Ranking the Rankings – Boise State and TCU have a chance to play for the national title
Summertime, not all that long ago, was a great time for Buff fans to gather up and sift through college preseason magazines. The Buffs were always ranked, kind words always written about the players and staff, and the debate was whether the Buffs would make it to the top of the conference, not whether they could avoid the bottom …
Times have certainly changed.
Still, there is some value to the preseason magazines, as well as their preseason rankings, if only to note which teams on the Buffs’ calendar are ranked, and to check out the discrepancies in the Top 25.
Many of the preseason magazines are out now, and a consensus of sorts can be found at the top. Almost everyone is picking Alabama to repeat (though Phil Steele is picking Oklahoma). Ohio State is given the best chance to oppose the Crimson Tide in next January’s BCS title game.
Still, there is a decent chance that this will be the year that a non-BCS team will earn the right to play for the national championship. In previous years, there have been teams which have been undefeated at the end of the regular season (Boise State and TCU in 2009) but did not rack up enough support at the begining of the season to make it to the top (Boise State began the 2009 season ranked 14th; TCU started out 17th). The two undefeated non-BCS schools met in the Fiesta Bowl last season, with Boise State prevailing, 17-10.
Boise State is likely to be a top five team when the polls which count come out two weeks before the first games are played, with TCU likely to be in the top ten.
Could this be the year? Let’s look at the schedules …
Boise State will be playing in the Western Athletic Conference for the final time in 2010, and it’s a safe bet that most of the Broncos’ brethren will be happy to see BSU go. While Boise State is ranked in the top five in almost every presason poll, most magazines do not rate any other WAC team in the top 50 in the nation (Lindy’s has Nevada in at No. 51; The Sporting News has the Wolfpack ranked 53rd). Suffice it to say, if Boise State can win its four non-conference games, they will be favored to post a second consecutive undefeated season.
Boise State’s road to a title shot begins with a neutral site game against Virginia Tech on Labor Day (okay, so it’s not really a neutral site game. It’s a road trip to Landover, Maryland, but when you’re in the WAC, you take quality games you can get when and where you can get them). The Hokies are a consensus top ten team, ranked anywhere from 8th to 13th in the polls I’ve seen, so a win for the Broncos on September 6th will mark Boise State as a BCS championship contender.
The other non-conference games involve two teams, ironically enough, that Colorado played in 2009. The Broncos travel to play Wyoming, and have a home game against Toledo. Neither team is expected to be in the top half of their respective conferences, so it is likely that Boise State will have a good chance to do better than the 1-1 record against the Cowboys and Rockets forged by the Buffs.
The final non-conference game for Boise State will be against Oregon State. The Beavers may surprise, but the jury is out as to whether they will be a dark horse contender (with USC out of the mix) in the Pac-10. The Sporting News has Oregon State ranked 15th in the nation, but other services, including Lindy’s, Athlon, Phil Steele , and CBSSports.com, do not have the Beavers in their top 25. Still, a win over Oregon State on the Smurf Turf in Boise (remember what happened to 16th-ranked Oregon last year – 19-8, BSU), and the Broncos may have a clear shot to a return engagement at the Fiesta Bowl, only this time to play for the national championship.
The Horned Frogs of Texas Christian University have a slightly tougher row to hoe on their way to Glendale, Arizona. TCU, like Boise State, opens the 2010 season with a neutral site game against a BCS opponent. This time, however, the non-BCS team has the home field advantage, as TCU will face Oregon State (there are those pesky Beavers again!) in a game to be played in the new Dallas Cowboys’ stadium in Arlington. As noted above, Oregon State may have the edge in the rankings at the start of the season, but the prognosticators are likely hedging their bets on OSU’s success due to the Beavers’ tough non-conference slate (Oregon State plays Louisville in its other non-conference game).
The other non-conference games for TCU are easier – Tennesse Tech at home, then two in-state rivalry games against Baylor and SMU. All three are winnable, though the TCU/Baylor game took on a bit more luster during the off-season conference realignment debates (remember when it looked like Baylor would be shut out of the Pac-16, and TCU made it clear that they did not want the Bears in the Mountain West Conference? TCU and its administration have not forgotten how Baylor maneuvered its way into the Big 12 when the old SWC imploded, leaving TCU to flounder its way through three different conferences on its way to the MWC).
If TCU can beat Oregon State and its other less qualified non-conference foes (TCU will not leave the state of Texas until October), the Horned Frogs will face serious competition in the Mountain West Conference. Utah will likely start the 2010 season as a top 25 team, and TCU must travel to Salt Lake City in November. BYU and Air Force may also present issues, but both of those games will be played in Fort Worth.
TCU has won 53 games in the past five seasons; Boise State, 58. The Horned Frogs and Broncos have paid their dues.
