Thursday Rundown: Bye to a Legend

Let me wish you all a pleasant Thursday evening. Thanks for coming back to Don’t Blink. Here we go with my latest installment of the Thursday Rundown.

Cool Photo Editing App – For those who enjoy enhancing your iphone photos, I want to tell you about a cool new app I have been using. If you have time, download Prisma. It is a photo editing app that offers some pretty wild filters. Think the styles of anime and gothic meet up in a Candy Land dream world. In the photo below, I used the mosaic style to create this photo of Sid and I. Best part of it all is that the app is free.

I like how abstract the photos turn out when using Prisma.

I like how abstract the photos turn out when using Prisma.

Legend – Yesterday, longtime University of Montana women’s basketball coach Robin Selvig announced his retirement after 38 seasons. I had the honor of working in the same athletic department as him for almost five years. However, believe it or not, I won’t remember him the most for the portion of his 865 wins I got to witness. Rather, I will remember him for participating in our Monte videos (go to the 54 second mark, you have to watch!), running a really fun annual poker tournament, and never hesitating to warmly greet me in the hall. I will also never forget a moment in a closed door staff meeting with the university president. It was the morning our athletic director and football coach were unexpectedly let go and as the top official at Montana looked down at his feet, Coach Selvig defended the two men who lost their jobs as well as our department. Talk about leadership. Enjoy retirement, Robin.

Robin Selvig is a legend but also a very good man (photo courtesy of the great Todd Goodrich).

Robin Selvig is a legend but also a very good man (photo courtesy of the great Todd Goodrich).

Good And Plenty – I wore the below shirt for our rehearsal dinner. I wore it again last weekend at church. Before leaving, we said hi to Father LeBlanc. He looked at me and said “Hi Good And Plenty.” I don’t think there was a better way to describe the color scheme of my shirt than that. From here on out, whenever I put it on, I will always think of it as the Good and Plenty shirt.

Father LeBlanc called me "Good and Plenty" when I wore this shirt. He gave it the perfect description.

Father LeBlanc called me “Good and Plenty” when I wore this shirt. He gave it the perfect description.

Central Intelligence – This past Friday, Sidney and I went on a double date to the movies with the in-laws. We watched “Central Intelligence” in a recliner-only theater. The film stars The Rock and Kevin Hart. Sid thought the movie was hilarious and broke out in laughing fits the whole way through. I thought the movie was funny but to a lesser degree. In my opinion, I wish the movie didn’t even have the CIA plot worked in. I wish the film just focused more on the secondary plot of the film of two guys with a complicated history getting in touch just prior to their high school reunion.

From the Olympics Archives – A whole four years ago on this date, I wrote about my excitement as the 2012 Summer Olympics in London opened up. I also spent time describing why the summer games are just so much better than the winter ones. To this day, my opinion has not changed one bit. There is not a question in my mind about which one is superior. To read my long blog post from 2012, click here.


Life is good. Remember that and have a great weekend. Don’t Blink.

To Everyone at Grizzly Athletics: THANK YOU

Earlier today I walked out of the Adams Center for the final time, ending an almost five year ride with Grizzly Athletics. I like to think I left a small part of me behind. With the long hours I worked and the contributions I made I hope I left the department better than when I arrived. But this blog post is not about me (By the way, for all I know my employers could have thrown a celebration party after my car drove out of the parking lot). Rather, this post is to say thank you to the people who supported me, helped me, and listened to me. It is to show gratitude to those individuals who believed in me and let me grow. It is to recognize my co-workers and bosses who helped make me look good and who always took my best interests to heart.

First and foremost I want to thank Christie Anderson. She hired me, she believed in me, she mentored me. Without Christie I would not be where I am at today. I learned everything I know about marketing in intercollegiate athletics from her. For over a year before we got more suitable offices I sat behind Christie and observed everything she did. What an awesome learning experience! I have so many memories with Christie whether it be going on trips, working games, or doing things totally unrelated to work such as going to concerts or bowling.

