not to hate for anyone who's a fan from another conference team? It's really not even fair.

This from a EWU fan's blog:
Most people who move here want to be native Montanans right away. The most prevalent way of accomplishing this, or so they think, is to go buy University of Montana license plates. If every car with a UM license plate had a kid attending UM, the school would be as big as The Ohio State University. I think it is ridiculous. The funny thing, after you have lived here for over 10 years you can tell the difference between a Montanan and a transplant with ease. But the license plate thing with the Montana Grizzlies is just way overdone. My wife bought me a “Montana Grizzlies pull over. And I don't wear it. And so I have developed resentment for all the Grizzly bullshit. What about MSU? You never see any MSU Bobcat stuff. So screw the Grizzlies.
Here's part of an article he mentions. It's by Easterner  senior writer Brandon Hansen:
Forget the Yankees as the evil empire, a bastion that stands for everything that is wrong in sports. All you have to do is get on I-90 and head down to the biggest snobville in the western United States: Missoula, Montana. The Smugness levels from that place rival that of San Francisco.
Not sure what else to say other than wondering what it would be like to be in the Big Sky Conference and not go to UM. I mean I was pretty disappointed when I didn't get into a I-A school like Notre Dame and Wisconsin, but coming here has been a pleasant surprise as the football team romps through the conference and the hoops team made it to the second round of the dance. Really, could any Griz so much as tolerate being stuck in Cheney, Washington? Being from Seattle, I saw everything east of the Cascades (besides the Gorge) a big, dry, boring nothing. I didn't even know Eastern Washington University existed, let alone consider applying. Tack on the fact that their teams aren't that great and they don't have too much to cheer for besides Rodney Stuckey and it's easy to see why these two individuals aren't happy.

Griz hang in at #2 after seventh straight win.

The Montana Grizzlies continued undefeated run through Big Sky play with an excellent defensive display against Idaho State. This kept the Griz at #2 in the Sports Network I-AA Football Poll.

From the stands, the game looked very sloppy but the stats showed otherwise for the defense as they held the Bengals, who are averaging a league-best 404 yards per game, to only 92. The defense needed to bail out the defense and the special teams as they prevented another team from getting past the end of the student section when they needed to drive the length of the field for the win.

In other Big Sky news: Montana State needed a late interception return for a touchdown to rally past Weber State. With the win, the Cats jumped up five spots to #19 in the poll. Portland State dropped four spots to #25.

Next weeks opponent, Cal Poly, moved up three spots to #6 after beating San Diego State. Appalachian remained at #1, receiving 96 first-place votes after beating #8 Paladins 40-7.

Complete rankings after the jump.


Continue Reading...

Griz stay at #2 in I-AA poll.

After their win over Weber State, the Griz earned two more first place votes for a total of four and stayed at #2 in the Sports Network I-AA College Football Poll.

Upcoming Griz opponent Cal Poly fell four spots to #9 after their 29-28 loss to South Dakota State. #1 Appalachian State needed two OTs to beat Georgia Southern.

Montana State re-entered the poll at #24 coming off their 42-35 win over Idaho State. Arizona transfer Michael Jefferson was very impressive in the win.

Here's a well-done recap of this weeks I-AA happenings.

Complete rankings after the jump. Continue Reading...

Live blog: Griz @ Weber State

So I'm going to try and live blog this game to keep everyone updated and myself further entertained. I'm working hard on making it the whole game but if I don't I'm sorry. This is the first time I've done this so be easy. Take a look after the jump.

Griz hold on to win 33-30. The running game got all the TDs but the passing game got the yards. Brady Green ran for two touchdowns and Greg Coleman ran for another. Swogger finished 21/39 for 356 yards and 1 TD. Eric Allen had 132 yards  and Ryan Bagley had 98. Here's the AP article. For more in depth, check out the live blog.
Continue Reading...

Just to get bye.

The Great Falls Tribune points out that this will be the second week in a row that the Griz will face a Big Sky foe coming off a bye week. It isn't the last either as the Griz will face a Montana State team with an extra week of rest and preparation in their final game of the regular season.

This year's Griz/Cat game could very well (once again) determine the BSC champ; it's a shame both teams aren't coming off a bye. It'd be great to see both teams fully healthy and completely prepared for one another.

However, it's not like the Griz have a tough game before facing the Cats. They have 1-6 (0-4) Northern Colorado the week before; it'll be hard not too look past that game.

Here are some quotes from the article:
"I assume it's an accident," Hauck said Tuesday. "But is sure is an advantage, especially late in the year, giving a team a chance to heal up."

"The week off was a good thing," said WSU coach Ron McBride, in his second year at the helm of the Cats after many years at I-A Utah. "At this point, it's good for us because we're still trying to find our way as a football team. We haven't reached near our capabilities yet."
The second quote kind of sounds more like a U-12 youth soccer coach than someone who use to coach at the I-A level. Weber State is coming off a loss to Sac State.

