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The Colorado Daily – March, 2011

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    By Stuart

    March 31st

    Auburn responds

    Auburn athletic director Jay Jacobs stated that the university will look into the allegations made in the HBO report.

    “While HBO confirmed to us they have no proof that any of these claims are true, we contacted both the NCAA and Southeastern Conference as soon as these allegations surfaced,” Jacobs said in a statement released Wednesday night. “We have engaged outside counsel to investigate this matter and will spare no resources to find the truth.”

    University president Jay Gogue said he is confident Jacobs and his department “will investigate these allegations thoroughly and completely.”

    Current Auburn head coach Gene Chizik was less diplomatic in his response: “It saddens me that somebody is going to air a show with basically one side being known. I think that’s pathetic. And I think it’s pure garbage,” he said.

    March 30th

    Will HBO expose’ signal a change in recruiting?

    On a day when Colorado self-reported a secondary recruiting violation (a ten-year old brother of a recruit had his meals covered because the recruit did not bring sufficient funds for his sibling during the official visit. The tab for the weekend ran to $103.26), HBO has run a special “Pay to Play”, in which four former Auburn players claim that they were regularly given money by boosters – and coaches – during their years at Auburn.

    The four players – Chaz Ramsey, Troy Reddick, Stanley McClover and Raven Gray all played for Auburn well before the current coaching staff arrived at Auburn. Still, their allegations, if anywhere close to the truth, should rock the college football world.

    SportsbyBrooks.com obtained an advance copy of the HBO show, and printed excerpts on its website. Among the more colorful allegations …

    Stanley McClover: “Somebody came to me, I don’t even know this person and he was like, ‘we would love for you to come to LSU and he gave me a handshake and it had five hundred dollars in there. … that’s called a money handshake … I grabbed it and I’m like, ‘wow,’ hell I thought ten dollars was a lot of money back then. Five hundred dollars for doing nothing but what I was blessed to do. I was happy.

    HBO’s Andrea Kremer to McClover: “What did you say to the guy when he hands you five hundred dollars?

    McClover: “Thank you and I’m seriously thinking about coming to LSU.”

    Kremer voiceover: “But McClover says there were money handshakes from boosters at other football camps too. At Auburn for a couple hundred dollars and at Michigan State. All the schools denied any wrongdoing. And things really started heating up a few months later when he went to Ohio State for an official visit where schools get a chance for one weekend to host prospective athletes. McClover says there were money handshakes from alumni there too. About a thousand dollars. And something else to entice him.

    McClover: “They send girls my way. I partied. When I got there I met up with a couple guys from the team. We went to a party and they asked me to pick any girl I wanted.

    Kremer: “Did she offer sexual services?

    McClover: “Yes.

    Kremer: “Did you take them?

    McClover: “Yes.

    Kremer: “McClover committed to Ohio State right after that weekend. The recruiter at Ohio State who says he dealt with McClover that weekend denied the school was involved in any wrongdoing.

    Kremer voiceover: “Reddick was growing increasingly unhappy because he says the (Auburn) coaches wanted him to change his major. Why? Because his class schedule got in the way of football practice.

    Troy Reddick: “I changed my major, so my classes didn’t interfere no more but I didn’t bother to go because I knew I was only there to play football.

    Kremer: “So what did you do?

    Reddick: “I started complaining and insinuating that I was ready to leave any day. They had to do something about that.”

    Kremer voiceover: “The enticement to stay, Reddick says, became clear to him, when one of the coaches approached him after a team meeting.

    Reddick: “He (Auburn coach) said I got some mail for you up in my office.”

    Kremer to Reddick: “Some mail for you?

    Reddick: “And I followed him up to his office and he gave me an envelope. I didn’t open there, I walked out to my truck, took off. … It was about 500 dollars.”

    Kremer: “500 dollars in the envelope?

    Reddick: (nods yes)

    Kremer: “How often did you get the money in the envelope?

    Reddick: “Over that season it happened like two or three more times. And it happened about six or seven times my senior year.

    Kremer: “So where do you think the money came from?

    Reddick: “I think that worry got back to alumni from my hometown.* Or it may have been the coaches or the staff but everybody knew I didn’t want to be there.”

    Damning stuff.

    Auburn, for its part, denied any wrongdoing, issuing a statement that “these alleged claims are apparently made by a few former football players,” stating, “compliance with all NCAA and Southeastern Conference rules is a major emphasis and a top priority for all of our athletic programs.”

    The players stated that they didn’t hold anything against Auburn, and that they were not out to get the school. “I want high school athletes to know what they’re getting into,” concluded Ramsey. “This is what college football is really all about. It’s a business.”

    Time will tell if this report turns into a major story, or just another footnote in the long and sad history of college football recruting lore.

    March 29th

    Buffs on Sunday?

    Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott is always thinking outside the box.

    From expanding the Pac-10 to 12 (or even 16) to the Pac-12 Network to expanding the league’s presence in the Pacific islands and Asia, Larry Scott is always in the news when there is a chance to gain greater exposure for the new league.

    Now, with the NFL players locked out, and the possibility of there being no football on Sundays this fall, Scott is exploring the idea of having the Pac-12 move some of its games to Sundays for the 2011 season. “We certainly are monitoring the situation,” said Scott. “We have no plans in place at this time, but you want to be prepared and consider all options.”

    “We haven’t made any alternative programming plans right now,” said Sean McManus, president of CBS News and CBS Sports. “When presented with whatever scenario develops, we will adjust. But right now, we’re not making any contingency plans or any thoughts of next season without football.”

    The major problem for the Pac-12 teams, of course, is that a move to a Sunday game would cause logistical problems for the home team. Fans coming from out of state often make their arrangements for travel and lodging months in advance, and the lockout issue is likely to drag on throughout the summer.

    “Thursday night football hasn’t been around forever, but we adjusted to that,” said Arizona athletic director Greg Byrne. “Sunday is a day a lot of people look to watch football. You would get good exposure.

    “But Sunday games would be something we would have to think long and hard about before we jumped into.”

    The main problem would be that, for the Sunday college games to work, there would have to be enough lead time for the schools and the fans to adjust. However, a significant lead time is the one thing that the networks might not be able to provide.