Next up I want to thank Jim O’Day. My first role model in the college athletics world he treated me with so much respect and kindness. He knew about the power of social media long before many other college administrators even knew what the phrase meant and he gave me the green light to take Grizzly Athletics full throttle down the new media avenue. Two years ago on that terrible day when he had the rug pulled out from underneath him I will never forget the address he gave us at the hastily called all-staff meeting. He epitomized class and humility in a very dark moment and that will always stay with me.

I owe so much gratitude to Brynn Molloy. She came into the Marketing Director position and just kicked butt. Definitely one of the most positive people I know I had a wonderful ten months working for her. We had such a solid working relationship based on collaboration and respect. She was there for me and I was there for her. She allowed me to continue to do my thing and always took the time to tell me good job. We came in each morning on fire for Grizzly Athletics and it made for a great work environment. It is no secret why everyone loves Brynn.

I don’t think I had a bigger supporter when it came to getting me to where I wanted to be than Greg Sundberg. Besides being the best leader I know, no one took the time to help me reach my goals more than Greg. He cares so much about his employees and brings the same positivity to the office each day in the same way Brynn does. I said Jim was my first role model in college athletics; after Greg started overseeing all external communications a couple years ago he became my second. “Sunny” played a big role in getting me to where I am now.

Then there is Kent Haslam…the third person I identify as a role model of mine in intercollegiate athletics. I was so happy and relieved when he got hired as our athletic director. You would be hard pressed to find someone with greater integrity than Kent. Over the past couple years he has been a great supporter of mine. Always sending recognition my way and 100% supportive of my decision to go to Coastal Carolina I feel very fortunate that our AD cared so much about me. Grizzly Athletics is in great hands.

Thank you to our sports information staff! I had the opportunity to work very closely with our legendary SID, Dave Guffey. I earned Dave’s respect and he treated me like a son. I will miss him a lot. I also feel like I got a lot from Joel Carlson (Assistant SID). No one writes better than Joel and I had the pleasure of reading award winning material from his desk on a daily basis. I know by paying attention to his techniques and style that it made me a better writer myself. Rounding out the staff is Renee Valley who never ceased to lend a helping hand when it came to making a few more credentials or helping me find something in the archive room.

I owe big thank yous to the people who generated much of the great content that I was able to use on our new media outlets to give our fan base a great experience. Nate Michael (Griz Vision producer) is an extremely talented individual and one of the best guys I know. Todd Goodrich (University of Montana photographer) works magic with the lens and pours a lot of his time into covering athletics. Jerek Wolcott (videographer, now at Idaho State) really started the video tradition at Grizzly Athletics and was a great friend of mine.

Thank you to our genius I.T. man, Aaron Heiner. This guy gave me a new perspective on what it is like to work under pressure. He also bailed me out of numerous situations involving technology on game days. Speaking of smart people, I couldn’t have succeeded at my job without the help of Chuck Maes. That man has a computer for a brain with incredible knowledge on how every device and piece of equipment under the name of Grizzly Athletics works. . Just like with Aaron, Chuck has helped me out many times when I needed quick assistance.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention my office mate, Paul Hengel. Paul became a great friend of mine and provided me an example each day of what hard work is all about. No one works harder in the department or has more demanded of him than Mr. Paul. We got along great and our office arrangement couldn’t have worked out any better.

Much appreciation to Heather Alexander (business manager) who showed great patience towards me when I asked stupid questions or accidentally went away from protocol when completing a business transaction. I also am very thankful for how much she has made my transition between jobs easier. Heather, you better make good on your plans to visit Myrtle Beach during the summer of 2015!

Then there are just the people who have supported me so much during my time with Grizzly Athletics. I am talking about people like Janie Haight, Sue DeMers, Cyndi Steigers, and Celine Fisher. They have acted as moms to me and supported me since I have stepped foot in the Adams Center. I was overjoyed when my “Montana Moms” got to meet my real mom at my going-away party late last week.

