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former1dog
11-12-2007, 08:30 PM
Could you educate us youngin's a little about Gonzaga's time in the Big Sky Conference.

The question got sparked when the graphic from the game showed our record against the Griz to be 100-48. I find that pretty incredible.

Zag 77
11-12-2007, 09:12 PM
GU was a charter member of the Big Sky Conference as the only non-football school. The other members during GU's tenure were Idaho, Idaho State, Boise State, Weber State, Northern Arizona, Montana and Montana State. GU competed in Basketball, baseball (which only some schools competed in) and some minor sports. GU basicall traded palces with Nevada-Reno to go to the WCAC (now WCC) in 1979. More history in the media guide at gozags.com. They say GU was brought into the Big Sky to give it some academic prestige.

I definitely remember that it was almost impossible for GU to ever win at Weber State, and the Friday-Saturday game schedule added to the difficulty of breaking through with more than one road win, if we were lucky. Getting homered by the refs, especially at the Montana schools,was legendary.

Birddog
11-13-2007, 06:14 AM
Gonzaga's inclusion as a Charter Member of the Big Sky was mostly due to the efforts of Hank Anderson, then coach and AD. He recognized that GU needed a conference affiliation to continue to grow. The Big Sky was an ideal set up for the time. Each member school had a nearby alter ego opponent. Idaho was the Zag's geographical complement. Other pairings were Weber St/Idaho St, Montana/Montana St.. This helped the travel budgets for the Friday/Saturday games. Starting in the fall of 1965 with the completion of the Kennedy pavilion, Gonzaga began participating in Swimming and wrestling to fulfill their promise to the other member schools when they formed the conference. IIRC, GU participated XC, Golf, Swimming, Wrestling, Basketball, and Baseball. They were exempted from Football. In those days, Idaho was playing D1, I don't think the others were, but I could be wrong.

At one time in the early 70's, N Dakota, and N Dakota St made overtures to join and I think the 2 SoDak schools did too. Not sure why that never happened.
Here is a link to the conference history.

http://www.bigskyconf.com/section_front.asp?arttypeid=229

Birddog

hondo46
11-13-2007, 08:34 AM
In 1964 Montana State won the very first Big Sky Conference basketball title with a 8-2 record. Our Zags managed a 5-5 record, beating U of Montana twice and landing both Bill Wilson and Billy Suter on the all-conference team.
The next season coach Hank Anderson added J.C. transfers Gary Lechman, John Brodsky, Jerrard Cote and Chuck Thomas to a core that included Larry Brown and Suter, Mike McChesney and Dennis Jorgensen. This group would improve to 6-4 in 1964-65 season and 8-2 for the 65-66 season. Gonzaga had good success against the Griz in the early years of the Big Sky but once Jud Heathcote got to Montana the Griz dominated the series. It didn't get much better after Jud left as Jim Brandenburg, Mike Montgomery, and Stew Morrill maintained what Jud had built. In the mid 70s a group of loyal Zag fans would charter a bus for the Friday-Saturday road trip to Montana and Montana State. In a 5 years span I remember only 1 win on that trip and that was the last year Gonzaga played in the Big Sky.
So Montana has been a tough foe over many years. It's my understanding that The Griz are our oldest series rival and that they were the team that Gonzaga wanted to play in our first outing at the MAC.

former1dog
11-13-2007, 08:39 AM
Thanks everyone, I love to hear about the so called "old days". :)

I'm guessing that our friend Reborn has some fond memories of the Big Sky days for Gonzaga.

Vizagra
11-13-2007, 08:42 AM
Hondo you never cease to amaze me. Thanks for the little trip back in time.

BobZag
11-13-2007, 09:29 AM
Hondo is da man. I remember Bill Quigg (Zag center on those Big Sky teams) that once, at Montana, he was dribbling the ball up the court and when he stopped a Griz player plowed into him from behind, not watching where he was going. The ref called Bill for a charge! That's how it was on the road at some places. I've heard visiting teams like GU could not win at Weber State, it was as if it was not allowed.