    “From the network’s perspective, I’m sure they would welcome the programming opportunity if they knew the NFL was not going to play,” said Patrick Rishe, founder of Sportsimpacts.com, a sports consulting firm. “(But) it’s not as though you can announce these things months in advance, because, as we have seen, the NFL and the NFLPA could resolve their dispute at the last minute.”

    March 28th

    Will NCAA come down hard on Tressel?

    Colorado fans already know that neither quarterback Terrelle Pryor nor his coach, Jim Tressel, will be on the sidelines when Colorado plays at Ohio Stadium on September 24th.

    But will Tressel’s self-imposed five game suspension be enough for the NCAA?

    An SI.com study of the past 177 NCAA infractions involving violations of Bylaw 10.1 revealed that coaches accused of such violations rarely retain their jobs. Of the 177 cases reviewed, 172 involved coaches or athletic administrators accused of unethical conduct. Of those, 159, or 92%, either resigned or were terminated.

    More on point to what Tressel did – withhold information about violations from both his school and the NCAA – there were 81 cases, and 78 of those (or 96%) resigned or were terminated. Tressel clearly lied, and, as with most scandals, it is the coverup which may prove more costly than the crime. Tressel knew last spring that at least two of his players were trading memorabilia for cash and tattoos, but Tressel kept the information to himself. In September, Tressel signed a form indicating that he did not know of any NCAA violations. In December, when the NCAA started looking into the players’ action, Tressel again remained quiet. Tressel did, though, take the time to notify a Pryor “mentor” about potential problems for their star quarterback.

    Those three actions – notifying someone other than his compliance office and the NCAA; signing the form; and the failure to divulge his knowledge in December – violate section 10.1_(d) of the NCAA bylaws, which forbids, “knowingly furnishing the NCAA or the individual’s institutions false or misleading information concerning the individual’s involvement in or knowledge of matters relevant to a possible violation of an NCAA regulation.”

    Can’t be more spot on than that. Tressell clearly violation 10.1_(d), a section which has resulted in coaches getting canned 96% of the time in the past 20 years.

    Still, when Ohio State President Gordon Gee (formerly of the University of Colorado – I’ve got his name on one of my CU diplomas) was asked about firing Tressel, Gee joked about him hoping that Tressel wouldn’t fire him.

    We’ll see …

    March 23rd

    Colorado at least talking about stadium naming rights

    Pardon, your slip is showing …

    A poster on AllBuffs (well done, GoldenBuff!) just happened to be looking the way of Folsom Field on Tuesday, and noticed on the video screen at the stadium a sign which read, “Welcome to Frontier Stadium”.

    So, have the naming rights to Folsom Field been sold?

    While the negotiations were not meant to be public knowledge, the University has confirmed that CU is discussing a deal for the naming rights to Folsom Field. The message posted on the stadium video screen was designed to give Frontier officials an idea of how the stadium might look on gameday if Frontier were to become a sponsor. Frontier is already a major sponsor of Colorado athletics, but naming the stadium would take the relationship to a whole new level.

    “We recognize the significant partnership and activation opportunity that exists with a stadium naming relationship,” said Colorado athletic director Mike Bohn. “We have been working for the last several years to find a partner to play a role in our continued movement to the Pac-12.

    “It would be premature to reveal potential partners or naming efforts at this time.”

    Bohn does have authority from the Board of Regents to look into such a deal, but only with the stipulation that any deal retain Folsom Field as part of the name.

    So, how much would “Folsom Field at Frontier Stadium” be worth?

    One of the*largest collegiate deals*was signed in 2005, when TCF Bank of Minneapolis agreed to pay $35 million for the title rights to the new University of Minnesota stadium. Colorado may be looking at a more modest amount for having to share the name of its stadium with its corporate benefactor, but $1 million per year for 10-20 years is not out of the question.

    The key will likely be having a set term to the contract, or having an escalator clause in the deal, so that, as naming rights become more valuable, Colorado can reap a higher reward. “A lot of deals that were done before were on a need basis, rather than a value basis,” said Rob Vogel, president and CEO of Bonham Group, a sports and entertainment marketing company based in Denver (since renamed Bonham Sports Entertainment). “As more colleges put their names out there for corporate America to buy, they’re going to look at what the value really is for those rights.

    “The assets will be more valuable in the future than today,” said Vogel. “The universities will be looking to get a certain level of protection over the years.”

    With Colorado in need of an infusion of cash over the next few years before the Pac-12 money starts rolling in (see below), getting something for – in essence – nothing, would be a great boon to the athletic department’s budget.

    I, for one, can live with “Folsom Field at Frontier Stadium”.

    Sure beats what I have been calling for all these years … “Celestial Seasons Stadium” …

    March 22nd

    Road to financial recovery starts with repayment of loans

    Before Colorado fans can start dreaming about how to spend all of those new Pac-12 dollars, the athletic department needs to get back to even.

    The athletic department is on track to repay $8 million in loans taken in 2006 amid a coaching change and other financial setbacks. The $8 million need came as a result of almost $4 million paid to fire Gary Barnett and hire Dan Hawkins; $3.2 million in lost revenue due to declining ticket sales and donations; and $1 million for delaying a mandatory donation from season ticket holders.

    Now, with the lost revenue connected with the departure from the Big 12 and the $2 million buyout of the Dan Hawkins’ contract, and the athletic department may need even more money from the school, or perhaps from the Pac-12 itself.

    “The paybacks are proceeding on schedule, and the agreement is working out just as we envisioned it would,” said CU-Boulder spokesman Bronson Hilliard. The athletic department will make a payment of $756,477 in June, and is on schedule to have the loan paid off by fiscal year 2019. By the time the loan is repaid, the athletic department will have paid just over $1 million in interest.

    “The general financial management has improved greatly over the past five or six years, and part of that has been staying on schedule and repaying the loan,” said David Clough, a CU professor and faculty athletics representative. “As we move forward with the realignment in the Pac-12 conference, things look reasonably optimistic from the faculty’s point of view, and it’s going to be a matter of staying the course and continuing to exercise good financial management.”

    For more on where Colorado fits within the Big 12 in terms of revenue and expenses, see the Forbes story, below.