2010 may be their season to earn a shot at the national championship.
Offensive coordinator may survive potential fall purge
Dan Hawkins may not make it to Pac-12 play, but his offiensive coordinator will likely still be around.
Athletic director Mike Bohn has confirmed that offensive coordinator Eric Kiesau has been given a three year contract, the first year of which has already been served. Colorado is entitled under state law to offer up to six long term contracts, and Kiesau received one covering 2009, 2010, and 2011. The basic terms were agreed to over a year ago, but the Board of Regents agreed to the contract just recently.
“We did it a year and a half ago,” said Bohn, “and now we’re just executing what we told him we would do. It doesn’t do anything except allow us to show a commitment to somebody we have a lot of confidence in, and believe is a key part of us making progress.”
If Dan Hawkins is not retained as head coach after the 2010 season, the University will still have an out with respect to Kiesau. The contract does not mandate that Kiesau be retained as offensive coordinator, giving any new Colorado coach some flexibility (Kiesau previously held the job of wide receivers coach before being elevated to offensive coordinator).
The retention of Kiesau may pay off for the Buffs with regards at least one recruit. Valor Christian high school quarterback Brock Berglund, who committed to Colorado in June, specifically noted that the retention of Kiesau played a role in his final decision. “I think there had to be some security element”, said Berglund. “I think that confidence really helped me make my decision.”
Former Buffs coaching the next generation
Several former Colorado Buffs are participating in summer camps, helping to encourage the next generation of CU players and fans.
Michael Westbrook was an All-American wide receiver for Colorado in 1994. When he left the Buffs as a first round draft pick of the Washington Redskins in 1995 (No. 4 overall), Westbrook was (and remains) the Buffs’ all-time leader in receptions (167) and total receiving yards (2,548). Next week, Westbrook will be in Boulder on the CU practice fields for the Future Pro Skills Camp for grades 8-12. Best known for “The Catch” against Michigan, Westbrook hasn’t been back to Boulder all that often. “I think I’ve been back there three times since I left college,” said Westbrook. “Three different Nebraska games”.
Also assisting with the Future Pro Skills Camp will be J.J. Flannigan, a star for the Buffs between 1987-89. Flannigan rushed for 2,096 yards in his career, which ranked him in the top ten at the time. Flannigan is best remembered for his 70-yard touchdown run against Nebraska in 1989 – at least he was credited for 70 yards, as quarterback Darian Hagan carried the ball for the first 30 yards before pitching the ball back to Flannigan.
Not to be outdone, former Buff Jeremy Bloom is conducting his own football clinic this summer. This the third year of the Jeremy Bloom Youth Festival at the Loveland Sports Complex. “It’s pretty cool to me because I grew up in Loveland, and it’s a community that gave me my start,” said Bloom. A two-time Olympic freestyle skier, Bloom did not have the opportunity to shine for the Buffs for long (2002-03). In his two seasons, however, Bloom found his way into the top ten in punt returns in Colorado history, returning 44 kicks for an average of 14.2 yards, including two touchdowns. Bloom was also on the receiving end of the longest touchdown pass play in Colorado history – a 94-yard touchdown catch and run against Kansas State in 2002.
Buffs pick up quarterback commit
For the first time in the Dan Hawkins’ era, quarterback recruits interested in the University of Colorado know one thing for certain …
… they won’t have to compete with Cody Hawkins for playing time.
Colorado picked up its third recruit of the 2011 class on Wednesday, and its second quarterback, when Brock Berglund from Highlands Ranch, Colorado, committed to being a Buff. Berglund is 6′4″, 205 pounds, and is considered a three-star prospect by both Rivals and Scout. According to Scout, Berglund is the 37th-best quarterback prospect in the nation, while Rivals has Berglund down as its 13th-best dual-threat quarterback (Rivals also rates Berglund as the third-best player overall in the state of Colorado in the Class of 2011).
Berglund had offers from a number of schools, including Pac-10 rivals UCLA, Washington State, and Utah, and former Big 12 rivals Kansas and Kansas State. Local rivals Colorado State and Wyoming had also extended offers to Berglund.
While the Berglunds are Colorado fans, proximity was not the only factor in Berglund deciding to stay in-state. “Coach (Eric) Kiesau and I developed a great relationship, and that really was the difference,” Berglund told Scout.com. “I really like the direction they’re going with the switch to the Pac-10″.
“When it comes down to it, I’ve been up there a couple of hundred times,” Berglund told Rivals.com. “It really has nothing to do with home, but it turns out the place I wanted to go was right by my house. But I’m not going there because it’s close to home.”
