22 Years Since National Championship Game - I'm Still Wanting A Furman Football Victory Over Montana
By - Roger Jewell
Twenty two years ago the Furman University football Paladins faced off against the Montana Grizzleys in Chattanooga, Tennessee for the NCAA Division I-AA national championship. I was on the sidelines on that chilly December night as a photographer/reporter following the Paladins. I've had so many press credentials in my years that I only have retained one, and it is special to me. The press credential for the game is framed and hangs on my wall today as a reminder of those days when Furman contended. Well, Furman lost that defensive war against Montana, 13-6 and we, the hometown media and loyal fans, assumed Furman would be back to avenge that lean loss to Montana. It has taken 22 years and Furman will get its chance to avenge the loss this Friday night on ESPN 2 in Montana.
Twenty two years is a heck of a long time to wait for anything. I'm 71 years old now and I think I just don't have it in me to wait another 22 years. So, Furman you should do the job on Friday night.
Twenty two years ago, almost to the day, coach Bobby Johnson led the Paladins in what turned out to be his final coaching appearance with Furman. Johnson left Furman for Vanderbilt a few weeks after the loss to Montana. Furman has played in three national championship football games (1985, 1988 and 2001) but December 20, 2001 was the last time. So, now Furman has a chance to do it again. After falling in this year's final regular season game to the terrible Terriers of Wofford, the Paladins earned a bye in the first round of the playoffs and then had to rely on a bunch of field goals to get by Chattanooga last week despite visiting the Mocs' red zone several times. Chattanooga went through three quarterbacks trying to defeat the purple Paladins but Furman held tight and won.
Good luck Paladins - make an old guy feel good and beat Montana like the boys back in 2001 should have done.
Now comes Montana who has won more national championships than I care to think about.