The 9th stop on my College Tour was to Missoula, Montana to visit the University of Montana Grizzlies. Growing up in the Northwest the University of Montana Football Program is a household name, and they have actually become a Nationally known and respected program the last 2 decades. I had heard stories about what the atmosphere was like there on game days, and every current or former player I’ve ever talked to can’t quit bragging about the school, program, and their experience there. I was excited to get there and finally see for myself what Montana Football was all about, and at the same time bring back the footage for all of you to see as well.
Though I hadn’t ever been to Montana, I’ve had great relationships with the coaches on their staff. Scott Gragg is the coach that I’ve dealt with the most. He’s a good guy and very knowledgeable when it comes to football and recruiting. This summer I met Legi Suiaunoa, who is Montana’s DL Coach and person on their staff responsible for recruiting the Northwest. We sparked up a relationship and have stayed in consistent contact since then. He’s very quiet, polite, and friendly. He’s a man of few words, but a man who gets the job done. Every kid we’ve ever talked about from the Northwest, he’s been spot on in his assessment of them. He does his homework and evaluates and follows up with kids as well as anyone in this business. I couldn’t imagine a better coach or person to recruit the Northwest and to represent the school and program at Montana better than Coach Legi. Anytime I’ve ever contacted him about a kid from the Northwest, he’s either answered the phone or gotten back to me as soon as he could. That’s the type of guy that does well in recruiting and makes a great name for himself. And as a result, it makes us want to go out of our way to help him in any way we can. On my trip to Missoula, Coach Legi was actually in Hawaii doing some recruiting, so I didn’t get a chance to visit with him. However, I saw him a week later at the Showcase Event at UW on June 30th, in which he was able to see, evaluate, and now recruit a lot of Northwest kids as a result. Another coach that I knew prior to my visit to Missoula was Ty Gregorak. We actually played together at Colorado, as he was a recruiting class ahead of me. He was a big time player, and ended up starting his coaching career as a GA at Washington when I was finishing my last 2 years of playing after transferring there. So Ty and I have a lot of history, and it was great seeing him while I was visiting there. He was in the process of coordinating and running their summer camp, so it was fun to see him in action. Ty is one of the funniest people I have ever met in my life, and I hope all of you get a chance to either meet him in person or at least speak to him on the phone.
Montana is a school in the FCS level and plays in the Big Sky Conference. Last year they made it to the National Semifinal Game, and only a few years before that won the National Championship. In fact, Montana has appeared in and played in more National Championship games than all of the other Big Sky schools have combined. In the State of Montana there is no Professional Football Team, so Montana Grizzly Football is like the Pro Team in Missoula. The fan support there and passion for the program is similar to what SEC schools experience, just on a little smaller scale. Their game stadium holds over 30,000 people, which is one of the largest at the FCS level. A lot of schools have big stadiums, but they are always empty. Not at Montana. They sell out every home game, and tickets for a home game are almost the equivalent to the value of gold. Outside of their game stadium, Montana’s facilities are nothing too special. Their coach’s offices and meeting rooms are solid, and their weight room is average. You’ll see on the attached footage that their locker room is a bit lacking, but games are won on the field and not in a locker room. The school is located right at the base of the Mountains, which makes it an absolutely beautiful and scenic place. Something that I think is unique and really cool about Missoula is all the outdoor activities that someone has access to. In our footage you’ll see an interview in a shop located right between the game stadium and the coach’s offices. They had Kayak’s, Tent’s, Inner Tubes, Fishing Gear, etc. that you can rent or buy. There are lots of lakes, streams, and rivers in Missoula, as well as the aforementioned Mountains.
Overall I would give Montana a B-. As far as playing a high level of football and winning at the FCS level, it’s as good as it gets. The game stadium is not only one of if not the best at the FCS level, it’s also a lot better than many FBS level schools. There are so many different hobbies and activities that a student athlete has at their disposal playing and going to school at Montana. The coaches there are all good people as well. The facilities are subpar, and Montana is in a time of turmoil and transition. That being said, I think that any kid with the opportunity to go and play there will have a great experience. You’ll always be competing for a league and National Championship. Game day at home will be an environment and experience that kids dream of playing in when they grow up. Playing in the Big Sky means you’ll be in the “SEC of the FCS level”, and also means you’ll come home to the Northwest a few times a year to play away games against Portland State, Eastern Washington, and Idaho State. I had a great time on my visit to Missoula and the Montana Grizzly Football Program. I hope you all enjoy the footage that I brought back, and hope you take the time to research their program and even better yet go see the place for yourself.
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