Terry Dillon’s Night

By Mick Holien

Favorite times were recalled, team brothers and adversaries reunited and a few told as the Montana Football Hall of Fame inducted its third class with about 500 in attendance Saturday.

In attendance joining the fledgling organization was Sam Jankovich, Sam McCullum, Casey Fitzsmmons, Guy Bingham and Rocky Klever, while Doug Betters will attend next year as he was with his wife attending her mother in Florida.

Deceased honorees included Bill Glennon and Terry Dillon while Corey Widmer chose not to be included.

Some words from my honored induction of Dillon, one of two University of Montana football players, actually the institution was known then as MSU, to have their jersey retired.

In researching a bit about Griz running back Dillon it seemed like Déjà vu as president Harry Newburn was in the midst of deemphasizing athletics during his time on campus.

A member of Phi Delta Theta fraternity, Dillon ventured to campus in 1960 when Head Coach Ron Jenkins team was floundering, according to some teammates I talked to.

Three years in advance of the formation of the Big Sky Conference Montana was still playing in the PCC with the big boys so to speak but 14 games during Dillon’s tenure.

Remember freshman were ineligible to play during that time frame.

The five games the Grizzlies won in two of three of Dillon’s years were the most in over a decade.

He led the team in rushing his senior season registering close to 900 yards near the top 10 ever and his three-year total left him 14th on the all-time rushing standard.

He also was the team’s punter averaging better than 14 yards kick.

Drafted by both the NFL and the newly forming AFL Dillon opted for Minnesota but was injured early in the season and placed on the so called Taxi Squad.

He fought his way back onto the field for the team’s last five games and signed a contract for 1964.

Home for the summer, Dillon was operating machinery over the Clark Fork River west of Alberton when a piece of bridge broke sending him spiraling nearly 100 feet into the water.

Reportedly he survived the fall and was seen struggling for the shore but he wasn’t located until several days later.

His number was the first retired and an award for the top running back or receiver also tabbed in his name. The only other football player so honored is Dave Dickenson.

His work ethic and attitude are fondly remembered by teammates who described simply Terry was just plain a good guy. Just sayin’

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