Montana Split in Support of Neighboring Super Bowl Contenders


Montana was put in a unique situation last week when it was the only state where residents were able to purchase tickets to both the NFC and AFC championship games. Now, much like the Griz and Cat rivalry, it has become a state divided as the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks meet for bragging rights in Super Bowl XLVIII on Feb. 2 in East Rutherford, N.J.

While not all residents of the state count the Broncos or Seahawks as their favorite teams (myself included, I’m a Packers’ fan), it has made for some stimulating conversations already.  Interestingly enough, while much of the western side of the state seems more aligned with the NFL franchise in Seattle, the eastern side tends to have a much larger Broncos following.  This should make for an interesting two weeks… and probably two weeks that will generate more interest in the Super Bowl than at any other time in the 48-year history of the BIG game.

It also seems appropriate that this year’s Super Bowl is being held in a cold-weather site, and in an open-air stadium (MetLife Stadium) – where the elements could be a factor: Much like Denver and Seattle. The game has been played in other cold-weather locations such as Minneapolis, Detroit and Indianapolis, but all have dome stadiums.

Picture3… Speaking of the Super Bowl, this year’s game will feature three former Big Sky Conference players – two from Portland State and one from Weber State.  Possibly the most interesting, and one who is expected to be a major contributor, is Julius Thomas of PSU, and a member of the Broncos.  The tight end is a former basketball player for the Vikings, and is becoming a real star in the NFL.  Meanwhile, Paul McQuiston of Weber State (offensive guard/tackle) and DeShawn Shead of Portland State (defensive back) are on the Seahawks’ roster.  Another player of note in this year’s game is Kalispell’s Brock Osweiller, who played collegiately at Arizona State and is the back-up quarterback to Payton Manning for the Broncos.

… On the collegiate scene, three seniors off last fall’s Montana Grizzly football team are getting their chances to compete in all-star games before NFL scouts.  Last Saturday, offensive tackle Danny Kistler competed in the 89th annual East-West Shrine Game in St. Petersburg, FL, while linebacker Brock Coyle participated in the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl near Los Angeles.  Both had good performances.

This Saturday, linebacker Jordan Tripp becomes only the second Grizzly ever invited to play in the annual Senior Bowl in Mobile, AL, joining former NFL great and University of Montana offensive coordinator Scott Gragg (1995). Tripp is one of 10 players from the NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision competing in the 65th annual game, which will be televised by the NFL Network on Saturday at 2 p.m. MST. This is the premiere college football all-star game, and is being sponsored by Reese’s. He will be a member of the South team.

… A number of coaches with Montana ties all-star game, and is being sponsored by Rees’or Scott Gragg (1995). Collegiate Bowl nearhave been signed to lucrative contracts over the past few years – a trend in Division I intercollegiate athletics.  Bobby Petrino of Helena, and a Carroll College graduate, inked a 7-year deal last week with an annual base salary of $3.5 million per year at Louisville (his second stint with the Cardinals).  His younger brother, Paul Petrino, also a Carroll grad, is the head coach at the University of Idaho, where his base annual salary is $400,000 per year.

Likewise, former Griz secondary coach Dave Doeren (Montana 2000-2001) was named the head coach at North Carolina State on Dec. 1, 2012, and signed to a five-year, $1.8 million contract. One year earlier, former Missoula Sentinel and Eastern Washington star Jimmy McElwain was selected as the head mentor at Colorado State.  His base salary for five years calls for $1.35 million annually. Both remain two of the hottest young coaching prospects in America.

Bobby Hauck, who coached Montana from 2003-2009, recently signed a new three-year extension calling for a base salary of $700,000 per year to stay at UNLV. Two of the assistants on Chris Peterson’s new staff at the University of Washington also coached previously at UM: Jonathan Smith, the offensive coordinator with a base salary of $425,000/year, and Brent Pease, wide receivers coach with an annual salary of $345,000 per year.  Dave Dickenson also agreed to a new three-year extension as the offensive coordinator of the CFL’s Calgary Stampeders for an estimated base salary of $200,000 per year. His name appears frequently for “open” head coaching positions in the CFL.

Check out Jim O’Day’s blog archive. Vacating UM’s 2011 Big Sky Conference Title is WrongBig 10 Decision Could Have Major Impact On FCS SchoolsAre Predetermined Tournament Sites in the Big Sky Conference’s Future? What the Financial Numbers mean for UM/MSU Athletics. Hiring/Retaining College Coaches is Becoming ToughFormer UM Coaches/Missoula Stars Making it Big in College FootballWhy 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. He also served as the Assistant Director of the Grizzly Athletic Association (1998-2000) and later as the Director of Development for UM Intercollegiate Athletics (2000-2005).

Prior to returning to his alma mater in 1998, O’Day was the owner/publisher of the family-owned Western Breeze newspaper in Cut Bank, MT. He was also sports editor of the Kalispell Daily Interlake from 1980-82.

In late 2013, Jim started his own consulting business, O’Day Enterprises, LLC.  His main clients include Farran Realty Partners, a private equity real estate development/investment firm based in Missoula; Epio Solutions of Seattle/Missoula, an agency primarily focused on branding/marketing/public relations utilizing various social media platforms for businesses, universities, non-profits and individuals; and BancVue, a company based in Austin, Texas, that aligns itself with small community banks and credit unions across the country to compete against the large mega banks. In addition, Jim is consulting for various oil and gas firms, as well as providing valuable professional resource services for intercollegiate athletics, fund-raising, capital raises, employment opportunities, etc. 

Jim and his wife Kathy have three sons: Chris, Kevin and Brian – all three graduates of The University of Montana.


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