Sunday, November 23, 2008

The 108th Brawl of the Wild

Okay, so this is going to be another non-running related post, but bear with me. Yesterday was one of the biggest days of the year back in my home state of Montana. It was the 108th meeting of the mighty Montana Grizzlies (my alma mater) and the pathetic Montana State Bobcats in what has recently been dubbed by someone as the "Brawl of the Wild". Whatever you call it, it's a series that has been dominated by the Griz. Going into this game, the Griz led the series 67-35-5. Those 67 wins included a streak of 16 straight that included my 4 years at UM. The Bobcats did eventually break that streak and actually won 3 of 4 from 2002-2005, but the Griz had won the last two, so maybe another streak is in the works.

The Griz are currently riding a wave of 11 straight Big Sky Conference titles and 16 straight playoff appearances. The Bobcats glory days are behind them. They won a national title back in 84, but have done little since then (besides lose to the Griz a whole bunch). So far this season, the Griz had compiled a 10-1 record, losing only to Weber St., who they will end up sharing the Big Sky championship with this year. The Cats came in 7-4, but had won 4 straight games. In any case, playing in Missoula, the Griz were fairly heavily favored.

The biggest shocker of the game came before the ball was even kicked off. You see, the Griz had warmed up in their normal uniforms, which are maroon and silver. But, after going back into the locker room for the final pregame meetings, the Griz emerged from the tunnel just prior to kickoff wearing their throwback copper and gold uniforms, which were last worn in 1995. The crowd went NUTS. Apparently, this plan had been brewing since August, but the athletic director and head coach managed to keep it a secret until Saturday. Pretty impressive. Check out the pictures below to get an idea of the awesomeness of these ugly uniforms:

This first picture is the Grizzlies' current uniforms, featuring the "new" maroon and silver colors:

These are the old school unis:

Yeah, they are ugly, but they are ugly in the awesomest of ways. The story is that the Griz originally wore maroon, but that Jack Swarthout, who coached UM in the 60s and 70s, changed the colors to copper and gold after going to Texas to learn the wishbone offense (the "copper" is identical to the University of Texas' burnt orange). After the 1995 season, in which the Griz won their first national championship, the copper and gold were retired and replaced with the current maroon and silver. Seeing these old copper and gold colors brought back some good memories of that first championship year.

Not only did the crowd love it, but it seemed to give the players a boost too. The game was fairly close for the first half, but the Griz busted it open in the second half and ended up winning easily, 35-3. Today they will find out who and where they play in the first round of the playoffs. They have a decent shot of getting a top 4 seed, which would guarantee them home games in the first two rounds of the playoffs. The University is auctioning off the throwback unis today (and will make a buttload of money out of the deal, I'm sure) so we won't be seeing the copper and gold again in the near future, but it was fun to see em on the field for a fews hours yesterday.


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