The Ups and Downs of Being a Griz Fan

By JIM O’DAY

Being a Montana Grizzlies’ football fan can have its real ups and downs. I say that not as a criticism, but as a fact.

Oftentimes, we forget these are 18- to 22-year-old college students who are giving it their all to best represent the university and a demanding UM intercollegiate athletics fan base that often refers to Washington-Grizzly Stadium as its “home away from home.”

As someone who spent countless hours with these young men and their coaches for more than 14 years, I guarantee they are doing everything within their power to please Grizzly fans. These players and coaches are spending countless hours preparing for the next game and are NOT quitters.

In fact, they are just the opposite. UM teams don’t give less than 100 percent, I can assure you. Some days, we need to realize, they just might not be as good as the opposing team. Some years may not be as good as others. This may be one of those years.

In addition, the many distractions faced by the program over the past year can’t help matters either. These people are human, and they’ve had a lot on their plate this year.

Yes, we have become somewhat spoiled. We have been in the NCAA Division I football playoffs 18 of the past 19 seasons. During that time, we were fortunate enough to qualify for the FCS/Division I-AA championship game seven times – winning the crown in both 1995 and 2001. Last year, we were a few points short of an eighth appearance in the title contest following the 31-28 semifinal loss at Sam Houston State.

Over the years, the program has had unmatched success under great coaches and with incredible heart displayed by outstanding young men.

Now, probably more than anytime the past 25 years, this coaching staff and team can use our support…

Let’s “Make It Missoula.”

Let’s go out and end the season on a positive note, while at the same time, supporting all of our other valued University of Montana athletic teams. Along the way, we can get behind this football team and help it continue the amazing streak of winning seasons in a row, which currently stands at 26.

— While UM and Missoula probably won’t be getting any positive national exposure for its football team this fall, another of the regular NCAA Division I FCS playoff participants will be. On the final game of the regular season on Nov. 17, James Madison University will host Old Dominion in a nationally-televised game on NBC. That should give great exposure to both schools, much like ESPN has done for The University of Montana and the city of Missoula in recent past.

— For those who might be interested in the latest on former Griz star Dave Dickenson, well, “Dicky” is in his second year as offensive coordinator of the Calgary Stampeders of the Canadian Football League. Last weekend, the Stampeders (10-6) clinched second place in the CFL West Division standings with two games left in the regular season. Four years ago, Dave finished his 13-year professional playing career, then went into coaching with the Stamps. He appears to have a bright coaching career ahead of him.

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Jim O’Day was Director of Athletics at the University of Montana from 2005-2012. Prior to that, he served as the Assistant Director of the Grizzly Athletic Association and later as the Director of Development  for Intercollegiate Athletics atUM.

Prior to returning to his alma mater in 1998, O’Day was the owner and publisher of the family-owned Western Breeze newspaper in Cut Bank, Montana.

Jim currently works for The Farran Group, a real estate development/ investment firm based in Missoula, MT.  In addition, Jim serves as a consultant for Epio Solutions out of Seattle, a sports based agency primarily focused on monitoring social media platforms for various colleges and universities.

Jim and his wife Kathy have three sons: Chris, Kevin and Brian.  Chris and Kevin are graduates of The University of Montana, while Brian is currently a senior at UM.