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Pac-12 Notes – May, 2011

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    By Stuart

    May 31st

    Time for a little love

    If you have already grown weary of what the preseason magazines have had to say about Colorado (see, Colorado Daily, May 29th), then this might raise your spirits …

    In his ESPN blog, Ted Miller wrote an article entitled, “Colorado’s visit to OSU no longer imposing“.* In it, Miller notes that Ohio*State was already going to be without several key players for the game against Colorado on September 24th, including quarterback Terrelle Pryor, leading rusher Daniel Herron, No. 2 wide receiver DeVier Posey, All-Big Ten offensive tackle Mike Adams and backup*defensive end Solomon Thomas.

    If any of the nine players named in the Sports Illustrated article (see Colorado Daily, May 30th) are similarly suspended, though, the Buckeyes’ ranks could be severely thinned. Included on that list are two returning starters along the defensive line, the*second-string running back,*and both the first- and second-string middle linebackers. In all, Ohio State could be without seven starters and three immediate backups.

    Miller notes that if any of these players are found to have taken cash or tattoos in exchange for memorabilia, that*the school won’t waste much time suspending them in a similar fashion – in a last-ditch attempt to show the NCAA that it is capable of policing its own.

    If further suspensions do occur, Colorado’s*chances on September 24th are certainly increased. Miller concludes: “We are not ready to term this a prediction, Buffaloes fans, but it no longer is completely absurd to dream of heading to Stanford on Oct. 8 with a 5-0 record”.

    Perhaps that it is an overstatement (let’s win one game on the road before we start adding upset road victories), but it is certainly nice to have someone from the mainstream media giving Colorado at least some recognition.

    And then there is this … This was not a part of Miller’s article, but I am beginning to wonder if there is a chance the Ohio State/Colorado game might not be played.

    Colorado needed a big payday, and had the option for a 13th game. Ohio State wanted a quality opponent which was willing to come to the Horseshoe without wanting a return date. A match made in financial heaven – Ohio State got a high profile victory; Colorado got cash to pay off the Dan Hawkins’ contract.

    Part of the expectations of both parties, though, was that the game would be televised. Now, with Ohio State facing potentially harsh penalties from the NCAA – including a ban on televised games – Ohio State might want to reconsider its guaranteed check to the Colorado athletic department.

    Colorado doesn’t need the game – the Buffs already have 12 without a payday trip to Columbus – and Ohio State, if the game can’t be televised, might prefer to write a smaller check to a neighboring MAC school (Ohio State is 28-1 all-time against schools from the Mid-American conference, with two more – v. Akron and v. Toledo, already scheduled for 2011).

    An actual bye between the Colorado State game and the start of the Pac-12 schedule could actually be a big plus for the Buffs.

    Then again, a win over Ohio State – even a depleted Ohio State – could work wonders for the attitudes of the Buff players and members of the Buff Nation …

    Also …

    Ted Miller, in writing about Cal’s schedule this fall, had this to say … “Trap game: Cal crushed Colorado 52-7 last year, so Bears players and fans might be expecting an easy trip to Boulder on Sept. 10. Here’s some advice: don’t. The Buffaloes didn’t show up in Berkeley, but that performance isn’t indicative of the talent on this team. And, Golden Bears, you do know a few things about laying eggs and looking overmatched on the road when the talent ledger suggests you are not.”

    Don’t know about you, but I’m kinda liking this Ted Miller guy …

    And the Winner is …

    Some 25,000 voters participated in the choosing of a logo for the inaugural Pac-12 title game.

    The winning logo, along with*a look at the three other candidates which were not selected,*can be found here

    May*27th

    Pac-12 hires 18 new officials

    The influence of Larry Scott extends well past the pocketbooks of the members of the Pac-12.

    The Pac-12 commissioner noted early on in his tenure that officiating in the conference needed to be reviewed. It has been the consensus that the Pac-10 was not the best league when it came to officials – “There is definitely a difference when we play out-of-league games compare to when we play in the league,” Oregon coach Chip Kelly told ESPN.com. “At Tennessee (last season), we used SEC guys. They were great” – which led to the resignation of the league’s coordinator of officials, Dave Cutaia.

