Monday, November 23, 2015

Big Sky Schools Might Be In Perfect Playoff Position

While many Big Sky Conference fans might have been unhappy about the seedings and/or schools left out of the NCAA Division I FCS Football Playoffs, it really should be viewed as an opportunity for the league to show the rest of the FCS why it deserves more respect in the future.

Looking at the bracket, it appears the Missouri Valley Football Conference remains the “power conference” for the FCS division, qualifying five teams for the upcoming playoffs.  Leading the way is four-time defending national champion North Dakota State University, which the Montana Grizzlies defeated 38-35 to open the 2015 season.  NDSU is the No. 3 seed in the tourney, while the No. 2 seed is Illinois State - another MVFC foe who lost to the Bison 29-27 in last year’s championship game in Frisco, TX.  The two squads did not match up this year, and tied for the conference regular-season title with matching 7-1 records.  Also representing the MVFC are South Dakota State (8-3 - Montana’s first-round opponent Saturday in Washington-Grizzly Stadium), Northern Iowa (7-4) and Western Illinois (6-5).  The Playoff Selection Committee assured there won’t be a repeat of last year’s MVFC title showdown as all five schools from the MVFC are on the same side of the bracket.

Fortunately or unfortunately, two of the Big Sky Conference’s three participants are in the same bracket: Montana and Portland State (9-2).  The Vikings claimed one of the eight “seeds” in the tournament at No. 6, and will host the winner of Northern Iowa (7-4) vs. Eastern Illinois (7-4) of the Ohio Valley.  The winner of the UM-South Dakota State contest will head to Fargo the following week to take on NDSU in Round 2.  Southern Utah (8-3 overall, and at 7-1, the Big Sky regular-season champ) is in the opposite bracket, and plays at Sam Houston State (8-3) on Saturday… with the winner meeting No. 4 seed McNeese State (10-0) on Dec. 5.

All three Big Sky Conference schools have an opportunity to demonstrate the strength of the league this weekend. Having compiled a less-than-impressive 7-9 playoff record the past three years, it looks like the Big Sky may be ready for some revenge. Of those seven wins, Eastern Washington has accounted for five – with the only others coming when Montana defeated non-scholarship Pioneer League champion San Diego last year, 52-14, and Montana State slipped past Stoney Brook, 16-10, in 2012. In 2012 and 2014, the Big Sky had three playoff participants, and four in 2013 when the league went 2-4 (both wins by Eastern Washington).

This year’s 24-team playoff includes five teams from the MVFC, four from the Colonial Athletic Association, three from the Big Sky, two each from the Big South, the Ohio Valley, the Patriot, the Southern and the Southland, and one from the Northeast and Pioneer leagues.  The No. 1 seed is Jacksonville State (10-1) of the Ohio Valley. The Gamecocks’ only loss was 27-20 to FBS power Auburn.

… Some fans felt 7-4 North Dakota or 7-4 Northern Arizona should have been included in the playoff field, especially over 6-5 Western Illinois of the MVFC.  There could be an argument for the “Fighting Hawks” of North Dakota, but there was less ammunition for NAU as the Lumberjacks only had six Division I wins and went 0-2 against teams that made the playoffs.  North Dakota, meanwhile, was 1-2 against the three schools who qualified for the playoffs (beating Portland State 19-17, and losing to Montana, 42-16, and North Dakota State, 34-9).  The Fighting Hawks also knocked off FBS Wyoming, 24-13, to open the season.  Still, with the “power” still perceived to be in the MVFC, a 6-5 Western Illinois, fresh off a double-overtime victory over South Dakota State last Saturday, was the committee’s choice to fill one of the final positions in the 24-team bracket.  In fairness, Western Illinois was 3-3 versus playoff teams this year – defeating Eastern Illinois (33-5), Northern Iowa (24-19) and SDSU (30-24), while losing to Coastal Carolina (34-27), Illinois State (48-28) and NDSU (59-7).  Towson and Central Arkansas, both 7-4, were also mentioned as contenders, but both compiled 0-2 records against playoff teams.

… 2001 was the last year the Montana Grizzlies won the national championship.  The head coach at the time was Joe Glenn. This past weekend, Glenn announced his retirement from the coaching profession after 28 years.  Over that time, his teams posted a combined record of 200-134-1… which included two Division II national titles at Northern Colorado (1996-97) along with the I-AA win at UM.  The 66-year-old Glenn was 12-34 in four seasons at South Dakota, including 5-6 this year.  Among his memorable wins at his alma mater was a 24-21 road win at North Dakota State this year.  Along with Montana and Northern Colorado, Joe coached at Doane College and Wyoming.  I wish Joe and his family the best in retirement.  They certainly deserve it.  He will always be one of my favorites – both professionally and as a good friend!

