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A major program lures away Griz basketball coach Wayne Tinkle
The University of Montana has a tradition of developing some of the best college basketball coaches in the nation, and Wayne Tinkle is poised to follow in the footsteps of Jud Heathcote, Mike Montgomery, Stew Morrill, Blaine Taylor and Larry Krystkowiak. Tinkle has already won back-to-back Big Sky championships and led the Griz to the NCAA tournament three of the last four years, but the 2013-2014 season will be his best coaching effort yet. Despite average talent (aside from Kareem Jamar) and an alarming lack of inside presence, he'll somehow orchestrate another championship-game run. Top-tier schools—think Washington State, Oregon State or even Stanford—will take notice and lure Tinkle away with the big-time contract he deserves. As an added bonus, whichever school smartly hires Tinkle will immediately jump into contention for recruiting his 6-foot-6 (and still growing) son, Tres, who is considered the state's best high school player.
Guest prognosticator: Lance Hughes, aka Lando, star of the 2014 Lando calendar (lando406.com) and self-proclaimed creator of chocolate whiskey
We're all gonna die because of that damn Yellowstone caldera
I totally had a dream about this so it's going to happen. Sometime this summer, that super-volcano in Yellowstone is gonna blow. We're all going to die. There's nothing we can do, except enjoy everything while we still can. But just in case I'm wrongGo Griz!
Guest prognosticator: Ellie Hill, Democratic state legislator from Missoula and reigning Best of Missoula winner for Most Likely to Lead the Revolution
Montana politics steal the national spotlight
Sen. Max Baucus announced his retirement, surprising many with the news—even longtime staffers—and leaving Montanans with seemingly no succession plan. Gov. Steve Bullock and Sen. Jon Tester's pick for Baucus' replacement is Lt. Gov. John Walsh. For those who follow the dysfunctional inner-workings of Montana's Democratic Party, they won't be surprised to find out that former Gov. Brian Schweitzer has picked someone else—his administration's lieutenant governor, John Bohlinger. The Republicans, meanwhile, have tapped current U.S. Congressman Steve Daines to replace Baucus; Daines is destined to win the Republican primary. Regardless of whom Daines faces, Montana's race for the U.S. Senate will be among the most expensive in United States history, especially in a post-Citizens United world. The national media will be even more interested because the political party that wins in Montana will help decide who controls the Senate during Obama's last few years to secure his presidential legacy.
Then there's Schweitzer. He ignored national pressure to run for Senate—rumors are that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid himself had all but begged him to toss his hat into the ring—and instead is doing everything short of announcing his candidacy for the Oval Office. He's already made national headlines for firing shot after shot across Hillary Clinton's bow. He criticized her vote to authorize military action in Iraq, telling CNN, "Anybody who runs in this cycle, whether they are Democrats or Republicans, if they were in the United States Senate and they voted with George Bush to go to Iraq when I would say about 98 percent of America knows that it was a folly, that it was a waste of treasure and blood, and if they voted to go to Iraq, there will be questions for them on the left and from the right." Then, after noting that a high percentage of Democratic primary voters are women and agreeing that it is "time for a woman president," Schweitzer took another shot at Clinton. "There's a whole lot of America that looks at each other and says, 'Well, there's 340 million people living in America. Isn't there somebody other than a Bush or a Clinton who can be president in these modern times?'"
Between Bullock's impending appointment to fill Baucus' seat (I predict it's Walsh), the 2014 U.S. Senate race (I predict Walsh beats Daines) and Schweitzer's ongoing flirtation with the presidency, Montana will be the focus of national media attention throughout the year.
Guest prognosticator: Adam Hertz, Missoula city councilman
Daines wins the Senate; Republicans take back majority
After the resignation of Sen. Max Baucus, Gov. Steve Bullock will appoint Lt. Gov. John Walsh to finish out Baucus' term. The resignation and subsequent appointment will prove to be a political calculation gone sideways. Despite Washington, D.C.'s attempt to hand-pick Montana's Senate representation, Montanans will proclaim our independence. Congressman Steve Daines will be the first Republican in over 100 years elected to the seat formerly held by Baucus, leading the GOP to take back the majority in the Senate.
Washington-Grizzly Stadium finally hosts another blockbuster concert
With budget issues and declining enrollment continuing to plague the University of Montana, new revenue streams and added incentive for prospective students need to be found—like hosting headline-grabbing music events at Washington-Grizzly Stadium. It's only happened twice—Pearl Jam in 1998, the Rolling Stones in 2006and we think it's past time for national touring acts to return to Missoula's largest venue. The Indy has touched on this before—we joked two years ago that Prince and/or Van Halen would be an inspired choice—but we now know the perfect performer to fit the bill. It's Phish that fills the seats, pumps considerable dough into the local economy with its legion of traveling fans, and generates some much-needed excitement among UM's granola-flavored student body.