BUTTE — As his 24-year record at Montana Tech shows, Bob Green is a good football coach.
As it turns out, he’s pretty good at keeping a secret, too.
Green officially announced his retirement from coaching Tuesday afternoon. The announcement came on
campus in front of an emotional standing-room crowd packed with family, friends, supporters, coaches and current and former players.
“There won’t be nearly this many people at my funeral,” Green joked.
All were shocked and
saddened by the decision made by the coach known for his booming voice, one-liners and enthusiasm.
The coached insisted that Tuesday was a happy day.
“It’s a celebration,” Green said. “I’m going to celebrate and be grateful for each day.”
Green, 62, said he made up his mind about retirement
midway through the season.
He didn’t tell any players or coaches. He didn’t tell his wife, Pam, until they had dinner
Saturday night, hours after his Orediggers closed the season with a 27-21 win over Montana Western in Dillon.
Green said he didn’t want to go through the pomp and
circumstance that certainly would have come with announcing his retirement before the season was over.
“Players don’t need that,” Green said. “Coaches don’t need that. They need to worry about beating Western, beating Carroll.”
Green said he didn’t want to be a “grouchy old coach.”
“That’s not me,” he said. “I’m ready to go.
“There’s one coach who is undefeated. That’s Father Time.”
Green thanked school
officials past and present for their support over the years.
He thanked workers at every level at Montana Tech — from the faculty to the food service employees to the staff at the dorms to the grounds keepers.
He thanked his players and his family.
“The lovely and talented Pam Green,” the coach said of his wife. “She’s been with me for every play I coached for 37 years. She’s the anchor of the Green family. The man of the house wears panty hose. I want to thank Pam and thank my family.”
Green’s decision comes after the Orediggers finished the 2010 season with a 5-6 record overall, 5-5 in the Frontier
Green was adamant that he wasn’t forced into retirement.
“It’s my decision. I have not been forced or encouraged in any way,” he said. “The stars are aligned. It’s the perfect time.
“I know a little about a lot of things, but I know a lot about some things. I know Bob Green. I’ve been around him his whole life.”
Montana Tech Athletic Director Joe McClafferty said Green told him of the decision at meeting Monday afternoon.
“Bob stopped me last
Monday in the hall and said I want to meet with you and the chancellor next Monday,” McClafferty said.
“I was guessing the whole week what he wanted. I had no inclination that he was going to retire as I watched him go
practice throughout the week, as I watched him go through his routine, as I watched him coach the Western game on the
sideline. I didn’t think that’s what he had in mind.”
Chancellor Frank Gilmore participated in the Monday meeting via telephone. He couldn’t attend Tuesday’s press conference because he’s going through chemotherapy to fight cancer.
Doug Abbott, Tech’s vice chancellor for academic affairs, stood in for Gilmore.
“Montana Tech owes a tremendous debt of gratitude to coach Bob Green for his years of service on this campus,” Abbott said. “Bob Green is probably the most recognizable face at
Montana Tech. When you ask people about Montana Tech, the first thing that comes to mind is our football coach.”
McClafferty scoffed at the notion that he could have ever forced Green’s hand in
“I think you’d be giving any athletic director too much
credit to be able to get rid of an icon like Bob Green,” he said. “I’d have a better chance of tearing down (the statue of) Marcus Daly off of Park Street.”
In 24 years, Green led the Orediggers to a record of 140 wins, 116 losses and one tie.
In the 78 years of Oredigger football before Green arrived in 1987, the Orediggers went 152-272-29.
“He changed the culture that existed at Montana Tech
football,” McClafferty said.
Under Green’s watch, the Orediggers placed second, tied for first or outright won the Frontier Conference 16 times. The Orediggers played for the NAIA national championship after winning the Frontier
Conference title in 1996.
Green, a former Marine and Vietnam veteran, also produced 15 first team All-Americans.
The Orediggers have 23
outgoing seniors on this year’s team. All 23 are from Montana and on pace to graduate.
McClafferty pointed out that of the 308 seniors Green coached at Tech, 293 graduated.
The coach pointed to his players’ success after football.
“One of our guys figured out how to make that oil stop
leaking in the Gulf,” Green said.
“They’re doing things throughout the world. They’re Orediggers forever.”
The coach credited his assistant coaches over the years for the success of the program.
“I’m like Joseph in the Bible. I lean on my staff,” he said. “The guys we bring in to coach are good people. That’s essential.”
Green nearly broke down a couple of times during his 20-minute address.
“Montana Tech is a very
special place,” he said. “It’s a wonderful place. It’s an honor to be a part of.”
Green will work at Tech through the month of June. He said he’ll help in fundraising, recruiting or whatever is asked of him.
Come July 1, Green said he’s not sure how he’ll spend his time that isn’t given to his three grown children and four grandchildren.
“I can’t lie to you,” Green said. “That’s all I do is football. I don’t have any hobbies. I BS with guys about football, go to work on football, then go home and maybe watch football.”
The coach said he has no plans to leave the Mining City.
“I lived in Butte longer than any place. My kids grew up here,” he said.
“I have so many great
memories. I’m the luckiest guy in the world.”