Stitt out as Montana football coach

Missing the FCS playoffs in two straight seasons doesn't sound too bad to a typical program, but that kind of disappointment at Montana contributed to coach Bob Stitt being shown the door on Monday.

Athletic director Kent Haslam announced Stitt's contract, set to expire in January, will not be renewed for the 2018 season.

The 53-year-old Stitt had a 21-14 record, including 14-10 in Big Sky games, over three seasons. Montana beat reigning national champion North Dakota State in Stitt's first game in 2015 and went on to make the playoffs and finish 8-5, but the perennial power missed out of the postseason the last two seasons -- the first time that has happened in back-to-back years since 1991-92.

This past Saturday, they fell to rival Montana State for the second straight year for the first time since 2002-03. The loss ended a 7-4 campaign.

"These decisions are always difficult, and I understand how this impacts many people," Haslam said. "I appreciate Bob's contributions to the University of Montana and Grizzly athletics. He worked tirelessly to move the football program forward with a focus on overall student-athlete success."

Stitt had a highly successful 15-year stint at Division II Colorado School of Mines prior to arriving in Missoula.

Montana went outside its program connections to hire Stitt, which hadn't happened since Don Read was selected in 1985. At the time, the Griz were still coming out of a period of negative national attention for the misdeeds of some former football players and the way the university handled sexual assaults on campus.

Montana is one of the more storied programs in FCS history, winning national titles in 1995 and 2001, and finishing as the runner-up five other times. Its program annually ranks among the FCS leaders in attendance, ranking second this season with an average of 23,535 over six home games.