Last season, Berglund threw for 2,226 yards, with 30 touchdowns to only four interceptions. He also rushed for 890 yards and 14 scores. Berglund, who wants to compete with senior-to-be Tyler Hansen in 2011 – “I’d be a freshman when Tyler is a senior, but I’m planning to go in and compete” – may try and enroll next January, to get a jump start on his freshman season. “I’ve set it up in a way that I can [graduate early]”, said Berglund, ”so we’ll see how that plays out in the next couple of months.”
Berglund becomes just the third verbal commitment of the 2011 Colorado recruiting class, joining former commit Shaun Simon, who will be coming in as a junior college transfer in January, and quarterback Nick Sherry, from Petaluma, California (For those of you scoring at home, Colorado only had two commits – quarterback Nick Hirschman and tight end Kyle Slavin – at this time last year).
Views from Pac-10 coaches as to the issue of Pac-12 Divisions
Pac-10 athletic directors will meet with conference commissioner Larry Scott in Los Angeles on July 30th. While parties involved, including Scott, have indicated that no final decisions will be made at that time concerning the division splits for the new 12-team division, chances are 100% that the topic will be much discussed.
The problem: everyone wants to play USC and UCLA every year. And no, it’s not because conference rivals believe USC will be down due to its loss of 30 scholarships over the next three seasons, or that UCLA will implode rather than explode under Rick Neuheisal. Rather, everyone wants to be able to recruit in southern California, and the perception is that you need to have a game in the sun every year in order to lure players out of the region.
Coaches in Oregon and Washington, at least for the record, are not complaining about the potential loss of a road trip to Los Angeles every season …
Oregon’s Chip Kelly: “We’ll just line up and play whoever they want us to play,” said Kelly. “It’s not like we don’t get enough exposure. Just tell me the schedule and let’s go play.”
Washington State’s Paul Wulff: “We’ve all got to be open for change because it’s coming anyway,” said Wulff. “You’ve got to roll with it.”
Washington’s Steve Sarkisian: “We’ll get down there enough,” said Sarkisian, referring to trips to southern California.
Oregon State’s Mike Riley: “I don’t know, there’s probably a bunch of different ways they could look at it,” said Riley. “I’m not going to worry about it too much. Nobody’s really asking me…I’m waiting to hear what division we’re going to be in, I guess.”
In northern California, Cal and Stanford are working on presenting a united front. The Bears and the Cardinal don’t agree on much, but neither wants to give up its regular trip south. The problem for Cal and Stanford is that the only division makeup that allows an annual trip to Los Angeles is a Pac-12 South division made up of the Arizona schools and the California schools (putting Colorado and Utah in the Pac-12 North with the Oregon and Washington schools). This scenario, though, does not seem to be gaining much traction. Still, it is not out of the question. “The tradition has been the California schools play each other (every year),” said Stanford athletic director Bob Bowlsby, “and obviously we’d like to have that be the case.”
The other scenario which would keep Cal and Stanford happy is the “zipper plan”. The concept would be to split up the natural rivals, placing them into different divisions, but allowing the rivals to play each other each season. Under one scenario, Colorado would be in a division with Washington, Oregon, Cal, UCLA and Arizona. The Buffs would play each of these teams every year, and would also have an annual game with Utah. The zipper plan would allow teams like Stanford and Cal to have a game in Los Angeles every season, and would allow teams to keep their rivalry games as well.
Thing is…the zipper plan is not a plan being endorsed, or even specifically discussed, by any of the individuals who will be making the decision on division alignment.
Colorado athletic director Mike Bohn, for his part, would like to see resolution of the division issue, as well as the 2011/2012 move issue, resolved “sooner than later.” “What that means I don’t know,” said Bohn. “I do know it’s extremely complex. We recognize that (CU’s) departure has implications to 22 institutions. We’ve got motivation from the Big 12; we’ve got motivation from the Pac-10; and certainly from [CU] to do it right.”
Four main issues remain for Colorado and its past and future rivals …
1) When will Colorado leave the Big 12? Everyone seems to be in agreement that 2011 is the best for all concerned. Nebraska wants to be in the Big Ten next season; Utah wants to be in the Pac-10 next season; Boise State wants to be in the MWC next season. The Buffs’ card to play: the Big 12 can’t force Colorado to leave early. The Buffs gave their two year notice. If the Big 12 wants the Buffs out earlier, it will have to make due with fewer dollars – the league can’t enforce the 70-80% one year penalty when Colorado didn’t give a one year notice. So, the Buffs will be in the Pac-12 in 2011. The Big 12 can’t allow the Buffs to stay around if Nebraska is gone – how many $$$ is that worth?
2) How will the divisions be split? The North/South configuration seems to have the most traction, with Colorado and Utah joining the Arizona and southern California schools. Still, there are too many other possibilities (East/West; CU/Utah in the North; the “zipper Plan”; no divisions at all; three divisions of four teams each…) to do anything at this point and sit back and see how it all plays out.