I don’t want to forget about the coaches. I learned a lot about the crazy lives they live full of pressure, stress, and travel. Take it from me right here: Our “Big Three” head coaches (Robin Selvig, Wayne Tinkle, and Mick Delaney) are absolutely class acts. They are passionate for the Griz and are incredibly kind. Each one of those men took time to congratulate me when I announced that I was moving on. Special shout out to Griz softball coach Jamie Pinkerton who became a good friend of mine. I am sad that I will miss the first pitch in 2015. Also thank you to soccer head coach Mark Plakorus who always took time to talk to me and even attended my going-away party.

Finally, thank you to all the students I had the privilege of working with over the years. From our student-athletes to our Spirit Squad to our team of interns to our mascots I felt so fortunate working a job where I got to interact with young and motivated individuals on a daily basis. In the end my ultimate mission was to serve them and I felt so lucky that I was able to do just that.

The chapter is closed. I now move onto the next stage of my life at Coastal Carolina. However, I will always be indebted to the wonderful people at Grizzly Athletics who gave me my start. Please know I hold all of you in very high regard. THANK YOU. Don’t Blink.

Road Rage, Lady Griz, Pen Update

It is that time of the week where I elaborate briefly on a few totally unrelated topics. Tonight I got three different items for you. For the sake of organization I will place them in chronological order.

1. Road Rage: Late last Saturday afternoon I entered the freeway via the Missoula Reserve entrance going east. Another car followed behind me. I managed to get on the freeway just fine as I occupied the right lane. However, for whatever reason when the other car reached the freeway from the on-ramp she decided to merge immediately into the left lane. Problem with this being there was another vehicle in that exact same spot. I watched through my rear-view mirror in a petrified state fearing a nasty collision. Luckily both drivers turned slightly away from each other and the car originally entering the freeway behind me swerved back in the right lane. Disaster averted but tempers ignited.

I watched as both cars exchanged honks and middle fingers. The car originally behind me cut off the other car in the left lane and blew past me and back into the right lane. The driver who almost got ran off the road would not be denied. He too blew past me and settled right behind the other car. Three miles down the road there is the Orange Street exit. The car that made the ill-advised mistake took it…the other car followed right behind. Because I needed to actually take the exit to reach my destination I followed as well and prepared to watch a confrontation.

At the end of the exit ramp there is a stop sign. As soon as the first vehicle reached the stop sign she put her car in park, flew open her door, and marched right to the driver’s side of the car that pulled up behind her. I watched the yelling match from inside my car for about one minute before deciding enough was enough (I was almost late for church). I got out and told the woman to just get back in her car. For whatever reason I guess I looked somewhat authoritative because the girl, who looked about my age, marched back to her car. The guy in the other car said nothing. We all took right turns and lived happily ever after.

2. Lady Griz Season Comes to an End: On Monday night our women’s basketball team hosted San Diego in the second round of the WNIT. Aided by a large and loud crowd the Lady Griz did all they could to defeat a Toreros team despite playing without a few key players. When our lone healthy senior got in foul trouble early in the first half things looked bleak. However, as they did all season long, the Lady Griz continued to compete and staged an admirable comeback that erased a ten point lead for San Diego, tying the game with a minute to play. Although Montana ended up falling 60-57 everyone knew the 2013-14 season didn’t go down in vain.

With 23 wins and a big victory over Washington State in the first round of the WNIT the Lady Griz have nothing to be ashamed about. Personally, I am thankful to the team for providing me with a couple memories. The first was witnessing Robin Selvig pick up his 800th win. I will never forget the joy on the faces of the players and on Robin himself as they huddled and celebrated at the conclusion of the milestone game. Then, to put the icing on the cake, the image of Robin Selvig addressing the crowd will always stay with me. He moved everyone in the arena to both laughter and tears as he gave credit to the players he had coached over the past three plus decades. It was a special night.

