New Montana athletics director Kent Haslam called the Grizzlies’ 5-6 record disappointing in an open letter to Griz fans on Monday but also confirmed that football coach Mick Delaney would return next season.

The open letter was posted on the athletic department’s website, its Facebook page and released to the media via email.

While noting that he was disappointed with the Griz football team’s first losing record since 1985, Haslam said: “At the same time, I appreciate the team’s hard work, and head coach Mick Delaney’s time, dedication, and heartfelt commitment to our football student-athletes. He and the assistant coaches have worked tirelessly.

“I look forward to his returning as the head coach for the 2013 football season and working toward a Big Sky Conference championship.”

Haslam also said he looks forward to resolving the NCAA’s ongoing investigation of the football program and that senior associate athletics director Jean Gee is working with the NCAA to conclude the matter.

When the NCAA notified the university of the inquiry Jan. 30, it said such investigations usually take about six months. In late July, the NCAA told UM that the inquiry would continue for an unspecified amount of time.

The NCAA also has a long-term investigation into the University of Miami’s football program that has led to the school self-imposing a bowl ban for each of the past two seasons. That inquiry began in March 2011.

The university is also under investigation by the U.S. Justice Department for how it handles reports of rape and sexual assault, and the federal Department of Education has its own investigation into allegations of harassment by members of the football team.

* * *

Montana’s Jordan Tripp is among the finalists for the Buck Buchanan award, given to the top defensive player in the Division I Football Championship Subdivision.

The Missoula Big Sky graduate is one of 20 finalists for the award announced Monday.

Tripp has made 95 total tackles this season, 26 solo, along with 12 sacks and four forced fumbles.

Montana State defensive end Caleb Schreibeis, a senior from Billings, is also a Buchanan finalist. He has 51 total tackles, 22 solo, and an FCS-leading seven forced fumbles. He was among four players added to the list on Monday.

MSU quarterback DeNarius McGhee is among the finalists for the Walter Payton Award, signifying the FCS offensive player of the year. McGhee has passed for 2,731 yards and 22 touchdowns, along with running for 269 yards and four TDs.

Northern Arizona running back Zach Bauman, Southern Utah QB Brad Sorensen and Cal Poly running back Deonte Williams are also Payton finalists.

Eastern Washington quarterback Vernon Adams, Southern Utah linebacker Zak Browning and defensive end James Cowser, North Dakota wide receiver Jameer Jackson and Portland State QB Kieran McDonagh are among the 20 finalists for the Jerry Rice Award, presented to the top first-year FCS player.

Cal Poly coach Tim Walsh and Beau Baldwin – his counterpart at Eastern Washington – are among the finalists for the Eddie Robinson Award, given to the FCS coach of the year.

Cal Poly (9-2) opened the season with seven straight wins, including one at Wyoming. Eastern Washington (9-2) was the Big Sky’s co-champion with Montana State and Cal Poly, getting the league’s automatic playoff bid via tiebreaker.

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Schreibeis and teammate Rory Perez were honored by the Big Sky on Monday for their performance in the Bobcats’ 16-7 victory over Montana on Saturday.

Schreibeis, the league’s co-defensive player of the week, had a career single-game high 16 tackles to go with a sack and two pass deflections for MSU. He split the award with Cal Poly linebacker Nick Dzubnar and Northern Colorado defensive back Marcel Gibbons.

Perez was named special teams player of the week after kicking three field goals and an extra point for MSU, while also averaging 43.3 yards per punt in the game.

Eastern Washington quarterback Kyle Padron and Weber State running back C.J. Tuckett shared the Big Sky offensive player of the week award.

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GogrizzMSO sounds just like an Obama Patriot......"C'mon guys.....give him four more years...".

NO. First of all.....Delaney has NEVER been a head coach of anything, and there is a darn good reason for this.......he is not a leader!

In the coming months you will find many grizz transferring to other football teams and the recruitment will be a farce. No one wants to play for a team that has it's priorities messed up. This is what is called "The end of a dynasty".......they must all end someday, and that day is now.

The team produces plenty of surplus cash, so buying a new coach is not challenging, but bring one into this caustic environment . I think I speak for most people here......those that are clueless should not be offering their moronic advice here, it takes the whole forum back to an elementary level.


