UM's Evolving Fight Song

The storied history of UM's famous fight song


Dick Powell
Up With Montana sheet music


Categories: Alumni , Campus , Athletics , History , Research , Arts

Dick Powell
Dick Powell

One of UM’s great traditions happens immediately following a football game. The armored, sweaty gridiron warriors gather around a mic, raise their helmets high and bellow out:

Up with Montana, boys, down with the foe,
Good ol’ Grizzlies out for a victory;
We’ll shoot our backs ’round the foemen’s line;
A hot time is coming now, oh, brother mine.
Up with Montana, boys, down with the foe,
Good old Grizzlies triumph today;
And the squeal of the pig will float on the air;
From the tummy of the Grizzly Bear. [HEY!]

The “Up With Montana” fight song has offered Griz Nation its quirky, old-school lyrics for more than a century, and it gets noticed beyond Montana. In 2002, The New York Times did a humorous piece on college fight songs, and UM’s “squeal of the pig” line was noted.

Below: New York Times clipping of a cartoon depicting Up With Montana“At (UM), fans expect their team to devour its enemies while still alive,” said the piece, which was accompanied by a funny illustration of a gigantic grizzly bear scaring the wits out of a tiny pig drinking tea.

Perhaps the best recitation of the fight song took place in 2002 on the floor of the U.S. Senate. Sen. Fritz Hollings of South Carolina had lost a bet with Montana Sen. Max Baucus when UM beat Furman University 13-6 in the national championship football game. Hollings gamely paid his debt, and the drawn out “squeeeeal” in his southern drawl is the stuff of legend.

“Isn’t that something,” the distinguished South Carolinian said. “You say they recite that after every game? No wonder they play so hard.” (The clip is available here:

Thumb through a battered “Montana Song Book” in the Music Building, and one will learn that “Up With Montana” was copyrighted in 1929 by the Associated Students of UM. The lyrics back then were different from what players and fans sing today. It was “Old Montana’s out for a victory” instead of “Good ol’ Grizzlies” in the first stanza. And instead of “We’ll shoot our backs” it was “She’ll shoot her backs.”

The song is attributed to Richard “Dick” Howell, who studied law at UM. The first mention of “Up With Montana” is in a Nov. 12, 1914, edition of the Kaimin student newspaper. Under the heading “Howell Writes Good Song,” the very focused original lyrics were:

Up with Montana boys, down with the Aggs.
Old Montana’s out for a victory.
She’ll shoot her back around the Aggies’ line.
A hot time is coming now brother mine.
Up with Montanan boys, down with the Aggs …

The Aggs, of course, would become the Montana State University Bobcats, and “Up With Montana” was penned for the 21st Griz-Bobcat game, which the Griz won 15-5.

We don’t know much about the author of UM’s endearing and enduring song. UM Registrar Joe Hickman sleuthed out that Howell graduated from Butte High School in 1913. He arrived in Missoula in 1914 after attending one year at the University of California. His father was a very prominent Butte attorney and president of the state bar association. Howell’s transcript reveals a middling UM student, but he earned an A+ for music and the Glee Club.

Mysteriously, Howell withdrew partway through the spring 1916 semester with only a year of law school left. Then a 1921 Sigma Nu fraternity newsletter offers this nugget: “Brother Richard Howell was presented with a son during the middle of March. Brother Howell is in the business of selling steel office and theater furnishings. He is connected with the firm of Derge-Howell & Company of Butte, Montana.”

An online obit of Howell’s son suggests the family moved to Washington in the ’30s, but then the fight song writer mostly fades into history. The final UM document on him is a February 1964 death notice on record with the alumni office.

But whenever Griz Nation sings his song and those players raise their helmets high, part of Dick Howell lives on.

Editor’s Note: Anyone with more information on Dick Howell should email 



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