The second memory I will take with me was just the atmosphere for those two postseason games. Our fans came out to truly support the Lady Griz as they took on a couple big programs. Both nights you could feel the special energy inside the arena. No question, the most fun I had all season came during the WNIT and I am thankful to the Lady Griz for affording me the opportunity to work those bonus games.

This picture I took really captures that joy I was talking about. I love seeing Robin like this.

This picture I took really captures that joy I was talking about. I love seeing Robin like this.

3. Pen Update: Last night I wrote about the sweet custom made pens I purchased to promote my self-serving personal brand. I think because most people found my desperate attempt to look important and sophisticated so ridiculous they actually took pity on me and told me what I did was pretty cool. This morning I sent out 9 envelopes to people who texted me last night asking for a pen. Heck, even the person who always comments underneath my Facebook posts that my blog is worthless asked for one.

However, you can’t please everyone, even if it is your own mother. My mom was left scratching her head on why I would spend my money on so many pens. Even after you read our text message exchange I can assure you that she still claims to be proud of me….even though I have no idea why.

My mom usually tells me what's on her mind.

My mom usually tells me what’s on her mind.

I am hoping for a quick next couple days. I got a fun weekend planned and life is getting good. Thanks again to all my readers for your support. Don’t Blink.

Congrats on Win #800, Coach Selvig

Tonight I feel truly blessed to have worked a game that ended in an amazing accomplishment, by far the greatest basketball feat I have ever witnessed in person. Our women’s basketball coach here at the University of Montana, Robin Selvig, picked up his 800th victory as the Lady Griz defeated a tough Portland team, 68-61.

Just a few statistics for you real fast: There are only seven other Division I active coaches who have 800 wins. Coaches with names such as Krzyzewski, Boeheim, VanDerveer, and Auriemma. Coach Selvig has had 33 winning seasons. He has had 28 seasons where he won 20 games or more. He has won conference coach of the year 20 different times . And my favorite, he has guided the Lady Griz to 25 NCAA tournaments! That is worth repeating, he has taken his team to the Big Dance TWENTY-FIVE times.

Coach Selvig delivers his speech after his 800th win tonight

Coach Selvig delivers his speech after his 800th win tonight

But the number that really strikes me about Robin is 35. That is the number of seasons he has spent as head coach of the Lady Griz. The intercollegiate athletics coaching business is not about loyalty, well at least not to 99% of the people in the industry not named Robin Selvig. Coach could have packed up and succeeded at other head coaching positions but decided to stay at Montana. He could have traveled off to East Lansing when Jud Heathcote asked him to be an assistant coach at Michigan State. He could have pursued a multitude of other basketball related positions with higher salaries in warmer climates. But he chose to stay where he was happy. He chose to stay where he knew he was making a difference. He chose to stay at a place where a rabid fan base needed him.

Coach Selvig spent a happy minute with his team in the huddle after winning his 800th game.

Coach Selvig spent a happy minute with his team in the huddle after winning his 800th game.

Just a couple personal things about Robin Selvig that I would like to mention. Besides that he is a star employee just based on the fact that he has produced 800 wins for Grizzly Athletics, he is an invaluable employee because of how he conducts himself in the athletic department and how he treats others. Never too big for anyone, Robin always takes the time to look me in the eye and cheerfully greets me with a “Hi Brent” whenever we cross paths in the hall. He never thought twice about helping us out when we filmed a Monte video where we had him stand in an elevator (he played the part perfectly). Don’t put it past him to dress up in a Santa Claus outfit either because he will do that instantly. During press conferences he takes questions from everyone and always responds with an articulate, and many times hilarious, answer (please let me take this moment to say that very few people on this planet come close to matching the sense of humor that Robin has). His heart is enormous and he has helped countless people by way of his program, and I am not just talking players.

