- Editorial Offices
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- Icons By Maria Maldonado
Dave Guffey got swept up in Griz Nation the moment he set foot on campus.
A rookie sports information director fresh out of Fresno State University, the man known as “Guff” witnessed his first Brawl of the Wild football game upon arriving in 1978.
“Coming into the game, the Griz were like 2-7, and the Cats were like 7-2,” Guffey says. “And we beat them 24-8. Outside the old Dornblaser Field, I saw people going crazy. Downtown was even crazier. You could see so much passion in the fans. It was an upset. It was a huge win.
“And I’m thinking, ‘Man, this is going to be fun.’”
Fast forward almost thirty-seven years, turns out Guff was right.
“It’s been a wild ride, that’s for sure,” says Guffey, who is calling it a career in June. “I’m lucky. I’m trying not to think about it too much because it’s going to be hard to leave.”
Guffey will retire as the fourth-longest tenured employee in Griz Athletics history, trailing only legends Naseby Rhinehart, Harry Adams, and his good buddy Robin Selvig, who started coaching the Lady Griz about three months before Guff was hired.
“He’s a fixture here,” Selvig says. “With him retiring, it’s kind of like when Johnny Carson went off the air. It’ll be strange to not see him around.”
Guffey has only missed three football games his entire career. He’s seen a whopping 452 in total—including 375 straight—both home and away. He’s been to all fifty-two playoff games. He’s worked more than 1,000 basketball games. He’s seen the Griz men’s hoops team play in nine out of ten appearances in the NCAA Tournament.
“He’s lived through a huge era of Griz athletics,” Selvig says. “Guff is knowledgeable about UM sports since time began.”
Guff’s office, tucked in a corner of the Adams Center, is a time capsule of his career.
On a bookshelf sits a football used in the 1995 Division I-AA championship game. Next to that is a classic copper and gold helmet. Then there’s a piece of the goalpost from the 2001 national championship game. Nets from basketball tournaments. Photos of him with Grizzly greats such as Larry Krystkowiak, Micheal Ray Richardson, and John Edwards. Even Bill Walton and Brent Musburger make an appearance.
On a lamp hang hundreds of lanyards holding media credential badges. He’s got belt buckles from the 1980 and 1981 Griz Holiday Classic basketball tournaments. He saved a couple of pieces of a broken backboard from the time Nate Covill shattered the glass with a slam-dunk in the early 1990s. He’s even got a piece of the original green SprinTurf from Washington-Grizzly Stadium serving as his doormat.
Beyond the memorabilia, however, are the memories.
When Guff started, UM was basketball crazy. He fondly recalls the antics of the student section nicknamed “The Zoo,” where the students would hold up Kaimin newspapers to read when the other team was announced, or when they’d roll potatoes across the floor when the Griz battled rival Idaho.
One memory, however, stands out more than most.
“The 1995 football championship was just incredible,” Guffey says. “Beating Marshall at their place in front of the largest playoff crowd ever for our first title? That’s hard to top.”
During the run to that title came an avalanche of media coverage for the team, particularly for star quarterback Dave Dickenson. And that’s where Guff came in.
“More than anything, Guff helped lead us and guide us on how the media can get used in a positive or negative way,” Dickenson says. “He allowed us to focus on the field and not let us get distracted by that stuff.”
Now that he’s reached the end of his career, Guff still plans to stay involved. He’s the chairman of the Grizzly Athletics Hall of Fame, and he wants to continue updating The Red Book, a handwritten history of Griz sports started by Jiggs Dahlberg.
“What this school has turned into sports-wise is amazing,” Guffey says. “We are nationally known. One football game a year used to be televised, and that was the Griz-Cat game to a Montana audience. Now every game is televised, and we are opening the season on ESPN next year. Years ago, that was unthinkable.”
Guff will be watching that game, but not from his usual spot in the press box. He’s been a season-ticket holder since the stadium opened in 1986, but has never actually sat in his seats.
“That’ll be different for sure,” Guffey says. “But I’m looking forward to it.”
John Heaney is the editor-in chief of the Montanan. An Anaconda native, John graduated from UM in 2002 and took the helm of the Montanan in 2010. In between, he worked for the Missoulian, the Spokesman-Review, the Coeur d'Alene Press, and the Anaconda Leader.