    The Pac-12’s interim coordinator, Mike Pereira, has been busy. Pereira retired as the NFL vice-president of officiating in 2009, stepping in as interim director this past February. Noting that the NFL hadn’t hired a Pac-10 official in seven years, Pereira fired 12 of*the league’s 44 officials – 27 percent – while hiring 18 new officials (the extra officials required due to the expansion of the league).

    “I’m not saying it was horrible,” Pereira said. “It was not what the conference deserved, and to me it hasn’t been what the conference desired.”

    Periera didn’t stop at personnel changes. The Pac-12 will be the first football league – collegiate or professional – which has hired a supervisor for each of the seven officiating positions on the field. Six of the supervisors are current NFL officials. Each position group will work together during the week, rather than compete against one another for coveted post-season assignments.

    “I really think we, in all of college football and the NFL, have become focused too much on what our grades are,” Periera told ESPN.com. “Just because an official calls a foul for holding doesn’t mean he’s a great official. How he does it, how he communicates with the players, how he communicates with the coaches, how he communicates with the supervisor, how he keeps himself in shape, how he scores on rules tests – all of those things, to me, got lost somewhere. We all ended up focusing on grades. If you’re officiating and competing just to get the Cotton Bowl, then that’s not the right thing. That’s not the right competition. We should be competing to be as consistent as we possibly can as a group.”

    Pereira’s role as interim coordinator of officials ends May 31st, with a permanent replacement for Dave Cutaia to be named June 1st.

    As with everything else with the Pac-12, though, Pereira has gotten the new conference off to a good start.

    May 25th

    Brother, can you spare a billion?

    “A billion here, a billion there, and pretty soon you’re talking real money” – attributed to U.S. Senator Everett Dirksen

    Not satisfied with the 12-year, $3 billion contract the Pac-12 signed with ESPN and Fox Sports? Is $250 million per year not enough? Convinced that the Buffs can’t get by with an average of $21 million per year in television revenue?

    Larry Scott to the rescue.

    The Pac-12 commissioner is still at it, indicating that the Pac-12 Network could earn the league over $1 billion over the next seven to ten years. The Pac-12 Media Enterprises will be a holding company, which will bundle the Pac-12 Network, digital rights, as well as conference sponsorship and licensing (Pac-12 Properties).

    “I can tell you this, based on offers people have made to us, we’ve got a least a billion-dollar business we’re sitting on,” Scott told CBSSports.com. “That’s just Pac-12 Media Enterprises.”

    Still not enough? “That is a broad figure that has been thrown out to us by media investors. That’s a potential minimum value over a seven-to-ten year period,” said Scott.

    Let’s do some math … $1 billion divided amongst 12 schools could mean an additional $83 million in revenue per school. If the contracts went out ten years, that would be an extra $8.3 million per year per school. If the contracts were for seven years, the figure would go up to $11.9 million per year.

    Profits will not come immediately (the Big Ten Network to two years to realize a profit), but the league is also in line to earn 100% of the revenue, compared to the 49% take the Big Ten teams receive.

    Regardless, it is hard not to see these extra dollars as Monopoly money for the Colorado athletic department.

    If Larry Scott comes through – and when has he failed to deliver even more than what was expected? – the revenue flowing to the University of Colorado from Pac-12 Media Enterprises ALONE could exceed what the Buffs were receiving from television revenue as a member of the Big 12.

    Dare to dream … big!

    May 24th

    No automatic bid for Mountain West likely – will the conference appeal?

    At the end of the 2011 season, the five non-automatic qualifying conferences (Mountain West, Western Athletic, Conference USA, Sun Belt, and Mid-American) will have their status reviewed, with the potential for one of the conferences to qualify to have an automatic bid into a BCS bowl, joining the six conferences (Big East, ACC, SEC, Big Ten, Big 12, and Pac-12) which already have their conference champion guaranteed a BCS bowl game.

    As it stands, only the Mountain West Conference has a chance, and that is a slim one … and MWC officials are none to pleased.

