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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.

Some of you might remember other staff members like offensive coordinator Tommy Lee, future head coach Robin Pflugrad, Craig Paulson, Bob Beers, Bruce Read and Joe Klucewich.

Read arrived in 86 and the UM program mired in mediocrity had won 31 of 47 games including an eight-win campaign Jerome’s inaugural season.

The soft spoken Souers led a defense that led the nation in rush D, set a school record in 28 picks, and for the first time in school history led the Big Sky Conference in pass defense and total D.

“We keep it simple,” he said. “work hard at technique, and keep the emphasis on execution of our coverage responsibility.”

A highly successful high school coach like his Dad in Southern Oregon, Jerome did stints at Western Washington and Portland State before landing on Read’s staff.

After taking the Northern Arizona job 20 years ago, you could always bet whenever the two teams met you could find a former Grizzly on Jerome’s staff, many of whom were occupying coordinator slots much like his now defense coordinator Andy Thompson.

Thus, it was with mixed feelings I looked forward to Saturday’s final matchup which promised to be a closely balanced affair.

But I have to say, while the Jacks continued to work hard to be competitive and the Grizzlies produced some of their own magic with the return to QB1 status of Makena Simis, IMO the game was greatly affected by the ejection of all-everything young QB Case Cookus for what seems to have become the penalty De jour, targeting.

That’s right the NCAA definition mandates that “no player shall target and make forcible contact against an opponent with the crown (top) of the helmet, adding when in question it is a foul.

The rule does not require helmet to helmet which indeed was not present on this particular play.

An NCAA side note qualifies the rule: Targeting means that a player takes aim at an opponent for purposes of attacking with forcible contact that goes beyond making a legal tackle or a legal block or playing the ball.

an explanation of trying to hurt another player by surging at them with the crown of your helmet . Such a call and subsequent elimination may well be the first and last time such a play brings an ejection of a quarterback.

IMO none of this defines the play which was a violent – yes football is a violent game – and aggressive action early-on in a pivotal contest with every imaginable consequences.

Pure and simple, and I seldom indulge, imo the call was embarrassing and could play a key role on the league and playoff race.

Officiating of course is objective and I hesitate to try to get inside anybody’s head to determine intent but at what point does the work of officials dominate what occurs.

I am friends with many officials and know they work hard to do their best job but they have to show up with their top game just like everyone else involved and allow the game to be decided by the players.

Sure the outcome was close but the game imo in no means was able to live up to expectations.

We all are in favor of protecting players and are aware of the consequences of brain injury and cognitive deficiencies brought from hits to the noggin.

Rest assured like you Jerome there are those who know you got “jobbed.”

But you are a guy who will have a choice of another head job before the Bowl season is over.

We will see you shortly somewhere down the line my friend.

Big Weekend

By Mick Holien

Deepest congrats to Larry Krystowiak assisted by former Griz Andy Hill as it took an extra overtime period but Utah finally slipped past St Marys and into the semi finals of the National Invitational Tournament at Madison Square Garden.

Gonzaga, in the sweet 16 for the fourth consecutive year, is the only other team to beat the Gaels in Moraga, Ca, where the West Coast Conference team traditionally battles the Zags for superiority and put together a record 30-win season.

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This is Annual

By Mick Holien

It seems like about the time spring has sprung so many activities and banquets and the like surface that the calendar easily fills to where one has to begin making choices and ponder as to what activities we want to participate in.

Some are annual affairs – oh by the way there is no such thing as the first annual – it can’t be an annual until you hold it a second year you know as in annually – and some just pop up once never to be heard from again.

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Today is the Day

By Mick Holien

Can you believe it is Tuesday and a Spring morning because indeed today is the first day of Spring.

But oh silly me. That is not the correct moniker and you IMO is in the biz of being accurate. It is my life blood after all and how that can be difficult in this time.

Even though I had a covering of snow on Sunday today at 12:15 p.m. officially is the Vernal Equinox at least in the Northern hemisphere and will last until Thursday – the summer solstice.

Therefore today the night and day are almost exactly equal in length.

Here at Holien acres it made it over 47 degrees yesterday but I have to tell you navigating my road still has its challenges with snow stacked high on both sides of the road.

Because of the globe’s position in relation to the sun flies straight over at the equator, according to Farmer’s Almanac. And just in case you want to check it is also the only day that the sun arrives due east and sets due west. Better check the math on that one.

