Analysis

Hauck’s return engenders confidence, apprehension simultaneously

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The return of Bobby Hauck as the head football coach at the University of Montana in December of last year was many things. Quiet was not one of them.

From the clamoring of a football fan base beset by recent mediocrity to the protestation of dissidents who experienced the announcement as an affront to the painful inroads made against violent and sexual crime; Hauck was a splash hire if ever there was one; for better and worse.

In the days following Hauck’s hiring the objectors articulated everything from concern to outright accusation against him. And those were addressed, though likely not allayed, by Hauck at his introductory press conference, then again when he was joined in a town hall meeting by UM athletic director Kent Haslam, newly hired President Seth Bodnar, and several community members including Lisa Davey.

Ms. Davey found herself both the mouthpiece of those decrying the hire, as well as the victim of defaming, web-based attacks on everything from her appearance to sexual orientation to intellect. The malicious comments were both disgusting and sadly unsurprising given the perceived anonymity provided by the Internet. Those aspersions also served as a stark reminder that whatever culture shift has taken place in Missoula, there is still much ground to cover. Further, it gave those opposed to the hire, justly or not, evidence that Hauck could be the inflammatory link to the dark underbelly of drunken, chauvinistic football hooliganism which inculturated itself in Missoula.

Ambiguity, however, makes assessing and assigning blame notoriously difficult.

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Ryan Tootell is the program director at ESPN Missoula. He hosts a daily radio show, Tootell and Nuanez, from 4-6 p.m. Monday through Friday on 102.9 FM. 

About Ryan Tootell

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