The University of Montana has its new head football coach. As widely speculated, UM went back to the future with its selection.
Here’s UM Athletic Director Kent Haslam.
"Ladies and gentlemen, it’s appropriate that the 37th head football coach at the University of Montana is a native Montanan – Mr. Bobby Hauck.
Hauck coached the Grizzlies from 2003 to 2009. During that time he posted an 80 and 17 record. That’s an 82 percent winning average, the highest in the FCS at that time.
Hauck replaces coach Bob Stitt whose contract was not renewed after three seasons. This year the Grizzlies failed to beat Montana State and did not make the playoffs.
Kent Haslam says he offered the position to Hauck Thursday morning.
"There are very few people who know exactly what they’re walking into. Bobby does. Bobby knows."
Haslam says every Grizzly football fan knows that Hauck is a, “great and successful football coach."
“He also is a man of great discipline, structure and accountability. I learned that first hand," Haslam says. "He’s an excellent recruiter, knows the state of Montana and understands absolutely – because he has experience – what it is like to be the head football coach at the University of Montana."
Hauck was head coach at UNLV from 2010 to 2014. The past three seasons he’s been the special teams coordinator and associate head coach at San Diego State.
"I’m really excited to start – today – to building this thing back up to where it needs to be," he says.
Hauck says he’s noticed only one significant change in the Big Sky Conference over the past several years.
"I think the one difference right now, and has been the last numerous years, is there’s not Montana at the top."
He then outlined the top priorities he expects of his players.
"To get your degree, to win the rivalry game, to win the Big Sky Championship and to win the national championship."
But not everyone in the UM community is happy with Hauck being rehired. Lisa Davey is a Grizzly football season ticket holder and UM grad student. She hopes to add one more priority to that list.
"He needs to say be a good citizen," Davey says.
On Tuesday Davey organized an online petition urging UM not to re-hire Bobby Hauck. She and several hundred others who signed the petition say Hauck’s recruiting decisions led to serious problems. 12 Grizzly players pleaded guilty or no contest to crimes including rape, assault, conspiracy to commit robbery and criminal endangerment when Hauck first coached at UM. Hauck’s critics say he left a culture in his wake that fomented UM’s rape scandals.
Davey’s petition prompted vicious commentary, personal insults and threat of violence on an online forum called maroonblood.com. The forum’s owner, Mike Schlosser of Butte, released Davey’s personal details online including her home address.
UM Athletic Director Haslam said such low tactics are unacceptable.
"There’s no room for harassment in Griz Nation. I want to be clear there’s no place for it, especially in college athletics; and especially in a place we all love so dearly. Lisa Davey is entitled to her opinion and should not fear. That is not who we are. We are known for so many wonderful things here, and sportsmanship and respect are at the top of that list."
Davey said she appreciates Haslam’s remarks and hopes UM backs them up with action against Mike Schlosser.
"I think Mike needs to not be at tailgates for the next season, and potentially not at games. I think they should revoke his tailgating pass. They need to send a very clear message that there really is no room for harassment."
Edward O'Brien: Will you be going to the games this year?
"Oh man, I have not decided. I really love Griz Nation. I may give them a chance, we’ll see," Davey says.
Coach Bobby Hauck, meanwhile, says he’s matured as both a man and a coach since leaving Missoula.
"I recognize when we were here before, we were not perfect. We mismanaged – with major help from me – our relationship with the student newspaper for a period of time. We had amazing student athletes on our team, but there were also times the we also brought some young men on our team that conducted themselves in a manner that wasn’t worthy of wearing the Grizzly uniform or that helmet. I’m ready to work to do a better job on that score."
University of Montana President Sheila Stearns says it took a lot of time and questioning for her to be reassured that Bobby Hauck’s return would be a good move for UM.
"I am completely convinced that Coach Hauck and any assistant coaches and athletes that he brings here will be completely involved with and committed to that high standard, dignity and respect of all involved," Stearns says.
Hauck’s signed on to a three year contract with a base salary of $185,000 per year.