Engstrom needs to be fired. UM has done nothing but go downhill since he took over and I'm talking all of UM, not just the football program or any other sport.


Everyone should also consider the expense of firing a coach (paying existing contracts) and hiring a new one (search committee, search process, interviews, new contract).


Success on the field is often the combination of many factors: recruiting, talent, work ethic, planning, offense/defense schemes and learning, and putting it all together with practice.
I think every head coach needs a minimum of 3 years to get buy-in, organize their system, recruit the players they want, and put it all together. Cutting anyone short after 1-2 years is premature and foolish.
Give Coach D 3 years and let's see how we stand. If things look ugly, we search for someone better. If things are good, we go another 2-3 years and continue to build, also not offering a 10-year contract. (see Notre Dame)

Bass Whacker

Greg Rachac of the Billings GAzette wrote yesterday:


•The Grizzlies expect to return a whopping 19 starters -- including 10 on defense -- to next year's team. That will give them plenty of ammunition for a bounce-back season. Even though a section of Griz fans wants to see coach Mick Delaney go, Delaney will come back next season for the second year of his two-year contract. The familiarity factor will be much improved.

There is also a chance Jordan Johnson will return next year, if everything works out the right way. Johnson's return would make Montana's offense dangerous again, especially through the air.

Wide receiver Sam Gratton, one of the Grizzlies' departing seniors, described the 2012 season "an outlier" -- meaning it's not the norm. Montana, with an army of returning veterans, will look to make it a distant memory beginning on Aug. 31 when Appalachian State visits Missoula.

Read more:

My reactionis this: You lost me at "the familiarity factor will be much improved." That second year familiarity at Western Montana allowed him to take his first year record of 3-5 and turn it into a second year record of 2-6-1. There is a reason a guy coaches for over 40 years, is a head coach only once for two years and fails, and remains a running backs coach for over 25: he doesn't have what it takes to be a head coach and he hasn't wanted to be a head coach. 4 of the Grizzlies' 6 losses are directly related to his poor decisions and whole staff's lack of ability to adjust. I can think of three (now 2 with Timm bolting for Weber) assistant coaches on the staff who could succeed in that position. Maybe Mrs. Delaney can collar his pride and talk some sense into her husband and get him to respectfully step aside....

Hal Jordan

Well Rosenbach has left, so maybe the offensive play calling could get better. He is headed to WSU


What Rosenbach did is exactly why we're in deep trouble. No coach or recruit will want to work or play for the Griz until this mess is solved. Engstrom has to go, and a long term head coach hired. If Engstrom likes Delaney so much give Delaney's staff an extended contract along with Delaney.

Mr Kokanee

What the Griz need is a quarterback that can pass the ball. You notice the teams at the top have solid quarterbacking (MSU, EWU, NAU). I didn't see many passes down field and you can only run so many bubble screens. The option should not even be in the offense game plan when you have Shay Smithwick-Hann at quarterback. Worked fine with Trent at QB. Hopefully, the Griz will find a good signal caller for next season, someone who can pass the ball down the field with some accuracy. The rest of the team looks solid for next year.


Mr. Johnson, I think you would find the "Cooking" section more to your suiting as you have neither good judgement nor any perceivable knowledge of sports.

" Engstrom and Haslam have a responsibility to the city of Missoula and to this state to right this mess. Royce Engstrom was entrusted with something precious that took years to build and so far all he's done is mess it up. "

No, this is patently untrue. These two hacks work for the state, under the grace of the Board of Regents. The regents have demonstrated their disdain for Missoula many times, but especially on this crisis. Missoula, and football, are of no concern to these big thinkers......they have "Global warming" and "International recruitment" to is just a nuisance.

Delaney is a coach....a very poor coach, but a coach. This speaks to the fact that the Regents despise football and are very angry about the national coverage on the alleged rapes by team members. If Jordy is found innocent, it will not mater to the Regents......the media already exposed the fact that THE REGENTS, ENGSTROM AND CHIEF MUIR DID NOT STEP UP TO FEND FOR THE RIGHTS OF MANY YOUNG WOMEN. THE REGENTS WANT TO DRIVE THE TEAM TO OBSCURITY, LIKE THE IDAHO BENGALS.


