Montana St. ready to move on

It's been a tough year for Montana State football. They've had several arrests for felony charges and there coach was dismissed less than three months before fall practice was to begin. Aggie Websider takes a look at the program who is just happy to be playing football again this weekend.

"Bad boys, bad boys, whatcha gonna do? Whatcha gonna do when they come for you?"

Recognize the lyrics? Most of you probably thought of the hit TV show "COPS" right away, but it may also become the new school song at Montana State. It should at least be a nominee for the team's entrance theme this year.

In the past year, six Montana State athletes have faced charges ranging from selling cocaine to murder. The last of which led to the firing of former head football coach Mike Kramer. It all started in June of last year, when former football player John Lebrum and former Bobcat basketball player Branden Miller were charged with murder and kidnapping in the death of suspected drug dealer Jason Wright.

Former wide receiver Edward Sullivan and cornerback Derrick Davis Jr., have also been charged with selling drugs.

Cornerback Andre Fuller pleaded not guilty in March to similar charges after being accused of selling cocaine to an undercover operative in June 2006.

And this May, former Bobcat star wide receiver Rick Gatewood, and his brother, were arrested on drug charges and was accused of using scholarship money to buy cocaine from California to sell in the Bozeman, Montana area. The two were accused of bringing in 11 pounds of cocaine to Montana over a 23-month period.

"It starts with leadership," athletic director Peter Fields said at the time. "When you look at our football program's recent history, it is apparent that its direction does not fit with what this university is all about."

Fields brought in former Drake head coach Rob Ash to take over the mess, but taking over a head coaching position in June isn't easy—especially under the circumstances.

The team had already gone through spring practice under Kramer. They had already learned his schemes, and the players went into individual summer workouts practicing those schemes.

To make matters even more difficult for Ash, the NCAA doesn't allow any coaching between spring practice and fall camp, which meant that Ash had to wait until fall practices began in August, giving him and his staff less than a month to install an entire system. Oh, and then they had to hold two-a-days in unusually dry, hot temperatures for Montana which have caused wildfires across the state.

"The first week was unlike anything I've been through because we had so much to learn," Ash said. "Nobody had any idea what the schemes were, the vocabulary, anything. It was painful and difficult for everybody, but the second week was extremely rewarding."

The Bobcats held nine practices in the first six days but didn't start teaching technique or game plans until the final week of camp.

A&M quarterback Stephen McGee said he can't imagine going through that kind of situation.

"That's a tough challenge," McGee said. "You usually have the spring, then the summer to work together as players then come back and rehash it again."

That short amount of preparation time doesn't bode well for Montana State heading into the opener against an A&M team that boasts one of the top offensive units in the Big 12 this year.

But Ash isn't necessarily worried about coming out of Kyle Field with a victory on Saturday. I don't think there is anyone who believes that will happen. Saturday is about the game of football again—for the first time in a long time around this program.

For the Bobcats and their fans, that's enough.

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