    There is a system in place whereby a* non-AQ conference could be allowed an automatic bid for the bowl games to be played after the 2012 and 2013 seasons. Over a four-year evaluation period (which ends this fall), a conference must meet three benchmarks:

    1) The average rank of the highest-ranked team must finish in the top six (of the 11 conferences);

    2) The number of teams in the conference which have been ranked at least once in the top 25 must rank in the top six; and

    3) The average computer ranking for all teams in the conference must rank in the top six.

    The Mountain West conference qualifies under the first two criteria.

    First, there is the average rank of the highest-ranked teams in the conference. Thanks to Utah and TCU (which are leaving the MWC, but we’ll get to that in*a minute) – the Mountain West average is 5.3, good enough for fourth place amongst all of the conferences (SEC is ranked highest, at 1.3; then the Big 12, 3.3; and the Pac-10, 4.7 … followed by the MWC, Big Ten, 7.0; ACC, 12.0; and the Big East, 14.7).

    Second, there is the number and ranking of teams in the Top 25, adjusted for league size. Again, the Mountain West makes the grade, coming in 5th. The SEC again comes in first, rated at 100%, followed by the Big 12, at 90.6% (CU didn’t help the grade here); the Big Ten (88.9%); Pac-10 (77.8%) MWC (72.9%), Big East (45.1%), and the ACC (41.7%).

    The final test, average computer rankings of all teams (in six computer polls), is where the Mountain West falls short. The SEC, not surprisingly, has the highest overall average, at 38.4, followed by the Big 12 (41.4); ACC (45.1); Pac-10 (45.3); Big Ten (46.5); Big East (50.3); and Mountain West (63.1). The MWC is down in seventh thanks to bottom feeders like New Mexico (1-11 in 2010), UNLV (2-11), Wyoming (3-9) and Colorado State (3-9). With the significant gap between the number six conference, Big East (50.3) and the Mountain West (63.1) is significant enough that it is unlikely that the Mountain West will be able to catch the Big East and meet the third criterion.

    “They would need nothing short of a miracle to get to No. 6″, BCS expert Jerry Palm told the San Diego Union Tribune. “It’s mathematically unrealistic, if not impossible.”

    So, end of story, right? The rules are that in order to be entitled to be*an automatic qualifer for 2013 and 2014, a non-AQ conference must be in the top six in the above three categories, and the Mountain West falls short.

    “The Mountain West has shown it should be in the mix,” said San Diego State Athletic director Jim Sterk. “It has performed better than the Big East and (ACC) for the most part.” The Mountain West has not yet failed to qualify – yet. “Right now (being successful this fall) is our focus,” said Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson. “We want to earn our way by doing what we have to do on the field.”

    But, assuming that the Mountain West fails to post significant advancement top-to-bottom this fall (a task made even more difficult with the departures of Utah and BYU), the conference will have another option. If the MWC meets two of the criteria but comes up short on the third, the conference can appeal its case to the 12-member BCS Presidential Oversight committee. The committee does have the authority to override the three tests. “There may come a time when we have to make that case, but as I said, that is not our focus right now,” said Thompson. “Should be get to that point it will be up to us to share our feelings about the current system.”

    Will the Oversight committee allow the Mountain West into the big money party?

    The case for: The Mountain West is ranked higher than both the ACC and Big East in two of the three criteria. If the conference has a good year in 2011 (TCU remains a member for one more year, with Boise State joining this year), there will be pressure to allow the Mountain West in as an automatic qualifier, at least for 2012 and 2013.

    The case against: The reason the Mountain West is even within sniffing distance of an*automatic bid is due to the success of*Utah, BYU, and TCU over the past*three seasons. None of those*teams will be part of the conference in 2012. In sum, the Mountain West Conference will have earned the bid on the backs of teams who will not be around to participate in the automatic bid.

    Best guess: With the Justice Department making noise about the unfairness of the BCS process, the last thing the BCS or the NCAA wants is to have a very public argument about the unfairness of the BCS process. The four-year evaluation process is only about the 2012 and 2013 bowl seasons. A total of seven teams*from*non-qualifying conferences have made a BCS bowl over the past seven seasons, so the BCS conferences would not be giving up too much to allow an automatic entry from the Mountain West.

