The University of Montana and Griz Football lost a legend Wednesday. Former Head Coach Don Read died at the age of 90 years old.

Read's final act as headman of Griz Football was guiding the 1995 team to the program's first-ever National Championship. The Griz defeated the Marshall Thunderin' Herd on that glorious December day 22-20 after running roughshod through the FCS playoffs. Read's team dominated the previous three opponents, Eastern Kentucky, Stephen F. Austin and Georgia Southern, by a combined score of 163-14 with two shutouts mixed in.

Credit: Ace Sauerwein
Credit: Ace Sauerwein

The in-house Voice of the Griz Peter Christian got to know Coach Read in the 90s when Peter worked with him.

"I do know that he was very generous to me as a cub reporter. He was a great coach, and was able to find amazing talent such as quarterback, Dave Dickinson, who was a great falls product," Christian texted. "He had a brilliant offensive mind and was able to inspire the players to believe in themselves to the point where he led them to the national championship in 1995..."

I believe he set the standard for excellence for grizzly football coaches to come - Peter Christian

Griz Football Sports Information Director Eric Taber reinforced how great a mind and person Read was.

"He was a real good person with his players and with his staff," said Taber. "He was very well respected in the football community as well for his advancements of the game and the passing attack. He was sort of forward-thinking... he was kind of a progressive coach in that regard."

The news was confirmed by multiple outlets yesterday including Griz Football Twitter.

Ahead of the upcoming National Championship game this Sunday, current Grizzly Football Head Coach Bobby Hauck took to Twitter to share his condolences as well.

The success Montana discovered in the last 30 years began with Coach Read's teams. "Most folks would agree that Coach Read is largely responsible for orchestrating the rise of Montana football into what it is today, and really allowing us to be sitting where we are here in Texas getting ready to play for a National Championship."

With the National Championship just a few days away, the cruel irony of the timing of this looms large, but Taber knows Coach Read will be tuning in.

"I know Coach would've watched our win over North Dakota State and had a real big smile on his face. We wish we could've got one more for him to see, but we know he will be watching down from a better place as we play in the Championship this week."

Our thoughts and condolences go out to his family, players, coaches and all those in Coach Read's life.

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