BOZEMAN — Since Nov. 18, the majority of sports buzz in Montana had been centered around the Grizzlies’ football team.
Montana didn’t win, though, and that was part of the problem. Montana State was able to bask in its second consecutive Cat-Griz victory for a weekend, but the rumors of Montana head coach Bob Stitt’s firing blew up just two days later. Since then, the Bobcats’ camp had been silent.
But on Wednesday, MSU’s Jeff Choate made his first appearance with the media since the big game, and he was more than open, and excited, about Bobby Hauck’s hiring at UM and what it means for both the rivalry and football in the Treasure State.
“Bobby’s a Montana native, he understands how important football is in this state,” Choate explained. “He’s going to put a premium on recruiting Montana kids and I think it’s going to add to the energy around football in the state of Montana.”
Hauck, a Big Timber native, amassed an 80-17 record in his first stint as head coach of the Grizzlies, with a number of those wins coming against Montana State. The Bobcats proved to be a program on the rise this fall, and Choate believes that Hauck’s arrival will inject even more passion into an already fiery rivalry.
“I’m excited about it,” he said. “If you know me very well, you know I like a good fight. I look forward to playing for the Great Divide trophy and the Big Sky (Conference) trophy.”
Like Hauck, Choate also has his Montana ties, but the two don’t know one another personally. Choate has been on opposing sidelines from Hauck on a few occasions at the FBS level. Hauck was the head coach of UNLV from 2010-14, while Choate split time on-staff at both Boise State and Washington State. Choate and Washington State bested the Runnin’ Rebels in the 2012 Las Vegas Bowl.
But now these two guys lead two of the most accomplished programs in the Big Sky, and Choate thinks that is a good thing.
“Big Sky football is at its best when Montana and Montana State are on top,” he said.