Sherry Devlin of The Missoulian reports Montana football has reinstated dismissed quarterback Jordan Johnson.
Johnson’s rape charge last summer was the primary headline in a tumultuous off-season for one of the Championship Subdivision standard bearers. Johnson was dismissed before the 2012 season, but was recently acquitted. His reinstatement comes two weeks before the Grizzlies open spring workouts.
“The lack of evidence was troubling. The alleged victim’s mixed messages and comments to friends cast doubt on allegations. The alleged victim even questioned events of the evening and there was no evidence that Jordan Johnson knew that he had sex without consent.”
Johnson’s attorneys filed motions for dismissal early into the trial, but said motions were repeatedly denied. The lengthy trial kept Johnson off the field, and in a courtroom for over six months. He has two years of NCAA eligibility remaining.
Johnson led Montana to the semifinals of the 2011 NCAA Playoffs with 2400 yards and 21 touchdowns passing, and another 506 and four on the ground. The former Oregon prep player of the year was sorely missed last season, as Montana limped to a 5-6 finish with head coach Mick Delaney using Shay Smithwick-Hann and Trent McKinney at quarterback. Neither was particularly prolific — the Griz mostly rode a multifaceted rushing attack to average more than 31 points per game, but lacked the added firepower of a reliable passing attack.
The sub-.500 campaign is an aberration in Montana football history. The Griz had a streak of more than a decade’s worth of playoff appearances snapped in 2010, but rebounded behind Johnson in a typically excellent 2011. Johnson’s dismissal was just one in a series of shakeups that rocked both the football program, as well as the city of Missoula.
Charges made against Grizzly football players, including Jordan Johnson, resulted in the dismissal of head coach Robin Pflugrad and athletic director Jim O’Day. Montana football is the main attraction in Missoula — the Grizzlies regularly top the FCS in attendance, and attract more fans annually than a considerable amount of FBS programs.