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2022 Montana Football Hall of Fame: Jim Sweeney

Jim Sweeney MSU.png
Posted at 12:52 PM, Apr 25, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-25 18:48:25-04

(Editor's note: Each Monday for eight weeks, MTN Sports is featuring a member of the 2022 Montana Football Hall of Fame Class leading into the June 25 banquet at the Billings Hotel and Convention Center. Tickets are available on the organization's website.)

BILLINGS - He was born in Butte, America.

Jim Sweeney, the son of a hard-rock miner who emigrated from Ireland, was the youngest of seven kids and made the absolute most out of it.

Following a football playing career at Portland State he came home to coach high school ball at Butte Central and Flathead. It was then that Sweeney's notable college career launched.

He earned an assistant's job at Montana State before reeling in the Bobcats' head coaching job in 1963. Sweeney won three Big Sky titles in only five seasons before Washington State came calling. His first contract with the Cougars - $20,000.

Fast forward to 1978 when Sweeney spent an NFL season under the great John Madden and his Oakland Raiders, before spending time in St. Louis under Bud Wilkenson.

In 1979, Sweeney, who'd already had a taste of coaching at Fresno State, went back and found a head coaching home for 17 years. He won eight conference titles and help build the mighty Bulldog Stadium where his name is forever, and rightfully, etched in stone. In total, Sweeney led the Bulldogs for 19 years finishing as Fresno State's all-time wins leader with 143 victories.

Sweeney was 83 when he passed away Friday, February 8, 2013. His career coaching record was 201-153-4.