    Okay, but let’s dream a little bit, anyway … There*is a report in this week’s SportsBusinessJournal stating that the Pac-12 “is seeking the richest media rights deal in the country (amongst conferences) – considerably more than the SEC’s $205 million annual deal with CBS/ESPN … It’s expected to let its exclusive negotiating windows with current partners lapse and head into the open market next month.”

    Yes, it’s still early in the process. The exclusive period of negotiations with ESPN and Fox won’t expire until the end of April, at which time Pac-12 commissioner is hoping that Fox and Comcast will get into a bidding war. (ESPN is not out of the discussion, but with its existing contracts and the Pacific time zone to deal with, is not likely to be the high bidder for the Pac-12’s package deal).

    How high will the bidding go? Who knows. But, as we’ve discussed before, I’m very glad that it is Larry Scott who represents the league Colorado is playing for, and not Dan Beebe.


    March 21st

    Colorado football revenue middle of the pack in the Big 12

    Forbes magazine has put together an article, “Who’s Making Money in Big 12 Football?”, which has some interesting numbers.

    In the Big 12, Texas rules the roost. No surprise there. The surprise is just how far ahead of everyone else the Longhorns have gotten (even before the one-sided deal the Longhorns made with the “Little Seven” to stay in the Big 12). In the 2009-10 fiscal year, Texas brought in just short of $94 million. Not only is that amount over $35 million more than the second place team in the Big 12 (Oklahoma, with $58 million), but Texas was $21 million ahead of any other school in the nation (Alabama, at $72 million).

    Colorado, meanwhile, ranked 6th in the conference, with $26,233,929.00 in revenue, just ahead of Texas Tech, but over $5 million behind the No. 5 school, Oklahoma State.

    The difference between the haves and the have-nots in the Big 12 is illustrated when conference averages are compared with the mid-point of revenue. In terms of averages, the Big 12 was 3rd, with $35.4 million per team, but when the mid-point is considered, the Big 12’s $20.6 million ties the conference with the ACC in fourth place, far behind the SEC ($57.4 million), and even behind the Pac-10 ($24.4 million). Overall, the Big 12 had four teams below $20 million per year (both Kansas schools, Iowa State, and Baylor), while the SEC, Big Ten and Pac-10 had five teams -*combined – under $20 million.

    In terms of penny-pinching, Colorado was 10th in the conference in terms of football expenses, with $12,558,503.00, with only Baylor and Kansas State spending less on football. This put Colorado in the middle of the pack in terms of football profit (6th, with $13,675,426.00).

    Bottom Line … In terms of overall profit, Colorado was ranked 10th in the Big 12 in terms of overall profit. The Buffs netted $930,604.00 for the 2009-10 fiscal year. Considering the Buffs had losing records in all three of its major sports, any profit is a good one.

    Want to know how far behind the Buffs are in terms of basketball revenue? Kansas was dead last in football profit in 2009-10, with $1.6 million. In terms of athletic department profit, however, Kansas was second only to Texas, with*a healthy profit of $11.6 million.

    But wait, there’s more … Looking forward, there is sunshine on the horizon. First, the*men’s and women’s basketball teams both*posted a winning record in 2010-11, with the men playing before a school record five sellouts. The future finally looks bright in*the monetary black hole which has been the Coors Event Center.

    Plus, Colorado is moving on to a more level playing field. In 2009-10, the average athletic department profit in in the Pac-10 was $1.8, which, while double the $900,000 generated by the Buffs, is well within sight.

    See ‘ya later, Big 12. Good luck keeping up with Texas, Oklahoma and Texas A&M, “Little Seven”!


    March 19th

    McCartney and Barnett back in the fold at Colorado*…

    … if only for an afternoon.

    Bill McCartney, the head coach at Colorado from 1982-94, and Gary Barnett, head coach in Boulder from 1999-2005, will be on the sidelines in Folsom Field on April 9th.

    The pair have agreed to be the coaches for the alumni flag football game which is scheduled to take place prior to the Spring Game. Both coaches, along with the players, will be available for autographs after the contest.

    A little corny? Sure. Symbolic? You bet.

    Colorado fans knew from day one last December that new head coach Jon Embree and new offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy would embrace the proud history of the Colorado football program. From bringing back the “bricks” in the Dal Ward Center to bringing back former players to talk to the team, Embree and Bieniemy (not to mention the other coaches with*Buff ties: Greg Brown, Kanavis McGhee, Steve Marshall and Brian Cabral) want their players to bleed black-and-gold.

    Having McCartney and Barnett coach a flag football game, just for fun?


    Hunter Harrison a name to remember

    Flying under the radar has been a problem for Hunter Harrison the past few seasons.

    Hopefully, by 2012, he will be in the spotlight.

    Harrison, a 5′9″, 170-pound cornerback,*was not highly recruited out of Fort Carson high in Fountain, Colorado, in 2009. “I only played football one year in high school, because before that I was focused on football,” Harrison told BuffStampede.com. “I thought that was going to be my sport. I ended up having a pretty good high school career, and got an offer from a D-2 school in Nebraska, but I was just too short to get more interest.”

    As a result, Harrison moved to Durango, and played last year as a true freshman for Ft. Lewis. He finished with 60 tackles, fourth on the team. Instead of staying at Ft. Lewis, though, Harrison decided to ply his trade elsewhere. “I didn’t want to be there. I always wanted to play either in Boulder or at another big school,” so he contacted the Colorado coaching staff.

    After reviewing film on Harrison, the coaches agreed to allow him to walk on this spring. “They didn’t see any reason why they wouldn’t let me walk on,” said Harrison, “but I had to go to workouts. The workout program was the hardest thing I have ever done in my life. But I made it through, so they said, ‘You can be on the team now and start spring ball with us.’ ”

    Harrison has participated in spring drills, and is doing well so far. “Coach Brown said he was really impressed by me during the one-on-ones, so that is when I started getting in on the team stuff.” The 5′9″ corner has been impressed with what he has seen in Boulder. “The players are huge”, said Harrison, who hopes to be up to 185 pounds by next year. “Even though cornerbacks don’t have to be huge, it is definitely a plus when you are coming in trying to hit these running backs that are going 100 miles per hour.”

