Former Tech football coach Bob Riley dies at 88

Former Tech football coach Bob Riley dies at 88

Bob Riley, who led Montana Tech to a pair of Frontier Conference football titles in 1970 and 1971, died June 22 in Huntsville, Texas. He was 88.

Riley’s obituary ran in The Montana Standard on Tuesday.

Riley coached just two seasons at Montana Tech, where he also served as athletic director and head of the physical education department, but they were two remarkable years. The Orediggers went 18-3 with two Frontier Conference titles in those two seasons.

Tech, which went 10-0 in Frontier Conference play in 1970 and 1971, advanced to the NAIA Division II semifinals in 1971. Under Riley, the Orediggers beat Yankton College in the first Copper Bowl Game in November 1970. Tech ranked No. 4 in the final NAIA poll following the 1971 season.

Both teams were led by All-American and Montana Tech Hall of Fame running back Don Heater.

Riley resigned as coach on May 24, 1972, citing “undue pressure from individuals and organizations and petty grievances.” He was 39 when he left town.

“I love the people of Butte,” Riley told Montana Standard sports editor Hudson Willse at the time. “I think they’re tremendous. There’s been energy expended on behalf of our program in Butte that I’ve never witnessed anywhere else. All the people up here ever wanted was a winning ball club and, when we got a winner they responded — financially as well as spiritually.”

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