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Bobcat Traditions
The MSU Fight Song
Stand Up And Cheer [listen]
Stand up and cheer,
Cheer long and loud for dear Montana
For today we raise
The blue and gold to wave victorious
Our sturdy band now is fighting
And we are sure to win the fray
We've got the vim, We're here to win
For this is dear Montana's Day!

 

National Championships:
Montana State has a long and proud tradition, which includes capturing 11 national team championships. The national titles include:
  • 1928-29 Men's Basketball (Golden Bobcats)
  • 1956 Football
  • 1972 Men's Rodeo
  • 1975 Men's Rodeo
  • 1976 Football
  • 1984 Football
  • 1986 Women's Rodeo
  • 1988 Men's Rodeo
  • 1990 Men's Rodeo
  • 1991 Men's Rodeo
  • 1995 Men's Rodeo

 

"...a touch of the western, a trace of the Aggie and ... related to the mountains"
Montana State has a long, glorious athletics tradition. From the old "Aggies" that first carried the Blue and Gold into battle, to the Bobcats of the '20s, '30s and '40s, that endured long seasons and limited successes, to the glory years of the next four decades, Montana State's fortunes have been followed with great fervor for over a century.

Bobcat Tradition is who we are, where we've come from and where we're going. The following are brief stories, anecdotes, and accounts of times past that have defined what it means to be a Bobcat. If you have a story, anecdote or account you would like to share and possibly add to this page, please email Tom Schulz, Sports Information Director, at tschulz@msubobcats.com.

 

The Golden Bobcats:
Montana State boasts one of college basketball's legendary teams, the Golden Bobcats of the late '20s. The school's basketball teams had acclaimed fame throughout that decade by playing "racehorse basketball," becoming one of the first schools in the nation to employ what we know as the fast break. Montana State coach Ott Romney, a graduate of the school himself, pioneered that style of play, and by 1926 had assembled a team perfectly suited to playing an up-tempo brand of ball. Cat Thompson, Frank Ward, Val Glynn and Max Worthington for the heart of the Rocky Mountains' best basketball team, as MSC won the Rocky Mountain Conference title three straight seasons, besting powerful outfits from Utah State, BYU, Colorado, and Denver U each season. The 1928-29 team reached college basketball's zenith, defeating the AAU Champion Cook's Painters in a two-of-three series and steamrolling to the Rocky Mountain Conference title. The team was named National Champions by the Helms Foundation, which also eventually named Cat Thompson one of the five greatest players in the first half of the 20th century in college hoops.

 

1946: Charting the Course:
Before World War II, Montana State football tasted success often, but in small doses. The Bobcats did not record a winning season between 1931 and 1941, MSC's last pre-war squad. The 'Cats were 1-10 in that stretch against Montana, and were shut out for eight consecutive years. In 1946, however, things began to change. Comprised of war-hardened veterans, Clyde Carpenter and the Bobcats rolled up a 5-3-1 regular season record, impressive enough to land the team its first-ever bowl bid. The Bobcats tied New Mexico, 13-13. Although it would be seven more seasons until Montana State would again win more than it lost, that season helped chart the course into what would become an unbelievably successful period in Montana State's football history.

 

The Ultimate Sacrifice:
The 1946 team was special for more than its accomplishments, however. When it reassembled following World War II, its special mission was to carry the Bobcat banner after 11 members of Montana State's previous team, the 1941 squad, were killed during World War II. The only pre-war regular to play in the Harbor Bowl was Bill Zupan, whose brother Al was among those 'Cat gridders making the ultimate sacrifice. Others were Orin Beller, Newell Berg, Dana Bradford, John Burke, Bernard Cluzen, William Coey, Karl Fye, John Hall, Joseph McGeever, John Phelan, Richard Roman, Wendell Scabad and Alton Zempel, according to the outstanding centennial history of MSU, "In the People's Interest".

 

Kickin' Into the Record Book:
Frosty Peters was only a Bobcat for one season, but he left his mark. As a member of MSC's freshman team in 1924, Peters earned national and lasting fame for converting 17 of 25 drop kicks into field goals against Billings Polytechnic Institute, now Rocky Mountain College. Peters' feat was hailed in the MSC Exponent as a "world record." Rumors that Peters had a record in mind had circulated on campus that week, and according to the Exponent account, those stories were confirmed early. On the first play from scrimmage, Peters stormed through the Poly line for an apparent long touchdown run, but fell on the ball on the 25 yard line and nailed his first kick shortly thereafter. Throughout the afternoon, the entire Bobkitten team assisted Peters by falling on the ball short of the goal line. The game ended 64-0.

