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Bob Stitt

Bob Stitt's three-year reign as Montana football coach came to an end in 2017 despite the fact his team won five of its last seven games.

MISSOULA — Former Montana football coach Bob Stitt is now a Bobcat – a Texas State Bobcat.

Stitt, who was the Griz head coach from 2015-17, was hired as the offensive coordinator at Texas State, an FBS program, earlier this week. He said he had three offers to be a coordinator.

“I didn’t know if I really wanted to go back to the FCS level as a head coach,” Stitt told 406mtsports.com. “I thought about it and reached out to a few people. But I really wanted to stay in FBS. I mean, this is the level that I want to be at, I think I belong at. Being a head coach for 18 years, you don’t have a chance to be an assistant at the FBS level. I would like to be a head coach someday at the FBS level, and it’s very difficult to move from the FCS ranks to an FBS head coach to the type of program I want to go to."

Stitt spent the 2018 season as an offensive analyst for head coach Mike Gundy at Oklahoma State. In his role as an analyst, he took notes of things he saw on the field and provided ideas to Gundy or the offensive coordinator in a consultant role.

“What it really did for me was validate what I had done as a head coach the previous 18 years because you’re really not sure how a guy like coach Gundy is running things,” Stitt said. “When we got here, I was pleasantly surprised to see that he had the same values and attitude towards building culture that I had the previous 18 years. So it just kind of validated for me that, ‘Hey, we were doing things the right way and we were headed into the right direction.’

“Offensively, sitting in a room with a bunch of great coaches, it’s the same X’s and O’s. I learned some new things. I think I helped them with some things also to maybe expand what they had been doing already. The Oklahoma State offense didn’t need a lot of help. I think I helped a little bit. I’m going to take some things away from my experience with them. But just seeing how the room works, the dynamics of the room, we had more coaches in the room on offense than we had on our entire staff at the other places I was at.”

Texas connections

Stitt will join the staff of new head coach Jake Spavital, who was hired by the Bobcats last week after having been the West Virginia offensive coordinator. Spavital coached under Dana Holgorsen, who Stitt had developed a friendship with over the years.

“He’s one of the greatest football minds in football, and he’s only 33 years old, but he’s one of the best in the world,” Stitt said of Spavital. “I know he passed on some really big opportunities as a coordinator at Power Five schools to take this job because he really was intrigued by what Texas State was all about.”

Texas State, which had been in the FCS until 2012, plays in the Sun Belt Conference, a non-Power Five conference. Stitt, who had coached at Division II Colorado School of Mines, had applied multiple times to be their head coach.

“I used to recruit Texas back in the ‘90s and early 2000s. I loved the area. I was always trying to get back,” Stitt said. “I applied for the head coaching job there three times and could never get the job. I’m really excited for my family to live there because it’s one of the best places in the country to live.”

Recapping Griz tenure

Stitt went 21-14 overall in 14-11 in conference play during his three seasons at Montana, including 1-2 against Montana State. The Griz went 1-1 in Stitt’s lone FCS playoff appearance in 2015, losing to North Dakota State, a team the Griz upset in Stitt’s first game as head coach.

“Probably the greatest memory was the first game when we beat North Dakota State,” Stitt said. “I’ve told people that it was worth getting fired just to coach in that one.

“That game was probably the beginning of the end because we … took a roster in there that probably shouldn’t have been able to compete with a team like that, but we tempo’d them to death and we went for some fourth downs and we took a lot of risks because we knew that was the only way that we’d have a chance to compete. We ended up being in the game at the end and won it.

“The team probably didn’t have the quality to do what people expected, but people expected us to win every game because we had beat the national champions. Probably would have been better off if we would have just lost that one by 21, and then the expectations would have been much lower. But what a great event. I’ll never forget it.”

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Frank Gogola covers Griz football and prep sports for the Missoulian. Follow him on Twitter @FrankGogola or email him at Frank.Gogola@406mtsports.com.

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