    Then, in two years, if the new Mountain West, made up of Boise State, Colorado State, Wyoming, Air Force, New Mexico, San Diego State, UNLV, Hawai’i, Nevada, and Fresno State, cannot produce on the field the same way the old Mountain West did the past three seasons, the BCS could pull the automatic qualification.

    As Jim Sterk, the San Diego State athletic director put it, “this fall is really important to the league.” Think the other members will be cheering for new member Boise State takes on Georgia*on September 3rd? “Huge game,” said MWC commissioner Craig Thompson. “Monster game.”

    Stay tuned …

    *

    May 18th

    Gene Smith still backing Tressel

    Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith is apparently hitching his wagon to Jim Tressel.

    After it appeared to onlookers the past few weeks that Smith was distancing himself from Tressel, Smith this week*gave an endorsement – albeit lukewarm – of his embattled head coach. “Oh, definitely. No question,” Smith responded when asked if he still supported Tressel, who has been accused of lying to the NCAA several different times. “I haven’t changed. I haven’t changed,” Smith told ESPN.com. “But I’m not talking about the case beyond that.”

    The only expansion on the status of the case Smith was willing to make wast that the University was incurring significant legal fees in dealing with the NCAA inquiry, which the school must respond to by mid-August, calling the fees being incurred, “a nightmare.”

    Tressel, for his part, has been enjoying the Big Ten spring meetings, where he has been picking up vocal support from other coaches and administrators.

    Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald made his position clear. The Northwestern coach said he sent Tressel a text message earlier this year that said “Thinking of you … got your back” as the Buckeyes’ leader was dealing with stories of potential NCAA violations. Fitzgerald said he has had a great relationship with Tressel over the years while the two served on various committees together. “More than anything, I tried to let him know I was there and have his back,” Fitzgerald told ESPN.com. “He’s been unbelievable with me since the moment I had a chance to start a relationship with him, and I’ve always been thankful for that.”

    Nebraska athletic director Tom Osborne, while not commenting on the Ohio State scandals specificially, did support Tressel. “I don’t really know enough about [Ohio State's situation],” Osborne said. “I do know Jim Tressel, and I believe that Jim’s an honorable person. There will be those who will criticize me for saying that, but I think I know Jim’s character. What happened, I don’t know a lot about the details. I certainly hope for his sake that things turn out OK, and for Ohio State.”

    “Coaches are great,” Tressel said. “They understand all the challenges everyone has. It’s good to be with them.”

    May 16th

    Western Athletic Conference expansion

    While the BCS conferences – all locked into long-term network television contracts – may not be expanding in the very near future, that doesn’t mean that the game of conference affilation musical chairs has come to a complete stop.

    The Western Athletic Conference is expected to announce its expansion plans in the next month, as invitations must be extended by July 1st in order for newcomers to be available to the conference for the 2012-13 academic.

    It’s hard to keep track of what is out there, but the eight-school conference is losing Fresno State, Nevada, and Hawai’i next summer, but will be adding Texas State, Texas San Antonio, and Denver (which doesn’t play football).

    According to the San Jose Mercury News, schools under consideration for the next round of expansion include Seattle (like Denver, as a non-football playing member), Utah Valley, Cal-State Bakersfield, Lamar, Montana, Montana State (I haven’t heard anything, and I live in Bozeman), Texas-Arlington, Sacramento State, and Cal-Poly SLO.

    The only FBS school (in other words, non-FCS, or 1-AA) under consideration is North Texas, currently a member of the Sun Belt Conference. North Texas has said “no” to the WAC before, but now, with the additions of Texas State and Texas-San Antonio, the Mean Green might be willing to take another look.

    “We could stick with eight members or go to nine or 10 or 12 – all those are still in the mix,” said Western Athletic Conference commissioner Karl Benson. “In the last several months, we’ve honed in on our options.”

