MISSOULA — Bobby Hauck was a rather unknown coach when he got to meet iconic Florida State coach Bobby Bowden.

Bowden, who died Sunday at 91, treated the current Montana coach as if they’d known each other well for years. It left a lasting impression on Hauck, who also lost one of his mentors last month when former UCLA coach Terry Donahue died at 77.

“Losing two icons of the game is kind of a big deal to people that have been around college football. Both just tremendous individuals,” Hauck said this week at preseason camp.

“Coach Bowden was always friendly to a young guy that he didn’t know who the heck I was, and he was always gracious and forthcoming with info or questions or fun. Coach Donahue had a major impact on my life.”

Hauck got to experience Bowden’s greatness and generosity during multiple visits to Florida State. Bowden ranks second in Division I history for wins, led Florida State to two national titles, finished 14 straight seasons ranked in the top five of the AP poll, made 28 consecutive bowl appearances and posted a winning season 33 out of 34 times from 1976-2009.

“Coach always had the doors open, we got whatever we wanted,” Hauck recalled of his two or three visits to Tallahassee. “He was just an engaging, open guy, which is refreshing sometimes in coaching.”

Hauck received a more direct impact from Donahue, who was the UCLA head coach from 1976-95 and brought on Hauck as a graduate assistant from 1990-92. That was Hauck’s first coaching opportunity outside of Missoula after he coached at UM under head coach Don Read following his track career with the Griz.

At UCLA, Hauck got to see the work that Donahue put in on his way to 151 overall wins, still the most in UCLA history, and 98 conference wins, still the most in Pac-10/Pac-12 history. Hauck turned his shot at UCLA into assistant coaching jobs at Northern Arizona, Colorado and Washington, which set him up for his first head coaching job at UM from 2003-09.

“For me, he gave me a lot of guidance,” Hauck said. “He hired me first of all as a GA. It was just pretty cool for an icon like that to take a no-nothing from Montana and kind of treat him like he’s an inner-circle guy. From a mentoring and personal standpoint, he was just a special guy.”

Frank Gogola covers Griz football and prep sports for the Missoulian. Follow him on Twitter @FrankGogola or email him at frank.gogola@missoulian.com.

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