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Column: Regrettable detail, remarkable season

Jan. 18—The most recent press conference hall of fame moment, where Tampa Bay coach Todd Bowles was asked about playing in frigid Detroit on Sunday — "You do know we play indoors, right?" Bowles answered — has me thinking about last Sept. 2.

Or rather, Aug. 28. That's the day skylinesportsmt.com's Colter Nuanez asked Griz football coach Bobby Hauck about the problems posed by a left-handed quarterback.

While Hauck was roasting Nuanez for that question, I made a note: "Butler quarterback Bret Buschka is a southpaw," and later included that in a preview.

It wasn't until after Montana's 35-20 win and Hauck was roasting me that I realized Buschka threw every pass right-handed.

That was probably the low point of the season for me. Hauck's came three weeks later, with the loss at Northern Arizona.

All that defeat did was, besides getting some Griz fans up in arms, galvanize the team for a run reminiscent of 2004 and 2008. Both seasons ended in the FCS title game; both times Montana lost.

Another defeat awaited, but the 23-3 loss to South Dakota State on Jan. 7 was almost a given. While the Grizzlies were pleased to return to the highest level of the FCS, and should be, the Jackrabbits were at least the equal of the juggernaut North Dakota State put together from 2011-21.

In fact some felt this SDSU team was up there with the Randy Moss-led Marshall squad of 1996; the Thundering Herd thumped Montana 49-29 in that championship. The Jacks were that good, and with no margin for error the game was nicely summed up in a little over one quarter.

First SDSU got everyone blocked and Isaiah Davis skated in from 6 yards out to give his team a 7-0 lead; on the first play of the second quarter, on fourth-and-goal, the Griz didn't get a hat on Adam Bock and the Jacks' best backer stopped Eli Gillman on a run from inside the 1.

Everything from there was pretty much academic, and by mid-third quarter some of us were thinking about the NCAA transfer portal.

The most glaring loss for UM was quarterback Clifton McDowell, who has drawn interest from Western Kentucky and has been offered by Temple University.

The ink had barely dried on McDowell's goodbye tweet when Hauck had another QB, Logan Fife out of Fresno State. Hauck does not like this portal stuff, but in these adapt-or-die times, he has certainly adapted. I count nine portal pickups, including a safety named Kade Cutler from Montana State

The Big Sky Conference career wins leader appears to have built the Griz back, good enough to avoid a Thanksgiving playoff game and get multiple postseason host opportunities thereafter.

Who says no? Nobody since the testy post-game interviews in Flagstaff, Arizona, on Sept. 23. I wasn't there for those, but I made a few pressers since. Questionable self-editing aside, I plan to keep going.

Fritz Neighbor can be reached at 758-4463 or at fneighbor@dailyinterlake.com