    Stay tuned.*An announcement should be forthcoming in the next few weeks …

    Oregon State defensive tackle facing a number of charges

    The Oregon State Beavers have suspended Castro Masanial after the junior defensive tackle was arrested on a litany of charges over the weekend.

    Masanial was arrested and booked on charges of second-degree kidnapping, coercion, disorderly conduct, and criminal mischief. The arrests stemmed from an incident which took place at a downtown McDonald’s restaurant.

    Masanial had been projected as a starter for the Beavers this fall. In 2010, Masanial played in seven games before a shoulder injury forced him to miss the remainder of the season. He was expected to be a “full go” for fall practices starting in August, but his future with the team is now in doubt.

    May 14th

    Former Buffalo quarterback to be quarterback for Cal

    The race to replace Kevin Riley as the starting quarterback at Cal is already over.

    The six man race was reduced to one this week, when Zach Maynard was named as the starting quarterback for the 2011 season. Maynard, a dual-threat quarterback, was the starter for Buffalo in 2009, but decided to transfer after the Bulls head coach Turner Gill was hired at Kansas.*”Zach showed a tremendous amount of upside during spring practice and is the quarterback that gives us the best opportunity to win football games,” head coach Jeff Tedford told ESPN. “He has the ability to both throw and run the ball effectively, giving us another dimension at that position that we haven’t had in a while.”

    Maynard beat out several other candidates for the job, including senior Brock Mansion, who started the final five games of the 2010 season after Kevin Riley was injured (but posted a 1-4 record in those games).

    Cal opens at Candlestick Park on September 3rd against Fresno State before traveling to Boulder to face Colorado in a non-conference game.

    Maynard, who threw for 2,694 yards, 18 touchdowns and 15 interceptions for Buffalo in 1999, will be looking to match the effort of Kevin Riley, who went 15-for-24 for 197 yards and four touchdowns (no interceptions) in last year’s 52-7 rout of the Buffs.

    May 11th

    Chris Spielman: “I’d be surprised if (Jim Tressel) is coaching next year”

    It’s not over yet …

    True, it turned out that one of the 50 vehicle purchases by Ohio State players and their families which are being investigated turned out to be legitimate. The investigations continue, however, and one of the Buckeyes’ most loyal supporters doesn’t see a happy ending for Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel.

    Current broadcaster and former award-winning linebacker Chris Spielman told an Ohio State fund-raiser that “at this rate, I would be surprised if he’s coaching next year (2011)”.* Spielman continued, “Why I say that is I think there is more stuff coming out”. Spielman did not elaborate, but if there is anyone who would have inside information, it would likely be Spielman.

    “He’s a friend of mine, and I respect him. I would be honored if my son were ever good enough to have him play for a guy like Jim Tressel,” said Spielman. “That being said, Ohio State is bigger than one individual … So what has to happen, in my opinion, is that the people in charge have to take an honest look and say, ‘What is best for the university moving forward?’. Then they have to make a hard decision.”

    May 10th

    Colorado / Utah game to be played on Friday

    Not a surprise, but it wasn’t official until today.*

    The season-ending rivalry game between Colorado and Utah will be played in Salt Lake City on Friday, November 25th, the day after Thanksgiving.

    The kickoff for the first meeting between the two schools since 1962 (though the 58th overall) has yet to be determined, as is the television partner. “The (Nebraska) game was extremely popular being played on that particular Friday,” said Colorado athletic director in a press release. “We want to maintain that connectivity. The one constant with our schedule every year is that we knew we would be playing Nebraska the day after Thanksgiving.”

    The Colorado/Nebraska season-ending rivalry game was played every year of the 15-year run by the schools in the Big 12. The last time Colorado played a school other than Nebraska in the last game of the regular season came in 1994, in a memorable game against Iowa State. That afternoon, Rashaan Salaam exceeded the 2,000-yard mark in storybook fashion …

    [​IMG]

    racing for a 67-yard touchdown to make his Heisman-trophy winning total 2,055. Then there was Kordell Stewart, who became the Big Eight’s all-time leader in total yards that afternoon. And yes, by the way, Bill McCartney announced his retirement.

    Beat that, Utah!

