On Sunday, the University of Wyoming fired head coach Joe Glenn after six seasons at the helm of the school’s football program. Glenn, of course, was the wildly popular coach of the Montana Grizzlies before he left for Wyoming. At UM, Glenn led the Grizzlies to the national championship in 2001. Before his successful career at UM, he also led Northern Colorado to back-to-back national championships in 1996 and 1997.
When I was covering football as a reporter for the Montana Kaimin, UM’s school newspaper, I had the privilege of working with coach Glenn. At the time, I was a nervous freshman with little clue of what I was doing. I distinctly recall how comfortable Glenn made me feel during interviews. If I left a message on his answering machine, he called back within five minutes of returning to his office. He’d ask how my day was going and then we’d comfortably ease into the conversation.
The Grizzlies have a rabid following and the culture surrounding the football program can be a bit intimidating for an 18-year-old fresh out of high school if not properly prepared. I can’t say that I was properly prepared. A fiery and aggressive coach, not a rarity in college football, would have made my transition into sports reporting a far different experience. Instead, Glenn spoiled me. He knew I was a freshman trying to find my way and he did everything in his power to help me get there. I never had to leave more than one message.
And Glenn was a great coach. His players responded to him in a way that’s rarely seen on the football field. It was utmost respect, yet he earned it without demanding it. He was strict on the sidelines, as any good coach is, but he was also – dare I say – nice. This shouldn’t be mistaken for softness. He just had an amiable personality and this permeated throughout both his personal and professional life.
At Wyoming, Glenn couldn’t replicate the success he had in Missoula. But I like what Athletic Director Tom Burman had to say in announcing Glenn’s firing. Burman said: “I want to thank coach Glenn for the way in which he has represented our athletics department and our university over the past six years. There is no finer man, no finer person than Joe Glenn.”
I appreciate that Burman recognized Glenn as the good guy he really is. In the end, winning percentages decide the fate of college football coaches. But I hope Glenn finds a good job elsewhere and I believe he will, if he so chooses. He deserves it.
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