|Montana State Bobcats football|
|Athletic director||Peter Fields|
|Head coach||Rob Ash|
|Home stadium||Bobcat Stadium (Bozeman, Montana)|
|Stadium capacity||17,777 (seating);|
|Location||Bozeman, Montana, U.S.|
|Postseason bowl record||3–1–2|
|Claimed national titles||3 (1956, 1976, 1984)|
|Conference titles||19 (1938, 1946, 1947, 1954, 1956, 1964, 1966, 1967, 1968, 1972, 1976, 1979, 1982, 1984, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2010, 2011)|
|Consensus All-Americans||19 |
|Colors||Blue and Gold|
|Fight song||Stand up and Cheer!|
The Montana State Bobcats football program competes in the Big Sky Conference of the NCAA's Division I Football Championship Subdivision for Montana State University. The program began in 1897 and has won three national championships (1956, 1976, and 1984). They are the only college football program in the nation to win national championships on three different levels of competition, NAIA, NCAA Division II, and NCAA Division I-AA (now FCS). The Bobcats have played in 945 games and their all-time record stands at 456-457-32.
The first championship came in Montana State's last season in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference, which moved to NAIA in 1952. The national championship was the first ever for the RMAC and was also the first time the NAIA had a football champion. The Bobcats were members of the RMAC from 1917 to 1956, after being an independent from 1897 to 1916. MSC rejoined the NCAA (College Division) in 1957, and had one of its most successful runs as an independent from 1957 to 1962 with six straight winning seasons, including an 8-2 mark in 1957 and 8-1 in 1958. In 1963, Montana State became a charter member of the Big Sky Conference, where it has won two national championships.
Montana State has won 19 conference titles, including 14 in the Big Sky Conference and five in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference. The Bobcats have won conference titles in eight of the past nine decades and have won multiple conference titles in seven of the last eight decades. MSU finished the 1926 and 1927 seasons undefeated in RMAC conference games, but was not awarded a conference title in either season. They have qualified for the NCAA playoffs seven times, once as a Division II member and six times as a Division I-AA/FCS member. MSU has been in the post-season eleven times, most recently in 2011. Through the 2011 season, the Bobcats are 9-6-2 in postseason play.
Their primary rival is Montana, whom they meet in the annual Brawl of the Wild, more commonly referred to as the Cat-Griz game, to be held for the 112th time in 2012 in Missoula. Montana currently holds The Great Divide Trophy after a 36-10 win in Bozeman in 2011. The Bobcats are the reigning Big Sky Conference champions.
- 1 History
- 2 Coaching History
- 3 Head coaching records
- 4 Conference Affiliations
- 5 Undefeated Seasons
- 6 Championships
- 7 Post Season
- 8 Rivalries
- 9 Notable Players
- 10 Bobcats in the Pros
- 11 Hall of Fame Players
- 12 CFL Hall of Fame
- 13 Football facilities
- 14 Future non-conference opponents
- 15 References
- 16 External links
Before World War II, Montana State football tasted success often, but in small doses. The Bobcats did not record a winning season between 1931 and 1941, MSC's last pre-war squad. The 'Cats were 1-10 in that stretch against Montana, and were shut out for eight consecutive years. In 1946, however, things began to change. Composed of war-hardened veterans, Clyde Carpenter and the Bobcats rolled up a 5-3-1 regular season record, impressive enough to land the team its first-ever bowl bid. The Bobcats tied New Mexico, 13-13. Although it would be seven more seasons until Montana State would again win more than it lost, that season helped chart the course into what would become an unbelievably successful period in Montana State's football history as the Bobcats would take 22 of the next 30 games from 1956 to 1985 from the Grizzlies and would win all three of their national championships during that same span.
The 1946 team was special for more than its accomplishments, however. When it reassembled following World War II, its special mission was to carry the Bobcat banner after 14 members of Montana State's previous team, the 1941 squad, were killed during World War II. The only pre-war regular to play in the Harbor Bowl was Bill Zupan, whose brother Al was among those 'Cat gridders making the ultimate sacrifice. Others were Orin Beller, Newell Berg, Dana Bradford, John Burke, Bernard Cluzen, William Coey, Karl Fye, John Hall, Joseph McGeever, John Phelan, Richard Roman, Wendell Scabad and Alton Zempel, according to the outstanding centennial history of MSU, "In the People's Interest".