    *

    Spring game attendance gives Buffs a new goal

    One more reason to love the move to the Pac-12 …

    Spring game attendance in the Pac-12 was nothing like what you see in rabid areas like Alabama and the Cornhusker state. Oregon set a new Pac-12 record for attendance at a Spring game, with all of*43,468 in attendance.

    The previous record for a Pac-10 Spring game? 25,211, set at Oregon … last spring.

    The University of Colorado will never attract*92,310 to a*spring game, which is the number of Crimson Tide fans on hand for*the Alabama spring game this year. Nor with the Buffs bring in*the 66,784 (the number of red-clad fans who had nothing better to do in Lincoln last month).

    43,468?

    Now that’s a realistic goal.

    This spring, with the enthusiasm of a new coaching staff tempered by the reality of a five-season losing streak, Colorado still drew 15,655 to its Spring game. That total, the second-highest total in Colorado history (17,800 were on hand for the 2008 game), was the third-highest attendance for a Spring game in the Pac-12.

    Other than Oregon, the only school to out-draw Colorado was USC, who was able to pull in 16,850 from the greater Los Angeles metro area. The only other two schools to bring in as many as 10,000 were Utah (15,000) and Washington (10,000).

    Next on the list was Stanford, home of a top five team. Despite having the odds-on favorite for the Heisman trophy, Andrew Luck, Stanford could only draw 6,800 to its Spring game. The rest of the list: Arizona State (6,400); UCLA (6,400); Oregon State (5,519); Arizona (4,500); and Washington State (4,076) (California does not have a formal Spring game).

    While setting a league record for Spring game attendance is not exactly something which will draw national attention, it is something I believe this coaching staff, with a few “W’s” and a little promotion, can accomplish. Junior day in Boulder should be a happening, and, with a little success on the field, is doable.

    If nothing else, it’s nice to know that the University of Colorado has found its niche. Does the Pac-12 have rabid fans? Certainly. Does the new league have loyal fans? Of course.

    But the University of Colorado was never on par with the fan base of the Longhorns, the Sooners, or the Cornhuskers. The Pac-12 always was a better fit.

    It’s nice to feel … finally … at home.

    May 9th

    What we learned this spring

    ESPN blogger Ted Miller has done a good job of covering Colorado’s introduction to the Pac-12, and, I believe, been pretty fair with his assessments. Miller has put out his “What we learned this spring” article, as well as his team-by-team spring reports.

    Some highlights with respect to the Buffs …

    Under the heading of “What we learned this spring”, there is this … “There are no patsies in the Pac-12: A fair share of you seem to believe that Colorado will get clobbered and Utah will be exposed this season. One word: No. Both will be competitive from the start …”.

    “As for the two new teams, Colorado and Utah, the Buffaloes fired Dan Hawkins and hired Jon Embree, who led a physically demanding spring session intended to show his players that a new sheriff was in town. But the transition from the Big 12 to the Pac-12 doesn’t figure to be too dramatic, other than giving fans much better road trips.”

    “Best performance by a walk-on: Colorado sophomore walk-on running back Josh Ford rushed 17 times for 164 yards, including a 56-yard touchdown in the Buffaloes’ spring game.”

    Best “you’ve never heard of me but you will”: Colorado DT Conrad Obi had just four tackles last year and has played just 100 snaps in his career, but the 310-pound fifth-year senior was selected as the Buffaloes’ most improved player this spring. In the three scrimmages, he had 20 tackles (17 solo, six for losses, two sacks), four third-down stops and four tackles for zero yards (so 12 of the 20 were at or behind the line of scrimmage). Oh, and he forced fumble.

    Colorado did come in at No. 11 in the overall power rankings, just ahead of Washington State. While that may be agitating, it is something Buff fans should*get used to over the next few months. The preseason magazines will all say the same things … five straight losing seasons; no cornerbacks to replace Smith and Brown; lousy special teams.*Just because the Buff Nation is excited about Jon Embree and the new coaching staff, it doesn’t mean that anyone else has ever heard of them (Quick: Who is the new tight ends coach for the Washington Redskins? That’s how well Jon Embree is known outside of*the Buff Nation*… for now).