3) Where will the Pac-12 championship game be played? The Rose Bowl seems to be a logical answer, but would UCLA want to play USC in its regular season finale, only to play in the Pac-12 title game a week later in the same stadium, trying to win the right to play again a month later…in the same stadium? A rotation of stadia may work (Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Phoenix, and yes, Denver, all have NFL stadiums). Another possibility being discussed is to have the higher ranked team host the title game. There is also the possibility that the league will opt not to have a title game, so stay tuned.
4) How much $$$ will all this be worth? The Sporting News has posted a story http://www.sportingnews.com/college-football/article/2010-06-30/sbj-bidding-war-over-pac-10-s-tv-rights-already-developing discussing how the Pac-12 may make even more out of its next television contract than even the most ardent Buff fan may have hoped. Again, until a decision is made as to a conference championship game, and how the divisions will be split, the discussion is academic …
… but a great deal of fun!
Defensive tackle / long snapper Joe Silipo suspended
Senior defensive tackle Joe Silipo has been suspended from participating in the team’s summer activities as a result of an incident in which Silipo was accused of stealing one of the university’s rental bikes on Wednesday. The suspension includes missing running, lifting, and participation in 7-on-7 drills.
Dan Hawkins issued a statement saying that Hawkins believed Silipo’s actions “are not consistent with his past behavior, and I don’t think he will have further issues.”
According to police reports, Silipo used a broken pipe to loosen the bike from its rack. The incident took place about 2:30 a.m. Wednesday. The rental bike theft netted Silipo two counts of theft of less than $500, as well as one count of criminal mischief.
The suspension, coupled with the statement, would seem to indicate that Silipo, barring any further incidents, would be back on the team for fall drills. Silipo is not on the two-deep at the defensive tackle position, and did not play a down at that position in 2009. He is listed, however, as the first-team short snapper and long snapper. Justin Drescher, the four year starter at both positions, has graduated, so Silipo will be missing quality time with his kickers and holders this summer. Junior Ethan Adkins is listed second choice at short snapper, with sophomore Mario Conte the backup at long snapper, though the Buffs are bringing in a preferred walk on to compete for the job come August.
Buffs lose another wide receiver?
The Daily Camera is quoting “a source in the Colorado football program” that wide receiver Andre Simmons has been ruled academically ineligible for the 2010 season. The source did offer a ray of hope that Simmons, who would be a senior this fall, can earn a waiver from the NCAA this summer.
If Simmons is lost, it will be the second potential starter from the wide receiver corps in just over a month. In late May, a warrant was issued for the arrest of Markques Simas for failure to appear at a court date steming from his Februaray DUI arrest (It is being reported that Simas now wants to transfer to San Diego State).
With the Buffs coming off a 3-9 season, and a fourth straight losing season overall, the preseason magazines had to work hard to find good things to say about the Buffs. One area of strength was supposed to be the wide receiver corps. “While coaches wouldn’t completely show their hand in the spring, it seems clear they’ll throw first, and probably throw second, too,” said Athlon’s preseason writeup. “Wide receiver, with the return of Scotty McKnight and Markques Simas…is stocked.” Chimed in Lindy’s, “Colorado has its strongest group of receivers in years…”.
Record setting Scotty McKnight is still in the fold, and Michigan transfer Toney Clemons is set to make his mark, so the Buffs would not be completely devoid of talent at the position if Simmons cannot play this fall. However, behind McKnight and Clemons, who has yet to see the field of play as a Buff, there is very little depth and experience.
Where have we heard that before …?
Darrell Scott finally finds a home
When running back Darrell Scott quit the team last November, one of the stated reasons was that he wanted to transfer to a school closer to home…
Scott, who played at St. Bonaventure high school in California, is reportedly set to transfer to South Florida.
Scott did spend some of his formative years in Tallahassee, and his high school coach, Todd Therrien, said Scott “is more a Florida guy than a California guy.”
At least he is not transferring to UCLA or another Pac-10 school. Playing against Scott down the road would have allowed the Marcus Houston comparison to come full circle.
And now, some good news …
Senior offensive tackle Nate Solder continues to rack up the preseason honors. Solder has been named to the prestigious (really, it is) Playboy All-American team. The announcement marks the 24th time a Colorado Buffalo has been honored, with Solder becoming the 23rd Buff player (kicker Mason Crosby, the last Buff to make the Playboy team, in 2006, is also the only Buff to be named to the team twice). “Nate embodies everything that is great about a college student athlete,” said Dan Hawkins.
“While I am happy to get all this recognition, I am not an individual awards guy,” said Solder. “But I am truly excited and honored to be a member of the Playboy preseason team.”
In addition to the Playboy mention, Solder has also been named to the watch list for the Outland and Lombardi awards, each given to the nation’s outstanding lineman. Teammate Ryan Miller, a junior, has also been placed on the Outland Trophy watch list. In all, 63 players nationwide have been placed on the watch list, which will be pared periodically during the season.