In 1956, the Bobcats won a share of the NAIA title at the Aluminum Bowl in Little Rock, Arkansas, playing to a scoreless tie with the Pumas of St. Joseph's College from Rensselaer, Indiana. The game was aired on CBS television and radio. It was played on a rain-soaked field that thwarted MSU's offense, which had run for an average of 323.1 yards rushing and 31.2 points per game. The championship was the first for the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference and the 1956 team is a member of the RMAC Hall of Fame. The 1956 Bobcats of head coach Tony Storti were the fourth, and last, Montana State football team to go undefeated. They finished at 9-0-1.
Behind head coach Jim Sweeney in 1964, Montana State won the NCAA Western Regional College Division Championship, which existed from 1964 to 1972, with a 28-7 win over Sacramento State in what was also known as the Camellia Bowl. The NCAA Western Regional was one of four regionals that led up to the selection of the NCAA College Division champion by poll. Upon the establishment of Division II in 1973, a full playoff system was introduced to determine the national champion. MSU is one of just two Big Sky Conference schools, along with Boise State, to win a Camellia Bowl game. The Bobcats finished the 1964 season at 7-4.
Montana State won the 1976 NCAA Division II championship at the Pioneer Bowl in Wichita Falls, Texas, beating the Akron Zips 24-13 with head coach Sonny Holland at the helm. MSU led 17-0 in the third quarter before Akron cut the lead to 17-13. Running back Tom Kostrba scored from seven yards out in the fourth quarter to seal the win. The Bobcats advanced to the championship game with a 17-16 quarterfinal win over the New Hampshire in Bozeman and a 10-3 semifinal win in the Grantland Rice Bowl over North Dakota State, after trailing 3-0 at halftime in Fargo. Kostrba ran for 100 yards in both playoff games and Don Ueland ran for 94 in the championship game. They finished the 1976 season with a 12-1 record, with their lone loss coming at Fresno State.
Eight years later, the Bobcats defeated Louisiana Tech 19-6 in the 1984 Division I-AA title game in Charleston, South Carolina, for their third national championship. Montana State, behind head coach Dave Arnold, beat Arkansas State 31-14, after falling behind 14-0, in the quarterfinals and Rhode Island 32-20, after trailing 20-12 entering the fourth quarter, in the semifinals. MSU took the lead on a 97-yard interception return for a touchdown by safety Joe Roberts, Jr. Quarterback Kelly Bradley threw for over 300 yards in each playoff game and had eight touchdown passes in the postseason. Tight end Joe Bignell hauled in 10 passes for 130 yards and two touchdowns in the championship game. After a 2-2 start, the 1984 team finished 12-2 following a 1-10 season in 1983.
Rob Ash enters his sixth season as head coach at MSU in 2012. Ash has complied a 39-20 (.661) overall record, which represents the third best winning percentage and fourth best win total in school history in the modern era of the sport. He is just eight wins away from the school record of 47 wins held by Sonny Holland (1971–1977). With three wins he will move into second place.
Ash came to MSU from Drake University where he was the head coach for 18 years. He had just two losing seasons and led the Bulldogs to four Pioneer Conference titles in 14 years. His overall record at Drake was 125-63-2. Prior to Drake he was the head coach at Division III Juniata for nine years. He led the Eagles to one league title and was 51-36-3.
Ash's career overall record entering his 33rd season as a head coach stands at 215-119-5. His 215 wins rank him 17th among active NCAA coaches. He is currently tied for 50th place in wins in NCAA history. Ash has led Montana State to the Big Sky Conference championship and NCAA Football Championship Subdivision playoffs his last two seasons.
Ash hasn't had a losing season at MSU and his season record has improved each year. His 2007 team was 6-5, followed by a 7-5 mark in 2008, 7-4 in 2009, 9-3 in 2010 and 10-3 in 2011.
His term as president of the American Football Coaches Association ended in January 2012. He received the 2011 FCS Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year Award that same month.
