Football in the rear-view mirror

By JIM O’DAY

Another football season has come and gone for the Montana Grizzlies.  While it was a tough year for the local university squad, 2012 will be well remembered for the successes of the area high school teams.  Congratulations go out to State B champion Missoula Loyola, as well as State Class C 8-Man Champ Superior and State Class C 6-Man Football Champion Hot Springs.  All are to be commended for outstanding seasons on the gridiron.

Before moving on, the University of Montana women’s soccer team should be acknowledged for a sensational season, tying with Idaho State and Portland State for the Big Sky Conference regular-season championship, and a second-place finish in the league tourney.  Although the local squad didn’t advance to the NCAA tournament for a second consecutive year, it did have very impressive statistics, and only fell short in the title match, losing 4-3 in a shootout after regular time and two overtime periods produced a 0-0 tie.  Along the way, the Griz went 12-6-3 and lost only three times over their final 17 games.  The 12 wins was the most by a UM women’s soccer team since 2000.  Coach Mark Plakorus and his team did an outstanding job, and look forward to next year when they can “Make It (another great year in) Missoula.”

With football, volleyball, cross country and soccer now in the rear-view mirror, it’s time to support the men’s and women’s basketball programs at UM.  Both are exciting to watch, and should have excellent seasons.  Plenty of great seats remain for all games, and can be reserved by contacting the Adams Center Box Office at 406.243.4051 or toll free at 888.666.8262.  The next home game is Saturday, Nov. 24 when the Griz host the San Diego Toreros of the West Coast Conference at 6 p.m. in Dahlberg Arena.  On Nov. 29, the women will open the 32nd annual Lady Griz Holiday Classic when they host Idaho at 7 p.m. The next night, the Vandals will play Tennessee State, followed by the UM-Tennessee State contest on Saturday, Dec. 1 at 7 p.m.

A couple of final pieces of information regarding FCS football:

— First, I hear many comments that the NCAA will always consider the University of Montana for hosting playoff games “because they need our money.”  While the NCAA would love to have the revenue generated each year from the gate at Montana, the financial situation in the playoffs isn’t determined until after the entire tournament field is set.  Then, and only then, are committee members made aware of the bids by the schools playing each other. We can put that rumor to rest.

— Second, many people question why Eastern Washington received the No. 2 seed in the playoffs, while Montana State was No. 3 – despite MSU having a 10-1 record and EWU at 9-2.  The answer is fairly simple:  Both had nine Division I wins (the Bobcats defeated NCAA Division II Chadron State in their opener 33-6) and Eastern Washington knocked off MSU in Bozeman on Oct. 13 by the score of 27-24, resulting in EWU claiming the automatic playoff berth via its 7-1 record in Big Sky Conference action.  Montana State and Cal Poly were also 7-1 in league play.  In addition, the Eagles claimed a win over FBS foe Idaho (20-3) from the WAC and lost a tough 24-20 decision to Pac-12 member Washington State.  Montana State, meanwhile, defeated Stephen F. Austin (5-6) of the Southland Conference 43-35 and Drake (8-3 in the Pioneer League) 34-24 in its other two non-conference games.

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Do you have questions for Jim?  Use this Contact Us form and we’ll forward your questions to him for possible inclusion in future blogs.  Like this blog?  Chances are you’ll like these other Jim O’Day blogs:  My First Griz-Cat Game in Five Years, Why I chose to Make It Missoula, The Ups & Downs of Being a Griz Fan, Once a Griz, Always a Griz.

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.