MISSOULA – It seems only a matter of time until the University of Montana welcomes back Bobby Hauck. Multiple sources and reports have confirmed the former head coach will return to coach the Grizzlies again.
However, the University will not confirm the news. UM said Thursday in a statement to MTN Sports, “No final decision as been made. We will make an announcement as soon as we are able.”
MTN Sports has heard Hauck has accepted an offer, but even if athletic director Kent Haslam has made that choice, the University president and Commissioner for High Education would need to approve the decision. Most likely, they’re somewhere in the middle of that process at this moment.
The news has created quite a mixed reaction among Griz fans and other members of the UM community.
Many are ecstatic with the decision. Montana won seven Big Sky Conference titles in Hauck’s seven previous seasons with the Griz and advanced to the FCS national championship three times, so many expect the program to quickly return to greatness.
“First of all, I think Bobby Hauck, obviously the winningest coach in the history of Montana, I don’t think that could be a poor decision,” said James Jones, the owner of the Press Box bar and restaurant near campus. “I know the fans around here, we talk to them on a regular basis, they seem pretty excited about it. Of all the people that have been mentioned, he was definitely the crowd favorite for all the people that I spoke to.”
On a Facebook comment on the KPAX page, Jim Holmes said the decision to bring back Hauck was the “2nd best move the football program has made. 1st one was hiring Bobby Hauck the 1st time.”
Hans Ortner also posted his thoughts on Facebook. “We need to rally around anyone who is the coach. He is a Montana native and has maroon and silver in his veins. He coached some of the most talented players. He will be successful.”
Many others have a very different opinion. They remember several arrests of Griz players while Hauck was coaching past decade. They believe his win-at-all-costs philosophy led to many of the issues UM is currently trying to resolve, such as the decline in enrollment, and they also remember his abrasive behavior toward criticism.
“The Griz fan in me kind of likes seeing a coach who’s had so much success here come back, but also the student reporter in me also has a few reservations with him,” admitted UM student Nick Puckett. “Obviously there was a lot of run-ins with police from players while he was coach here.”
An online petition at change.org was titled, “Tell the University of Montana to not hire Hauck. Women are more important than winning.”
Eric Blair was one of many to take to Twitter with his reservations.
Bobby Hauck's thug-era Griz destroyed enrollment at UM. Let's move forward, not back #Missoula
— EricBlair406 (@EricBlair406) November 30, 2017
Michael Sawyer added on a Facebook comment, “If this is true. I guess that MSU’s enrollment will jump again next year as more female students leave for a safer school.”
All of this puts the University and particularly AD Kent Haslam in a tough position. On one side, he has Griz fans and some very influential boosters pushing hard for Hauck to come back, while many others in the community feel it’s a return to an era UM has tried to distance itself from.
Either way, it could be said Haslam can’t win, which is a bit ironic since he’s in this position because the Griz didn’t win enough the past two years. If Haslam hires Hauck, there will be angry protests. If he doesn’t hire Hauck, there will be angry protests.
But instead of viewing this in only black and white, please pay attention to the gray areas — or, if you prefer, the maroon and silver — and try to understand where the other side is coming from, if just for a couple minutes.
Maybe we can improve our community and have a great football team at the same time. Those two ideals are not mutually exclusive.