sad but true. if there were any doubt before where engstrom puts griz football on his priority list, there shouldn't be now.the regents have always been hand wringers, more concerned about political correctness and al gore being accepted as a profit then how much revenue griz football generates for missoula, and the absolute joy and pride for montana.griz nation should be ready for more of the same next season with delaney and his offensive coordinator coming back, isn't it obvious why he hadn't been a head coach until he was 70 years old.that's not meant to be mean spirited, it's just reality. then what happens? recruiting will be double tough now. i was hoping a coalition with some pull, including the one who's name is on the stadium, would step forward and apply some pressure, and they may have's not about being a fair weather fan, it's about backing the kids, they deserve better and so does the's about respecting all that has went into making griz football the program that it season my wife and i will sit in the same seats we have for twenty years[we've been going to grizz football much longer] and we'll cheer for the kids just the same and i'll be hoping i'm wrong about my prediction.

Alan Johnson

Well, since it was MT Native and not I that wrote the quote you cite, I guess your reputation for shooting without reading or aiming is intact.


Pat Williams who is on the Board of Regents has not been confirmed by the State Senate. If you remember Williams was asked for advice from Engstrom when the AD and coach were fired. My guess is the State of Montana senate will not confirm Williams. If your a Griz fan write or call your state senator. Williams went straight from congress to a nice pay check at UM. ENOUGH! Get a real job Pat.

Alan Johnson

Well, the decision is made and by people wiser about these things than I I am not a fair-weather fan. I back Coach Delaney and the Griz all the way.


Until recently, UM coaches had a 1 year deal. Engstrom has shown his incompetence by giving an old untested, incompetent coach a multiyear deal. After next year, we start all over( unlessthey are crazy enoughto extend his contract), meanwhile losing 2+ years worth of recruiting. Anyone who defends the coaching this year ( they gave 2 games away and failed to make any adjustments in the others) hasnt watched much football. It was disgusting. We arent going to pay $100 a seat to watch more of this, and certainly are not going to support the UM foundation. Maybe when the bottom line shrinks, the UM administration will get the message.


Having Mick as head coach is the first step to restoring class to the Griz program. The last 2 coaches drug the program down by being more interested in wins than than having student athletes with a little self respect. The program went from one the best the nation to being known as rape nation. Right now class is more important than wins.


The issue now is the future of Grizzly football. Name callers only show there lack of intelligence.Every Grizzzly fan is a customer of the program, and has a right to express there opinion. Next year they have a right to vote by either buying tickets or not. I say don't make a final judgement on Coach Delaney until sigining day. You can't win without talent. If he and his staff have a good recruiting year then we'll know what coaches, and potential players think about the future of Griz football. I don't know how he can recruit when the potential recruit knows he won't be around for a few years? That I think is the issue more than last season's record. The administration gave him two years before he ever coached a game. If Engstrom and the new AD thinks he did a good job give him an extension right now. If not why even give him another year? Come February and the Bobcats get most of the good players in Montana, and Oregon is no longer a good source of talent, because of the way Pflugrad and Johnson have been treated it will be to late.


Coach Delaney asked for a two-year contract with an option on a third. He wanted to give the administration a chance to make a decision mid-stream, and he also wanted a chance to see how he felt about things at that point. Despite all of the nitpicking over what went on during the 2012 season I still believe he was the right choice at the time to keep the whole thing from blowing up. They already have committed a number of recruits, including a few from Montana. They also have a limited number with only 12 seniors on this year's team. Too many conclusions being jumped to hear. As for those who want to give up their seats, go for it. There will be plenty of others waiting to pick them up when the program stabilizes, as it will.