Head coaching records
|1908-10||John H. McIntosh||3||5-10-5||.305|
|1913||Eugene F. Bunker||1||2-2-0||.500|
|1919||Walter D. Powell||1||1-3-1||.300|
|1922-27||G. Ottiger "Ott" Romney||6||28-20-1||.580|
|1928-41||Schubert R. Dyche||12||36-53-7||.417|
|1950-51||John H. Mason||2||1-15-0||.062|
|1955||Walter "Wally" Lemm||2||4-4-1||.500|
- 1897-1916: Independent
- 1917-1956: Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference (1917-38 NCAA; 1939-51 NCAA College (small) Division; 1952-56 NAIA)
- 1957-1962: Independent
- 1963–present: Big Sky Conference (1963-72 NCAA College Division; 1973-77 NCAA Division II; 1978-2005 NCAA Division I-AA; 2006–present NCAA Football Championship Subdivision)
|1956||Tony Storti||9-0-1||0-0||St. Joseph's|
|1976||Sonny Holland||12-1||24-13||Akron Zips|
|1984||Dave Arnold||12-2||19-6||Louisiana Tech Bulldogs|
All-time Bowl Results
|January 1, 1947||Harbor Bowl||T||New Mexico||13||13|
|December 22, 1956||Aluminum Bowl||T||St. Joseph's||0||0||NAIA final|
|December 12, 1964||Camellia Bowl||W||Sacramento State||28||7||College Division Western Regional|
|December 10, 1966||Camellia Bowl||L||San Diego State||7||28||College Division Western Regional|
|December 4, 1976||Grantland Rice Bowl||W||@ North Dakota State||10||3||NCAA Division II semifinal|
|December 11, 1976||Pioneer Bowl||W||Akron||24||13||NCAA Division II final|
|Total||5 bowl games||3-1-2||82||64|
Division II Playoff results
|1976||8||Quarterfinal||@Montana State||17||New Hampshire||16||Sonny Holland|
|Semifinal||@ Montana State||10||North Dakota State||3|
FCS Playoff results
Division I FCS playoff results (known as "Division I-AA" from 1978 to 2005)
|1984||12||First Round||bye||Dave Arnold|
|Quarterfinal||@ Montana State||31||Arkansas State||14|
|Semifinal||@ Montana State||32||Rhode Island||20|
|Final||Montana State||19||Louisiana Tech||6|
|2002||16||First Round||@ McNeese State||21||Montana State||14||Mike Kramer|
|2003||16||First Round||@ Northern Iowa||35||Montana State||14|
|2006||16||First Round||@ Montana State||31||Furman||13|
|Quarterfinal||@ Appalachian State||38||Montana State||17|
|2010||20||Second Round||North Dakota State||42||@ Montana State||17||Rob Ash|
|2011||20||Second Round||@ Montana State||26||New Hampshire||25|
|Quarterfinal||@ Sam Houston State||49||Montana State||13|
|6th appearance||Overall record||5-5|
The series has three distinct periods. From 1897 to 1916 the teams didn't belong to a conference and at times would play twice per year. Early seasons had seven games or less with one season seeing the Grizzlies play just one game. Four of the five ties in the series came during this era. Montana won 12 games to Montana State's 7.
In 1917 Montana State joined the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference and in 1924 Montana joined the Pacific Coast Conference, the predecessor of today's Pac-12. The RMAC included several teams that would become Mountain West members. When MSU joined the RMAC it included Colorado, Colorado State, Utah, Utah State, and Brigham Young. The RMAC would drop down to the small college division of NCAA football in 1939 and remained there until 1952 when it joined the NAIA.
UM joined the PCC, after spending 22 years as part of the Northwest Intercollegiate Athletic Association with league members Washington, Oregon, Washington State, Oregon State, Idaho and Wittman College in 1924. By then the PCC included Stanford, California, UCLA, USC, Oregon, Oregon State, Washington, Washington State, and Idaho. The Bobcats remained in the RMAC through 1956, while the Grizzlies continued in the PCC through 1949 and joined the Skyline (aka Mountain States) Conference, which also competed in the NCAA University (large) Division, from 1951-1961. MSU was a NAIA independent from 1957–1962 and UM was a NCAA University Division (large) independent in 1950 and 1962. During this period UM enjoyed a 30-8-1 edge in Cat-Griz games.
