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The #1 team in the nation is from Colorado...

Discussion in 'Colorado Football Message Board' started by ScottyBuff, Nov 13, 2011.

  1. ScottyBuff

    ScottyBuff Well-Known Member

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    D-2 that is!

    CSU-Pueblo finished a perfect regular season yesterday and claiming the RMAC championship.

    Previously ranked #2 in the AFCA D2 poll, they also got word that former #1 Delta State lost their final game!

    CSU-Pueblo should be the #1 ranked team in the nation as the final regular season poll comes out. (They were #3 in the D2Football.com poll)

    Playoff seeding will be announced today at 2, with CSU-Pueblo getting a first round bye and hosting a home playoff game.

    It's their 4th season since football was brought back to the school.

    The coaching staff is literally filled with former Buff coaches and players:
    Head Coach John Wristen is a former CU assistant (TE/Special Teams coach under Barnett)
    Hunter Hughes is the DC (former GA at CU under Barnett)
    Mike Babcock is the QB coach (former CU intern under Barnett)
    Donnell Leomiti is the DB/RB coach
    Bernard Jackson is the WR coach
    Chris Symington is the OL coach
    Paul Creighton is the DL coach

    If anyone gets a chance to come down to Pueblo and watch some great football and enjoy the best slopper, grinder, or chile rellenos I encourage you to do so!
     
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2011
  2. Unleash Hell

    Unleash Hell Well-Known Member

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    My wife is an alum and we came down in their first year back for a game.
     
  3. max4buffs

    max4buffs Well-Known Member

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    Thank you for this. These guys are family and come to practice in Boulder quite a bit when they arn't busy with there own affairs. I know a couple and trust me, these guys represent CU Football even at CSU Pueblo.
     
  4. CSU Husker

    CSU Husker Well-Known Member

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    CSU Ft Collins is thankful they arent on their schedule.
     
    SuperiorBuff likes this.
  5. MtnBuff

    MtnBuff Not allowed in Barzil 2 Club Member

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    What this program has accomplished in 5 years is nothing short of amazing. To go from literally nothing to #1 in this time has to be unprecidented.

    The city and surrounding area have really gotten behind the program as well. The stadium was built without using school money and the other start-up cost were covered as well. I have been meaning to get to a game but have heard that the atmosphere in the stadium is great. The community has adopted the team and supports it tremendously.

    Coach Wristen and his staff have found quality players, most from within the Southern Colorado area, and coached them up. They program still isn't funded to cover the full D2 limit of scholarships but that hasn't hurt them on the field.

    With the support they have and continued success I would not be surprised if in a few years the program doesn't have an expanded stadium with 20k in attendance each game playing at the FCS level, and winning.
     
  6. ScottyBuff

    ScottyBuff Well-Known Member

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    Wristen turning down interest for the UNC job was a big win for this program to continue its success. There is a lot of talk about pushing to the next level as a program. The baseball team has always been very competitive one (I tried to walk-on in 1995 after the program was just started 2 years before I got there, but let's just say I "peaked" as a shagger for BP), the wrestling team was just brought back as well. The hoops program is starting to pick up with a new HC and a very nice arena that was just remodeled.

    I think that the 5-10 year plan probably has FCS as a real possibility. I would think UNC would welcome them at that level since their program has really tanked since they left D2, and having a local rival could help them as well. But the Bears also provide the lesson that jumping up in competition could erode all that support they had when winning D2 championships. In all honesty, the difference could be Wristen and his staff, they are great at recruiting the state and IMO have outrecruited UNC on many kids.

    CSU-P still has a lot smaller enrollment than most FCS programs so the exponential growth we've seen in the last 5 years would have to continue. That puts a strain on the campus until new buildings can be built. We would probably need to be nearly double the enrollment we are at now and that would take some time.

    I don't think they need a 20k seat stadium to compete at the FCS level, most in the Big Sky fall in the low to mid teens with only Montana, Portland State, and Sac State exceeding 20k. The design of the Thunderbowl, however could certainly be expanded very easily up to 15k or more.

    It would be fun if they scheduled a home-home against UNC in the future to "test their mettle" and see how they stack up.
     
  7. MtnBuff

    MtnBuff Not allowed in Barzil 2 Club Member

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    I think the big factor is the support from the community. I work in the Springs and the energy and enthusiasm from Pueblo for the program spills over to the Springs area. The people I know in Pueblo are amazed by the loyalty and support the program gets there.

    Part of this is that it really is the only game in town. The closest D1 school is the AFA and it is not only an hour away but also culturally a continent away from Pueblo. The city of Pueblo itself provides a potential fan base larger than most FCS schools have with a population of over 100,000. Bring in supporters from the rest of Southern Colorado and you have a large potential fan base. You could even bring in a lot from the southern end of Colorado Springs which is an easy drive to Pueblo. This is especially true since the C.S. area is and would be a key source of talent for the program and people would follow the players they know from HS to their college career.

    The school itself is growing rapidly and again is the only real option for many students in southern Colorado who want a university environment. It draws a lot of students from the Arkansas valley, the San Luis Valley, the Walsenburg and Trinidad areas meaning it has the potential to have real regional support and loyalty.
     
