Montana Sports Information issued the following press release late Sunday.

University of Montana head football coach Mick Delaney will retire at the conclusion of the 2014 football season, the long-time mentor announced today (Sunday, Nov. 16).  Coach Delaney told his assistant coaches and players of his decision this afternoon.

Delaney is currently in his third season as the Grizzlies’ head coach, and has an overall record of 22-13.  His 22 career wins are the seventh most in school history.

With its recent 35-17 win at Southern Utah, Montana improved to 5-2 (tie, second) in the Big Sky Conference and 7-4 overall, and kept it FCS playoff hopes alive.

The Griz, ranked 15th/16th in the recent FCS polls, host the first place (tie) 12th-13th ranked Montana State (6-1/8-3) Bobcats this Saturday, Nov. 22, in their final regular-season contest and the 114th “Brawl of the Wild” match-up, in yet another must-win league game for UM.

“It’s a really, really difficult situation to be in, but after a lot of dialog and conversation with the administration, Dr. (UM President Royce) Engstrom and Kent (Haslam, Montana’s Director of Athletics), for the good of the university and Montana football I realize that they have to have somewhat of a long-range plan.

“I’m year-by-year (contractually), and sometimes it seems like week-by-week, just from an energy standpoint, and I always felt through my whole career that when the time was right I would know it is right,” said Delaney who began his coaching career in his hometown at Butte Central High School in 1964 and will celebrate his 72nd birthday in a couple of weeks (Dec. 2).

“I feel that now is the time, just from the standpoint that it takes so much energy and I’ve been able to manufacture that energy.  I think, for three years,” Delaney said.  “It’s time for someone younger with a lot of energy and so-forth to come in.  I would hope from my standpoint that somebody within the program would certainly be highly considered, but that’s not my decision to make as we get going.

“It’s obviously one of the best jobs in America, I believe,” Delaney said.  “I care so much about this university that I will do everything I can to stay engaged, still, from the outside in – whatever that may be.  We’ve talked about some things down the road, but that’s later – first things first.

“I never want this to be about me,” Delaney continued.  “It’s about Montana.  It’s about getting ready to play a huge game this weekend.  We’ll prepare to do that like we always have, and our coaches will have a great plan and we’ll see if we can go execute it.”

“Coach Delaney cares deeply about this university, football program, and the student-athletes,” Haslam. “He has been a steady leader and is a wonderful person. I know I join all Griz fans in thanking him and his wife Cheri for all they have done for the University of Montana and the athletic department.

“We will move forward with the search for a new coach to lead the football program,” Haslam said.. “This is a wonderful place to work and live. We have great momentum right now and I am confident we will find a head coach that can build on that momentum.”

“I will really miss all of it,” said Delaney, who has coached at Montana since the 2008 season.  “Number one, it’s the coaches and their families is my top concern always.  And then number two, or evenly, are the players.

“This senior class has just done a phenomenal job,” Delaney said.  “They were sophomores when I did step in back in 2012, and they’ve just worked so hard and hung in there, and been great leaders.  Even a year ago the juniors were a good portion of our leaders, along with the (Jordan) Tripps and (Brock) Coyles, etcetera, etcetera.  This group is a really close knit group, and they will remain that way.  One thing about college football is these guys will be friends forever and ever.  Certainly want to put our best performance on the field this weekend against State.”