Both schools entered the Big Sky Conference as charter members in 1963 with Montana holding a 42-15-2 series lead. From 1963 to 1985 Montana State enjoyed its most successful period of the Cat-Griz rivalry. MSU won 17 games to just six for UM. Following that Montana started "The Streak" when it won 16 straight games from 1986 to 2001. MSU ended the drought by winning three of four, while UM holds a 6-4 edge after "The Streak" with Montana winning the most recent game 36-10 in Bozeman. The Big Sky era shows Montana with a 28-21 lead.
Montana has won 22 of the last 26 meetings. Since MSU won its first national championship in 1956, the series shows UM with a 30-26 edge.
First Team All-Americans
- Jim Argeris, C, 1954
- Ron Warzenka, OT, 1956
- Sonny Holland, C, 1957–59
- Jan Stenerud, K, 1966
- Don Hass, HB, 1966–67
- Gary Gustafson, LB, 1970
- Bill Kollar, DT, 1973
- Steve Kracher, RB, 1975
- Lester Leininger, DL, 1976
- Jon Borchardt, OT, 1978
- Larry Rubens, OL, 1981
- Mark Fellows, LB, 1984
- Dirk Nelson, P, 1984
- Bill Schmidt, OT, 1984
- Sean Hill, DB, 1993
- Neal Smith, DL, 1997
- Matthew Peot, P, 1999
- Corey Smith, RS, 2003
- Kane Ioane, DB, 2003
- Dusty Daws, LS, 2004
- Jeff Bolton, OL, 2005
- Bobby Daly, LB, 2007
- Dane Fletcher, DL, 2009
- Jeff Hansen, OL, 2009
- Mike Person, OT, 2010
- Jason Cunningham, K, 2010
In 1968, Erickson engineered the greatest comeback in what is considered by many as the most exciting game in the Cat-Griz series. Erickson, flanker Ron Bain and running back Paul Schafer lead the comeback as the Bobcats clinch a tie for the Big Sky championship—their third straight. Trailing 24-9 in the fourth quarter, Montana State scored 20 points in the last nine minutes and won 29-24 when Schafer, who had 58 carries for 234 yards in the game, dove into the end zone with 12 seconds left. The Grizzlies appeared to have the drive stopped at the MSU 32, but a facemask penalty gave the Cats new life on the 17.
In all, 34 points are scored in the final quarter. Bain's brother, Doug of the Grizzlies, gave the Montana a 17-9 lead early in the quarter on a pass from Ray Brum. After another UM touchdown made the score 24-9 with just over 10 minutes to go it looked as if the Grizzlies would win going away, but the Bobcats weren't done. Schaefer scored on a short run with 8:15 to play and Erickson hit Bain for a touchdown with five minutes left cutting the lead to two at 24-22.
After Schafer's touchdown, the Grizzlies nearly spoil things for MSU. UM takes over at the 20 with speedy receiver Ron Baines at quarterback. He gains 15 and another 15 are tacked on by an unnecessary roughness penalty. Baines then makes a circus run of 37 yards from midfield before he's dragged down at the MSU 13 after time expires. Bobcat QB Dennis Erickson is the difference.
"Erickson killed us," UM head coach Jack Swarthout said.
Erickson went on to coach the Miami Hurricanes to two NCAA Division I-A national championships. He also had college head coaching stints with the Idaho Vandals, Wyoming Cowboys, Washington State Cougars, Oregon State Beavers and Arizona State Sun Devils. Professionally, he was the head coach of the NFL's Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers.
One Montana State Bobcat has been inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, this was Jan Stenerud. After coming to MSU from Norway on a ski jumping scholarship, Stenerud starred on the varsity team with a then-NCAA record 59-yard field goal against rival Montana and 82 points scored as a senior in 1965. He was drafted by the Kansas City Chiefs in the third round of the AFL's 1966 draft and scored 11 points, including a then-Super Bowl record 48-yard field goal, in Kansas City's 23-7 Super Bowl IV win. He would later go on to play for the Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings earning four trips to the Pro Bowl in his 19 seasons as a professional. He was inducted in 1991 and is the only pure kicker in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Stenerud's name is in the Kansas City Chiefs' ring of honor and he is one of just four MSU players to have his number "78" retired.