 

Reno H. Sales, Mr. Bobcat:
During his 90 years, Reno H. Sales was widely known as Mr. Bobcat. The generosity and devotion to his alma mater that earned him that apt nickname has also insured that he will be remembered by Bobcat fans for generations to come. The former namesake of MSU's Reno H. Sales Stadium, he was the only member of Montana State's graduating class of 1898. He was also a member, of Montana State's first football team in 1897. Sales, chief geologist for the Anaconda Copper Mining Company for 41-years, was a native of Salesville, now known as Gallatin Gateway.

 

Montana State's Most Visible Tradition:
Back on that hot early fall afternoon in 1915, when members of Montana State College's class of '18 were whitewashing stones on Mt. Baldy to form the block letter "M," they probably didn't realize that the fruit of their labor would eventually become the symbol of their alma mater, Bozeman, and the Gallatin Valley.

Three quarters of a century later, however, it has. Sixty male sophomores were excused from classes that day, and beginning at 6:30 a.m. toiled incessantly, according to the 1918 Montanan, until their project was complete. The project was unanimously adopted during an early-fall sophomore assembly, was completed the next spring. Upon completion, it was proclaimed, "May the M stand long as a symbol of our loyalty to Montana State and a reminder of what a united class can accomplish." Indeed, it has.

 

Cy Gatton and MSC's First Permanent Home:
Rarely on the MSU campus has one person been widely acclaimed as a hero. Such is the case, thought, of Cyrus Gatton, a member of the freshman class of 1915.

Gatton was a freshman football standout in 1913, a halfback who "was one of the hardest men on the team to stop," according to the 1915 Montanan. Born in Iowa in 1894, "Si" Gatton moved west with his family, was a star at Gallatin County High, and was a standout Bobcat gridder from 1913-16. In 1916, he transferred to the University of Wisconsin, and then volunteered for the army upon the U.S.'s entry into World War I. He was an honored war hero, shot down by German planes one week before armistice in November, 1918. His classmates pushed to get the stadium dedicated in his honor.

 

Rollie's Folly
The successful athletic programs of the 1950s were supplemented and strengthened by new facilities, among them "Rollie's Folly," or "Rollie's Roundhouse," the remarkable domed sports arena on the south side of campus now familiarly known as the Brick Breeden Fieldhouse. Renne's Fieldhouse, designed by Bozeman's Oswald E. Berg, Jr., and Fred J. Willson, was one of the architectural wonders of the world-the largest wooden arched roof structures in existence, and the second-largest building of its type in America. Anyone contemplating the construction of the 300 foot circular indoor stadium, ninety feet in height, cannot help but marvel at Renne's foresight, while at the same time perhaps chuckling at the guile with which the man pushed through a project many thought extravagant in cost and ridiculous in size. Here was a huge domed 8,400 seat facility, built for a cow college of less than 3,000 enrollment in a rural town of perhaps 12,000 to 13,000 residents.

.Once "Rollie's Folly" was up and functioning, Renne luxuriated in his success by showing off the facility to the state legislature. Those who were there at the unveiling recall the awe with which the politicos viewed it. Perhaps rancher-legislator Jack Brenner from Horse Prairie expressed that amazement best when he observed that it was likely to cloud up and rain inside the huge structure someday. And not a few agriculturalists looked lasciviously at it, if with tongue and cheek, as one whale of a bin for the storage of surplus grain.

Overnight, the new Fieldhouse revolutionized not only MSC athletics, but much of the school's capacity for extending its services to the state.

.Basketball now had, for that time, a world-class facility and the Bobcat staff responded by producing even better teams and by attracting better competition. Some truly great basketball squads from the West came to play in Renne's new facility, perhaps none sparking more the enthusiasm of Bobcat buffs than the extraordinary rivalry that developed between the local school and Seattle University with its All-American forward Elgin Baylor. MSC-Seattle games were absolute sellouts, and continued to be for years after Baylor had graduated and moved up to the pros.

.In 1960 the world middleweight boxing championship between Gene Fullmer of Utah and Joey Giardello, which ended in a bloody fifteen-round draw, was held before a crowd of over 10,000, the largest attendance for an indoor sporting event in the state's history. As the primary surface of the Fieldhouse was originally dirt- and would not be converted to hardwood for two decades-the facility proved perfect for rodeos, for circuses, and for football and baseball practices. The Montana High School Association found the facility much to its liking for state track and field meets and basketball tournaments. On one occasion, an eight-man high school football game was played under its dome.

.With staging installed and large audiences assured, big-name bands and performers came to MSC-Bob Hope, Louie Primo, Victor Borge, and the Satchmo (Louis Armstrong) himself performed to capacity crowds.

-- In The People's Interest: A Centennial History of Montana State University

 

MSU Legend Max Worthington
Montana State University lost a legend when Max Worthington passed away a the age of 93.

Worthington wore many hats, had a myriad of responsibilities and was instrumental in the progress and reputation of MSU for many years.

