Griz Greats: The 20th Anniversary of the 2001 National Champions

Vince Huntsberger

Griz Greats: The 20th Anniversary of the 2001 National Champion Grizzlies brought to you by Blackfoot Communications and First Security Bank is a long form interview series hosted Colter Nuanez of ESPN Missoula chronicling the oral history of the University of Montana’s 2001 Division I-AA football championship, the last national championship captured by the Griz.

The Griz football program has established a reputation as one of the most dominant in the history of small-school college football over the last 35 years. When the Griz captured the first national title in school history in 1995, the program reached a new stratosphere.

Despite the retirement of Don Read in the spring of 1996 and Mick Dennehy’s departure to become the head coach at Utah State before the 2000 season, Montana did not skip a beat. Instead, head coach Joe Glenn came to town and rolled to a 39-6 record that included a trip to the 2000 national title game (the Griz fell 28-25 to Georgia Southern) and the 2001 national championship season, capped by a 13-6 win over Furman in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

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The disappointments of 2000 turned to triumph in 2001 as the Grizzlies raced to 14 consecutive victories, including a 16th straight win over rival Montana State, thrilling overtime victories over Eastern Washington and Idaho and an unforgettable streak through the playoffs. The distinctly Montana flavor of UM’s roster, from the quarterback known simply as “Johnny Montana” to an offensive line featuring five in-state born and bred players to a safety from Libby who ended up getting a vote for the Heisman Trophy, the 2001 Grizzlies and the stories behind that unforgettable season are the stuff of legend.

Nuanez will present 20 interviews with former players, coaches, administrators, media members, Missoula and Montana community leaders and much more to unveil unprecedented run of domination that peaked in the last national championship captured by the Griz. First Security Bank, Blackfoot Communications and ESPN Missoula hope you enjoy Griz Greats – the 20th Anniversary of the 2001 national champion Grizzlies.

For every Griz Greats episode click here