    Due to NCAA transfer rules, Hunter Harrison will have to sit out the 2011 season. If he is still with the team next year, however, he will still have three years of eligibility remaining.


    March 17th

    Ohio State head coach will also miss the Colorado game

    And then there were six …

    “Coach Tressel has requested that he sit out the first five games of the 2011 season,” said Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith (yes, that Gene Smith, the one who couldn’t explain why Alabama-Birmingham, USC,*Clemson*and VCU were better suited for the NCAA tournament than Colorado). “I have accepted his request, and we are taking action to notify the NCAA. Until the NCAA has completed its investigation, we will not be publicly discussing the details of this case.”

    In case you have been out of the country … five Ohio State players, including starting quarterback Terrelle Pryor, have been suspended by the NCAA for the first five games of the 2011 season (which includes the Colorado game September 24th). The players were suspended for selling rings, trophies, and bowl game apparel in 2009. The appeal of that suspension was today denied by the NCAA, meaning that Terrelle Pryor will be the most photographed spectator during the Colorado/Ohio State game in September.

    While the players were suspended for improper benefits, Jim Tressel’s transgression was that he (back in December) denied knowing about the problems with the players. As it turned out, however,*he*was aware of the*issue*last spring. For nine months, Tressel failed to notify the NCAA or his own compliance department about being aware that his players had received money and other benefits from a Columbus tattoo-shop owner.

    At first, Tressel was suspended by the school for two games, and fined $250,000. Now, according to sources, the suspension has been lengthened at Tressel’s request. “I spoke with athletic diretor Smith, and our student-athletes involved, and told them that my mistakes need to share the same game sanctions,” said Tressel. “I am very sorry for the mistakes I made.”

    Whether Tressel’s presence – or lack thereof – will make any difference when the Buffs face the Buckeyes remains to be seen. What is known is that the NCAA is still investigating, and that Tressel’s self-imposed suspension may not be deemed a sufficient penalty by the NCAA …

    March 16th

    It’s here!

    The Pac-12 has introduced its new logo, doing so with a YouTube video.

    Here’s what Pac-12 chief marketing officer Danette Leighton said in a statement:

    “With so many of our fans active on social media outlets like YouTube, Facebook and Twitter, we wanted to create something that could easily be shared and we felt this would be a fun and natural way for us to launch the new Pac-12 mark. We wanted to do something creative that allowed some of our student-athletes and fans to give the new logo life. We also wanted to reflect the enthusiasm that all of our institutions have for the Pac-12 becoming a reality this summer.”

    Okay, so it’s not much different than the current Pac-10 logo, and it’s not much different than what you would expect.

    But … it does mean that Colorado is just that much closer to becoming a full-fledged member of the Pac-12!

    March 14th

    Big 12 close to new television deal with Fox

    According to a Sporting News report, the Big 12 is nearing a deal with Fox Sports which could triple the conference’s revenue over its current contract.

    The new deal, if true, would pay the league more than $60 million per year, a considerable raise from the $20 million received under the existing agreement. Fox is also in discussion with eight of the league’s schools about establishing a conference specific channel along the lines of what the University of Texas has already negotiated (in case you are wondering about the math – Oklahoma wants its own network).

    (One area which would need to be clarified – would it be the “Big 12 Network” if only eight teams participate?).

    The two arrangements – Fox’s cable deal and the potential league network – are separate conversations. The Big 12’s cable contract with Fox runs through 2011-12, and will pay the league $20 million during the upcoming year. The ABC/ESPN contract, which covers most of the football and some of the basketball games, runs through 2016. The network and cable deals would bring in an average of $130 million per year, to be divided amongst the ten teams. This is only slightly behind the ACC deal with ESPN, which made a deal for $155 million a year (divided amongst 12 teams.

    Ten teams – geographically challenged, and with no conference championship game?

    This all bodes well for the Pac-12 negotiations. The new league is getting $14.5 million for the 2011 Pac-12 championship game, so there are extra dollars right there that was not part of the Big 12 negotiations. There is also the fact that Fox is willing to pay about $60 million per year for what is, in essence, eight teams – and, the Kansas basketball team notwithstanding – are not the cream of the crop in terms of national Q rating.

    Time to shift into overdrive, Larry Scott!

    Side Note … While not related to the above, it is interesting to note that at the same time the Big 12 is negotiating a big new cable deal, that it is bailing out one of its “haves”.

    Oklahoma was not able to pay for all of its tickets for the 2011 Fiesta Bowl against Connecticut, so the league, according to a Sporting News report, paid for 10,403 tickets, to the tune of $1.9 million. Oklahoma bought 1,530 unsold tickets, at a cost of $335,000, in order to wind up with a net gain of $9,350 for the trip.

    The payoff only came to life after it was disclosed that Connecticut lost better than $1.6 million on the game, with the Big East not picking up the tab.


    March 12th

    University of Colorado – National Champions!

    Gotta like the sound of that!

    The University of Colorado ski team won its 18th national championship on Saturday, besting 2nd place Utah by a wide margin.

    Colorado went into Saturday’s slalom competition with a good lead – 647 points to Utah’s 562.5 – but with missed gates and crashes always a possibility in the slalom races, nothing could be taken for granted.

    The men’s team all but slammed the door on the competition with three solid performances Saturday morning. Gabriel Rivas finished 2nd overall to lead the Buffs, who also posted 11th and 21st place finishes. Not great, but Utah failed to take advantage, with its three skiers finishing 5th, 12th, and 30th, to actually lose ground to Colorado.

    With the title all but in hand, the women’s team only had to have three finishers to clinch the title, and that is just what they did. The three Colorado women’s skiers finished a more than respectable 10th, 11th, and 12th in the slalom, making it impossible for Utah to catch the Buffs. The Utah women did have a strong run, finishing 5th, 6th, and 9th, but it was not enough.

    In the end, Colorado finished comfortably ahead in the points, becoming the first team in the 29 year history of the NCAA co-ed competition to surpass 800 points, with 831. Utah finished second with 750.5, with three-time defending champion Denver University finishing 5th with 592 points. (A little shout out to Montana State – the Bobcats finished 10th overall).