The Outland Trophy dates back to 1946, and is one of the few national awards never won by a Colorado player.
Colorado adds quarterback recruit
The Buffs may have just won their first battle against Pac-10 rivals.
Nick Sherry, a 6′5″, 210-pound quarterback from Casa Grande high school in Petaluma, California, on Thursday became the third commit of the Buffs’ 2011 recruiting class. Sherry, who only had a scholarship offer from San Diego State and Sacramento State, was also being heavily recruited by Colorado’s new Pac-12 rivals Washington, Arizona, and Washington State.
Sherry earned a scholarship offer after attending one of Colorado’s recent summer camps. “My camping experience at Colorado was incredible,” Sherry told Rivals.com. “I got to see the whole campus and meet the coaches…Everything about it was great.”
As a junior, Sherry, who is a pro-style quarterback, completed 161 of 288 attempts for 2,449 yards and 24 touchdowns.
“My best attribute is a willingness to learn,” said Sherry. “If you give me a defense that I don’t know, I am going to study it and figure out the ways in which you can beat it.”
Sherry becomes the third commit of the 2011 class, joining junior college offensive lineman Shaun Simon and quarterback Dexter Foreman (though Foreman may be tried at another position than quarterback. Also bear in mind that Foreman is from Manvel, Texas, and the Buffs’ move to the Pac-12 may affect Foreman’s commitment).
APR reports come out at the worst possible time
It was bad enough to know that Colorado was on the verge of being chastised by the NCAA due to poor Academic Progress Rate scores (since they are on a rolling four year average, there was little the Buffs could do to stop this from happening this year), but it’s even worse than we thought.
Colorado lost one scholarship in basketball, and five in football (the NCAA report indicates four – but the CU website indicates it will in fact be five). This much we knew was coming, and the football program has gone without awarding scholarships the past two recruiting classes in anticipation of this penalty. Thus, the “contemporaneous penalty” has actually already been served.
“Naturally, the APR score for football is of great concern to both our academic and athletic leadership at CU-Boulder,” said chancellor Dr. Phil DiStefano. “It represents a challenge we are working to meet through our APR improvement plan…I believe we can begin to reverse this APR trend.”
Nice spin – but it impossible to spin this …
It appears only Colorado has trouble figuring out the Academic Progress Rate.
Colorado was one of only ten schools nationwide to be sanctioned in both football and basketball, but was the only BCS school on that list. The other nine were Division 1-AA or lower.
Only one other BCS school, Syracuse, lost scholarships, and that was in basketball. No other BCS team lost any scholarships in football, while Colorado lost five.
Let that sink in a moment.
No other BCS football team – and there are 120 now – lost any football scholarships due to poor APR results. Only one. Only Colorado.
Kinda hard to go a-braggin’ on the internet about how much greater the University of Colorado is than Baylor University, when the Buffs are the only BCS school in the nation to lose football scholarships due to poor academic performance.
Yuck. Yuck. Yuck.
Buffs obtain transfer from Georgia
On a normal Tuesday in June, this would have been treated as big news …
Former Georgia safety Makiri Pugh , according to his high school coach, is planning on transfering to Colorado. Pugh visited Boulder last week, and informed Buff coaches that he wished to transfer to play for the Buffs. As a transfer, Pugh was a red-shirt freshman last season in Athens, and played sparingly. He was, however, a three-star prospect from the Class of 2008, and had offers out of high school from Clemson, Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech, Virginia, Maryland and Duke.
Pugh was considered by Rivals as the 31st best safety in the nation in 2008. He is 5′ 10″, 194 pounds, and reportedly runs a 4.42 40. There was no mention as to why Pugh is leaving Georgia, but lack of playing time would be a good guess. While Pugh did see action in nine games in 2009 as a red-shirt freshman, he played mostly on special teams. A quick look at the Georgia depth chart for 2010 reveals only one returning starter in the secondary, but Pugh is not even on the two-deep. There is also this – Georgia is replacing its secondary coach this year, with Scott Lakatos from Connecticut joining the staff…so you can draw your own conclusions.
However Pugh got here, his speed and experience will be welcome. Pugh has to sit out this fall, but that will be fine with the Buffs, who are loaded in the secondary. However, the Buffs will lose senior starters Jimmy Smith and Jalil Brown after the 2010 season.
Pugh will have two seasons of eligibility remaining, but has already used his red-shirt season, so he will only have 2011 and 2012 to make an impact in Boulder.
Simas not likely to ever play for Buffs again
Markques Simas, who would have been a red-shirt junior this fall, is not likely to ever again don the black-and-gold in Folsom Field.