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2011
  8. ScottyBuff

    ScottyBuff Well-Known Member

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    Exactly. A lot of CSU-P alums still live in the area so the built in fanbase was already pretty large.

    I live in Pueblo, and am a CSU-P alum, so it is great to see the growth we've had. We lived in Springs for about 5 years and the support for AFA is pretty good (especially on the northern end of town where the Air Force culture is very strong). In Pueblo, it is more about the community and the town's identity. It really is the only game in town as CU and CSU have very little visibility down here from a marketing/advertising perspective. Even in Colorado Springs, I thought CU did a poor job of marketing, I guess they didn't want to step on the toes of their sister campus at UCCS?

    The D2 Track & Field National Championships will be held in Pueblo in 2012 and 2013, along with the football team, they are really drawing strong interest for the region and the school.
     
  9. azbuff

    azbuff Club Member Club Member

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    Wow. Mr. Jackson has come a long way over the last couple of years. Good for him.
     
  10. Alfred91

    Alfred91 Club Member Club Member

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    Ironic that he's the WR coach
     
  11. Daaah

    Daaah Club Member Club Member

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    Don't ya think?
     
  12. Junction

    Junction Moderator Club Member

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    I knew CSU-P was in the top 10, but hadn't seen they had made it all the way to #2 (heading for #1). Nice to see an RMAC school get to that point that isn't in the state of ****braska. Even if I do still have a dislike of Pueblo dating clear back to their days as USC. :lol:

    Wristen has done an amazing job down there. It's all about coaching. Western State, Mesa, Mines, even Adams State, have had national level success with the right coaches in the RMAC. UNC won national championships with Joe Glenn. It will be interesting to see how long they can keep Wristen there... schools will come sniffing around, but he's built a very Colorado-centric staff there...

    I'd be very careful with the FCS idea. UNC is about double the enrollment of CSU-P, and FCS has been a disaster for them. Like I said, success for the RMAC schools has tended to be really dependent on coaches. And like you said, CSU-P would be a small school for FCS at this point. I would expect it to keep growing - the second tier (non-CU/CSU) schools are growing all over the state. Mesa is growing at close to 10% per year. Metro is growing fast. CSU-P is growing. So is CU-CS, I believe. That's pretty likely to continue. But CSU-P is already the second largest football school in the RMAC (or will be once Kearney gets the **** out... :lol:), and in the largest market of any of the football schools (aside from Mines, which is a special case, and while the Grand Junction msa is only about 13k less than Pueblo's, that ignores the CS influence). All that would be different in FCS. I don't see anything wrong with putting together a top level DII program in CSU-P's situation. It's been an amazing accomplishment so far. Enjoy the run. I would love to see CMU get back to where it was under Bob Cortese in the 80s and early 90s...
     
  13. MtnBuff

    MtnBuff Not allowed in Barzil 2 Club Member

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    Wristen seems to be using a very similar strategy to what Cortese used when he had Mesa really rolling.

    Cortese worried less about position than athletic ability. He found some kids who were FCS or even BCS (D1a and D1aa at the time I believe) schools had overlooked because they played at high schools that were either small enough to escape notice, had bad teams hiding talent, or had the kids playing out of position. Cortese brought in kids from all over Colorado, and a few from surrounding states. A lot of them were west slope kids from small schools but a lot of them were also from the front range. Cortese moved them around, adjusted what he did for the talent he had, and won a bunch of games. A good indication of his eye for talent was the number of guys who ended up geting at least a look in NFL camps, more than some D1 schools got at the time.

    Wristen seems to be doing a lot of the same things. He has a lot of southern Colorado kids, recruits the Springs hard, and looks for talent in every little corner he can find. He then moves them around and gets the best out them possible. With Colorado being kind of isolated from the rest of the country a lot of talented kids can be overlooked at the D2 level since schools usually don't travel a lot to recruit.
     
  14. Junction

    Junction Moderator Club Member

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    Cortese recruited the Denver area hard, and also had a lot of D-1 transfers that played big parts (which isn't unusual with successful NAIA schools then or DII schools now...). Guys like Don Holmes, Tony Martin and Walter Stanley from CU, Mark Miller from CSU and a few others. Wristen also seems to be doing a lot of those things too. Looking at their roster, there are a lot of kids from Denver schools and a lot of kids who have transferred, whether from CSU, other larger schools, other RMAC schools or from JCs. Again, a lot of that is having a coach that kids see and want to play for. He does really well at that...

    Where I suspect they're different is that I doubt that Wristen is going to convince himself that his program is the right launching pad to move straight to the CU or Notre Dame head coaching jobs, both of which Cortese pursued at one time or another... :lol:
     
  15. MtnBuff

    MtnBuff Not allowed in Barzil 2 Club Member

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    Cortese did a great job in the Denver area but one of the things he was really good at there was pulling good athletes out of a lot of the schools that didn't have very good teams, a lot of the kids who may not have been good enough to get noticed by the major programs and got overlooked by the smaller D1 schools. Those Mesa teams had some real athletes on them.

