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By Mick Holien

All the anticipation of losing thoughts of a rare losing football season is plenty of motivation for a Grizzly team that looks to dominate a cupcake opener at Washington Grizzly Stadium Saturday.

But while the starting quarterback call goes to a senior who once was highly touted out of the state of Tennessee Reese Phillips is a guy who threw four picks in the spring scrimmage while connecting on 14 of 27 for 140 yards and hasn’t started under center in almost five years.


But for the time being the Kentucky transfer emerged in a battle with Caleb Hill and freshman Gresch Jensen.

Obviously Phillips is the only QB who has taken a Montana snap playing in four games last season with a season high five completions against Mississippi Valley State.

But if he maintains there are no butterflies we know he is sharing the company line. Last year’s experience and scrimmages are nothing like being the guy at the helm but admittedly the bar will be lower than in some seasons.

Maybe as good a baseball player as a gridiron product, Phillips prepped in Chattanooga where he was a two-time all state performer in both sports.

But after winning the state football title as a junior and making the playoffs as a senior when he completed 172 of 274 for 2,274 yards he enjoyed quite a post season being named MVP after hitting 10 for 10 passes in the state’s All-Star game leading his team to a 41-20 verdict.

A converted tight end and defensive back, he was an all-district baseball player as a pitcher and shortstop.

But after redshirting at Kentucky he was relegated to a backup role and although he played in three games as a redshirt freshman he played in just a single game in 2015.

Phillips has a single season of eligibility remaining.

The molly hogs, aka the offensive line, are the strength of this offense.

Converted four position guy Mike Ralston got a lot of hype but nobody mentioned he played for Jordie Johnson’s dad at the fighting Irish at Sheldon High School in Eugene, ore.

It will be odd to see him wear No 51 as he came to Missoula as a highly touted and recruited receiver. It’s a great example of converting your body type and skill set to figure out a way to get on the field and help the team.

The senior is now packing three bills on his six foot five frame. So here we go, just say’n



By Mick Holien

I was rummaging through some notes of possible story ideas as I waited for the barrage of basketball and football games of interest to get going and I ran across something I have often used in presentations, graduations and really anywhere that I am searching for something to write about.

It is prose penned by Rudyard Kipling, one of the most recognizable writers of both prose and verse in the United Kingdom near the turn of the Twentieth Century.

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Baby Steps

By Mick Holien

So often I have found I participated or maybe even just attended a non-profit’s fundraiser and left wondering either whether it was deemed a success or just how much money was brought in.

And usually like in the case the furniture auction to benefit the Boys & Girls Club in Ronan late Sunday after the whole affair was completed it was challenging enough to collect for everything and get the majority out the door of the former Total Home and just not an opportunity to tabulate the results which I’ll have for you when IMO continues after this.

Mick Holien back on your radio where first of all a sincere thank you to all those folks who took the time to tell me what they thought of this little program. The input is sincerely appreciated and hearing from you lends some credibility to what I envision for IMO.

Oh that’s right back to the auction, professionally handled at quite a pace – I’d say definitely no huddle-by Ronan’s home boy Reed Tobol.

The majority of the approximate 200 people who attended stayed around until near the end and were quite active with their bids even to the 90-minute mark.

There were 170 items available in the live auction and an additional 200 of the silent variety,

The closest estimation available from Aric Cooksley on Tuesday was somewhere $12,000-$14,000 which with no expenses went right to the Club and its need to renovate the expansive building on the north end of Ronan.

On the Griz men’s hoop front from the appearance in the early stages of the non-conference season that the challenges of road travel from Missoula to the east coast and back to Malibu hasn’t adversely affected Montana.

With an opening exciter win in overtime at Pitt followed by a loss at Penn State brought the Grizzlies to Malibu where they played their way into the championship game of the Legends Classic against Cal-St Barbara.

And while UCSB scored the game’s first eight points and ran to a double digit lead several times to 18 and holding an 11 point halftime advantage before Montana seized the momentum and charged off the deck and into a second half short lead.

With a trio of Grizzlies with four fouls UCSB ran to a 13-point run to go to a 59-48 advantage and out of Montana’s reach dropping to 3-2 with.

Paced in the early season seemingly in every outing by guards double figure scorers Ahmad Rorie and Michael Oguine this team lends promise but you know about the remainder of the schedule to prepare for the rigors of the Sky.

Stitt Gone

By Mick Holien

If you listened to yesterday’s program you know that I delayed sharing my opinion about Montana head football coach Bob Stitt’s continued employed.

While I unfortunately have no future personal investment in this decision, take my word for it I have plenty of past reasons to be entitled to have strong feelings.