With a warrant pending for the arrest of Simas for failure to make a Court appearance last month, Colorado head coach Dan Hawkins has taken away the wide receiver’s scholarship, and suspended Simas – again. “Markques must rectify several matters,” Hawkins said through a press release. “If he were to successfully complete a list of several issues, including processes by both the legal system and CU Office of Judicial Affairs, there is a slim possibility he could rejoin the team as a walk-on this fall.”
Simas was highly recruited in 2006, but his stay in Boulder has not worked out as anyone would have wished. After red-shirting in 2007, his first fall in Boulder, Simas sat out what would have been his red-shirt freshman season in 2008 due to academically ineligibility. The long-awaited debut of Simas in 2009 was again delayed for two games as Simas was suspended for violating team rules. Once he actually got on the field, Simas showed great potential, setting a school record for the most catches in a four game span, collecting 31 catches for 463 yards last November.
Now, Simas will have to make his peace with the Court system (he blew a .135 in February, so missing his Court appearance is not his only concern), then get past an Office of Judicial Affairs (which has not been particularly tame in its treatment of Colorado athletes). Then Simas, while serving any additional suspensions meted out, would have to pay his own way to play for the Buffs this fall.
It sounds like the “slim possibility” of Simas’ return is very slim indeed.
Fall schedule taking shape
Buff fans now know the kickoff times for the four non-conference games for the 2010 schedule.
The Rocky Mountain Showdown against Colorado State, as previously announced, will be played in Denver on Saturday, September 4th, at 12:00 p.m., and will be seen only on the Mtn. Network.
The following Saturday, the Buffs will travel to Berkeley to play California. That game will be played at 1:30 p.m. (MT), and broadcast by Fox Sports Net. The Colorado game will be the middle game in a Fox Sports Net Big 12 triple header that day, following Georgia Tech at Kansas and preceding Wyoming at Texas. That same weekend, ABC/ESPN will choose between Iowa State at Iowa and Florida State at Oklahoma.
On September 18th, the Buffs returns to Boulder for the home opener to face Hawaii. Kickoff will be at 1:30 p.m., and will honor College Football Hall of Fame inductee Alfred Williams. Unfortunately for some in the Buff Nation, honoring Williams will require a game ticket, as the game was not picked up for telecast. Networks were more intrigued by Iowa State/Kansas State (to be played in Kansas City), Nebraska at Washington, and the Big 12 conference opener, Texas at Texas Tech.
After a bye week, Colorado plays its final non-conference game on October 2nd against Georgia in Boulder. That contest will be broadcast nationally on Fox Sports Net with a 2:30 p.m. kickoff. For that game, the Buffs will wear uniforms honoring the 1990 national championship team.
In Big 12 play, only one game has a known kickoff time, as the Nebraska game the Friday after Thanksgiving will kickoff in Lincoln at 1:30 p.m. (MT).
Other Big 12 games of note …
There will be three mid-season Thursday night conference games, with Texas A&M playing at Oklahoma State on Thursday, September 30th. The following Thursday, Nebraska travels to Kansas State. A week later, Kansas State again plays on Thursday night, traveling to Lawrence to take on Kansas.
Eight Big 12 teams will play their final regular season games Thanksgiving weekend. Thanksgiving evening, Texas A&M takes on Texas in Austin. After the Colorado/Nebraska game on Friday, Kansas will play Missouri (in Kansas City), while the Bedlam Series will be played in Stillwater, with Oklahoma State hosting Oklahoma.
After a 2009 season in which the Buffs played on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, the 2010 schedule is more mundane.
Such is the nature of the beast when you are coming off of a 3-9 season. If the Buffs want to return to night games, and nationally televised games, they will have to earn their way back.
Markques Simas not helping his own cause
At 2:20 a.m. on February 12th, junior wide receiver Markques Simas was pulled over for making a U-turn without using a turn signal. A roadside test showed Simas had a blood-alcohol level of 0.135, well over the legal limit of .08. Simas was immediately placed on “indefinite suspension” after the incident. Some believed that Simas, with his arrest, had used up all of his chances at Colorado. A junior-to-be in 2010, Simas missed all of his red-shirt freshman season in 2008 due to academic ineligibility, then missed the first two games of the 2009 season after being suspended for violation of team rules.
As it turned out, the “indefinite suspension” lasted all of three spring practices, with Simas being reinstated before the end of the first week of 2010 spring ball. While there were discussions about Simas serving additional suspensions this fall, all appeared to be forgiven.
But now …
On March 29th, Simas entered a not guilty plea to the charge of driving under the influence. A hearing was scheduled for May 12th, but Simas failed to appear. An arrest warrant for failure to appear was issued on May 17th.
Somehow, after all of these transgressions, Simas was welcomed back into the fold.
Will this be the last straw? Or will there be an adequate excuse be offered, justifying keeping Simas on the team?