    NOTES: Depending on who is doing the calculating, this title is either the 17th or 18th in Colorado skiing history. From 1954-82, the NCAA crowned a national champion, but only men competed. Starting in 1983, the teams went co-ed. Counting the NCAA titles, the Buffs now have 17. The University of Colorado, however, had a women’s team competing from 1977-82 in the AIAW (Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women), with the Colorado women winning the national championship in 1982 (in Stowe, Vermont, no less). So, Buff fans are claiming 18 national titles, but you may see stories posted that this is No. 17 … In either event, this is the first title for Colorado since 2006, and the 6th national title under Richard Rokos, who has been the Colorado ski coach since 1991.

    Congratulations, Buffs – 2011 NCAA national champions!!

    March 11th

    Colorado ski team looking good*after day three of NCAA ski championships

    The Colorado women’s cross country team, led by Eliska Hajkova, helped extend the Buffs’ lead at the NCAA skiing championships Friday morning. Hajkova won the women’s 15K classic, being contested at Stowe, Vermont, with teammate Joanne Reid finishing third in the race. With fellow Buff Alexa Turzian finishing in 15th place, Colorado expanded its lead in the race for the national championship.

    The men’s cross country team followed suit later on Friday with three top ten finishes in the 20K. Reid Pletcher made it a double gold medal day for the Buffs, finishing in 1st place, with teammates Vegard Kjoelhamer taking third, and Jesper Ostensen finishing tenth.

    Colorado came into Friday’s races with 408 points. Dartmouth, the Buffs’ closest competitor, was second with 362 points. The Dartmouth women’s cross country team, though, had finishes of 11th, 17th, and 19th, to fall further behind the Buffs. (Points are awarded on a sliding scale – 50 points for 1st; 47 for 2nd; 44 for third, etc.).

    The only team to make up ground on Colorado during the women’s event was the Buffs’ western rival, Utah. The three women racers from Utah finished 2nd, 4th, and 12th, gaining only one point over the Buffs’ totals (116 to 115 points). The Utes, though, entered the day in third place, with 353.5 points, so the Buffs maintained a sizable lead, with 523 points to 469.5 for Utah, after the women’s event. In the men’s event, Utah had two top ten finishes, but still lost ground to the Buffs, who placed all three racers in the top ten.

    The other two contenders for the title, Vermont and Denver University, fell back Friday morning. Vermont, which had three top ten seeds, saw its women finish 6th, 23rd, and 25th. The women of DU had finishes of 11th, 15th, and 20th. Denver is the three-time defending champion, but was in 6th place at the midway point (with 262.0 points), did not make any moves on Friday, and is*too far behind the leaders to expect a fourth-consecutive title.

    The team totals after day three were as follows: 1st) COLORADO, 647.0 points; 2nd) Utah, 562.50 points; 3rd) Dartmouth, 500 points; 4th) New Mexico, 492.0 points; 5th) Vermont, 451.5 points; 6th) Denver University, 409.0 points.

    NOTE: While the Buffs have a good lead right now (it’s really down to Colorado and Utah), the championship always comes down the slalom races, which will take place on Saturday. With points awarded based upon how each racer finishes, if a Colorado skier or two misses a gate or catches a tip and fails ot finish, there would be*no points awarded to that skier. As a result, even*though the Buffs have a sizable lead on Friday, we’ll all still have to hold our collective breath on Saturday morning!


    March 9th

    CU pro timing day a hit

    It’s been some time since the University of Colorado has generated this much interest in its pro-timing day.

    With potential first-round picks Nate Solder and Jimmy Smith on hand, there were sure to be a number of NFL scouts willing to make the trip to Boulder. But it was the five other Buffs who ran who sparked the most discussion.

    Wide receiver Scotty McKnight was the “story of the day” according to the Daily Camera*recap of the event. McKnight ran three 40-yard sprints, all timed in under 4.5. McKnight also broad jumped over ten feet and bench pressed 225 pounds 13 times. “I thought he made some money today,” said Colorado head coach Jon Embree, no stranger to evaluating NFL talent. “I thought he put himself in position to get drafted. I think he’s a guy who people are going to be happy they have him.

    “I’d be shocked if A, he didn’t get drafted; and B, if he didn’t have a career in the league.”

    I thought I did great,” said McKnight. “I think I did everything I possibly could to erase any doubts about speed or athleticism.”

    McKnight was assisted by his long-time friend, New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez, who threw passes to McKnight for the scouts. “I don’t think it could have gone any better for him,” said Sanchez. “His drills were great. His numbers were awesome”.

    In addition to McKnight, Solder, and Smith, four other Buffs worked out for the scouts: cornerback Jalil Brown; defensive lineman Marquez Herrod; tight end Luke Walters; and long-snapper Joe Silipo. Of the four, only Brown is projected to be drafted when the NFL begins its draft on April 28th.

    Colorado Ski team in first place at the midway point of NCAA championships

    The NCAA ski championships are normally a four day event, with two days of nordic competition and two days of alpine races.

    With bad weather forecast for the weekend*in Stowe, Vermont, the NCAA doubled up on Wednesday, running both the 10K (mens’) and 5K (women’s) cross-country events, and the giant slalom downhill events.

    As a result, the Colorado ski team is halfway through the event, and halfway to an 18th national championship. Here are the team results so far -* (Remarkably, I have yet to see – to 7:00 p.m. MT- *any mention of the results on the CU homepage).

    Colorado leads the team competiton with 408.0 points. Dartmouth is second with 362.0 points, while Colorado rival Utah is third with 353.5 points.

    Host Vermont – a favorite coming into the competition, as the event is on the Vermont team’s home course – is fourth at 349.5 points, while three-time defending champion Denver University is 6th at 262.0 points.

    Points are awarded based upon where a skier finishes (50 points for 1st; 47 for second; 44 for third, etc.). Each team can qualify up to three skiers per event, and Colorado has three entries in all eight events (four men’s and four women’s). There are six schools, including the Buffs, who have qualified full squads.

    In the women’s 5K cross country event, Colorado women placed 2nd, 3rd, and 9th, netting the Buffs 122 points. In the men’s 10K event, the CU men placed 2nd, 14th, and 23rd.