montanaduck, I'm afraid I disagree with just about everything you've said here. I do agree with you that Coach Delaney should not be fired. He should resign. I agree with everyone here who believes he is not up to the job of head coach at a program of this caliber (or at least, the caliber it used to be prior to Royce Engstrom's mishandling of things). I'm sure he's a great guy, very honorable and very nice. I'm sure the players love him. However, the players want to WIN. I was at every home game this year, and I watched their faces when they walked off the field and into the tunnel after a loss. They looked devastated after the Griz-Cat loss. (Please also note that I've attended almost every home game for the last two decades, and I have driven at least 200 miles each way to get there, so I resent being referred to as 'stupid'.)
Players don't go through two-a-days and practice and play in the cold and through injuries so they can lose close games because of poor coaching. Furthermore, your belief that no good coach would touch this program with all of its problems is just ridiculous. Coaches would line up for the opportunity to come to Missoula and put Montana back on the winning side of things. I'd love to believe that Delaney has the ability to turn this program back around, but I didn't see anything this year that gave me confidence in his ability to do that. As it was pointed out, there were no visible halftime adjustments, and Ty Gregorak was allowed to coach the defense from the sidelines instead of in the booth so he couldn't even see everything that was going on on the field. (Seriously, how bad of an idea was that?)
Royce Engstrom and Kent Haslam need to fully understand and recognize that football at the University of Montana isn't just a game. This is a state without any professional sports teams, so whether you like it or not, Griz Football is part of this state's brand. When Outside Magazine lists Missoula, MT as one of the top places to live in the U.S., Griz Football gets a big mention. It brings businesses to the community because it adds to the city's overall attractiveness. It fills hotel and motel rooms. When people come to town for the football games they spend money at the mall. Engstrom and Haslam have a responsibility to the city of Missoula and to this state to right this mess. Royce Engstrom was entrusted with something precious that took years to build and so far all he's done is mess it up.

Alan Johnson

Please also note that I've attended almost every home game for the last two decades, and I have driven at least 200 miles each way to get there, so I resent being referred to as 'stupid'.

Uphill both ways! ;-)


The fact that some of you are stupid enough to think or want coach D to be fired really amazes me. Number 1) the university is already paying on one dead horse (Pflu) so why in the world would they fire coach D, then hire a new coach. They would for some time anyway be paying three head coaching salaries. I dont care how bad of a coach he is they're not going to do that, just bad business. Number 2) the program, while to many of you sunday morning quarterback who comment on articles like these and think the know the best way to to do things is not in complete disarray. those kids love that coach, they trust him, and they want him to be there next season. a fire and new hire would put us right back at square one again. This is the same type of stuff that was being said after Pflu's first season, and nearly everyone of you would have had him as the coach of this team this season if you could have. When stuff goes wrong you just dont quite and start over, you see it through and make it better. So far all of you who wished for coach D to get fired, it was never even a consideration. It was decided a long time ago that he was going to be coach for at least another year, so its time to stop complaining.


UMalumnus - Don't waste your time trying to instill wisdom on these Wal-Mart Griz and so called Griz football program supporters. They need to get a life!!! As a supporter of the "Other School", maybe 16 years of 500 football will bring them around to appreciating what a foundation the Griz program actually has. Coach D is a stop gap to get your house back in order and he should be praised for stepping into this mess. There is not a high caliber coach out there that will touch your program until the NCCA is done with your football program. I would like to see one of these naysayers do Coach D's job! Coach D truly does have Maroon and Grey flowing through his blood to put up with these Wal-Mart Griz on a daily basis.


Umalumnus - you are crazy dude. Our new AD just flunked his first test. Mick needs to do the right thing and resign. He said when he was hired that if he was having as much fun then as he was now, he would want to stay longer. Well, if he's having fun now, he's as crazy as you. UMalumnus, you obviously like being a second rate team, and since you are a graduate of a second rate school, it all makes sense. Montana Nation will not stand for losing teams, remember the basketball team in the past? When they win they get a good crowd, but when they don't, the women's team outdraws them. But since you are a graduate of a second rate school, perhaps you didn't get the proper education to be able to figure that all out. Too bad for you and now too bad for Griz Nation.

Bass Whacker

Oh Please! Take off the blinders and the pom poms for just a moment. You don't have to be a former coach or a Griz hater to see what a miserable job this head coach did ths year. He made the same mistakes over 20 years a go at Western and NEVER had a head coaching job after that. Coincidence? Hardly. By the way I have an undergraduate and a doctorate degree from UM and have followed the Griz since the days of Rocky Klever and Guy Bingham. I know good coaching when I see it and bad coaching when it's there. Yeah, there was adversity this year but these talented kids were left with 4 of 6 losses directly at the hands of the coaching staff, Delaney in particular. I want a new coach precisely because I don't want to see the demise of the program. And please tell us what this guy brings to the table recruiting wise? Another big goose egg. I'm hoping this AD letter was just the offering to Delaney to let him save face and resign, the sooner the better.


I couldn't be more surprised. This decision suggests to me that there are more shoes yet to drop regarding the ongoing investigation of this program, and UM can't consider hiring a new coach until all of that is settled. Mick Delaney deserves credit for coming into a bad situation and doing what he could with this team, but we need a coach for the long haul.