Hawkins one of four on CBS hot seat list
In what will come as no surprise to Buffs fans, CBSSports.com has placed Colorado head coach Dan Hawkins on the hot seat. In ranking all 120 FBS coaches, CBS decided that, heading into the 2010 campaign, only four coaches merit the highest ranking available, a 5.0 – “On the hot seat – It’s time to win now”. Joining Hawkins on the front-burner are Rich Rodriguez from Michigan, Paul Wulff at Washington State, and Todd Dodge at North Texas. Of the four, only Hawkins has been at his present school the past four seasons.
While the hot seat ranking for Dan Hawkins was to be expected, there are some other kernels of interest to be found in the list (http://www.cbssports.com/collegefootball/hotseat?tag=pageRow;pageContainer&_1:col_1=5 ). In the Big 12, Dan Hawkins is far and away the most likely candidate to not make it to 2011, according to the rankings. Next in line is Texas A&M coach Mike Sherman, who ranks a 3.5 rating (”On the bubble – you never know”). Rated at 0 – 0.5 (”Don’t even think about it – can’t be touched”) from the Big 12 are Nebraska’s Bo Pelini , Texas coach Mack Brown , Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops , and first-year Texas Tech head coach Tommy Tuberville . Also afforded a “0″ ranking is Boise State’s coach, Chris Petersen .
It is also interesting to note that there is a link to the story showing the CBS hot seat rankings for the past five seasons. In 2005, the year Gary Barnett was let go, the Colorado head coach was afforded a 2.5 rating (”Safe – solid position”). The progression for Dan Hawkins has gone as follows: before the start of the 2006 season, Hawkins was afforded the coveted “0″ rating. After a 2-10 campaign, the rating went up to 1.5 before the start of the 2007 season (”very safe – change highly unlikely”). Prior to 2008, after the Buffs went bowling in 2007, the score remained 1.5. Before the start of the last season, the score jumped to 2.5 (“Safe – solid position”).
The same ranking afforded Gary Barnett prior to his final season in Boulder …
Keenan Stevens on Rimington Watch list
Colorado center Keenan Stevens has been named as one of five Big 12 centers placed on the watch list for the Rimington Award. The Rimington Award, named for former Nebraska standout Dave Rimington, is handed out annually to the nation’s best center. Of note, all five of the Big 12 centers named on the list are from the Big 12 North.
Stevens played in 11 games in 2009 (missing the Toledo game), and played every offensive down in eight games. In 663 plays, Stevens had 20 knockdown blocks and two touchdown blocks. Against Kansas State, Stevens had the second highest grade (94%) afforded any offensive lineman all season, and had four games overall in which he was graded at 90% or higher.
Highlights from the Colorado Coaches’ tour
Colorado coaches this past week went on a five day bus tour around the state. Labeled as a “meet and greet” opportunity, the tour made 31 stops along the way.
Some highlights …
- Quarterback Seth Labato is moving to safety. The sophomore, who was a preferred walk-on in 2008, reportedly came to the coaching staff after spring drills and requested the move. “He’s 6′5″, he can run, and he’s smart,” said Dan Hawkins. If the experiment does not work out, Labato may move back to the offense. “He can play somewhere,” Hawkins said, “He’s too good not to be on the field somewhere at some point.” The move leaves Colorado with three scholarship quarterbacks on the roster heading into fall camp – senior Cody Hawkins, junior Tyler Hansen, and freshman Nick Hirschman.
- Speaking of quarterbacks, when asked about who would start at quarterback this fall, Dan Hawkins repeated the familiar. “We’ll let them slug it out in camp.” Hawkins also noted, again, that there is “no controversy in our camp” as to whether Cody Hawkins or Tyler Hansen is the starter. “Both guys don’t care…they’ll do whatever is best for the team.”
- Season ticket sales decline. Colorado athletic director Mike Bohn conceded that season ticket sales were down about 15% so far this year. Bohn then stated what you expected him to, namely that he thought that sales would pick up as the season opener approached, and that fluctuations were to be expected.
- “Perfect is the enemy of good,” is what Dan Hawkins had to say when reviewing the play of wide receiver transfer Toney Clemons this spring. Hawkins felt that Clemons was too tight during spring drills, and needed to play more on instinct, as he did when he wowed coaches and teammates last fall as a scout team player.
Two more join team as preferred walk-ons
BuffaloSportsNews.net is reporting that two more players have agreed to join the Buffs this fall as preferred walk-ons.
Zac Blaha was a 3A star at the Classical Academy in Colorado Springs. The 6′3, 220-pound linebacker was the 3A Player-of-the-Year in leading a defense which surrendered only nine points per game last fall. “There are not many football players coming from my school, so I’ve just got to represent my school and my area,” said Blaha. “I take it as a challenge, and I’m excited.”