Super Bowl players
Five Montana State graduates have played in a Super Bowl. The most recent is Dane Fletcher, who was a linebacker for the New England Patriots, in Super Bowl XLVI. The first was Stenerud in Super Bowl IV, followed by Ron East, who played defensive tackle the following year in Super Bowl V for the Dallas Cowboys. Sam McCullum was a wide receiver for the Minnesota Vikings in Super Bowl IX against the Oakland Raiders. Running back Tony Boddie played in Super Bowl XXII for the Denver Broncos. There are currently three players in the NFL from Montana State. Fletcher, Ken Amato of the Tennessee Titans and Mike Person of the San Francisco 49ers.
In 2011, quarterback Travis Lulay was named the Most Outstanding Player in the Canadian Football League and led the British Columbia Lions to the Grey Cup title garnering the game's Most Valuable Player award in the 34-23 win over Winnipeg. The Lions started the season 0-4 before winning 13 of their last 17 games to win the championship. Lulay threw for a league-high 32 touchdowns and passed for 4,815 yards to finish with the second best passer rating in the CFL. He also ran for 391 yards (8.3 per carry), which was good for 12th in the CFL and was the most by a quarterback., and three touchdowns.
Lulay was the quarterback at MSU from 2002-2005 leading the Bobcats to three Big Sky Conference titles and two NCAA Division I-AA playoff appearances. All three Big Sky Conference championships were taken in the last game of the season with wins over rival Montana. As a true freshman Lulay engineered MSU's 10-7 win over the Grizzlies in Missoula ending UM's 16-game winning streak over the Bobcats and was named the Big Sky Conference's Newcomer of the Year. Lulay led Montana State in rushing his senior year with 611 yards. He left with school records for career passing yards (10,746-11th in NCAA Division I-AA history), single-season total offense, and total offense in a career. He graduated with a 3.91 GPA.
In 1974 Kollar became the first small college (non-FBS) player to win the Senior Bowl MVP and is one of only two (Portland State's Neil Lomax being the other) small college players to win the award in that game's history. Kollar became one of just four Big Sky Conference players ever selected as an NFL first round draft choice when he was taken by the Cincinnati Bengals in 1974. He went on to play eight seasons in the NFL, including five with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He has been an NFL defensive line coach since 1990 and currently coaches in that capacity for the Houston Texans. He is a member of the MSU Hall of Fame and his number "77" is one of only four football numbers retired by MSU. Don Haas, Holland and Stenerud are the others.
Bobcats in the Pros
- Elvis Akpla, Philadelphia Eagles (2012–present)
- Ken Amato, Tennessee Titans (2003–present)
- Bob Banaugh, Minnesota Vikings
- Dane Fletcher, New England Patriots (2010–present)
- Mike Person, San Francisco 49ers (2011–present)
- Joey Thomas, Green Bay Packers
- Corey Widmer, New York Giants
- Sean Hill, Miami Dolphins
- Tony Boddie, Denver Broncos
- Sam McCullum, Minnesota Vikings
- Bill Kollar, Cincinnati Bengals
- Mark McGrath Washington Redskins
- Ron East, Dallas Cowboys
- Bob Cegelski, C Denver Broncos
- Curt Farrier, DT Kansas City Chiefs (1963–65)
- Cliff Hysell, OT Denver Broncos
- Jan Stenerud, K Kansas City Chiefs (1967–79), Green Bay Packers (1980–83), Minnesota Vikings (1984–85)
- Ron Warzeka, OT Oakland Raiders (1960)
- Tony Boddie, RB Los Angeles Express (1983–85)
- Phil Bruneau, DT Oklahoma Outlaws (1984), Arizona Outlaws (1985)
- Jim Kalafat, LB San Antonio Gunslingers (1983)
- Larry Rubens, C Memphis Showboats (1985)
- Ron East, DT Hawaii Islanders (1974)
- Reggie Carthon CB BC Lions
- Les Kaminski Hamilton Tiger-Cats
- Bob Lubig Calgary Stampeders
- Travis Lulay, BC Lions
- Mike McCleod, Edmonton Eskimos
- Brian Strong Calgary Stampeders
- Al Wilson, BC Lions
- Harvey Wylie, RB Calgary Stampeders
Hall of Fame Players
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CFL Hall of Fame
Al Wilson was elected to the CFL Hall of Fame on September 20, 1997, following a long career as an offensive lineman with the British Columbia Lions. The guard and center was awarded All-Western All-Star and All-Canadian All-Star honors for seven years, 1975-81. He was voted the Schenley Most Outstanding Offensive Lineman in 1977. He played in two Grey Cup games (1983 and 1985), and was a key member of B.C.'s 1985 championship team.