But in the sake of bygones be bygones, as I did through most of my situation, I am going to continue to drive up the high road because I have not yet reached the pinnacle where hopefully I can put the whole thing aside.

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By Mick Holien

Wow that is what is known as an abrupt season end – just about as abrupt as I can ever recall.

And you know I didn’t even look Sunday morning to examine the post-season pairings and it wasn’t until at Sunday night’s Boys and Girls Club auction in Ronan when Joe McDonald told me which Big Sky Conference teams were in.

And sitting now at the keyboard I guess I’d better check it all out.

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The Cats

By Mick Holien

Saturday’s cross-state tussle in Bozeman has as many overtones as I can handled.

So many times in this traditional matchup which is one of the longest running in the country the better team does not come out victories.

So many seasons, one team or another is playing at their peak heading into the pre-Thanksgiving matchup.

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Oh My English

By Mick Holien

Now I am certainly not an English major and certainly don’t proclaim that I usually communicate with the finest utilization of the King’s English.

And it might surprise you to discover that in high school I took four years of Latin and two years of Greek but trust me not exactly because I wanted to – You see they were required.

But recognizing poor grammar in others - especially for example media types even stretching to the national level especially during interviews – has a tendency to drive me bonkers.

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No No Please

By Mick Holien

Now I am certainly not an English major and certainly don’t proclaim that I usually communicate with the finest utilization of the King’s English.

And it might surprise you to discover that in high school I took four years of Latin and two years of Greek but trust me not exactly because I wanted to – You see they were required.

But recognizing poor grammar in others - especially for example media types even stretching to the national level especially during interviews – has a tendency to drive me bonkers.

 I guess since retirement I have noticed it more on the cable television stations.

And while there certainly is a degree of spontaneity required to both ask questions under pressure and even more so to answer an inquiry, just a little advance thought sure would help.

But in most cases poor English prevails and it causes this poor scribe to wonder whether there is such a thing as an air check to prompt better performance.

I fondly remember my first one. I’d been on the radio for about three weeks spinning “Today’s Country” and the afternoon jock who also was the program director and I guess purveyor of all things good radio told me to tape my next hour and we’d listen to it together and he’d critique me.

Well long story short I didn’t know how to tape my program which contained four breaks on the quarter hour for me to talk for about 15 seconds as I remember.

He showed me how to put it on reel-to-reel and then waited outside the control room door panting I visualize.

The short version of the critique – and believe me it was short – was he suggested I find another line of work.

I quickly pointed out that the station had lured me, that I ran the bowling center across the street, and maybe he should find someone for the rest of the shift.

Pointing out that I had overreacted – which I am prone to do – we remained friends and I continued to spin some country tunes and call some football and basketball games.

He even remained in the business until the station was sold about a year later and I’ve often thought I’d like to replay that conversation with him.

See there’s one of those English things right there. Some people would have said replay with him AGAIN.

Redundant and a waste of air time and paper.

So might however have been this diatribe.Just sayin’

Word of the day..glean pronounced the same, spelled differently do you know both meanings


It is Veterans Day

By Mick Holien

On the 11th day of the 11th month at the 11th hour the United States and other countries celebrate Germany’s surrender and eventual signing of the Armistice that purportedly ended World War 1.

First termed “the war to end all wars” by H.G. Wells the document – The treaty of Versaillles - proved to be anything thing but the case.

Negotiated in a six-month period leading to June, 1919, the Treaty was signed in protest by some while the Allied Forces were represented by Russia, France, Italy and Great Britain in a railroad car at Compiegne, France just outside Paris.

The U.S. Senate refused to ratify and Germany refused to sign.

President Woodrow Wilson opposed the treaty’s rigidity, instead recommending a provision to the League of Nations mandating his conditions including an “end to all war.”

Wilson also mandated open rather than secret negotiations to determine division among the Allies of land seized by the Germans.

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Centennial Plus Seven

By Mick Holien

What is it that they say: How quickly time flies when you’re having’ fun.

As I glanced at on on-line headline last night, I couldn’t help but recall where I was and what I was doing 28 years ago on Nov. 8.

The state of Montana was christened as the 41st state on that date some 128 years ago and the Treasure State celebrated the 100th on the north lawn of the Capital in Helena.

The occasion marked the second time in a short pe4iod where I requested and was granted press credentials to cover George Walker Bush, the 41st president of the United States.

The couple hour commutation actually took place on Sept. 18, 1989 President Bush had landed Air Force One in West Yellowstone three months earlier on June 17-18 to survey the fires of Yellowstone..

Prior to term limits, Gov. Ted Schwinden, first elected in 1980 opted not to seek a third term, opening the door for Stan Stephens, the former Republican president in the Montana Senate.

