Ex-Montana coach Don Read dies; led Grizzlies to 1st title

PORTLAND, Ore. -- Don Read, who helped build Montana into a Football Championship Subdivision powerhouse during a decade as its coach and led the team to its first national championship in 1995, died Wednesday, just days before the Grizzlies were set to play for a third national title. He was 90.

Read's son, Bruce, confirmed his father's death to the Oregonian while not disclosing a cause.

"He was a great person who touched many hearts and lives in a positive way," said Bruce Read, an assistant coach at Lewis & Clark College in Portland. "I can't tell you how many people have reached out."

Read's teams ran an exciting, pass-first offense, drawing capacity crowds to Washington-Grizzly Stadium, which opened in 1986 -- Read's first season. Under Read, Montana never had a losing season, won all 10 of its games against rival Montana State, and posted an 85-36 record.

"He was a great guy and great coach and he really got things going here," Robin Selvig, Montana's women's basketball coach for 38 seasons, told 406mtsports.com. "He was really nice and obviously he had some exciting football to watch, the way they played."

Read was named the Division I-AA national coach of the year in 1995, when the Grizzlies -- behind star quarterback Dave Dickenson -- kicked a field goal with 39 seconds remaining to beat favored Marshall 22-20 in the title game of what is now known as the FCS.

Read's tenure began a streak of 25 winning seasons for Montana football.

"He was authentic and cared more than the average person," Dickenson, now the coach of the Canadian Football League's Calgary Stampeders, told 406mtsports.com. "He was very positive. To him, we were an extension of his family. The point of Don Read is that it wasn't about the stars. It wasn't about anything more than the team."

Read wrote a book on quarterback development, "Complete Quarterbacking," that was published in 2002. He was inducted into the Grizzly Sports Hall of Fame in 1998 and served as the university's athletic director from May 2004 through July 2005.

Read was born Dec. 15, 1933, in Los Angeles. He played college football at Sacramento State.

Montana (13-1) plays defending champion South Dakota State (14-0) on Sunday in Frisco, Texas, for the FCS championship.