Still Here

Can someone tell me why an investigation takes so long? This dark cloud will have an affect on recruiting new students / players as well as coaches. I really believe that an investigation needs to be done On the NCAA and what do they do with all the money they handle.


Let's next year when Mick takes to the playoffs people will be crying and begging him to stay. I remember phlugrads first couple of games people were wanting him fired. Mick is a class act and come this time next all the haters will be hating that the Griz are back on top.


A class act has nothing to do with it. And is it a class act to say that his team played as well as they could have in their loss to the Cats? It sounds to me like he never thought we could win. There are a lot of class acts in coaching - most as assistants. Head coaches are hired to win and run a strong program. And if any of you think the Grizzly Football Team issues are unique to Montana, then you are all just nuts. This stuff goes on in every single university or high school in the country. And President Royce and his minions who think we're a first rate school and downplay athletics will soon see the light when the donations continue to dry up. The foundation is hurting, as money has dropped and it's not just the recession.


First of all, it does not matter, and is a ridiculous statement to ask people that comment here,l if they ever coached football before as they comment on the obvious. A person does not have to have coached football to be an astute fan and see what is in front of their face. Many of us also are still upset over the way Engstrom fired O'Day and Phlu. At a 7:30 AM meeting in front of other staff? Really? Without explanation to the thousands who pay for the program. Really? You could not just call them in your office and explain this in private and make an announcement? That was our first clue things were seriously flawed over at the U. Other than the allegations against a few, and I stress, a few of the players. Delaney was probably a good pic to get us through this NCAA investigation but I am sorry, fans are going to express their opinions based on what they see. Yes, this team was very young. Not to mention losing our coach and AD we also lost one of the best defensive coordinators in the country to Washington State. But to sit here and chastise and call people haters because they express an opinion is just stupid and not dealing with the reality in front of our eyes. Many of us are not bblind followers ofg the Griz. We love the Griz and this program but the bottom line is, if your going to make deals with the disgraceful Big Sky and take our football away ( can't watch the playoffs without paying for the game on ESPN 3??? ) Money is the motivating factor in college football today and most of us realistic fans know that. if your going to charge the prices and generate the revenue, you have to put out a product. That simple. Delaney is not the caliber coach we need at the a program like this. We need results and I am sure if we have another season like this year much will change. But please don't say we are haters for being critical of the Griz program and Engstrom. He has shown me nothing and is on course to set this program, that many of us have worked with and for for many years, back a decade or more.. That is a fact and sorry some of you are to blind in your pom pom waving to see it.


UMAllumnus take off the rose colored glasses. Coach D has made some awful coaching decisions this year. His offense stalls when the other teams make adjustments. His creativity on offense is severely lacking. Notice how the Giz come out strong but yet don't make any progress after the other teams defense figures out what he is doing. How hard is it to stop the screen pass? Not very when that is 80% of the teams passes. On the other side of the ball when you show experienced quarterbacks the same defense over and over again they are going to find the holes in it. How do you think eastern Washington and North Dakota beat us down field. Coach D does not have a strong prevent scheme. Our corners were constantly beat down field, this is a coaching error not a player error. Our corners were slower than the wide receivers. You can't constantly sit in man to man in that situation. I don't think we are in trouble for 10 years but I expect us to be at the bottom of the big sky for at least the next 6. And that is if we get rid of him next year and hire a coach that understands the current schemes in college football. This is not high school, a good coach has to make changes.


Tell me, which one of you had coached football before. Didn't think so. So shut your mouths. Considering the junk that this paper and "fans" like you heaped upon this team before the season even began, 5 wins is an accomplishment. Add to that this year's team was incredibly young, yeah 5 wins is an accomplishment. Fact is people like you two have been cheering for the team's demise, for the university's demise all year so take your hate elsewhere.


Haslam just guaranteed the demise of Griz football for at least the next ten years, just like his puppetmaster Engstrom wanted.


They might not be able to or want to fire him, but the old fella should do the honorable thing and just resign. Good luck recruiting after a season of losing games that should not have been lost, due to bad play calling, clock mismanagement and not having the right personel in the game. Not going to be able to put 26,000 people in the stands with more poor coaching and a another losing season

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