Jack Swarthout
Biographical details
Born(1920-02-23)February 23, 1920
Sunnyside, Washington
DiedOctober 1, 2005(2005-10-01) (aged 85)
Olympia, Washington
Alma materUniversity of Montana, 1942[1][2]
Playing career
Position(s)Quarterback, halfback, end
Head coaching record
Overall51–41–1 (college)
College Football Data Warehouse
Accomplishments and honors
2 Big Sky (1969, 1970)
3× Big Sky Coach of the Year (1967, 1969, 1970)

Harold Jack Swarthout (February 23, 1920 – October 1, 2005)[3] was an American college football player, coach, and administrator. He served as head football coach and athletic director at his alma mater, the University of Montana, from 1967 through 1975. Swarthout compiled an overall record of 51–41–1 (.554), winning Big Sky Conference championships in 1969 and 1970.

Swarthout played for the Grizzlies in the three seasons immediately prior to World War II as an undersized but exciting back, nicknamed "Rabbit."[4] He graduated from Montana in 1942,[1][2] served in the U.S. Army during the war, then coached high school football in Hoquiam, Washington.[5]


In December 1966, Swarthout was hired as head football coach at Montana, following a 1–8 season under Hugh Davidson. Swarthout had been a college assistant coach under Darrell Royal and was the head coach at Olympia High School in Olympia, Washington.[2]

Swarthout brought on Jack Elway as an assistant and together they led the Grizzlies to a much-improved 7–3 record in their first season and was named the Big Sky's coach of the year.[6] (Elway was the quarterback at Hoquiam High School in the late 1940s under head coach Swarthout.)[5] Within two years, Swarthout guided Montana to back-to-back undefeated regular seasons in 1969 and 1970, UM's first Big Sky Conference titles. Both years they were defeated by North Dakota State in the Camellia Bowl, which was part of a set of bowls that led up to a poll to determine the NCAA College Division national championship, prior to the current College Division playoff structure.

After the 1970 season, Swarthout was rumored as a candidate for head coach at Illinois in the Big Ten Conference,[7] but he stayed with the Grizzlies. He was indicted in federal court in 1972 concerning the diversion of student-aid funds to the athletic department,[8][9][10] but was acquitted in April 1973.[11]

Swarthout stepped down as UM athletic director in July 1975, and after nine seasons as head football coach in Missoula, he departed in the summer of 1976.[12] He returned to Olympia that fall to coach at Capital High School for the next decade.[13]


After a battle with non-Hodgkin lymphoma, Swarthout died at age 85 in Olympia.[1]

Head coaching recordEdit

Year Team Overall Conference Standing Bowl/playoffs
Montana Grizzlies (Big Sky Conference) (1967–1975)
1967 Montana 7–3 2–2 T–2nd
1968 Montana 2–7 0–4 5th
1969 Montana 10–1 4–0 1st L Camellia
1970 Montana 10–1 5–0 1st L Camellia
1971 Montana 6–5 3–2 3rd
1972 Montana 3–8 3–3 T–3rd
1973 Montana 4–6 2–4 T–4th
1974 Montana 3–6–1 2–3–1 4th
1975 Montana 6–4 3–3 4th
Montana: 51–41–1 24–21–1
Total: 51–41–1
      National championship         Conference title         Conference division title
Indicates BCS bowl, Bowl Alliance or Bowl Coalition game.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 "Former Griz coach Swarthout battling lymphoma cancer". University of Montana Athletics. Retrieved August 26, 2014.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 "Jack Swarthout replaces Hugh Davidson at Montana". Lewiston Morning Tribune. Associated Press: p. 13. December 30, 1966.,6533000.
  3. "Former UM football coach Jack Swarthout dies". Billings Gazette. Associated Press. October 2, 2005. Retrieved July 10, 2013.
  4. "Jack Swarthout Montana threat". Spokesman-Review: p. 8. August 26, 1940.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Anderson, Rick (September 19, 2013). "How the college 'football revolution' started on a practice field in Hoquiam". Seattle Weekly. Retrieved August 26, 2014.
  6. "Jack Swarthout Big Sky's 'Coach'". Spokesman-Review. Associated Press: p. 11. November 20, 1967.
  7. "Illini job for 'Tips' Swarthout?". Spokesman-Review. Associated Press: p. 8, sports. December 13, 1970.
  8. "Montana officials indicted on student fund misuse". Lakeland Ledger. Associated Press: p. 2B. July 20, 1972.
  9. "Despite indictment, officials will remain". Daytona Beach Sunday News-Journal. Associated Press: p. 4D. July 30, 1972.
  10. "Montana wrist slapped". Lawrence Journal-World. Associated Press: p. 13. April 9, 1975.
  11. "Two found innocent in Montana trial". Spokane Daily Chronicle: p. 19. April 16, 1973.
  12. "Swarthout will retire from Montana post". Spokesman-Review. Associated Press: p. 14. June 15, 1976.
  13. "Short cuts". Spokesman-Review: p. 14. July 3, 1976.

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