“I Didn’t Know Montana Had a Football Team”— How a South Carolinian Became a Fan of The Griz

Written by David Burgess a Griz fanatic.

By now any of you who read my first article are aware I’m a fan of the University of Montana Grizzlies. And of course, many of you will have heard of their upset of the Washington Huskies last Saturday. Admittedly it’s been a while since I was so twitchy during a football game. It was quite the win for the Griz.

Some of you may wonder how a South Carolinian came to cheer for an FCS team that few in my home state would know.

I grew up and have lived in South Carolina my whole life. Some may ask why I do not cheer for Clemson or USC. Even Furman University was quite the football school when I was young, winning a I-AA (FCS) National Championship in 1988. And in truth I grew up cheering for Clemson as a kid. My uncle was a football fan and he got me into football when I was five or so.

My interest in Clemson waned as I got older, and then came 1996… I spent three months in Montana that summer and came to love the state. The Griz had won the FCS Championship the previous year, and I knew people there who cheered for them. After I came home to SC, I began to follow Montana as a continuing connection to the state.

And that part is key. Those who have read James Hill’s article on Picking a College Team know that people have varied reasons for the teams they choose. Turns out Montana’s program had emerged as an FCS power, and their combination of growing success (they won another championship in 2001 and have more playoff appearances than any FCS team), mascot and colors were appealing. Add to that the location of the university and the stadium, it combines to be one of the best examples of American college football. Also, the FCS format of a real playoff bracket with more objective standards makes the season and postseason more interesting.

Credit: @Monte_bear on twitter

And did I mention the team is in Montana? Now I absolutely love my home state, and I plan on living here the rest of my life. But Montana (the state and the Grizzlies) holds a special place for me, especially considering I got to take my bride and our daughters on a road trip there four years ago.

For many years now I have been locked in as a hardcore Griz fan. I can’t watch all their games on tv, so I often listen to the radio broadcast. Side note—listening to a game on radio is absolutely NERVE-WRACKING since you can’t see what’s happening. And yet that is part of the fun.

If you ask anyone who knows me, I talk up the Griz often (seriously, ask James Hill. I am insufferable about them). And in a nation of people who love the highest levels of sports, an FCS team may have difficulty winning fans from giant nationally known programs.

In my early days of Griz fanhood I caught quite a bit of ribbing from friends and family. “I didn’t know Montana had a team,” and “Do they play in cow pastures?” were common themes. One friend from our church had the waitress at a local restaurant bring me a cup of coffee in a Grizzlies mug he ordered for me. Quite the surprise!

No matter what anyone says, I take it all in my stride because I love the Griz. And Saturdays are for maroon and silver.

Ultimately the point is, like what you like. Up With Montana!

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