Besides everything I just mentioned, I have personally witnessed Robin Selvig stand up for those around him and those he has worked with in big time, high stakes situations. It was incredible to see and will forever make me recognize Robin as an amazing person before I recognize him as an amazing coach.

Congrats Coach Selvig on your 800th win.

Congrats Coach Selvig on your 800th win.

Robin Selvig is a legend. There is no other way to say it. He is a giant in the state of Montana, a highly regarded coach nationally, and a stand up human being. I will take it to my grave that I roamed the same halls as Coach Selvig for no less than four years and that I got to stand two feet away from him as he delivered his 800th victory speech. As you could probably guess, he gave all the credit to his players. Ladies and gentlemen, Robin Selvig. Don’t Blink.

Great Talk From Mike Montgomery

Tonight I attended the Missoula Sports Awards Banquet. Each year the area sporting community gets together and honors both high school athletes and coaches/administrators/volunteers in the Missoula athletic landscape. As is custom, the banquet always features a guest speaker who is well known both nationally and locally for his athletic pursuits.

This year the guest speaker was Mike Montgomery, the current head basketball coach at California. Besides winning tons of games right now for the Golden Bears, he has also held high profile head coaching jobs at Stanford and in the NBA for the Golden State Warriors. With such prominent jobs and massive success on his resume, many people might not know that he got his first head coaching job right here in Missoula coaching the Montana Grizzlies. Obviously, Mike fit the “national and local” criteria perfectly for serving as the guest speaker at the event.

This evening Coach Montgomery’s speech was entertaining, informative, candid, and humorous. As someone who very easily can zone in and out of long winded talks at the podium, I hung onto every word he spoke. The rich content of his speech combined with the confident and clear way he presented it had everyone devoting their undivided attention to him. For this post I just want to briefly go over the main items Montgomery touched on in hopes that I convey to all of you some of the interesting things he had to say tonight.

Mike Montgomery on Wednesday night speaking to the crowd at the Doubletree Hotel.

Mike Montgomery on Wednesday night speaking to the crowd at the Doubletree Hotel.

John Wooden: John Wooden is the undisputed king of all basketball coaches. To this day, coaches and players alike worship the ground he walked on and canonize him every chance they get. Coach Montgomery is no different. He started off his speech by saying how much Wooden meant to him and disclosed that he got to spend a fair amount of time with him during the twilight days of his life. “Monte” then shared the following quote from Wooden: “Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.”

Time at Montana: Mike Montgomery then talked about his days at Montana. He came to Missoula from Boise State to serve as an assistant coach. Jud Heathcote had just left the school and his longtime assistant, Jim Brandenburg, was elevated to head coach. Monte was the only assistant on the staff and when Brandenburg had health problems for most of the season, Montgomery was left running the team at just the age of 28. He got the head coaching job the following season but one of the stipulations was that he would serve as the Director of Basketball, mainly meaning that he had to hire the new women’s basketball coach.

Mike hired Robin Selvig, the most recognizable and successful man in the history of Grizzly Athletics. I never knew that Montgomery was behind Selvig’s hiring until tonight. At the banquet, Robin served as the Master of Ceremonies so there were many opportunities for the two to joke back and forth with each other. They had the room roaring in laughter as each man poked fun at the other’s expense. But towards the end of Montgomery’s speech, he specifically singled out Robin and called him one of the greatest men he knew.

Montgomery met his wife during his time in Missoula….while she was still a student at the University of Montana!! He said he didn’t think that would be allowed today. He talked about practicing in McGill Hall, working through one year contracts, and coaching some amazingly talented players. He also stressed how much FUN he had in Missoula, a couple times saying he probably had too much fun.

Picking a time to leave: Coach Montgomery talked about his philosophy on when to move on in the coaching world. He said that a coach should stay no more than 7-10 years at a school. He stated that after that time expires, there are just too many intangibles that can lead to your firing. Injuries, a bad season, changes in administration, unfortunate incidents, and other factors can all catch up to a coach. Monte said that it is always best to leave on your own power and then go someplace else where you can give yourself another 7-10 years.

