Campus Tour Stop #11; Montana State University
The last stop on my College Tour was in Bozeman, Montana to visit the Montana State Bobcats. I was tired from 2 straight weeks of constant travel, but eager to check out the city of Bozeman and the Montana State Football program. They have recently become not only a power in the Big Sky conference, but a power Nationally at the FCS level. I wanted to see for myself why the Bobcats have become so successful and how they’ve stayed that way. By the end of my trip, I had all those questions answered and truly believe they are headed for a National Title in the near future.
My initial relationship with Montana State and their staff began with phone conversations I had with Jason McEndoo, their OL Coach. He’s a great person, great coach, and was a heck of a player in his own day. I’d never met him in person, but we had plenty of conversations about kids in the Northwest over the phone. Eventually he put me in touch with Brian Von Bergen, MSU’s WR Coach and the coach on their staff responsible for recruiting the Northwest. He’s done an incredible job of recruiting this region, as MSU has quite a few kids on their roster from this area. I had never met Coach Von Bergen in person, so I was excited to get to Bozeman and meet him, Coach McEndoo, and the rest of their staff.
When I arrived in Bozeman, it was immediately evident that it is a College Town. Everywhere I went, I saw signs in store windows, restaurant windows, and up on billboards that were supporting the school. Nestled in a valley just below the mountains, Bozeman is a very scenic looking city. Its population is about 40,000 people, and the student body makes up a good percentage of that. MSU competes in the Big Sky, which is the toughest conference at the FCS level. Since 2007, when Head Coach Rob Ash took over the program, MSU has improved its record every single year. Last year they made it to the Quarterfinals, only 2 wins away from playing in the National Championship Game. In 2010 Coach Ash was voted Big Sky Coach of the Year, and in 2011 he was voted the FCS Coach of the Year.
Overall I would give Montana State a solid B. Their facilities are nice but not spectacular. Bobcat Stadium is one of the best at the FCS level, and even better than a lot of stadiums of schools I’ve seen at the FBS level. The campus is gorgeous, and the city would be a great place to call home for any student athlete. Outside of football, there are a ton of activities that someone can have fun doing. With the seasonal change, it means those activities range from skiing or snowboarding all the way to hunting, fishing, and rafting. The football program itself has been a consistent winner this millennium, and doesn’t look to be slowing down any time soon. Which means any kid attending MSU and playing for their football program will legitimately be contending for a league title and national title every year. The staff there is one of the best all around staffs that I visited this summer. The coaches are very personable, and also have very credible backgrounds. Distance could be a factor for kids from the Northwest, but remember that you’ll be playing schools like Portland State and Eastern Washington, so you’ll be coming home to play games every year. I hope you enjoy the footage that’s attached, as I truly enjoyed shooting it. We had about a dozen kids from the Northwest out at their summer camp this year, and I’d love to see about 2-3 dozen Northwest kids out at their camp next year. MSU is a successful program that just needs that little boost to make it to and win the National Championship. Hopefully, a couple Northwest kids can sign there and end up being the difference makers.