MISSOULA — As the Montana Grizzlies celebrated their semifinal win over North Dakota State, it was a full circle moment for the Hauck family.
As head coach Bobby Hauck led the Griz to the national championship for the fourth time in his career, there alongside him was his family, including his son, Robby.
"That's easily (one of the) top-three games in that stadium for me that I can remember," Hauck told MTN Sports. "And that might be number one, you know, there might be no difference between the others. So it's very fitting."
Robby's been there for them all, as a kid growing up in Missoula watching the Grizzlies dynasty in the 2000's under his father, and then again recently as a standout safety at Montana where he achieved All-America status in three seasons and became the program's and Big Sky's all-time leader in tackles with 482 for his career.
But like he never left, Robby was there to be alongside his father on Dec. 16 as the Griz made history.
"I'll always be a part of this program, you know, the amount of blood, sweat and tears that are put into it, and to just see everybody's hard work," Robby said. "You know, producing the results that we strive for every day here in this program is awesome. So it's phenomenal. I'm so happy for the coaches, and the players. I'd say, I'm probably everybody's biggest fan right now."
"It's great fun to have have him here, is great fun to have a lot of friends and family and, you know, our coaches, families, they're invested in this almost as much as our coaches are," Bobby Hauck said. "So it was great to share that with everybody and obviously my son was fun. My daughters were down there. It was great."
But now, the younger Hauck is well on his way to following in the family business: Coaching.
After finishing up his playing career at UM, Robby Hauck joined up with the coaching staff at San Diego State where he worked as the recruiting coordinator for a few months, but an opportunity soon came at Portland State to coach nickelbacks, as well as work as an assistant coaching special teams. SDSU had started fall camp already when PSU head coach Bruce Barnum contacted Robby, and soon, he was moving up the West Coast to Portland where he was hired three days before the Vikings' camp began.
"Trading the cleats in for a whistle is an adjustment," Hauck said. "But, like I keep telling everybody, I'm probably doing the next best thing, from playing on Saturdays to being able to coach on Saturdays. And it's a definitely different point of view being in the coach's chair compared to uniform.
"Now you got to you got to prepare your guys as much as you can to get ready to go and play. So that can be a little nerve-wracking, I understand why the coaches have some nerves every once in a while, because you're depending on a bunch of 18 to 22 year olds to get it done for you to keep your job, but it is a lot of fun. It's, it wasn't surprisingly, like as big of a difference or not what I expected. But it was, it was it was great.
As a coaches son, and coming from a program as regimented as Montana, Hauck said the transition was good and though the learning was steep, he picked up on it quickly.
"But in the end, it's really like everybody does the same stuff," Hauck said. "It's just a different language they're speaking basically. So once I was able to get my, my footing with all that stuff, I was able to pick up where I left off.
"Football players are football players, and coaches are coaches, they all want the same thing. And that's to win games and be competitive. You can always relate with anybody on that kind of stuff. So it made everything pretty smooth. And it's as expected."
Not to mention, Hauck competed against some of the guys currently on PSU's team, and now, coaches them.
"It's funny, I played against a lot of those guys. So whether it's you specifically, or the guys on the offense at Portland State, and they look at me like I'm crazy a little bit," Hauck laughed. "It's all about relationships that you have with kids, whether it's recruiting, or the guys on your team, you need to have a great relationship with them so that they know that you trust them, and they trust you.
"And then I understand what they've been through. I know, whether it's after playing games, I know how their bodies feel. I know there's certain things it's like, you know, whether it's a game plan. It's like, this all sounds great. But it's like can the guys on the team handle that and process it and be able to, you know, put it to use on the field. So I definitely think being able to be just removed from the game has helped me have a better understanding on what the guys are going through and what they're thinking as well."
The two crossed paths back in November when Montana visited Portland State, and for Bobby Hauck, he's enjoyed seeing his son get his start.
"I tried to talk him out of it, but his mother thought he'd be good at it," Bobby said with a smile. "So she was full support. He's off to a good start. I think that he's done a nice job through his first year."
And there's pride on both sides, as Robby will continue to learn and grow in his new career, but is also thrilled to see his father, his former teammates and alma mater marching toward Frisco.
"Just seeing everybody in the community so happy and proud of the Montana Grizzlies is great," Robby said. "And to me, it's like, you know, it's amazing, the people that you bump into, or you know, tell you go Griz, or nice job, or how happy they are for this team. So it's amazing, I'm very happy and proud for him.
"This is just another one of those kinds of memories that I'm going to be able to keep forever and we're going to be able to touch back on for really the rest of time."