… I would also like to wish the best of luck to Rob Ash, who was relieved of his duties Monday after having served as the head football coach at Montana State the past nine years.  During that time, his teams posted a 70-38 record, won three Big Sky titles and made the FCS playoffs four times (2010, 2011, 2012 and 2014).  While he did a lot of positive things for MSU Football, a 4-14 record against rivals Montana (2-7) and Eastern Washington (2-7) appear to be his undoing. On Saturday, the Grizzlies defeated MSU, 54-35, in Bozeman, resulting in the Bobcats’ first losing season under Ash, 64.  The Cats went into the 2015 season expected to content for the Big Sky championship, but finished 6-5 with a disappointing 3-5 league record – and 8th place in the 13-team league. In his 36-year coaching career, Ash’s teams went 247-137-5.  Eighteen of those years were coaching at Drake University.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

O’Day Enterprises, LLC, Blog Is Back

After a prolonged absence, the website for O’Day Enterprises, LLC, and a related blog are back in business. In addition to allowing me an opportunity to do some writing (sorely missing since my ol’ newspaper days back in Kalispell and Cut Bank, MT.), it also presents a chance to update happenings and business ventures taking place in my travels.

Shortly after leaving University of Montana Athletics in 2012, I was approached by Missoula-area businessmen Pat Corrick and Jim McLeod of Farran Realty Partners about a consulting partnership to help introduce them to some prospective investors for their real estate development projects. They already had two condominium undertakings in Montana (Monterra in Whitefish and Legends of Bridger Creek in Bozeman), as well as a very successful 192-unit “lifestyle” apartment community in Missoula, Copper Run. At the time, they were actively involved in the private capital fund-raising phase for CORSO in Missoula – another outstanding 224-unit apartment project that opened slightly more than a year ago in the Garden City.

Since that time, Farran Realty Partners has continued to expand its web. Currently, the firm is completing the final building stages of an impressive multi-family, lifestyle apartment community in Great Falls called Talus. Located near Benefis Hospital, and a short distance from the University of Great Falls and MSU-Great Falls campuses, the apartments are filling up as fast as the units can be built. The 216-unit complex is a real asset to the Electric City, and is serving a niche that has been missing in the community.

Within the next few weeks, Farran’s latest project will begin construction in Billings. Called Avenue C (photos included), the 126-unit, four story luxury apartment complex will be located on the back 4.2 acres on the northwest section of the recently renovated West Park Plaza Promenade off Grand Avenue. Once again, location is a key element as the apartment community is a short walking distance to city parks, trails and recreational fields, and less than five minutes by car to downtown Billings, local universities and the two hospital campuses. Dining and grocery shopping are only a few short steps away from the front entrance to Avenue C, along with many other shopping opportunities offered within the mall. The private capital investment phase of this particular project was $7 million, with the remaining $13.8 million coming in a construction loan. Again, this will be another Farran project that will be a great asset to a Montana community. For more detailed information on Farran Realty Partners, call 1.406.541.9000 or check out the website at

And Farran isn’t done yet – in fact, far from it. Plans are progressing for a $30 million, 450-bed university student housing project in Missoula to begin soon, as well as other opportunities the partners are carefully researching. As for the student housing project, the site was previously occupied by the First Interstate Bank drive-thru in the area of Front Street and Clay. It will be the first privately-owned student housing facility in town with full amenities such as an outdoor pool, music rooms, fitness center and study lounges. It is scheduled to open in time for the 2017-18 school year.

Along with this, Farran continues to work on the $150 million redevelopment of the Riverfront Triangle in downtown Missoula. The project is currently projected to include a 175-room branded hotel on top of a 35,000 square foot conference center on Orange and Front streets. It would also include restaurants, a 60-room boutique hotel, and housing and private condominiums. Also included is 50,000 square feet of purpose-built office space fronting West Broadway, along with 35,000 square feet of retail space, including a retail anchor. The project’s 800 parking spaces would mostly sit underground, with the exception of one parking structure. Once completed, it would represent the largest urban infill project in Montana history.

Farran has been an amazing company to consult for (great reputation and results from an extremely talented team that has been involved in more than $230 million in asset development) – and is one of several businesses currently utilizing the services offered by O’Day Enterprises, LLC., where we connect people with the world around us to make deals happen.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Our Website Is Back Online!

Our website has been out of commission for awhile. We are finally back up and running. The website is still under construction, but it is looking promising.  Check it out!  And check back often to see our progress.