"Max has influenced untold numbers of people," said Sonny Holland, himself a MSU campus leader for many for the past 40 years as a football player, coach and administrator. "He was as fine an ambassador for Montana State that's ever lived, as far as I'm concerned."

Worthington garnered many accolades over the years including being named to Montana State's 10 greatest athletes by the Bozeman Daily Chronicle and his contributions to the school more than justified the naming of the basketball arena inside of Brick Breeden Fieldhouse in his honor in 1985.

Even without the athletic endeavors, his legacy at the school was impressive.

He was actively involved in student government; campus clubs and Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity while a student. He later coached the Bobcat men's basketball team for one year (1947-48) to an 18-9 record. He served as Director of Alumni for 25 years -- during which time he was one of MSU President Ronald Renne's closest and most trusted confidants -- and as Dean of Student Affairs from 1964-73.

Worthington was one of the most fervent fans and boosters, attending every home football game and was a frequent visitor at practice as well.

"He was a regular at practice and I made sure he got introduced to the team and he always said a few words," current Bobcat men's basketball coach Mick Durham said. "It's not hard to impress the team when you introduce them to the man the arena's named after.

"He was great guy," Durham added. "He talked about the old days like taking the train to Indianapolis to play Butler. Max just loved being a Bobcat."

Despite his varied resume' athletics is where Worthington really shined.

He grew up in Billings, where he played on two state championship high school basketball teams and tied for a state title in football. He was recruited to MSU by then coach Ott Romney to become the fifth and final piece of what would later be known as the "Golden Bobcats."

During Worthington's freshman and sophomore years, the 'Cats were a remarkable 72-4 on the court and the 1929 team was later deemed the NCAA Champions.

Though he excelled in basketball it was another challenge that drew him to Montana State.

"I thought it would be fun to go to Bozeman and see if we couldn't beat 'them' in football." Worthington said a couple of year's ago.

"Them" was the University of Montana.

At the time the 'Cats hadn't beaten their bitter intrastate rivals since 1908.

The one-sideness of the series ended with the arrival of Worthington.

In 1928 when Worthington was a sophomore the two teams fought to a 0-0 tie but the next year the streak finally ended.

With 7,500 fans in the stands in Butte, Worthington caught one touchdown and ran for another as the Bobcats won 14-12.

"One of the finer compliments that I ever heard for Max came from Schubert Dyche, that basketball and football coach back then," Holland said. "He often said that Max Worthington was the greatest athlete that he ever coached."

Being sturdy, strong and agile led to Worthington's versatility but his biggest strength was his competitiveness. He garnered a rare double as a senior -- he captained both the football and basketball teams -- but never had a favorite sport.

"Just never thought of it either way," he said. "I like both and always had the good luck and pleasure of playing with good players."

To everyone associated with Montana State and Bozeman, Max Worthington was not only one of the good players -- he was one of the good guys.

"Max Worthington was one of the greatest Bobcat supporters, ever," local restaurateur and Bobcat booster Phil Schneider said. "He was one of those jewels -- there are very few like him. What a gentleman.

"You hear the phrase that MSU fans 'bleed blue and gold' -- Max's entire soul was blue and gold."

-- Timothy Haas, Chronicle Sports Editor

 

Lone Survivor of Championship Team Shares Memories
It's been 78 years since Roy Homme suited up with Montana State's legendary "Golden Bobcats," but memories of that remarkable basketball season still bring a smile to his face.

"That was something," he said softly. "You bet it was."

The 96-year-old Homme (pronounced HA-mee) is the last surviving member of the 1928-29 Montana State team, which compiled a sparkling 36-2 record and was later selected as the national champion of college basketball.

As this year's NCAA Tournament reaches the Final Four, Homme, who was the only freshman and a reserve on the "Golden Bobcats," also doesn't need a lot of words to describe what put Montana State on top.

"They were awfully good," he said of his teammates.

The 1928-29 Montana State team -- led by Hall of Fame forward John "Cat" Thompson -- was well known for its scoring prowess and was declared national champion by the now-defunct Helms Athletic Foundation. The NCAA didn't officially begin crowning champions with its tournament until 1939.

Homme, who has been living in the Billings Heights for the past year with his son Gary and daughter-in-law Linda, joined the famed "Golden Bobcats" team under slightly unusual circumstances.

"He was given his place shortly after the end of the intramural series, having attracted Coach (Schubert) Dyche's attention by his outstanding playing," noted the 1929 Montanan, which is the school's yearbook. "In those games in which he has played he has shown himself to be a promising man."

Homme is in good health these days ("He'll probably live to be 160," said Gary), but he has trouble hearing at his advanced age and his memory is fading a bit. He can, however, still point to a team picture and accurately recall the names of his famous teammates -- including Thompson, Max Worthington and brothers Frank and Orland Ward.