    In the*Giant slalom*events, the women finished 2nd, 5th, and 22nd (for 104 points, best of any team), while in the men’s GS, the Colorado men placed 6th, 12th, and 13th.

    Outstanding performances by the Buff skiers!

    Thursday is slated to be a practice day for the ski teams, with the cross country events set to take place on Friday, and the slalom events on Saturday – but that may be changed depending on the weather.

    Stay tuned – the University of Colorado ski team is halfway to yet another national title!!*

    March 8th

    Ohio State coach suspended for two games

    Ohio State head coach*Jim Tressel has been suspended*by the school for the first two games of the 2011 season,*and fined $250,000, for his failure to act upon knowledge of questionable activities by his players. The penalty, self-imposed by the school, is in response to the revelation that Tressel knew about the misconduct of his players long before the story broke in December.

    “I am sorry and disappointed this happened. At the time the situation occurred, I thought I was doing the right thing,” Tressel said in a statement. “I understand my responsibility to represent Ohio State and the game of football. I apologize to any and all of the people I have let down. I will grow from this experience.”

    Last December, the NCAA suspended five players, including quarterback Terreel Pryor, for the first five games of the 2011 season for selling items such as jerseys and championship rings to Edward Rife, who owns Fine Line Ink Tattoos in Columbus. Yahoo! Sports reported Monday that Tressel knew of allegations of improper benefits to Pryor and five other players as early as April 2010 — at least seven months before the university found out from a U.S. Attorney.

    In case you are wondering, Ohio State opens at home with Akron and Toledo from the Mid-American Conference. The third game – the first game Jim Tressel will be back on the sidelines – will be on the road against Miami (Fla.).

    Good thing Tressel didn’t commit any worse of a discretion – A three game*suspension could’ve hurt the team.

    Three Buffs on College Football Hall of Fame Ballot

    This past December, Alfred Williams was enshrined as a member of the College Football Hall of Fame in South Bend, Indiana. The Hall of Fame is run by the National Football Foundation, which boasts over 12,000 members.

    This year, there are 79 players and nine coaches who are have been nominated, including two former Buff All-Americans – running back Eric Bieniemy and offensive lineman Joe Garten – along with their coach, Bill McCartney. Bieniemy and McCartney have been on the ballot before, but this is the first time for Joe Garten.

    “It’s an enormous honor to just be on the ballot when you think that more than 4.79 million people have played college football,” said NFF President & CEO Steven J. Hatchell in his March 7th announcement. “The Hall’s requirement of being a First Team All-American creates a much smaller pool of only 1,900 individuals who are even eligible to be on the ballot, so being in today’s group of 79 names means an individual is truly among the greatest to ever have played the game, and we are proud to announce their names today.”

    The new class will be announced in May, with an induction scheduled for December 6th at the Waldorf Astoria hotel in New York.

    Joining Garten amongst the first-time nominees are some familiar names, including Nebraska quarterback Tommie Frazier, Alabama linebacker Derrick Thomas, and Michigan State running back Lorzeno White.

    Here is a link to the entire list of candidates

    And here are the bios of the three Colorado nominees, as listed by the National Football Foundation …

    Eric Bieniemy, Colorado-Running Back- Played in two national championships, leading Buffs to 1990 national title. . .Unanimous First Team All-America and finished third in 1990 Heisman voting. . . Two-time All-Big Eight pick, still holding eight CU records.

    Joe Garten, Colorado-Offensive Guard-Two-time First Team All-America, garnering consensus honors in ‘89 and unanimous laurels in ’90. . . Led Buffs to 1990 National Championship and three-straight bowl berths. . . Member of two Big Eight championship teams.

    Bill McCartney-Colorado (1982-94) -Led Buffs to 1990 National Championship and three Big Eight Conference titles. . .Three-time Big Eight Coach of the Year and 1989 National Coach of the Year. . .Helped CU to nine bowl games in 13 seasons. . .Coached 18 First Team All-America players, including Heisman Trophy winner Rashaan Salaam.


    March 7th

    Nebraska/Iowa set post-Thanksgiving dates

    It’s official … the Big Red has swapped one black-and-gold rival for another.

    Nebraska and Colorado faced one another on the Friday after Thanksgiving ever year of the Big 12’s existence. Now a member of the Big Ten, Nebraska will face Iowa at the end of the regular season, and the teams have agreed to move the game from Saturday, November 26th back to Friday, November 25th. The two teams will meet in Lincoln to end the 2011 season, and will face off in Iowa City to conclude the 2012 campaign.

    Colorado and it’s new year-end rival, Utah, are still scheduled to meet on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, November 26th, though that date may still be subject to change.

    March 5th

    Pac-12 officials to have a different look

    As part of it’s initiative to improve football officiating, the Pac-12 conference will replace 11 officials who worked games last fall.

    Mike Pereira, the Pac-12’s interim coordinator of football officiating, said that there will be at least 16 new officials in the conference next year, hired away from the Big 12, Mountain West, and WAC. Pereira, who has three decades in officiating, and who served as an on-air NFL rules analyst for Fox last season, said that a review of officiating was necessary.

    “I certainly did not think that for a geographic area like the West coast that can draw from a lot of officials, I certainly didn’t think it was at the level that it could be,” said Pereira. “I’m not saying it was horrible, but it was not at the level that it deserved to be, and that this conference deserves to have.”

    Adding 16 officials will give the new Pac-12 a total of 49 officials, or seven seven-man crews. Some of the officials who were not asked back may be used as assistants in the replay booth. Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott, who instigated the changes, said that the changes come as part of what is “a new accountability and a new emphasis on training that I think is good for officiating, period.”

    In addition to the new on-field hires, the conference is hiring seven supervisors to oversee each of the seven officiating positions. Six of the seven, Pereira said, are existing NFL officials who will work during the week with the Pac-12. “This concept has never been used before at any one of the college conferences,” said Pereira.

    Sounds good to me …

    Quick hits …

    USC senior defensive lineman Armond Armstead was taken to the hospital*Thursday for undisclosed reasons. Armstead’s family is with him, but the reason for the hospitalization has not been disclosed. In 2010, Armstead had 43 tackles and three sacks. Armstead was a potential candidate for early entry to the NFL, but decided to return for his senior season.

