It’s been a bear of a Spring down here, with temperatures being in the steady high 90s. The heat is melting my imagination so for this week’s Mascot Monday we’ll check out another bear at Montana, Monte. Okay, I was a little influenced by last week’s news of Nate Montana getting a DUI there, but I’m sweating my butt off right now. Monte’s been around for a very short time but he has put up some impressive numbers in mascot-dom. This week, we’ll find out just how full Monte is trophy case wise so let’s get cracking.
It took an act of Congress to establish the University of Montana, as well as some back room politics for Missoula, but they got it done and opened the doors in 1893. In 1897, a young bear cub travelled under the ‘Bears’ mascot name. The name officially changed to the Grizzlies in 1923. The football team has been around forever, but it took until the middle 1990s for them to enjoy success. The Montana Grizzlies have the most FCS playoff appearances. They’ve done so well, in fact, that they’ve been to the national championship game 7 times since 1995, winning two of them.
So I mentioned the bear cubs earlier. Boy did they ever go through them. Every year they had to replace the bear because it would get too big at the end of the season to handle. Some of them were named Fessy after famed head coach Doug Fessden. Well, fans and administration eventually grew tired of taking care of live cubs and they decided to make a change in the 1970s. Was it Monte? Nope. The school opted for national brand mascots, like the Hamm’s Beer Bear and even Ronald McDonald. Even local business had the toes in the water, with Otto the Grizzly (for Grizzly Auto Centers) being to most prominent.
To be even MORE marketable, the school decided that Otto was too fierce looking. Thus born Monte in 1993. Let’s see how fan friendly he is. Much like last week’s Joe Bruin, Monte’s got the lovable bear mascot gig going. As a matter of fact, I think they have the same exact head. It’s pretty close. The fur’s about the same too although I think Monte is baggier. It’s a good thing he sports the team’s football jersey as well. The one thing that stands out is his American flag bandanna. Wow, he can become a biker in an instant with this. He has, actually.
That biker crowd he runs around with hasn’t slowed Monte down from picking up awards. Monte won the Capital One Mascot of the Year in 2002 and in 2005, being the only mascot to win it twice. He’s been in the competition more than that and just last year he was in the playoff like version. Oh, he’s also voted the number on mascot on some website named the ‘Best of America.’ It looks professional enough so it seems legit. I’ve heard of great mascots before in the past but I wonder why I haven’t heard of Monte, especially with all the gold he’s sporting. Maybe it’s just because he’s in the FCS and not the FBS.
At any rate, Monte is the real deal. Maybe it’s just me, but I’m thinking the bandana is like Samson’s hair for this guy. Take it away and Monte looks fairly generic. I’ve seen mascots tool around on motorcycles before, but when Monte does, he looks like badass. So props to Monte for staying strong in his young career. He’s a role model that Nate Montana should look up too. Maybe when he gets out of jail, he should hook up with. I know he’s got connections, he’s even done a Super Bowl ad with his dad, Joe.