Lots On Tap This Week For Missoula Sports Fans

By JIM O’DAY

A number of events are scheduled in the next few days in and around Missoula that could be of interest to local sports enthusiasts.

Starting Thursday, the University of Montana women’s basketball team will host the 32nd annual Lady Griz Holiday Classic.  Usually the tourney is played between Christmas and New Year’s, but with the expanded Big Sky Conference and more dates needed for league games that particular week, the annual event had to be moved earlier in the season.

On Thursday, Montana will host Idaho – a squad the Lady Griz defeated in Moscow, Idaho, on Nov. 18 by the score of 71-50.  The contest begins at 7 p.m.  The next night, Idaho takes on Tennessee State at 7 p.m., with the final game of the three-day round-robin tourney on Saturday at 7 p.m. when the host school plays Tennessee State.  The Lady Griz enter the tourney with a 5-2 record, the only losses coming to Temple (55-41) on Nov. 9 and vs. Villanova (74-49) last Sunday.  On Thursday, Dec. 6 at 7 p.m., the Lady Griz will meet Wyoming in Dahlberg Arena. It’s a perfect time to “Make It (a good weekend) in Missoula.”

— For those still craving football, Montana State will be hosting Stony Brook in Round II of the NCAA Division I FCS Football Playoffs in Bozeman this Saturday.  The game starts at 5 p.m. and plenty of tickets still remain.  The winner will play the Cal Poly-Sam Houston State victor.  Should the Bobcats prevail Saturday, they would host a quarterfinal playoff game the following week at Reno Sales Stadium on the MSU campus. The date and time will be announced Sunday.

— The FCS playoff games won’t be televised locally by Montana stations as the entire NCAA Division I football playoffs are now owned for a second straight year by ESPN through its $500 million contact to televise all 89 NCAA championships with the exception of the men’s basketball tournament through 2023-2024.  (Note: Bowl games are not the property of the NCAA, and thus, are televised under other agreements with major networks, while Turner Sports/CBS owns rights to the men’s basketball tournament through its $10.8 billion, 14-year agreement that was reached in April 2010). Although the contract only specifies that ESPN has to televise the FCS championship and semifinal games, an agreement was reached last year to allow for ESPN3 on-line internet broadcasts of first, second and quarterfinal round games. The championship game from Frisco, Texas, will be televised on ESPN2HD and ESPN 3 on Saturday, Jan. 5 starting at 11 a.m. MST. If ESPN (or Turner/CBS in the case of the men’s basketball tournament) did not wish to activate its television rights to any round of the NCAA championship playoffs, it could sell the rights to local syndication – but that will not be the case this year. Last year, with a heavy outcry from Montana and Montana State fans, ESPN agreed to televise the second round game for the Grizzlies on ESPN2.

— Speaking of television, each of my final two years on the NCAA Division I FCS Selection Committee as chairman, I sat on a panel for the FCS Summit with Carol Stiff, ESPN Vice President for Programing.  At that time, we discussed a nationally-televised game when Appalachian State met Montana in Missoula the first weekend in September 2013.  Those talks may still be lingering… but we’ll have to wait and see.

— For those heading to the Spokane area for the Eastern Washington-Wagner FCS playoff game Saturday in Cheney, it might be worth trying to get tickets the next afternoon (2 p.m. PST) for the No. 1 ranked Stanford Cardinal as they play at Gonzaga.  Two Missoula girls will be participated in the much-hyped women’s basketball match-up: Joslyn Tinkle and Elle Tinkle, the daughters of Griz men’s basketball coach Wayne Tinkle and his wife, Lisa.

Joslyn, a senior, is a captain for the top-ranked Cardinal, and has led the team in scoring in three of their first six games. Stanford has compiled a perfect 6-0 record prior to its contest at UC-Davis on Friday night – including an impressive 71-69 victory over defending national champion Baylor. Joslyn is the second leading scoring on the team, hitting at an 18.2 points per game clip, while also contributing 5.2 rebounds per outing (3rd on the team).  Her season high was 25 points on Nov. 18 when the Cardinal leveled Tennessee- Martin, 92-68.

Elle, meanwhile, is a freshman for the Zags, and is averaging 4.6 points per game. Gonzaga enters the contest with a 6-1 record – its only loss coming at the hands of No. 6 ranked Louisville, 55-42. Elle led GU in scoring in its most recent game, Nov. 22, with 14 points against Winthrop in an 80-66 victory.

— Congratulations should go out to former Montana Grizzly great Dave Dickenson, the fourth-year offensive coordinator for the Calgary Stampeders of the Canadian Football League.  Dave, who is considered a heavy favorite to land a head coaching job soon in the CFL, helped the Stamps reach the Grey Cup – Canada’s version of the Super Bowl – last Sunday in Toronto.  Unfortunately, the home field proved to be too much as the Argonauts claimed a 35-22 triumph in the 100th edition of the CFL championship game. “Dicky” is a former CFL All-Star and Most Valuable Player, and guided UM to its first national championship in 1995. He also had a brief career in the NFL with the San Diego Chargers. Dave played his high school ball at CMR in Great Falls, and is a member of the Grizzly Sports Hall of Fame.

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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.