He brought this point up to explain why he left Stanford. Although he came off of a wonderful 2004 season with the Cardinal, he felt he needed a change. He made mention that a new person came into the administration who wanted to implement even stricter admission standards than Stanford already had, thus making it very difficult for him to sign the players that he wanted to. He said he wanted a new challenge as well. So when Chris Mullin from the Golden State Warriors called with an attractive offer, Montgomery took it.

The NBA: Montgomery said that the NBA is full of entitled players. Although profitable, he said he didn’t make the best decision by entering the league. He said in college the coach is at the top of the totem pole and the players are underneath him but in the NBA that totem pole is switched around and the players are on top and the coach is at the bottom. He called the NBA a “player’s league.”

He said that most NBA coaches will never look at players when they come to the sideline after they are subbed out for fear of a tongue lashing or a nasty stare from that particular player. Montgomery said that Rick Carlisle would make a move to the center of the court and look away when he subbed someone out solely so the player could not “MF” him when going to the bench. He said that when players don’t feel like practicing they just won’t practice.

Baron Davis: During the end of Montgomery’s first season at Golden State, the team traded for Davis. Right away, Mike knew his days were probably numbered. He stated that while he coached at Stanford and Davis played at UCLA there was some friction that existed between the two men. When Baron got to Golden State, Montgomery could not bridge that friction.

Despite centering his whole offense around Davis and finishing the 2004-05 season strong, Montgomery never got the respect he needed from his player. Baron Davis decided to sit out the last 30 games of the 2005-06 season due to a sprained ankle. Mike was quick to point out that when he coached at Montana, our legendary trainer Naseby Rhinehart could have a player who suffered a sprained ankle back in playing mode two days later.

The most outrageous story came during the beginning of summer in 2006. Montgomery approached Baron and asked if the two could sit down and hash out differences. Baron told him that “his guy” would get back to him. The next day “his guy” approached Montgomery and told him that Davis was all booked up for the summer and would not be able to meet. Nope, Davis could not even devote ten minutes of his time during the whole summer to talk to his coach. Montgomery was fired in late August.

Future of College Athletics: Monte did not sound too optimistic about the future of the NCAA. He simply said that major institutions are driven solely by money. He said there is an imbalance of goals between the people running the NCAA and its committees (intellectuals focused on academics from smaller institutions) in relation to the large, influential major universities. The people focused on academics from the smaller universities simply don’t understand the millions and millions of dollars available to these large schools. Montgomery foresees the growth of power conferences with many more schools joining the major football conferences already in existence.

He also blasted the one and done rule in college basketball. He referred to it as a “sham” multiple times. He says many of the top players go to college for no reason other than to get eligible for the NBA draft. He says these players barely stay afloat during the first semester so they are eligible and then completely check out during the second semester, giving up on anything school related. He said he favors the role implemented currently in college baseball where you can declare for the draft out of high school but if you go to college you owe that institution three years.

On Montana’s Loss to Syracuse: After giving some good-natured ribbing about the lopsided loss to Coach Tinkle who was in attendance, Montgomery got a little more serious. He said that Syracuse had one of the best defenses he had ever seen. He said that throughout the whole tournament he thought that the opposing team Syracuse was playing might have a chance only to see that chance completely extinguished once the game tipped off and the team’s offense was completely shut down.

Ending Message: Mike Montgomery concluded his speech by asking everyone in attendance to be thankful for the opportunity to live in Missoula. He called his time in this city ten of the best years of his life. He apologized for not knowing exactly what to talk about during his address. After paying tribute to Coach Selvig he ended his speech the same way he started it, with a quote from John Wooden: “You can’t live a perfect day until you do something for someone who will never be able to repay you.”

Don’t Blink.

After Montgomery's speech he shook hands with Robin Selvig.

After Montgomery’s speech he shook hands with Robin Selvig.