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No. 37 has a special place in Grizzly football lore. It's the designation of a true Montanan, the heart of the defense.

No. 36 is much better known for his offense, though.

Offensive innovator Bob Stitt will become the 36th head football coach in Montana program history, athletic director Kent Haslam confirmed Tuesday.

"We're excited to get him here and excited to get him ingrained in Griz Nation," said Haslam, who received a signed contract from Stitt on Tuesday morning.

The new coach, who recently completed his 15th season at NCAA Division II Colorado School of Mines this fall, won't be back in Missoula until the end of the week. Stitt will be formally introduced Friday at 10 a.m. in a news conference at Washington-Grizzly Stadium's Canyon Club.

Stitt is the 37th hire as UM head coach, the 36th man to take the position though because of the two terms of coach Doug Fessenden (1935-41, 1946-48).

Stitt, 50, who replaces the retired Mick Delaney, posted a 108-62 overall record as the School of Mines' most successful football coach. The Orediggers were 10-2 in his final season before bowing out of the D-II playoffs in the first round.

Stitt's teams are known for their fluid offenses and gawdy statistics. Mines averaged more than 520 yards per game this fall, fourth-best in all of D-II, with almost 380 of that coming through the air. Not surprisingly, the Diggers also averaged close to 40 ppg.

Mines quarterback Justin Dvorak threw for 4,287 yards in 12 games as just a sophomore in 2014, 300 yards more than any other passer in the nation.

Stitt is also credited with inventing the "fly sweep," a high-percentage passing play. A wide receiver in motion crosses through the backfield as the ball is snapped before the quarterback pitches it forward to the streaking receiver who loops around the end on a sweep.

The play and Stitt rose to prominence when West Virginia piled up 70 points in the 2012 Orange Bowl utilizing the fly sweep.

The coach was first rumored to be coming to Montana late last week when news of the pending hire broke on Twitter. Haslam denied that Stitt was the program's main target because an offer had not been made at that time.

Stitt inherits the program after Delaney led the Grizzlies for three seasons, a span that included two FCS postseason appearances. The 72-year-old Delaney's tenure came to an end two weeks ago with the Grizzlies' second-round playoff loss at Eastern Washington.

A Tecumseh, Nebraska, native, Stitt attended nearby NAIA Doane College and played running back for the Tigers. He returned to coach the offense at his alma mater following a short stay at Northern Colorado as a graduate assistant while he worked on a master’s degree.

Former Grizzly coach Joe Glenn, who captained UM to its second national title in 2001, also wore the head whistle for Doane for four seasons in the 1970s. At age 27 when he was hired in 1976, Glenn became the youngest-ever head football coach in the nation.

Glenn was also the head coach at Northern Colorado during Stitt's stop with the Bears.

Stitt's coaching résumé also includes assistant work at Austin College in Texas and Harvard where he was an offensive coordinator before his hire at the School of Mines in 2000.

His Oredigger teams won three Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference titles, including one this past season. Stitt was named RMAC coach of the year twice.

The hire is pending approval from Montana's Board of Regents.

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