Some might mistakenly believe that last week was the biggest week in Montana with several crucial elections taking place to decide our state leaders. However, people who actually live in the state and realize what’s up know that this week is by a large margin the marquee week of the year. Welcome to Griz-Cat week.
This Saturday, the Montana Grizzlies will host the Montana State Bobcats in the 112th Brawl of the Wild. I am not writing this post to say that this rivalry trumps other rivalries in college football. In fact, I know there are several rivalries that are longer-standing, more important to the NCAA football landscape, and more people-encompassing. Likewise, I am not writing this post to throw out rivalry clichés and tell terrible rivalry jokes. Everyone can say that “anything can happen in a rivalry game,” and to “throw out all records come Saturday” and everyone can uncreatively insert Team A into a space and Team B into another space to retell some of the lamest, most overused jokes in sports. Make it be known, I am not writing this post to signal out this rivalry amongst others or to get cute.
I am writing tonight to convey two things: First, I want to briefly touch on how important this game is to the state of Montana. Second, I want to explain how this is one of the best weeks to be part of Grizzly Athletics.
Again, as I mentioned above, I am not going to rank this rivalry or match it up against the countless others in the country. Rather, I just want to talk about what it means to the people who actually experience it, the people who live in the great state of Montana. With no major professional sports teams and only two major state colleges, the annual Brawl of the Wild is a match up between the two powers of the state. Fans bring their Grizzly/Bobcat allegiances that they have developed over the years from their family, friends, and geographic location and pour it all into this week, culminating in a football game on Saturday. People in this state grew up to like one school and hate the other. This is not Texas or California where numerous universities battle for state supremacy only in the end to have no clear victor. In Montana, it comes down to one game at the end of the season…every single year. It is completely black and white…your team either wins the game and gains state supremacy or loses the game and is the #2 team for the whole year. With both Montana and Montana State, much more is at stake than just a win or loss for the football teams. Attached to the final score, each school has its own politics, ideologies, and culture riding as well. The Brawl of the Wild is not going to attract ESPN College Gameday and it is not going to have BCS bowl implications riding on it but to the people of Montana, it is the event of the year.
Personally, I am as psyched as any sports fanatic can be for this week. As I said, this football game is the event of the year in Montana and how lucky am I that I get to have a hand in making it happen? Our Grizzly Athletics staff does this game right and Saturday is going to be a blast. Nothing beats the buildup in our department that occurs as each day passes getting us closer to kickoff. Right now, all eyes are on Missoula. Making this week even better, we have two basketball games as well. The Lady Griz play tomorrow night and the men play Minot State on Wednesday. Not a bad week at all on the campus of The University of Montana! When it comes to this blog I have become a broken record but I am truly blessed to have the great job that I do.
Griz-Cat means a lot to me. Last year I had one of the best experiences in my time with Grizzly Athletics. In the 111th Brawl of the Wild, our football team marched into Bozeman and demolished Montana State, 36-10. Ranked #1 at the time, the Bobcats had no answer for the Griz. Standing on those sidelines and watching the joy on the faces of our student-athletes and the coaching staff in the winding seconds of the game brought a great sense of pride to me that I still carry today. The Montana Grizzlies currently hold a dominating advantage in the series with Montana State at 70-36-5 and have a great shot to get win #71 this Saturday. Have a great Griz-Cat week everyone! Don’t Blink.