Montana football fans will never forget Marc Mariani, the Havre product who thrilled crowds with acrobatic catches and unforgettable punt and kickoff returns.

Even though major media sources in Missoula have proclaimed that former Grizzly head coach Bobby Hauck has already accepted the position, UM Athletic Director Kent Haslam has denied the reports.

That being said, Mariani said Hauck would be the best choice for a new head coach, following the firing of Bob Stitt.

“I’m a full supporter of Coach Hauck,” said the star wide receiver. “The number of wins speak for themselves, but more than that, the things he taught us on and off the field and the way he conducted business in the program really stuck with me and made a huge impact on me going forward into my professional career.”

Mariani, who entered the Montana program as a walk-on, said Hauck prepared all the players to excel on the field and in the classroom.

“He pushed everybody to their limits, and squeezed all the potential out of every player, including me, and the things that he brought to work every day, discipline and accountability, we were held to a higher standard.”

Not everyone shares Mariani’s enthusiasm for the possible return of coach Hauck. One self-confessed Grizzly fan, Lisa Davey, has actually started a petition drive to keep Hauck from being rehired, due to the behavior of some players on Hauck’s teams.

“I love winning as much as any fan, but I did not appreciate the players’ behavior during the end of the Hauck coaching era,” Davey said. “In the last 18 months, there were 12 reported incidents, and after he left things continued to go downhill and we’re still recovering from when he was a coach.”

Davey said things have changed on the campus, and there is an increasing chasm between academics and athletics.

“There’s a significant divide on campus right now,” she continued. “Academic positions are being cut because of the declining enrollment and the reputation the school got, and to say we’re getting a shiny new president and yet go back to the football coach that was a part of this dark history of the university, seems like a really horrible move.”

To see the petition that Ms. Davey has published online, click here.

As far as the actual hiring of Bobby Hauck, KGVO has maintained that there are only online rumors, a fact emphasized on Thursday afternoon by both Sports Information Director Eric Taber and UM Athletic Director Kent Haslam, who said no decision has yet been made, and no papers have yet been signed.

But, tomorrow is another day.

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