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A Kaliedoscope

By Mick Holien

My love for sports is often fueled by how I see athletics as a kaliedoscope of life.

And nothing serves as more of an annual illustration than the NCAA Championships.

And while I disagree with the 2011 broadening of the field by four teams who kick off the event two days earlier than the remainder of the field, governing body officials have designed tournament that seemingly employs about every element.

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A Decent Showing

By Mick Holien

Since 1991 the Grizzlies have played eight games in the NCAA Tournament losing all but one, the upset of Nevada in 2006.

A common thread for me in the half dozen of those games I had the privilege to describe was the obvious difference in opponent’s athleticism.

And thus the disparity in the final outcome, losing to Kentucky by 38 to Oregon by 19, to Boston College by 13, to Wisconsin by 24, and to Syracuse by 47.

While there was a fleeting moment in each contest there also was a point where I just knew - while I didn’t analyze it on the radio that way of course – that the day was not going to belong to Montana.

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Does Anybody in Reno or Boise Care:?

By Mick Holien

Here on this Ides of March this IMO is back after a brief diversion when basically I just hit the wall.

It isn’t something I often do but it was just a case of a bit of plate overloading that not only proved me ineffective but also a bit out of character.

Did I bury myself or was it partially brought by returning to my haunts at the Adams Center where I spent so many days and nights.

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The Chipper

By Mick Holien

I have to admit I was melancholic about returning courtside to Dahlberg Arena where for more than three decades I described University of Montana men and women’s basketball games.

But after discovering where I was sitting – at the college visiting g radio spot – any thought of distraction faded and Blake Hempstead gleefully, or in my case sometimes too over the top, described a disappointed and shortened result of the final two games for Anaconda at the Boys State B in Missoula.

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Champions in more ways than one

By Mick Holien

There is no doubt that the state of Montana in general and Indian reservations in particular suffer from one of the highest suicide rates in the country.

As an adult I often inquire of others in my circle “just when taking one’s own life become an option.

But while many times such an act is shrouded in secrecy, because of social media the kids almost instantly learn of a suicide along with the usual Ws of Who, what, where and why along with How.

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Whose is the Sheriff

By Mick Holien

How is it that famous saying reads? There’s a new Sheriff in town?

That is not to say there is a distinct difference between the program or even the locker room between Bob, as in Stiff, or Bobby, as is Hauck.

But while intense and stringent when Hauck previously held the position for seven years, as he told me in an interview “hey I’m a little different than when I was 38.

Aren’t we all coach, aren’t we all?

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Too Many Trophies

By Mick Holien

So what do you think – are there too many awards and what about Hall of Fames

The whole issue came to mind recently as I was writing some program profiles for the third class of the Montana Football Hall of Fame in Billings later this month.

Let’s maybe look first at awards, trophies, plaques, even a certificate. Are they appreciated when they are awarded. Does it come just as a routine from the giver or recipient for that matter?

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A boat's Tale et All

By Mick Holien

I guess a couple of warmer days only serve to wet our whistle with thoughts of balmy spring but that quickly was alleviated with what started as grapple then quickly turned into a mini snow storm up here on the hill overlooking Polson Bay.

And the next thing I knew I had about three inches more of the white stuff on a driveway that has been painted with at least white specs for some time.

Now don’t get me wrong – I am a four-season guy…no really honest I like the four seasons. Well maybe not marked quite so pointingly and lasting quite so long.

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A Grand Affair

Even though I mistakenly posted the incorrect date on Facebook close to 200 people attended Wednesday’s Great Futures free breakfast at the new Boys and Girls building.

The yearly affair takes on added significance this winter after the Lake County non-profit purchased the former family furniture store, The Total Home, at the north Highway 93 entrance to Ronan.

All the non-weight bearing walls have been removed inside the 19,000-square-foot building leaving an area resembling an empty artist’s pallet.

That is exactly those associated with the Club envision for the expansive facility which will replace the current facility which in 2019 will be razed as the highway through town will be split.

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By Mick Holien

By the time this program airs the final slots are filled for the State B Tournament by either Loyola or Anaconda as a result of the challenge game between the two in Ronan Monday night.

Unbeaten Bigfork came in as the favorite in the Western B and while pushed to double OT by Anaconda in the Quarter-Finals they made it to State with their record unscathed.

