There have been dozens of men that have been selected to be the head coach of the Montana Grizzlies football program, with the amount of success varying greatly from one coach to another. There have been coaches like Dewitt Peck and Clyde Carpenter who combined to go 0-11 during the first half of the 20th century, but also some fantastic coaches along the way.
Out of the program’s great history, there are five coaches that truly stand out above the rest. These five men won conference titles, and two even won a national title. Here are the five greatest coaches in Montana Grizzlies football history.
5. Jack Swarthout
The first coach on the list is the late, great Jack Swarthout who was a quarterback and halfback during his playing days at Montana. Following his college career, Swarthout coached in high school and as an assistant at the University of Texas before being named the Montana head coach in 1967.
Swarthout remained the head coach through the 1975 season and finished with a career record of 51-41-1. He won the Big Sky Conference twice and was named the conference’s Coach of the Year three times. After 1975, Swarthout decided to go back to coaching high school before retiring in the mid 1980s.
4. Mick Dennehy
Mick Dennehy knew what Montana Grizzlies football was all about since he played safety for the team in 1971 and 1972. Following his college days, Dennehy spent many years coaching high schoolers before taking a job at Montana Western. In 1991, he became the offensive coordinator for Montana and was promoted to head coach in 1996.
Dennehy led the Grizzlies for four seasons and in that time amassed a record of 39-12. In each of those seasons, the Grizzlies reached the NCAA Division I-AA tournament and made the title game in his first year before falling to Marshall.
3. Bobby Hauck
A Missoula, Montana native, Bobby Hauck attended the University of Montana but was an athlete in track instead of football. He joined the coaching staff after earning his degree from the school before heading to UCLA for a few seasons. Hauck bounced around as a coordinator in the Pac-12 and Northern Arizona before returning to Montana to become the head coach in 2003.
Hauck led the Grizzlies to seven Big Sky Conference Championships in a row before heading to coach UNLV in 2010. He’d remain in Las Vegas for five seasons, then spent time as the special teams coordinator at San Diego State before heading back to Montana once again to reassume head coaching duties in 2018.
2. Joe Glenn
Joe Glenn’s time at Montana as head coach was brief, but it sure was notable. The Nebraska native played college ball at South Dakota, and that’s where he got his coaching start. After becoming the head coach at Doane, Glenn was an assistant at Montana in the early 1980s before landing a gig at Northern Colorado that led to him becoming their head coach.
Glenn returned to coach Montana from 2000 to 2002. In his second season, the Grizzlies won the NCAA Division I-AA National Championship by defeating Furman the year after they came up short in the title game to Georgia Southern. Glenn won the Big Sky Conference in all three of his seasons and finished with a 39-6 record before taking the head coaching position at Wyoming.
1. Don Read
Don Read spent his playing days at Sacramento State and was a high school coach before getting his first taste of college head coaching at Portland State. After coaching the Oregon Ducks, Oregon Tech, and Portland State through the 1970s and early 1980s, Read made his way to Montana where he served as the Grizzlies’ head coach from 1986 through 1995.
Read had a losing record in his career by the time he got to Montana, but turned things around quickly and led the Grizzlies to an 85-36 record during his tenure. In that time, Montana had four double-digit win seasons and five NCAA Division I-AA tournament appearances. In Read’s final season before retirement, the Grizzlies won it all by defeating Marshall in the championship game for the school’s first national title.