MISSOULA – Bobby Hauck won at least eight games every season during his first stint as the head coach of the Montana Grizzlies from 2003-09, including three trips to the FCS national championship game. His second stint in charge didn’t start as well.
Saturday’s loss to the rival Montana State Bobcats ended the Grizzlies’ season at 6-5. Many expected Hauck’s return to equal a return to the playoffs. Instead, UM missed out on the postseason for a third straight year.
But Montana suited up a very young team this season – six freshmen started versus the Bobcats on Saturday – and even after what he called gut-wrenching loss, Hauck was able to envision better times ahead.
“We have the temperament. We have established that. We have changed the culture of our program in that regard,” Hauck said. “We’ll recruit and keep coaching. I think we have a chance to be a pretty good football team in a couple years.”
Even with a bright future, this offseason will be rough for the Grizzlies. They’ll surely spend a lot of time remembering the near-misses. They lost in the final moments to Western Illinois, Portland State and Montana State.