MISSOULA — When Dave Dickenson found out about his upcoming induction into the College Football Hall of Fame back in December, he didn't know if he'd be able to make it back to Missoula for a celebration.
His schedule as the head coach of the CFL's Calgary Stampeders doesn't exactly align well with Montana's football schedule.
But with a little luck and event coordination, Dickenson will be in town on Sept. 22 to be honored by Montana and the National Football Foundation to celebrate his upcoming induction into the Hall of Fame.
Dickenson and his family will be recognized during the Sacramento State game as a part of the NFF On-Campus Salute program.
Note: The following interview has been edited for clarity and length.
Considering your schedule and Montana's schedule, how did this come to be?
"It's going to be a hair rushed because I have to be back to work by Sunday morning at 7 a.m., but we're going to make it work.
"(Senior Associate Athletic Director) Greg Sundberg, he's a Great Falls guy, too. He reached out and said, 'Hey we'd like to try to honor you. Is there a chance we can honor you during a game? All the honorees, their university, they offer to try to help and get a game for the guy who's going in.' We looked at the schedule and it just so happened I have a bye the week before this game. So I'm not playing that weekend, but as a coach, we don't usually operate on quite the same schedule as players, so I kinda made the schedule work. That's the advantage of being a head coach.
"I'm going to bring my family. They haven't been to Missoula much at all. My wife's a Griz alum as well. We went to school together. We'll see people we want to see. I'm fairly close with the staff. I like Bobby (Hauck) and I played for Brent Pease. I know some of the guys.
"As far as the players, whether they know who I am, who knows, but I'd like to at least try to reconnect with the program and some of the players. I'm sure I'll have a five-minute little chat with them, say what I need to say. Go to the game, enjoy it and off I go. It'll be fun.
"To be honest, for me at least, being at Montana was the best time of my life. The memories, I'm hoping to get a few ex-teammates to come back, hopefully get my parents to come in for the game. It'll be fun to reminisce and get back with the guys I have so many good memories with."
When was the last time you were in Missoula?
"The last time I was there I think I came down in a spring. Matt Wells had organized a football camp that I took part in and I watched the spring scrimmage. But the last actual game was 2005 when our national championship team was honored at halftime. So for me, as far as watching a live game in Missoula, it's been 13 years."
Things have changed a little bit since then...
"Even the facilities. I haven't seen all the new stuff. I wasn't able to make it when our team came back for the 20-year, I wasn't able to make that. And when they did the unveiling of the Champions Center, I haven't seen that except for pictures. I haven't seen the locker room. A lot's been going on since I've been down there. I can't wait.
"I feel like Montana, I don't know what other programs at our level have, but I have to think we're right up there with some of the top ones."
They're going old school with the uniforms that day, too...
"I love the colors. I'm not sure a lot of people do, but that was kind of who we were. It's always good. They're so unique, right? I'll be pretty excited to see them run out of the tunnel.
"I remember the last time. Every time it happens all my old friends and teammates send me photos. It's pretty cool for us. 'Oh, they're bringing them back.' It fires up the crowd, I don't know about the players, but I think it fires 'em up and gets people thinking back to what I would call the glory days. Hopefully they enjoy it."
What's the first thing you're going to do when you get back?
"I have some good people that took care of me there. I'll definitely get together with Mike Larson from Stockman's. People are probably like, 'What? Dave going to Stockman's?' I'm not planning on partying too much [laughs].
"I really like those guys. I still talk to Mike every month or two. I connected with Mike. His wife's Canadian. We always got along well.
"I'm really looking forward to seeing lots of things. I'll probably climb to the M with the kids and take a peek at the city. I'm sure it's changed a bunch. That's one of the things I'd like to do.
"I'm trying not to be super busy, but they'll have things they'll have me do. I'm not sure my itinerary, an autograph thing or whatever. I'd like to talk to the guys on the team and that sort of thing. See the facilities. I just like walking down by the river. I would enjoy that, just kinda relaxing. I'm not sure if my old spots are there anyway. It's been a while."
Have you talked to any of the other inductees?
"I don't know any of them. I don't know if they know who I am or not. Who knows. I definitely know of them. Just looking at it, it's a pretty good class. I follow these guys, the coaches, too. It'll just be fun to be a part of it. What I think is so cool about the Hall of Fame is, they try to honor guys who, 'Did you do something special at your level?' Instead of, 'Why didn't he go to a bigger school,' type of thing."
Has all of this hit you yet?
"No, not really. It just hasn't happened yet. I know I'm there, I'm close. I'm really entrenched in football right now. We're having a good year. I'm going to try to enjoy what's been given and I look forward to this trip. I don't think it'll settle in until we're in New York at the real banquet and taking it all in with the guys and seeing the other inductees. I'm a big football fan, so I'm really looking forward to it."