MISSOULA — Montana Grizzly football fans are going to have to wait a little longer for some live football action, and it's going to look a lot different this spring.
On Friday morning, the University of Montana and Montana State University released a joint statement announcing that neither school would be participating in the Big Sky Conference spring football season.
The conference is currently set for a six-game schedule leading into the FCS Playoffs.
“It does bring some closure for us to understand exactly what spring was like," said UM athletic director Kent Haslam. "This has changed so dramatically every week, every day."
On the players' side, head coach Bobby Hauck said the team just wants to get out there and see some action, but the six-game championship series wasn’t an ideal format.
“We want to compete this spring, we just don’t believe playing a full conference schedule is in the best interest of our team," said Hauck. "Preparing to win a championship in February with no indoor facility would be difficult at best, if not impossible. We think a modified schedule this spring where we play a few (games) will allow our players to compete, which is what they want.”
While Montana opted out of the season, Haslam said the Griz will still look to play at least two non-conference games in late April.
"I don't foresee us seeing any other Big Sky Conference schools," said Haslam. "Our focus is trying to find some opponents that we can bring into Missoula, and those will most likely be non-Division I opponents but we've got to work that through."
Haslam said regardless of if COVID-19 were here or not, it would still be tough to pull off a spring season.
"The pandemic pushed fall football to the spring," said Haslam. "Regardless of whatever pushed it to the spring, playing it in the spring, a six-game season with potential playoffs just seems too taxing moving right into fall of 2021."
So far, Montana and Montana State join Sacramento State and Portland State as the four Big Sky teams to opt out of the spring football season.