FRISCO, Texas — Over the next few days, Montana Grizzly fans will make the trip to Frisco, Texas, by the thousands for the FCS championship game against South Dakota State.
But Box Elder’s Jeremy MacDonald is taking things a step further by going to two national championship games.
MacDonald is known throughout Montana as the championship coach of the Box Elder Bears boys basketball team. But away from the court he’s a lifelong fan of the Montana Grizzlies, for familiar reasons.
"My folks met in Missoula and went to school there before they moved up to Box Elder,” MacDonald said. “I went to school there and got a few degrees. So I’ve been a Griz fan all of my life.”
But his other team allegiance might surprise you.
“You know, there’s no pro sports in Montana and no major college conferences,” he explained. "So, I’ve been a Michigan Wolverines fan ever since I was a little fella. I like the maize and blue, I liked the winged helmets, the fight song and everything. I’ve made trips to see a few Michigan basketball games, so I’ve just always been a huge fan.”
He and his wife, Julie, had already considered going to Frisco to watch the Griz in the FCS title game, but when Michigan topped Alabama in the Rose Bowl on Monday to punch a ticket to the FBS national championship game in Houston against Washington, MacDonald started to think bigger.
"You know, Frisco and Houston are within a day's drive, it’s kind of like driving to Billings. So I wondered if I could pull this off,” he said. "And I had about seven tabs open and looking at tickets for flights and games and lodging and had it all lined up and then just start checking off things and start making the purchases."
He laughed, then continued.
"I talked to the wife and I’m fortunate that she trusts my math skills and my financial decision making,” he said.
But the logistics of the trip were tricky. Box Elder has a big game Saturday night against Chester-Joplin-Inverness in Chester for the top spot in District 9C. Both teams are 6-0.
“They’re one of our biggest District 9C rivals and they’re playing really well,” MacDonald said. “So it’s shaping up to be a great game."
So that means a late night on the basketball court, a 5:30 a.m. flight out of Great Falls on Sunday and an 11:45 a.m. arrival in Frisco on Sunday before a 1 p.m. kickoff.
"It will be tight, but as long as the weather holds off I think we’ll make it,” MacDonald said.
After the FCS game, they’ll hop in a rental car and stay at a hotel halfway between Frisco and Houston on Sunday night and get to NRG stadium in time for pregame festivities of the FBS national championship on Monday.
“Hopefully we’re in a cheerful mood after the Griz game,” he said. "So big game Saturday night in Chester, big game Sunday afternoon in Frisco, and a big game Monday night in Houston."
And then back to Dallas for a 12:30 p.m. flight on Tuesday, back in Great Falls at 5 p.m. and back to Box Elder for basketball practice at 7 p.m.
It’s a blistering schedule and not a cheap trip. But it's worth it for MacDonald for the chance to see his two favorite teams compete for titles.
“I kept thinking what old man MacDonald would think. I know I’d probably be saying that I wish I spent the money and that I would've went,” MacDonald said. "So I was like, I might as well take that philosophy and run with it. I hope Montana and Michgan win, but no regrets either way."