    Here is Ted Miller’s assessment …

    COLORADO

    2010 Overall record: 5-7

    2010 conference record: 2-6 (Big 12)

    [​IMG]Returning starters

    Offense: 8, Defense: 5, punter/kicker: punter

    Top returners

    RB Rodney Stewart, WR Paul Richardson, QB Tyler Hansen, OG Ryan Miller, LB Jon Major, DE Josh Hartigan

    Key losses:

    OT Nate Solder, CB Jimmy Smith, CB Jalil Brown, LB Michael Sipili

    2011 Schedule

    Sept. 4 at Hawaii
    Sept. 10 California
    Sept. 17 Colorado State
    Sept. 24 at Ohio State
    Oct. 1 Washington State
    Oct. 8 at Stanford
    Oct. 15 at Washington
    Oct. 22 Oregon
    Oct. 29 at Arizona State
    Nov. 5 USC
    Nov. 12 Arizona
    Nov. 19 at UCLA
    Nov. 26 at Utah


    2010 statistical leaders (*returning starter)

    Rushing: Stewart* (1,318)

    Passing: Cody Hawkins (1,547)

    Receiving: Scotty McKnight (621)

    Tackles: Sipili (94)

    Sacks: Josh Hartigan (7)

    Interceptions: Brown (3)

    Spring answers

    1. Hello, my name is: The first priority since only one coach was retained from the previous staff was the get to know one another — coaches and players. For the players, they needed to know that a new sheriff was in town, and coach Jon Embree made sure they knew things were different with a physically taxing spring session. Further, coaches had to find their own rhythm working together. And, obviously, new schemes had to be adapted: a pro-style offense and 4-3 base defense.

    2. Hansen without Hawkins: After sharing the starting job with former coach Dan Hawkins’ son Cody the previous three seasons, Hansen is a man-alone at quarterback. That might help, and the results in scrimmages suggested so. In one, he completed 18 of 19 passes for 246 yards and 3 touchdowns (a 255.6 rating), and his totals for all three scrimmages were 39-of-53 (73.6%), 531 yards/5 touchdowns/zero interceptions (188.9 rating). He also showed he’s learning to get rid of the ball as he wasn’t sacked in the three scrimmages.

    3. Fronting the seven: Heading into spring, the defensive front seven was a question, even with a lot of guys back. It still is, but a number of players stepped up, most notably linebacker Doug Rippy and defensive tackle Conrad Obi. Both are upperclassmen who seemed energized by a coaching change. The 310-pound Obi, in particular, was a revelation. After playing just 100 snaps the previous three seasons, he dominated three scrimmages, piling up 20 tackles, six coming for a loss — four were for no-gain, by the way — with two sacks and a forced fumble. Oh, and outside linebacker Jon Major came back strong from a knee injury.

    Fall questions

    1. Hey, buddy, can you spare a corner? Smith and Brown are off to the NFL, and their replacements didn’t reveal themselves this spring. In fact, the results in general in the secondary were a bit worrisome, and incoming players may be needed to help.

    2. Operation install: Much of spring was dedicated to figuring out what sort of talent was on-hand, so the offensive scheme wasn’t fully implemented. That’s going to be a chief task during fall camp.

    3. Just for kicks? Embree was outspoken about how unhappy he was with the special teams play he saw on film in 2010, and he looked exasperated more than a few times this spring. The Buffaloes specialists are going to be young and were markedly inconsistent this spring. Sophomore punter Zach Grossnickle averaged just 39.5 yards per punt in 2010, while sophomore Justin Caster was No. 1 at kicker after spring practices.

    Sports Illustrated doesn’t think much of the Buffs, either …

    Sports Illustrated has graded the new 11 major college coaching hires.

    SI.com gave out two grades of “A”, including one to Stanford and it’s hire of David Shaw. The magazine gave out one “A-”, four “B’s”, one “B-”, two “C’s” … and one “D”.

    Guess which school got the “D”?

    *
    *

    *


    Originally posted by CU At the Game
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