Harvey Wylie was elected to the CFL Hall of Fame on May 24, 1980. The former Bobcat All-America was a standout defensive back and kick return specialist for nine years with Calgary. He played for the Calgary Stampeders from 1956–64, and for five straight years was an All-Western All-Star and twice was an All-Canadian All-Star.
The Bobcats play their home games at Bobcat Stadium, located at the south end of campus in Bozeman. Bobcat Stadium renovated the south end zone in 2011, which added 5,277 more seats giving the stadium an official seating capacity of 17,777 up from 12,500 previously. The 2011 Cat-Griz game set a stadium record with an attendance of 20,237. The new end zone seating holds over 7,200 fans. Among other 2011 upgrades were an 18' x 37' LED video board, two scoreboards and sound system. In 2008 MSU replaced its natural grass playing surface with FieldTurf. In the late fall of 2011, Montana State raised funds for stadium lighting in order to extend the hours it can practice and play night games. Seven light standards were erected around the stadium. MSU currently has plans to renovate the east grandstand to include matching sky suites of the west grandstand and erect seating in the north end zone. These additions would increase seating capacity to approximately 24,000.
Prior to the 2011 addition Bobcat Stadium was renovated in 1997 when the west grandstand was removed and replaced with a new grandstand with luxury sky suites, indoor stadium seating, press box, and club room. The north bleachers were also removed at this time and replaced with locker rooms for visitors, game officials and an auxiliary locker room for the Bobcats. The name of the stadium was changed from Reno H. Sales Stadium to Bobcat Stadium at this time. The stadium capacity dropped from 15,000 to 12,500 due to the reconfiguation.
Reno H. Sales Stadium was erected in 1973 and replaced Gratton Field. Through the 1971 football season, the Bobcats played home games for four decades at Gatton Field. It was located directly south of the Romney Gym, across Grant Street and northeast of the Brick Breeden Fieldhouse, which opened in 1957. The playing field ran east-west and had lighting as far back as the 1940s. It was razed in early 1972 and is the site of the Marga Hosaeus Fitness Center, opened in 1973. Bobcat Stadium is approximately a half mile due south.
The field was named for Cyrus J. Gatton (1894–1918), a former Montana State football player from 1913-16. A native of Iowa who was raised in Bozeman, Gatton enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Service during World War I and was killed while flying for the French on November 4, 1918, just a week before the Armistice. The class of 1917 voted in 1920 that when the school built a new football field it should be named for Cyrus Gatton. The request was honored 10 years later.
MSU played its 1972 season at Bozeman High School's Van Winkle Stadium. Despite the temporary relocation, the Bobcats still won the Big Sky Conference title that season.
Future non-conference opponents
|vs Chadron State|
|vs Stephen F. Austin|
- "NCAA Football Award Winners" (PDF). National Collegiate Athletic Association. 2010. pp. 12–17. Retrieved September 6, 2010.
- "Big Sky Rivals". bigskyconf.com/. http://bigskyconf.com/news/2011/4/28/FB_0428110957.aspx. Retrieved 2010-04-30.
- "Bobcats Host Old, New Rivals in 2012". msubobcats.com. http://www.msubobcats.com/news/2011/12/22/FB_1222115812.aspx?path=football. Retrieved 2012-05-02.
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