Another candidate has surfaced for head coach of the Montana Grizzlies, and he’s the biggest name in Division III since John Gagliardi.
Lance Leipold of Wisconsin-Whitewater has shown his interest in the job, according to a couple of sources with knowledge of the situation. He’s coached the Warhawks to a 104-6 record in eight seasons, including a 10-0 mark this fall.
Wisconsin-Whitewater is hunting its second straight Division III championship and sixth overall, starting with a game against Macalaster Saturday.
The Division III playoffs, like those for Division II and Division I Football Championship Subdivision, last five weeks. Division II also begins this week, and the FCS playoffs begin next week.
Montana athletic director Kent Haslam won’t speak to possible candidates, but hinted he’d name a replacement for the retiring Mick Delaney in a timely manner.
Robin Pflugrad, whom Delaney replaced on an interim basis in March of 2012, was hired on New Year’s Eve of 2009. The Grizzlies lost in the FCS title game that season, less than two weeks before Pflugrad was named to replace Bobby Hauck.
Brent Pease, the former Griz quarterback and offensive coordinator, also has expressed interest according to sources. Pease is currently receivers coach at the University of Washington under Chris Petersen.
Pease served on Petersen’s staff at Boise State for six seasons, including one as offensive coordinator, before heading to Florida as the Gators’ OC. He held that job for two seasons.
The Idaho native came to the Grizzlies as a junior college transfer and put together a strong senior season in 1986. Pease still ranks 11th on UM’s career passing list with 3,566 yards.
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Leipold is a Wisconsin native and former UW-Whitewater quarterback (1983-86) that is fourth in school history in passing yards with 4,277.
His Warhawks seem to be up-tempo: So far this year they’ve thrown for 258 yards a game and run for 215.
Leipold is similar to Colorado State-Pueblo’s John Wristen in that he’s a former QB who built something great at his alma mater. Both are reportedly hot commodities, and Leipold’s departure might be a relief for the Mount Union Purple Raiders, who have faced his teams in six championship games and won just one.
Leipold's name could rank high on a candidate list that also includes Eastern Washington’s Beau Baldwin, UW assistant coach Jeff Choate and Grady Bennett, the former Griz quarterback (1988-90) who is coaching Kalispell Glacier.
The Wolfpack is playing host to Great Falls CMR Friday for the State AA championship.
In fact, former Griz quarterbacks keep coming up, including Marty Mornhinweg, the Philadelphia Eagles’ offensive coordinator. The candidacy of Mornhinweg, or for that matter Calgary Stampeders’ OC Dave Dickenson, seems thin at best.
Delaney, who is 71, announced his retirement at the end of the season Sunday. The 7-4 Grizzlies have the 114th Brawl of the Wild against Montana State Saturday at Washington-Grizzly Stadium. The winner is likely to advance to the FCS playoffs.
Fritz Neighbor can be reached at 523-5247 or @Fritz_Neighbor on Twitter.