Smoke from the wildfires raging in California and around the Western United States settled into the Missoula and Gallatin Valleys earlier this week.
What is usually a symbol signaling optimism for a new season on the horizon (even if it come with poor air quality) is also accompanied by the promise of the return of students to Montana’s largest college campuses and the eventual clearing of smoky skies.
This year, the hazy smoke instead is symbolic of the uncertainty for what the future holds at Montana State University and the University of Montana.
Unclear days the last few weeks of August usually also serves as the precursor to the undeniable ignition sparked by the return Bobcat and Griz football. But this fall around the state of Montana, the college football stadiums will be empty.
For the first time since World War II, there won’t be a Gold Rush game at Bobcat Stadium in Bozeman nor will the cannon booms echo through the Hellgate Canyon after Montana scores a touchdown at Washington-Grizzly Stadium.
Instead, two of the most passionate fan bases in all of college football will be forced to wait until at least the spring of 2021 (and more realistically, until next fall) to watch the ‘Cats and the Griz take the field. Even when the smoke clears, it will be much harder than usual to see what lies ahead.
Photos by Brooks Nuanez or noted. All Rights Reserved.