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COLUMN: Inspired hires, garden spots, sticker shock

by FRITZ NEIGHBOR
Daily Inter Lake | September 23, 2021 10:30 PM

After seeing the bill for Bruce Barnum’s beer garden extravaganza — $14,448, for 2,064 beers — I can only think: Why didn’t Jerry Glanville think of this?

Barnum is the current Portland State football coach. Glanville, the “Man in Black,” had an unsuccessful stint at PSU from 2007-09.

Both coaches tend to command attention. In an interview with with FootballScoop.com, Barnum talked up his recent nationally noticed stunt: Open up “Barny’s Beer Garden,” and give away some adult refreshments to fans during last Saturday’s game against Western Oregon.

“I’m thinking $1,500 for the season, not bad,” he said.

Then he made the offer on Oregonian writer John Canzano’s radio show, and while bartenders were careful to limit each customer to three beers, the tab got big.

“I was thinking Shawshank Redemption,” he said. “Drinking five beers out of the bucket on the roof, everybody’s happy, the pandemic’s over…” (and really, go find this interview if you haven’t already).

Did we mention that Barnum is the lowest-paid of the Big Sky Conference coaches? It’s true, and 15 Large is not chump change. Glanville, a head coach at Houston and Atlanta in the NFL and probably worth millions, could better have afforded it.

Instead he was visiting Glacier National Park, trying to find inspiration at Running Eagle Falls and later giving a historically flawed account of how the great Blackfoot woman warrior Pitamakan killed a grizzly.

Portland State is a team without a real strong college feel. The campus sits a ways from where the Vikings used to play, Providence Park. And after the MSL Portland Timbers kicked them out of there the Vikes played even farther away at Hillsboro Stadium.

Still, the school has had some dandy coaches: Don Read came to Montana from his second stint at what was then Division II PSU. Pokey Allen took over for Read and built a powerhouse before landing at Boise State and taking the Broncos to the 1994 FCS title game.

Glanville was a headline-grabbing hire, given his sense of humor and reputation. He was, or is, a sports writer’s dream.

He hired pass-happy Mouse Davis at PSU, and then he fired him. He walked into the Bulldog Saloon in Whitefish and found a picture of himself on the 1958 Montana State freshman team.

He also didn’t care for our Big Sky post-game press conferences; I almost always had to search him out. Then, as always, he was a quote machine.

“This ain’t Mingo Junction,” he said after a loss to UM.

One of his former Atlanta Falcons, a Griz alum named Guy Bingham, still lives in Missoula. I ran into him in 2007 and told him how Glanville proclaimed that his Vikings would be the hardest-hitting team in the Big Sky.

“Yeah,” Bingham scoffed. “After the whistle.”

So here’s to inspired hires. Barnum’s 9-3 season in 2015 is much better than anything Glanville did at PSU, though he’s 22-39 in his seventh season. If the Vikings aren’t the jewel of the Big Sky, Portland remains the favored road trip for fans and beat writers.

Pour me one for Barny’s Beer Garden; since I won’t get there for a while. The Vikings aren’t on the Griz schedule, but Glanville’s Bobcats play at Hillsboro Stadium Saturday.

Sports writer Fritz Neighbor can be reached at 758-4463 or fneighbor@dailyinterlake.com.