    Two Iowa State players have been suspended indefinitely from the team. Junior defensive end Jacob Lattimer and junior tight end Ricky Howard were suspended after being arrested this Friday. Lattimer, who played in all 12 games last fall, was arrested for assaulting a police officer, while Howard was arrested on a DUI charge.

    Oklahoma defensive back Marcus Trice has left the school and will transfer. A sophomore, Trice played in all 13 games last season, mostly on special teams. Trice, from Mesquite, Texas,*was a four-star prospect from the Class of 2009, and was considered to be the 20th-best cornerback recruit in the nation that year.

    Washington running back Johri Ferguson has been arrested for resisting arrest and possession of marijuana.*Fogerson, 21, was The Seattle Times State Player of the Year as a senior at O’Dea High in 2007 as a running back and safety. He played safety for the Huskies as a true freshman in 2008, then moved to tailback as a sophomore in 2009, appearing in nine games. He played in just one game last season, the opener against Brigham Young, before suffering a hip injury that held him out the rest of the season.

    March 4th

    Restricted access

    In a departure from the Dan Hawkins’ era, spring practices will largely be a private affair.

    Of the 15 practices allowed under NCAA rules, only five will be open to the public and the media. Included in the five are the first three practices, March 11-13, with two of those practices taking place in shorts and helmets only. The other two practices which will be open to the public will take place on April 2nd, when the Buffs will conduct their one and only scrimmage of the spring, and the Spring Game, scheduled to kickoff at 6:00 p.m. on April 9th.

    Champions to be honored

    As the current Buff squad seeks to avenge a humbling loss from last season, another team which overcame adversity will be honored.

    On September 10th, Colorado will face California in the 2011 home opener. Kept on the schedule as a non-conference game, the Buffs will be looking to put behind them a 52-7 beatdown by the Bears in 2010. That same weekend, the University will be honoring the 2001 Big 12 championship team.

    The 2001 Colorado*team, coming off of a 3-8 season in 2000, lost to Fresno State in the season opener. The Buffs later were dominated by Texas, 41-7, in Austin, before rebounding to win the final four games of the regular season, including a memorable 62-36 victory over No. 2 Nebraska. Redemption was earned a week later, as the Buffs then took down No. 3 Texas, 39-37, in the Big 12 championship game.

    Another title team will be honored this fall, as the 1961 Big Eight champion Buffs will be honored during the Washington State game. Celebrating the 50th anniversary of its title, the 1961 team went 9-2, including a 7-6 win over No. 10 Missouri. The ‘61 Buffs swept the Big Eight, going 7-0 for the first time as a member of the Big Eight. The only*losses on the season came against Utah in the regular season, and against No. 4 LSU in the Orange Bowl. The 1961 team finished the season ranked 7th in the nation.

    November Blackout?

    The November 5th home game against USC may be moved to Thursday, November 3rd, according to CU athletic director Mike Bohn.

    Bohn has contacted the university faculty about trying to minimize the disruptions caused by a mid-week game, and, with Boulder being Boulder, has found those who feel that it would be a bad idea.*According the Daily Camera, Boulder Faculty Assembly chairman Joseph Rosse suggested that weeknight games be held on campuses where the stadiums are farther removed from the main campuses (Translation: NIMBY), while Kate Belford, a first-year law student at CU, was quoted as saying*she’s opposed to weeknight games at CU “because tailgaters will congest the campus and make parking difficult”.


    My concern would be more substantive. Unlike other years (like the West Virginia game in 2008), Colorado will not be coming off a bye week before playing USC. The Buffs will be on the road against Arizona State on October 29th, and would have a short week to prepare for the Trojans. By the same token, USC will be coming off a home game, but it will be against Stanford, which figures to be a top ten team in 2011. The Colorado game will also be the third road game for USC in four weeks, as the Trojans play on the road against Cal and Notre Dame before returning home to face Stanford.

    On second thought, the weeknight game, on national television, with a CU blackout against a team the Buffs have never beaten (0-5 all-time)?

    Okay, I’m in. Remind the faculty that the football program is the most recognized representative of the University, and that letting students off for a day (especially with eight month’s notice), is not too great a hardship. As for law school student Kate Belford … I have no comment …


    March 3rd

    Senior nose tackle; red-shirt freshman running back not returning

    It is being widely reported that two players have left the team. Red-shirt freshman running back Trea Jones and senior nose tackle Eugene Goree will not return for the 2011 season.

    Jones is a red-shirt freshman from Wake Forest, North Carolina. His high school team was 14-0 when Jones broke his fibula, going on to lose in the state semi-finals the next game. There have been reports that Jones has not fully recovered from that injury, and that he was not impressive this past fall on the scout team.

    Goree has been with the team since 2007. After red-shirting his first fall in Boulder,*Goree was on the field for 89 snaps as a red-shirt freshman, and even played 17 snaps at*guard against Kansas State. As a sophomore in 2009, Goree was in on 91 snaps over ten games, registering four*tackles and a fumble recovery. In his junior year last fall, Goree played in*three games, but only six*snaps total,*posting one tackle (it*did*go for a sack). Despite the overall lack of depth along the defensive line, Goree never found a way to*force his way*into the starting lineup. *

    Without fanfare … it’s Cal

    There was no separate announcement, just an acknowledgement of what has been “known” for some time … Cal will be the Buffs’ opponent for the home opener on September 10th.

    With the announcement of the new season ticket packages, the Colorado athletic department put it simply: “All but one game on CU’s schedule this fall, its inaugural season as a member of the Pacific-12 Conference, has been known for months.* The one open date, earmarked for a home game on Sept. 10, will in fact be a non-league game against a Pac-12 member, with California confirmed to* play at Folsom Field to complete a home-and-home series between the two; the Buffaloes played in Berkeley last Sept. 11.*

    “The Pac-12 Conference office approved of CU and Cal playing the game as a non-league affair to fulfill the contractual obligations.* The last time Colorado played a conference school with the game not counting in the standings was in 1923 versus Northern Colorado when both were members of the 11-team Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference.”