The state was about to turn red for the first time since 1964 when Stephens, a former Canadian and American journalist and Havre radio station owner, defeated Tom Judge in the general election becoming the state’s 20th and first Republican governor in the more than two decades Former Secretary of State Jim Waltermire of Missoula seemed to be the Republican frontrunner, but he was killed in a plane crash some two months before the general.

Stephens prevailed beating Judge by a solid five points.

Much like Mike Mansfield’s last speech at the Adams Center, I don’t remember much about President Bush’s speech as I filed a late afternoon story and struggled home from Helena.

I was to make that trip often during my eight year Missoula radio career.

Nothing can replace the immediacy and efficiency of radio news especially when long form programming allows in depth reporting and analysis.

Ironically after almost 30 years many of those reporters are still around doing what we do.

Squaring up I thought is this not the greatest job on earth the one that doesn’t seem like a job.

Just sayin’


Your Place Or Mine

By Mick Holien

I’ll bet maybe you are one of those people – I sure was – who opted to call up the computer advertisement either on Facebook or some other site that advertises the walk-in tub with umpteen features to further entice your interest.

I mean after all who doesn’t need a free toilet with purchase and that heated seat and the number of jets that rival a luxurious hot tub and don’t forget the two-minute drain and no chemicals needed.

And with no advertised price there you are dreading a salesman’s visit but still your interest is piqued because how much could be it against wouldn’t it be nice.

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A bit of Polson Rural Fire News

By Mick Holien

If the Polson Rural Fire Department gets its way, a new station will be constructed in order to better protect parts of Lake County.

But even given the presence of a study to determine a possible location that would most efficiently serve the most residents, any construction could be as long as two years away.

The study is examining feasibility of a fourth station possibly at Valley View, Rocky Point, Jette Lake or further east in the 200-square-mile district, according to Polson Rural Fire Chief Gordon Geiser, who recently replaced Paul Laisy, another Missoula Rural Fire Department firefighter.

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A game Which Could Have Been Better

By Mick Holien

I’m just spoiled.

It seems there have been so many instant classic, I suppose beginning with the post-season baseball games right through game seven of the World Series that I am prepared for every contest to culminate dramatically.

So to start the weekend of course I really was looking forward to my good pal Jerome Souers bringing his league unbeaten Lumberjacks of Northern Arizona to Missoula for the last time.

For those who don’t know Souers, who has been relieved of his head coaching duties after the season comes to an end, first became a member of Don Read’s coaching staff in 1989.

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One Hell of a Handball Player

By Mick Holien

In My Opinion I’ve had a chance to see and in some cases play against the best of the northwest’s handball players.

And while I made it up a bit above novice status, the challenging sport’s lowest level, to a low B level, I saw the cream of the crop mainly because of the location of Spokane’s best facilities at the Elks and Spokane Club.

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Judy Martz Death

By Mick Holien

Imo The state’s first female Governor might well have been ahead of her time.

And Judy Martz, who died last week at the age of 74, broke unlikely ground long before Gov Marc Racicot tabbed her to also be the state’s first distaff Lt Governor in 1996.

Before her foray into politics Martz was a member of the 63 world speed skating team and qualified as a member of 64 U.S. Olympic team at the 64 games at Innsbruck, Austria.

Although Martz grew up in the Mining City, she oddly was another product of Big Timber, the Rosebud County seat with about 1600 residents is the early residence of Brent Musburger, the home of the sports oriented family of Haucks. 

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By Mick Holien

It seems that it happens every season and in most cases involves the football team.

But everywhere you turn, even in the case of major-majors, either the governing body of the NCAA or at a conference or individual school level players are suspended and even worse coaches, Rick Petino, learn of the loss of their position.

And I guess I find it affront personally because I have come to know some of these people and after the better part of four decades even not personally sure by reputation.

And when such charges land on the desk of the game’s icons what is it we are supposed to think about the value of athletics in the grand scheme of education.

Over my career I have encountered my share of people who could care less and really don’t see any value in athletics.

To each his own I always figure and have often spoken of the lessons of team, leadership, ethics, work, loss and triumph that come from being involved in any type of the competitive nature.

But let’s face it right up front there is that jock level which by no means is productive and that sense of entitlement that accompanies some of these folks actually can even be harmful.

I recently was told a story by the mother of a UM freshman cross country-track athlete who spoke at length about how football players, even of her own age, treat her.

I suppose there is no way for us on the outside to know specifically how much hazing takes place and how harmful it can be.

Locker room and tunnel activities got out of hand in Missoula and when Mick Delaney assumed the head position under the directive of AD Kent Haslem put a stop to some of what they viewed as harmful.

