Words of Encouragement To Grizzly Players At Annual Awards Banquet – Gustafson – Buss Named MVP’s
What do you say to nearly 100 deeply disappointed student athletes after not only losing to their arch-rivals on their home field, but also missing out on the FCS playoffs?
University of Montana officials did their best to put the best face on what happened Saturday when the Bobcats defeated the home team Grizzlies by a score of 24-17. University of Montana President Royce Engstrom, Athletic Director Kent Haslam and head coach Bob Stitt addressed the players on Sunday afternoon during the Grizzly Awards Banquet at the Doubletree Hotel.
First, President Engstrom.
"Well, maybe the season didn't end the way we all wanted it to yesterday, but I want to reaffirm to everybody in the room how much I appreciate the hard work you have all put into this and every season of Grizzly football," Engstrom said. "Grizzly football is so important for our campus vibrancy. The excitement that you help to generate is a huge part of our campus vibrancy. In fact, you may have heard that the university just received the single largest gift in its history, $24 million dollars from the Franke family. Well, you should know that the entire Franke family has attended the last eight Grizzly Bobcat games in person, and that's been an important part of building that relationship."
Next, Athletic Director Kent Haslam.
"Let's admit it, we're not here under the circumstances that we like, but that's life sometimes," Haslan began. "You seniors, thank you so much for all you've done for this university. I would do anything I could to remove the frustration and the pain that we all feel, and I wish I could just suck it out of you and place it all on myself, but we're part of a team and I can't do that. I guarantee you'll face much more difficult challenges in the future than losing a football game, but I hope you'll gain strength from your brothers on the team."
Haslam went on to address the underclassmen.
"You returners, remember this feeling," he said. "Remember how it felt to have your arch-rivals carry that trophy out of your stadium on their shoulders and use it every day as a motivation to get better. I know I will, I'll get better, we can all get better. But, I look forward to what lies ahead."
Then, it was head coach Bob Stitt's turn to address the players and their families.
"It's definitely not the feeling that we wanted or expected," he said. "There's a lot of hurt and pain inside, and as a coach you want to help your players be successful, and it really hurts a lot because I'm so proud of our seniors and we wanted to send those guys out in the right fashion, and you just can't describe it when it doesn't go well.'
Stitt went on to address the pressures he and his family have felt in the past weeks.
"I want to thank my wife and my kids," he said. "Because on a football Saturday that doesn't go well, it's not easy having the last name of Stitt. For them to endure that and support me the way they do is tremendous."
Stitt called out the seniors for all they have had to ensure over the past four or even five years.
"You've had three head coaches, and that's very hard," Stitt continued. "Change is so difficult. You get used to something and then all of a sudden the rug is pulled out from under you. But, these seniors bought into our plan, they were the ones who made it happen. In three of our games, you take one play out and we win, and it's the difference between unbelievable joy and the worst feeling in the world. You just don't win every game, but you have to deal with it in the right way, and our seniors did."
Offensive MVP was quarterback Brady Gustafson, while the defensive MVP was Josh Buss.
Find all the award winners here.