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Just 27 Minutes To Live

By Mick Holien

It was some kind of winter weekend that for this IMO was bolstered by being surrounding by all the elements of a high school basketball tournament.

For no particular reason the extended weekend was a storyteller’s smorgasbord that will cause me to dot eyes and cross t’s for some time.

Without carrying forward I have to say the elements, which began with a Wednesday lunch, were so diverse it required jotting notes in advance of getting to the keyboard.

But first did it have to be so darn cold – Hey I’m mostly a positive guy who seldom notices the weather, but the windswept arctic temperatures brought shivers to my soul.

So in no particular order.

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UM President a Keeper

By Mick Holien

I’m not a person of hyperbole but I feel comfortably saying that the selection of Seth Bodnar as the University of Montana’s 19th president is not just a home run it’s a Grand Slam.

I do have to admit that before I met him as he visited Emma last week, I came to that conclusion by one of the first things he did after taking the reins from Interim President Sheila Stearns with a agreeable nod to her husband Hal, the state’s first Interim Gentleman.

Early on Bodnar said Academics was not necessarily his strength and he expected to place a priority on hiring a top-of-the line amd highly experienced Provost.

Currently an Interim Provost-and Vice-President for Academic Affairs is pushing the ball down the floor while four finalists for the position will visit campus next month.

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The Die has been Cast

By Mick Holien

There is a solid certainty in in the confines of Main Hall on the University of Montana campus and the institution’s oldest graduate was quick to pass along her seal of approval Thursday on Charter, the 125th anniversary of the school’s founding.

New at the helm but surely not new with the charm UM’s 19th president dropped by Missoula’s Village Senior Residence along with also a new signee but not a rookie new presence, head football coach Bobby Hauck, if not for a better reason than to seek some of Emma Lommasson’s106- year-old wisdom.

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Be My Valentine

By Mick Holien

Happy mid-week Valentine’s Day and what a romantic story I have to share with you.

I guess I could say I planned it all out this way but alas the truth be known, some special activities I have planned for the University of Montana’s most elder Alumna just happen to be planned on Charter Day celebrating the founding of the institution 125 years ago.

Now you’ll remember I often have talked with you about the influence that 106-year-old Emma Lommasson has had on my life.

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Is There a replacement

By Mick Holien

I’m here to tell you if you are one of those folks who occasionally slips towards negativity, if not actual depression, I have discovered what I am sure many of you already know.

And I found it on the Internet by accident since I don’t spend a lot of time scanning through videos and the like.

Before I wrote this I probably should go back and find the site I spent about an hour on laughing my tail off but alas here we go.

I have always been an animal lover, always owned mostly larger-breed dogs and I have to admit since I had to put down my beloved yellow, Skyy, on May 30 there have been plenty of temptations to head to the Shelter or find another means of locating and adopting a rescue dog.

Actually when Skyy made the trip across the Rainbow Bridge I disassembled her kennel used to house her when I was on the road and give her access to the remainder of the residence.

Trying to remove the temptation to obtain a quick replacement – even though there probably can’t be one – I guess.

So far I have settled on the canvas mounted photo of her greeting me every time I come into the living room and so far so good.

But as I said today I discovered even a better scenario.

Scan the Internet – and I am sure there are plenty of such sites out there – and find videos of dogs mimicking and joining the family of other classes of animals.

We are all used to a female dog nursing babies to health but to watch other species not just return the favor and aggressively play with canines, but also to learn the antics by watching other breeds and a variety of different animals.

We knew of course they can dance but if watching animals perform doesn’t bring a smile to your eyes – well I don’t know what will.

I have personal evidence of that in a picture mounted on my refrigerator.

After I had a stroke a couple of years ago my pal Rose brought Skyy to Providence Center rehab a couple of times.

But on one particular day, granted it had been a couple of weeks since I had seen her, aged as she was up on the hospital bed she came to put her snout under my chin and give me a physical.

Not a bit of hesitation and no coaxing, if was just up I come and fortunately somebody got a photo.

As sweet as that was, please go find funniest homer animal videos (not the real spot) and prepare yourself for a mood change.

It’s worth the time – Just saying’


Which Holiday

By Mick Holien

If you’re from the “old school,” whatever that can now be described as, celebration of the birthday of our country’s first president would be celebrated ten days from today on Feb. 22nd.

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Talkin' Hoop

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