Posted: Jul 27, 2012 9:36 AM by Derek Buerkle - KPAX Sports
Updated: Jul 27, 2012 9:39 AM
MISSOULA- Throw away that interim tag, Mick Delaney is the head coach of the Montana Grizzlies. The Butte native just signed a contract to lead the boys in Missoula through the next two seasons and after a spring and summer full of controversy, the Griz Athletic Department finally celebrated Thursday.
"This situation today for a poor old mine kid from Butte is a great opportunity. And this will solidify the state of Montana so they know that Mick Delaney and his football staff are going to be at the University of Montana. I can guarantee you that'" Delaney said Thursday.
Timing is everything and Delaney and the UM administration agree this is the perfect time to give a two-year contract to the man in charge of Grizzly football. They hope it gives the assistant coaches job security, the players a clear idea of what to expect, recruits the option to select the program of their future and the fans the comfort that the right man is running Griz nation.
"Over these few months he has just demonstrated a level of energy, a level of commitment that is exactly what we need at this time," UM President Royce Engstrom said during Thursday's news conference.
"I met with the team earlier today. And I think their reaction was all I needed for today, especially going into this press conference, to know that we had made the right decision," UM interim Athletic Director Jean Gee added.
"I told them this morning. They got all excited. I said, .wait until I start cussing at you. You won't be so excited.' But seriously, you know, you have to have structure. And you have to have continuity, and I think that's what today did," Delaney commented.
He becomes the 36th head coach in UM history and brings 46 years of coaching experience to the job, but in February, he retired from the game. Engstrom and others convinced him to come back after the dismissal of Robin Pflugrad and during the spring game in Washington-Grizzly Stadium he realized he never should have left.
"It was awesome. I just stood there and looked at those lights and almost 9,000 people, and said ‘hey, this is as good as it gets man.' I know I was re-motivated more than I ever thought probably possible. And it's been just building and building everyday since then," Delaney recalled.
Delaney also said Thursday that he expects his Griz to compete as their usual successful selves this fall, and he is planning on going forward with Jordan Johnson as the starting quarterback.