- Associated Press - Monday, October 27, 2014

BOZEMAN, Mont. (AP) - Cliff Hysell, who spent 20 years with the Montana State football program as a player, assistant coach and head coach, died Sunday.

Dokken-Nelson Funeral Home said Hysell died of natural causes at his Bozeman home. He was 72.

Hysell was part of MSU’s first Big Sky Conference championship team as a junior lineman in 1964. He was an assistant coach for three Big Sky title teams and for the 1976 NCAA Division II national championship team.

In December 1991, Hysell was brought in to turn around a Bobcat program that had posted seven straight losing seasons. His 1993 squad went 7-4, and four of Hysell’s eight teams finished over .500.

“Cliff Hysell revived Bobcat football. He gave the program toughness and discipline. He brought back pride,” said Hysell’s successor, Mike Kramer, upon Hysell’s 2004 induction into the MSU Athletics Hall of Fame. “Cliff and his staff build the foundation of the program’s success.”

Hysell retired after the 1999 season and consulted with several college football programs. He also was an avid fisherman.

The Helena native began his coaching career at Great Falls High in 1966 and was a defensive assistant under Jim Sweeney at Fresno State from 1982 to 1991, before returning to MSU.

“Our thoughts go out to Cliff’s daughters Callie and Kristen, his family, and his many, many friends,” MSU athletic director Peter Fields said in a statement Monday. “His loyalty to the Bobcats and passion for the game of football made an impact on everyone he met. Cliff Hysell was a one-of-a-kind person, and everyone involved in our program will miss him. I will miss Cliff greatly.”

Services for Hysell are at 3 p.m. Friday at the Strand Union Building at Montana State University.

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