"We watch basketball all the time, and football and baseball, whatever is on," said Gary, Homme's 66-year-old son. "He's got to where he really enjoys watching golf. He's a big Tiger Woods fan." A golden era In the roaring 1920s, low scores were common in college basketball, there was a center jump after each basket and the basketball looked more like a medicine ball.

But the "Golden Bobcats," with their revolutionary fast-breaking style and attacking man-to-man defense, defeated the national AAU champions -- the Cook Painters of Kansas City -- in two of three games during the regular season to help elevate themselves to national championship status.

The "Golden Bobcats" title team -- which also included John "Brick" Breeden -- was part of the inaugural group of inductees into Montana State's athletic Hall of Fame in 1986.

They remain revered sports figures to this day, with Brick Breeden Fieldhouse on the MSU campus in Bozeman also housing Max Worthington Arena. Breeden is also a former Montana State coach and athletic director.

While Homme wasn't a household name, he was certainly a pioneer in his own time.

"In those days when you take a young athlete out of Outlook, Montana, and put them on a team as high-powered as that -- a national champion -- that to me is astounding and amazing," said Gary.

In his later years, Homme was a teacher, coach, school superintendent, sold steel farm buildings and was a three-time state-champion trap shooter in the Senior Vet division.

"He was never satisfied with being second-best," Gary said of his father's competitiveness. "That's something he taught me. Whatever you do, do it the best you possibly can."

Homme said he "didn't stay in (games) long enough to score" many points for the "Golden Bobcats" during that glorious season, but the 5-foot-10 freshman guard was a pretty good passer and practiced all the time against the agility and quickness of Thompson, Frank Ward, Breeden and the team's other "big shots."

Thompson, Ward and Breeden were All-America selections on a team that outscored the opposition 2,293 points to 1,208 during the 1928-29 season.

"They would always try to make 20 points before we made any," Homme said of the reserves scrimmaging against the starters in practice. "We'd have a hard time scoring. We were the fodder."

Asked if that made him a better ballplayer, he replied, "You bet it did. They were tough." Eastern Montana roots Homme, who was born on Oct. 7, 1909 in Stady, N.D., grew up in Outlook and graduated from high school there in 1928. He was a member of the Montana State basketball program through the 1930-31 season before transferring to Brigham Young University, where he served as a student assistant track coach.

He graduated from BYU in 1934 and later earned his master's degree at the University of Montana.

Homme served as superintendent of schools in Antelope and Medicine Lake during the late 1930s and 1940s, where he also coached boys' basketball and track.

After getting out of teaching and coaching, he sold steel buildings for farms and ranches.

Homme also was involved in construction -- including apartment complexes and bowling alleys -- and sold lightning rods, metal awnings, insulation, boats, life insurance and televisions.

"Whatever was new and people wanted he got into it," said Gary. "He was a jack of all trades and quite a salesman."

Homme lived in Fort Benton for most of the 1950s before moving to Plentywood, where he ran the bowling alley for several years.

He lived in Plentywood for over 40 years before moving to Billings last spring. Part of a dynasty Montana State enjoyed a fantastic run of success in basketball during the late 1920s and early 1930s, compiling records of 36-2 in 1927-28, 36-2 in 1928-29 and 21-10 in 1929-30.

Gary, who played football and swam at the University of Montana, said his father once told him a story about how he and a teammate went out and ate a big meal before one game, figuring they weren't going to play much.

They guessed wrong -- the coach put them in and Homme said he was a bit sluggish with his full stomach.

"I asked to be let out of the game, and from then on I had a hard time getting back in," he said.

The "Golden Bobcats" of 1928-29 didn't substitute much anyway, and used their speed and aggressiveness to average slightly more than 60 points per game -- which was about 20 points higher than the national average.

Besides the one loss to the Cook Painters, Montana State's only other setback that season was to the Utah State Aggies 47-43. The "Golden Bobcats" also beat the Aggies twice.

Montana State defeated the rival Grizzlies 54-38 and 62-18 -- and won some of its other games by scores of 110-10, 96-15 and 90-28.

At the center of it all was the 5-foot-9 Thompson, who was the college player of the year in 1929 and ended up making the Helms Foundation's All-Half Century (1900-1950) college basketball team.

"He was just like people said he was ... elusive," Homme said of Thompson, who died in 1990. "You'd expect him to be in one place and he'd be in another."

While sitting at the kitchen table and looking over newspaper clippings and photos, it's obvious that being a "Golden Bobcat" is an accomplishment Homme is proud of -- even today, 78 years later.

"Whether or not he got to play very much doesn't really matter," his son Gary observed. "He had to have something on the ball just to be on the team."

-- Bill Bighaus, The Billings Gazette, published Friday March 31, 2006.

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