Interesting tidbit on coach Ron McBride: Vikings Blog says he sleeps in student housing with his players during the football season. No biggie, pretty sure Hauck lived down the hall from me on the third floor of the Aberhood last semester.

Washington-Grizzly Stadium: two decades of dominance.

Twenty years ago today, the University of Montana beat Idaho State 38-31in the first game played at Washington-Grizzly Stadium. Since then, their dominance in this den has been overwhelming. There is a very well-done article in today's Great Falls Tribune on the stadium and how the Griz have excelled there.

People can try and say the stadium isn't why the Griz are who they are but one can just look at the records. In the 10 seasons before Wash-Griz opened, the Griz were a mediocre 28-25. Since then they've been a dominant 128-18. That's a .87 winning percentage; better than the Michigan Wolverines in "The Big House" and the Denver Broncos at Mile High.

This stat is included with many other interesting ones in the article. I strongly suggest any Griz fan should take a look.

Also, if you want to compare the Griz and their support, take a look at what's going on at Sacramento State University. These two entries on Thee Green Hornet show an editorial in the paper and an image of just how bad it is there.

Asking which comes first between success and support maybe be a chicken and the egg type thing but it is really great when your team has both.

UPDATE: The Kaimin said UM is considering expanding by 4,000 to 6,000 seats with an upper deck added to the east side of the stadium being the most likely option.

Grizzlies creep up to #2 in rankings.

After their very dicey 24-21 victory over NAU, the Griz moved up one spot to #2 in the I-AA Sports Network Division I-AA football poll. This comes after previously 13th ranked James Madison upset former #1 New Hampshire 42-23.

The Griz received two first place votes, fewer than #11 Hampton who received three. In all, eight different schools got at least one first place vote with #3 receiving the most (11) without actually being ranked #1. That title goes to Appalachian State.

Big Sky notables: Portland State moved up two spots to #23 and Montana State is still unranked but they received the second most votes of those not in the rankings. It's looking more and more like this year's Cat/Griz game could have major BSC implications(more on this in Cat-Griz's week 6 rundown). Complete rankings after the jump.

Here are the recaps from Saturday's games:
Here's a great quote from that Kaimin article:
The 23,626 fans in attendance was the sixth-largest crowd in Washington-Grizzly Stadium’s history. NAU senior quarterback Jason Murrietta said playing in Missoula is never easy and it was particularly hard on that last drive.

“I think it was really difficult especially in that drive to get things going at a faster pace,” Murrietta said. “The crowd is a huge factor.”
When I was walking out of Wash-Griz after the game I heard not only that extremely loud bell, but a lot of people griping about Hauck going for it on the NAU 11 with 1:13 left to play instead of kicking a field goal that would've put the Griz up 6.

I totally agree with Hauck on this call, you go for the win right there and then. If you kick a field goal, there isn't that much of a difference between 3 and 6 points; a touchdown wins it and with that little time left a big TD play was all that was going to save them anyway. You take the three point lead and the crowd. After the turnover on downs the student section didn't let NAU get past the 30. Even if the Griz D had allowed a field goal, there is no way they would have beat us in OT, not at home. Continue Reading...

Griz move up to #3 in rankings

With the Griz's victory over the Eagle's and Furman's loss to Coastal Carolina, UM moved up one spot to #3 in this week's I-AA poll. The Griz still did not receive a single first place vote, which kind of surprises me. Portland State, the only other Big Sky school in the rankings dropped to #25 after the loss to Montana State.

Here are the rankings in their entirety:

Team (First-place votes)
Record
Points
LW
1. New Hampshire (88)
5-0
2,704
1
2. Appalachian State (21)
5-1
2,622
2
3. Montana
4-1
2,401
4
4. Cal Poly
5-1
2,325
5
5. Illinois State
4-1
2,226
6
6. Youngstown State
5-1
2,076
8
7. Southern Illinois
5-0
2,022
9
8. Massachusetts
4-1
1,893
10
9. North Dakota State
5-0
1,859
11
10. Richmond
4-1
1,703
7
11. Furman
4-2
1,663
3
12. Hampton
6-0
1,642
12
13. James Madison
4-1
1,466
13
14. Northern Iowa
3-2
1,362
14
15. Harvard
4-0
1,011
19
16. Eastern Illinois
3-3
851
20
17. Tennessee-Martin
5-1
819
22
18. UC Davis
3-2
583
16
19. Central Connecticut
5-1
555
23
20. Alabama A&M
4-1
548
24
21. San Diego
5-0
457
25
22. Towson
4-1
417
17
23. Maine
3-2
400
NR
24. Princeton
4-0
382
NR