MISSOULA — When Montana hosts North Dakota State on Saturday in the FCS semifinals, the game will serve as a homecoming for several Bison coaches.
One is Fairfield native and NDSU outside linebackers coach Tucker Meyer — whose brother Ryder plays safety for the Griz.
"It is special, one, because we're playing North Dakota State," said Ryder Meyer. "They’re a storied program and we get a chance to go to the next game and be in national championship and then obviously I get to play against my brother."
Despite being the younger brother by six years, Ryder has confidence in changing the younger sibling narrative.
"I think growing up for the most part he probably (beat) me in most of the things," said Ryder. "But I think now the script is kind of flipped and I'm starting to win more."
Meanwhile, Tucker Meyer doesn’t plan on letting his little brother get this one.
"It's funny. Obviously it'll be a very competitive game," said Tucker. "But I don't know that it'll be any more competitive than when I beat his tail in monopoly this summer. There will just be more people watching."
While embracing the role of the bad guy during this homecoming, more than anything Tucker Meyer is grateful for his time serving as an assistant coach for the Griz in 2018.
"I have family and friends all over the state that are rooting against me, which is OK," said Tucker. "But I'm very, very thankful for my time in (Missoula) and at Montana in general, and for coach Hauck. There's so many people there that I that I really look up to."
Even with the brotherly rivalry between the former Fairfield High School football stars, when it comes down to it, it’s all business.
"It is kind of weird knowing that my brother is gonna be on the other sideline, but more than anything I'm going to do everything I can to help this team win," said Ryder.
"That's preparing in the film room, studying the playbook, just doing what I have to do to execute on Saturday. And more than anything, I just want to get that done for the guys so we can go and play in the national championship and try and reach our goal."
Tucker Meyer isn’t the only member of the NDSU staff with Montana connections as defensive coordinator and Billings native Jason Petrino (who was raised in Kalispell), offensive analyst Bobby Cade Mornhinwig from Missoula, and defensive analyst and Centerville alum Chad Smith all currently don the Bison green and yellow. Following their quarterfinal win over South Dakota they all knew they’d be coming home.
"I think we all just kind of took a moment to reflect about it and be excited and then go downstairs and be like, hey, let's figure out how to beat these guys, right," said Smith, an NDSU defensive analyst.
"Let's make sure that we keep that place not from going electric, because I think all of us know how electric that stadium can get and you live for these atmospheres. You just you really do."
Despite being seen as the enemy heading into this one, at the end of the day Smith and his fellow Montanans on staff know that they above all else they are just that — Montanans.
"For us as Montanans, we take very much pride in that. I mean, coach Petrino during fall camp talked about it that he's from Montana, and mentioned I have a 406 phone number and I'll never get get rid of it. And I you know, I think coach Meyer, myself and Bobby Cade are probably all the same, we'll never give up our 406 phone numbers," said Smith.
"It's just part of us, who were ingrained in, and who we are, and we're proud of our state. Now, that doesn't mean that we aren't going to figure out how to go over there and try to (win) and get to the national championship."