Some such activities can be nothing but tradition but like anything without supervision, discipline or direction he can work to out of hand

Let’s face it though a locker room with your brothers or sisters is difficult to describe and within the bounds still brings a smile to my face.

Such camaraderie is hard to duplicate and can make the difference is how a team reacts when they’re down on their haunches.

And by the way it is what you go to when you’re down 31 zip on the road..just sayin’


Weber Outtake

By Mick Holien

The Weber State football team put up 31 points and scored on its first half dozen possessions before they welcomed members of a fabled Wildcat team of three decades before at halftime and despite a somewhat spirited second half Montana charge to remain a factor in the Big Sky Conference race.

Under sunny skies and warm temps and before an usually large crowd of nearly 9000 the Wildcats made it two straight over their charter league rival and beat the Griz for the fourth time in the last 10 games.

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Some Baseball Thoughts

By Mick Holien

Are you like me easily being able to remember the entire roster of your favorite baseball team playing in the World Series that was completed by about the first week of October?

Now we’re in to November and quite fortunate that in Houston and Los Angeles games at least are being contested in warm-weather cities.

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And then there's Weber

By Mick Holien

When the Grizzlies arrive in Utah Friday coaches and players will encounter unfamiliar confines at Stewart Stadium in Ogden.

But while Bob Stitts entourage are in but their third year that’s not why the Wasatch Mountains that loom over the field appear alien.

The University of Montana hasn’t faced Weber State on the road for five years.

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Difficult Football Scheduling

By Mick Holien

It getting more difficult as the year goes by to find non-conference football opponents at the Football Championship Series (FCS) level.

Several traditional opponents over the year, even most recently Liberty who picked off Baylor the opening weekend, have moved or are in the process of moving to the Football Bowl Series.

Of course it’s all about the money because not only does a program enhance their chances to eventually qualify for a bowl themselves nit they also stand to share in the league’s bowl proceeds and when your circuit is qualifying several teams that amounts to a considerable amount of coin compared to the FCS level.

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Skyy's Final & Thank You


Rare indeed was the sudden velocity of the storm that swept through the Flathead just before 8 p.m. and I just had got my pickup in the garage and came down the hallway only to see slightly illuminated just by the fading sunlight the large canvas picture of my deceased yellow lab Skyy, a present from Sandy, sparkling in the corner like a flashlight was shining on it. Surreal

Skyy hated storms and hid in the bathroom or next to my bed and this was like she bid farewell six hours after her death to let me know she’d crossed the Rainbow Bridge but would always be looking over me with a thunderous crack.

I hope you will allow I can’t yet describe Skyy’s passing without breaking into tears even though she let me know it was her time and long ago had my permission to romp into her next life with my assurances when she was ready.

I have similar challenges trying to stand up and she always watched with concern seeming to almost will me to my feet much like I did for her. But Tuesday her back side refused to cooperate and while she could walk after we got her up she couldn’t get up without assistance.

When will you know, I had asked in a program some time ago. Indeed it was time.

Sure there will be those who won’t understand the feelings that some of us have for our pets but my dogs have always been family members.

Skyy understood my every word since coming into my life almost 14 years ago. We grew old together, her not many years now older than I.

I really wanted to get her into the Flathead River water at her favorite spot one more time but it wasn’t to be and while Bob and Krisco were able to get her to her feet by putting a towel under her torso her quality of life roaming Holien acres had diminished to the point where she’d rather sleep most of the day.

She did love people food and while not a picky dry dog food eater, she preferred part of what I was eating which we shared that morning.

I don’t think I will ever get up all her hair in the house or the truck and that’s certainly all right. Some will share a spot with the clay footprint Dr. McKee made.

Her passing was peaceful, dignified, solemn and quick.

Many times when someone asks me about In My Opinion, they’d cautiously inquire about Skyy like those of us who prefer the dark side of the microphone; she enjoyed her own invisible radio reputation.

And the kind words, thoughts, and reactions more than 500 of you shared were amazing, helpful and therapeutic. Thanks to the magic of editing, a bit easier than the cut and splice of my early radio days I was able to get some of this to you in words.

Again corny to some I’m sure but my previous observations of my sensitive emotional state should provide the explanation not needed here.

Will there be another many have inquired. I think that is it for me since I see her at every turn and still find myself sharing my thoughts because she never made me justify my beliefs.

And I have the enhanced photo Karen did for me and of course Sandy’s portrait.

The storm is fading and the thunder diminishing as I am ready to live along with her memory.

Let’s face it death is inevitable and even with animals predictable. That doesn’t make it any easier does it?

Just sayin’


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