    The University also announced that it is standardizing its donor seating program, and will from hereon require all season-ticket holders in premium seating areas to participate. The donor seating program was introduced in 2004, with season-ticket holders kicking in an extra $50-$300 per seat, depending upon their location. Some fans complained, and about 1,200 season-ticket holders received a three-year waiver, which was then extended another two years in 2009.

    [To be honest, I didn't know that anyone was still receiving a waiver ... I've been making this "donation" since the beginning ...]

    For some, 2011 will actually be cheaper, with some 4,000 seats available for $120 per seat (no mandatory donation). Those same seats cost $235 per seat last fall. The idea here (and its a good one) is to expand the season-ticket holder base. With the excitement over the new coaching staff, coupled with the renewed interest in the program as a member of the new Pac-12, this is the time to make just such a move.

    Berglund out for spring practice at KU

    Heralded freshman quarterback recruit Brock Berglund will not be a participant in spring practices at Kansas. Berglund, who committed to Colorado before the coaching change, is enrolled for spring classes at Kansas, but, due to a “personal matter”, will not be on campus when spring practice begins April 1st.

    Berglund is reportedly in good standing as a student, and has made arrangements to continue taking classes on-line while he is away.

    Kansas fans had been hoping that the dual-threat quarterback would participate in spring practices, and compete with Jordan Webb and Quinn Mecham for the starting job this fall. While that remains a possibility, not participating in spring drills will set Berglund’s development back, leaving Jayhawk fans to pick between Webb and Mecham, neither of whom was overly productive (except for one quarter v. CU) in Kansas’ 3-9 2010 season.

    March 2nd

    Arizona State adds two wide receivers

    The book on the Class of 2011 never quite seems to close …

    Arizona State added two wide receivers to its recruiting class this week … and no, neither was named Michael Thomas.

    The*Sun Devils*added Karl Holmes and Rashad Ross to their roster. Holmes is a high school senior from Pasadena, California. Considered a two-star prospect, Holmes was going to grey-shirt at 1-AA Sacramento State, but got a late call from Arizona State. Part of the reason for his late recruitment was that Holmes was considered by some schools to be an academic risk.

    Rashad Ross is a junior college wide receiver prospect from Butte Community College in Oroville, California. Also a two-star prospect, Ross had offers from Arkansas State and Utah State.

    Arizona State loses only one wide receiver from the Class of 2010, Kerry Taylor, who led the team with 54 receptions. However, the*Sun Devils*have five seniors, including the No. 2, 3, 4 and 5 receivers from this past season, who will play their final games in 2011.

    No word, in case you are wondering, about the elusive four-star wide receiver recruit*Michael Thomas. I haven’t heard or seen anything about him in the past two weeks …

    March 1st

    Embree interview by Mile High Sports

    If you have not*read this interview of Jon Embree done by Mile High Sports Magazine, you are in for a treat.

    If you have read the interview, it’s worth taking a second look.

    If this interview doesn’t get you excited about the future of Colorado football, then you are a lurking Husker/Huskie fan, and I don’t know what you are doing on this site.

    Some highlights from “Big Bad Jon: Filled with Pride and a Sense of Responsibility, A Former Buff takes over the Reins at CU“, by Doug Ottewill:

    From the intro: “You could feel something different in the air – a party, a celebration, a vibe that I’d never felt before standing in this particular spot. I’ve stood in the Flatirons Club at the Univesity of Colorado more times than I can count – for games, award luncheons, for meet-and-greets, and for press conferences. Never had it felt like this, though. On this particular day, the University of Colorado was about to appoint a new football coach. But this was much more than a simple announcement. This was different …”.

    On the identity of the Colorado football team … “We’ll be physical. We’re going to run the football. And we’re going to be good on special teams … I always believe that a team is a reflection of the head coach. When people see our team play, they’ll see a team that’s physical, a team out there having fun.”

    On the need for better facilities … “If we need better computer rooms for our student athletes, then let’s get it for them. If we need better food at the training table, then let’s get that for them. If we need a treadmill that you can run on underwater for rehab, then let’s get that … New buildings don’t affect your athletes directly … I consider myself a ‘need guy’. I just don’t get the stuff I want; I get the stuff I need … There’s a certain badge you ask guys to wear at the University of Colorado. There’s a certain badge about having to walk up that hill every day (after practice). There was a certain badge about, ‘Okay, well, we don’t have a bubble. We’re practicing outside for the Big 12 championship and it’s 12 degrees, and it’s dimly lit.’ Our guys went down there saying, ‘We’re going to kill Texas because we know they aren’t working like we are’. There’s a fine line with facilities between needing things and wanting things.”

    On locking down the borders on Colorado in-state recruits … “I think that it’s imperative that we keep local athletes here. When I look back at the program turning, there was a commitment from some in-state kids, Eric McCarty, David Tate, Barry Helton, Sam Smith, Ed Reinhardt. We had some guys who decided, ‘Hey, we’re going to stay here’. I mean, we all could have gone to legitimate places, and all of them, at that time, were significantly better than Colorado. But we all chose to stay together to see what we could do … So, when I talk to a kid in-state, I’ve been where he’s at.”

    On his pitch to recruits … “There’s no such thing as seniority. My job, and I’ll tell this to my team, and I told this to my son at UCLA, my job, every year, is to find 25 guys who can beat out the 22 starters. That’s my job. If they can’t, that means those starters that I have are doing a pretty good job. If they can beat them out, then that means I have some really good players. But either way, we’re going to have good players … I told the team that you know you have a legitimate program when a kid comes in there, and he’s there at least four years, he’s going to get a ring. Then, you’ve arrived. Then, you have a program.”

    On his biggest challenges … “The whole job is tough. If it wasn’t, Dan Hawkins would still be sitting here. I’m here because of the situation of the program. The goal is that when (a kid) comes in here, they get a ring at least once every four years … And so, to do that, it’s a process. You want to build it and do it right. We have a heck of a schedule and I’m excited about it. It’s a tough schedule and that’s great … I understand that there will be challenges. That’s fine. You don’t want it to be easy. It’s just like I tell the players, ‘It will be hard, but at the end of the day, it will be worth it’. Nothing worthwhile is easy.

    “It’s just one big challenge.”

    In Jon we Trust … Bring on the Pac-12!

    Originally posted by CU At the Game
    Click here to view the article.

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