    The D1 transfers were interesting as well. He got a lot of kids who were either buried behind a top flight D1 player and also some guys who had issues which weren't really bad but were enough to get them invited to leave their teams.

    As much as I kid you, I think it is only a matter of time until CMU is back in a prominent position in their division. The school and the town offer a lot of reasons for kids to want to come there. Cortese was a rare type of coach but get the right guy in there and Mesa could be contending again quickly.
     
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2011
  16. SBG

    SBG Formerly known as EFNMB Club Member Junta Member

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    If CU wants to make inroads to the CO HS it might be a good idea to bring in one of these coaches. Not sure any are ready, but perhaps there's a GA spot open. These guys can recruit CO talent!
     
  17. JRK7

    JRK7 Member

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    Meanwhile after being back to back D-2 National Champions in the late 1990's Northern Colorado finished this season 0-11 and is 15-73 since 2004. They shoud have never moved up to I-AA.
     
  18. ScottyBuff

    ScottyBuff Well-Known Member

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    It is official!

    http://www.afca.com/article/article.php?id=1185

    D2football.com will probably have them #2 but it could be close.

    They get a first round bye and will face the winner of the defending champ (Minnesota-Duluth) and Saginaw State.

    In regards to the FCS "dream", that is certainly what it will be for quite a while, but it will be a tempting target.

    It would be best if they pursued a Grand Valley State or West Texas A&M model and just remained a dominant team in the region without feeling the pressure to "upgrade".

    With Kearney leaving for the MIAA (will Chadron follow them later?), I think that helps position Mesa to get back into the upper tier, but it doesn't help the conference to lose programs like that to other D2 conferences even though I understand Kearney wanting to move to one of the better D2 conferences.
     
  19. MtnBuff

    MtnBuff Not allowed in Barzil 2 Club Member

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    D2 tends to be very regional, the Nebraska schools share a lot more in common geographically with the MIAA than with the RMAC, the move puts them a lot closer to a lot of other schools. The RMAC gave them a lot of long road trips.

    I'm not sure that the RMAC schools will miss those long bus trips to the middle of Nebraska either.
     
  20. BuffUp

    BuffUp W.T.T.F. Club Member

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    lot's of old BUFFS on the staff and the head coach worked with GB at Northwestern... lots of those kids on the roster are from texas
     
  21. ScottyBuff

    ScottyBuff Well-Known Member

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    76 out of 112 from Colorado, 11 from Cali, 6 from Texas. Mix of some from Florida, Hawaii, Arizona and other states with 1 or 2.

    I wouldn't see that they are targeting Texas as a recruiting pipeline, any more than the normal amount of kids enroll in the school from Texas.
     
  22. SteelCity Buff

    SteelCity Buff Member

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    Obviously, football is the economic engine for most athletic departments, and while you can't debate that unc has been horrible on the field, I would bet their bottom line hasn't taken the hit that larger bcs schools would take had they been that down. Unc's average attendance is in the 4k, down from 5 or 6k when they first built that stadium. I'm sure they've taken some type of financial hit.

    The question of the move to Iaa for them becomes more interesting to me when you weigh their basketball success. They had pretty good exposure in the area last year as the only front range team to make the tourney. If that success continues, was the move worth it? I think its at least debatable.
     
  23. Alfred91

    Alfred91 Club Member Club Member

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    The UNC basketball experience is an interesting addition to their D1 story, but seeing as UNC is still going to very rarely be on tv and Butler Hall seems more like a big HS's gym than a college basketball arena, it can't really help the athletic department that much financially on a long-term basis, unless they become a regular tournament team, and the fact that the architect of that program is now coaching ours indicates that's probably not going to happen.

    I do think UNC's experience could be a non-starter, as they have to contend with both CU and CSU being within an hour's drive of Greeley, while CSU-P (that just seems weird - it was always USC when I was a kid) would really be the only game in town in Pueblo and southern Colorado. Having said that, they should stay put and hopefully dominate for at least 5-10 years before trying out FCS.
     
  24. MtnBuff

    MtnBuff Not allowed in Barzil 2 Club Member

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    This is a big deal. CSU-P has the potential of being the football program for the entire region from Colorado Springs south into northern New Mexico.
    Granted much of this area doesn't have a lot of population but Pueblo and the I-25 corridor is steadily growing and they could be the only real attraction in town. Even the AFA has a limited potential as a competitor since they don't have many kids from the region who go there and are seen as more a part of the military.

    There are some obstacles to CSU-P moving up but the comparison to Greeley isn't a good one.
     
  25. BuffUp

    BuffUp W.T.T.F. Club Member

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    my bad - but they do have beautiful facilities. Their gym is amazing, baseball field is crazy nice and for the grass fairy's (soccer) holy crap! the football stadium is better than csu the big brother... and I agree with mtnbuff, Pueblo is a pretty cool place to live. Big reservoir, warmer and hey the state fair!!
     
  26. ScottyBuff

    ScottyBuff Well-Known Member

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    It's not too bad, year-round golf and outdoor activities. Not a great job market, but it is an extremely affordable place to live.
     

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