Just when I think the storm clouds over the athletic department have blown over and we’ll get some high skies and sunshine under which UM student/athletes can develop (as athletes and members of society), I see more bad news about a hunt for bad news, even when the story has potentially good news.

This isn’t going to be a rant about coverage of the Griz. In fact, I don’t blame sports section reporters mentioning the bad news at all. It’s kinda hard to avoid it, and to omit it from a story about the roster would be shirking their responsibility.

But while the NCAA and the Department of Justice are poking around the campus, the police department and the county attorney’s office, I’d like to take a moment to point out that there’s a lot right going on at our beloved University of Montana, and its athletic department.

Let’s start with good news from the campus in general.

Did you hear that in late June, Missoula businessman Jim Auger committed $2 Million of his estate to the School of Business Administration?  The money will pay for tuition, fees and books for “several” students every academic year through a charity that helps the less fortunate.

Why? Because, Auger said in a university news release, that he wanted to, “inspire young people to engage in service to their communities.”  And he hopes the recipients will develop a sense of commitment to their communities by doing public service work.

Wow. If I had that kind of cash to throw around, you bet I’d drop some at UM, but I can’t honestly say anything I’ve done in my life has been very inspiring.  What a great way to represent what it means to be an alum. I have some work to do to live up to that.

Did ya’ hear UM has helped launch the Montana CleanTech Alliance?  It’s pretty cool. The idea is to help promote growth and investment in the state’s nascent clean technology industry.

“The Montana CleanTech Alliance is a wonderful platform upon which the University can collaborate with both research and private sector communities to stimulate research and economic growth in this expanding global market,” said Joe Fanguy, director of UM’s Office of Technology Transfer in a news release.

Yeah, sue me, I see a good news release from UM and I read it.  Hell, if I see ANY news release from UM, I read it.

The point is, while it’s all gloom and doom in the minds of some folks who focus on one corner of campus, there is a lot happening in classrooms and offices all over campus.

But for the sake of getting back to what matters to most eGriz readers, let’s cross campus to the athletic department.

Danny Kistler
Pre-Season All-American

Because eGrizzers follow football well, you likely already know we have a pre-season The Sports Network All American in Danny Kistler.

You might not follow track and field, but I keep in touch with it. Forget that seven athletes advanced to the NCAA regionals meet, that Kourtney Danreuther nabbed two conference championship records in the sprints, that thrower Nicole Ennen won the conference discus championship and was named a school scholar-athlete, but that 24 of those thinclads helped UM to an astounding 37 student/athletes to the 2012 Spring Academic All-Big Sky Conference team.

Those ladies and gentlemen do their homework as well as kick ass at track and field.  This alum is proud of their accomplishments.

The non-existent softball team is more than two years away from playing an inning, but already kids around the region are chomping at the bit to get a chance to suit up or watch a game.

The tennis program has landed a hot-shot prep player from, get this – Israel.  I would love to hear the rest of the story behind that unusual signing.

Jordan Tripp will wear #37 for the Griz football team.

We stole a receivers coach at Yale to coach our tight ends.

The game against Appalachian State WILL be televised, and available for online viewing, after all.

And our head football coach hits holes-in-one while golfing for chrissakes. I hate golf and I can’t help but get excited for him about that. But it has nothing to do with his golf game.  It’s about the kind of guy he seems to be.

Coach Mick Delaney is saying a lot things that I, for one, am thrilled to hear.

“It’s about the kids, about the young men and ladies playing athletics at the University of Montana and getting a fantastic education,” he said in a Missoulian story linked here. “The direction is easy. How to get there may be a little bumpy at times.”

The direction is “easy?”  After all the accusations, investigations, finger-pointing, firings, etc, and our coach thinks the direction is “easy?”

Coach Delaney
Awesome Attitude

Wow, I love that attitude!  Here is a man at the helm of our beloved Griz football program whose compass will not be fooled. He knows exactly where this program is supposed to be going.

And I like his way of talking about his players. I’d be surprised to hear of anyone thrown under a bus after a loss or a poorly played game.  Here’s what Delany said during spring practice to the local paper after assessing his team:

“Now will we win 14, 15 games? I can’t say that. But I know we’ll show up the first week against South Dakota and play one week at a time, and put ourselves in a position that Montana always puts itself in – to win the Big Sky championship and get in the playoffs and advance to the national championship.”

He might have lost 23 players to graduation.  He might lose the starting qb pending the outcome of a decision on expulsion that has been covered well elsewhere and I won’t rehash here. He has new coordinators.  He has to lead the team through what is still to come pending all the investigations, etc mentioned above.

And his focus? The student athletes’ and their experience while earning a degree.

Are you kidding me? That’s a phenomenal attitude and I hope it’s infectious.  I sure picked up on it even though I’m a born again cynic.  I think a lot of coaches would be so focused on X’s and O’s that they might pay lip service to that notion, but he seems to have the players coalescing around it.  Not an easy accomplishment.

You know, our school president gets a lot of grief for a lot of things he does, and he might bring a lot of that on himself. But I tell you what, he made what appears to be a genius decision in calling Coach Delaney to lead the Griz outta this mess.

I can’t wait for fall drills!

The view from afar:  We fans/alum can be glad we have Coach Delaney to get our Griz through this. He appears to be saying and doing all the right things.  And we can be glad we continue to see other sports and departments around campus continuing to bring glory to the university. I think it all goes hand-in-hand; it’s all part of what made going to UM a great experience for me, what makes it great for current students, and what will make it great in the future.


GrizGuy is Frank Field, who has posted on eGriz since 2003