The Buffs also added fullback/linebacker Greyson Gurnee from Mater Dei High in Santa Ana, California. Gurnee is listed at 6′0″, 185-pounds, and also played fullback in high school.
Blaha and Gurnee join a number of known invited walk-ons, including wide receiver Heath Davis (Aurora), quarterback Justin Gorman (Manheim, Pennsylvania), fullback Kasey Romero (Ponahou, Hawaii), and long-snapper Ryan Iverson (Newport Beach, California).
McCartney, Williams, and Bieniemy waiting for Hall of Fame call next week
On Wednesday, May 27th, the College Hall of Fame will announce, from a nominated field of 77 players and ten coaches, who will be its newest inductees. On the ballot this spring are former Colorado head coach Bill McCartney and two of his top players, running back Eric Bieniemy and linebacker Alfred Williams.
The Daily Camera has a good article on the three Buff nominees hoping to get the call (http://www.buffzone.com/football/ci_15122940 ). In the article, McCartney states that Eric Bieniemy “had the single greatest impact of any player I coached. He had a fire in his heart that you couldn’t put out.” While McCartney thought Bieniemy had the single greatest impact, he indicated that the most talented player he had in his 13 years in Boulder was Alfred Williams. “Whenever we would play in the big games on the road, Alfred was alway stepping up and taking on the leadership role,” McCartney said. “He lived for those moments.”
To be eligible for the College Hall of Fame, both players and coaches must meet certain criteria. For coaches, they have to be three years removed from coaching, coached at least ten years and in at least 100 games, and won over 60% of those games. Bill McCartney coached at Colorado from 1982-94, and his overall record of 93-55 gives him a .624 winning percentage (86-30, or 74%, after his first three seasons). McCartney was selected as the Big Eight Coach-of-the-Year three times (1985, 1989, and 1990).
For players, they must be ten years removed from their college careers, and no longer be playing professionally. They must also have achieved All-American recognition. Bieniemy, the running backs coach for the Minnesota Vikings, was first-team All-Big Eight in 1988, Big Eight Offensive Player-of-the-Year in 1990, a unanimous All-American selection in 1990, and was third in the Heisman trophy balloting in 1990. Bieniemy was also voted in as a member of the University of Colorado All-Century team (1890-1989).
Alfred Williams, who is currently a radio personality in Denver, was a consensus All-American at linebacker in 1989, and a unanimous All-American selection in 1990, earning first-team All-Big Eight honors in both of those seasons. The Butkus Award, presented to the nation’s top linebacker, was awarded to Williams at the conclusion of the 1990 season. Williams was voted the Big Eight Defensive Player-of-the-Year in both 1989 and 1990, and was an honorable mention member of the Colorado All-Century team.
If elected, McCartney, Williams, and Bieniemy would join Byron “Whizzer” White (1952), Joe Romig (1984), Dick Anderson (1993) and Bobby Anderson (2006), as the only Buffs enshrined in the College Football Hall of Fame.
Shameless plug No. 1 – If you would like to read more about the exploits of the three Colorado candidates to join the College Football Hall of Fame, you don’t need to travel far. Just in the past few weeks, I have posted the write-ups for every game played by the Buffs in the 1987 and 1988 seasons. As you know, the 1989 and 1990 campaigns have been up in the Archived Seasons section of CU at the Game for some time. So, if you would like to read more about Bieniemy or Williams, just go to the game of your choice in the Archived Seasons, or, if you would prefer, do a search for either player above (though, as you might imagine, there are a number of tags for these players, so you might want to narrow your search to a specific game or season).
Shameless plug No. 2 – There will be something new at CU at the Game this Sunday (if you are on the email update list, I will alert you as to when it is posted. If you are not on the email update list, it’s fast, easy, and free – just drop me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org , and you’re in). There will be a guest editorial posted, which will be a first for this website. All I can tell you now is that it concerns Colorado head coach Dan Hawkins.
How’s that for a “tease”? CU on Sunday!
Just how close are the Buffs, 3-9 in 2009, to returning to the “national stage” in 2010?
The “CU Coaches Tour” is out and on the road, with the head coaches of the three major sports at CU shaking hands, giving speeches, and trying to convince Buff fans to keep the faith. At the first stop of a five-day, ten-city tour, head football coach Dan Hawkins, new men’s basketball coach Tad Boyle, and new women’s basketball coach Linda Lappe spoke in Erie at the Colorado National Golf Club.
“Guys, trust me. We are that far away”, said Dan Hawkins, holding two fingers just an inch apart. “Nobody wants to be close to having a good marriage, and nobody wants to be close to winning football games. We’ve just got to build a little confidence, build a little momentum.”
The momentum, according to Hawkins, has been building ever since the Buffs lost 28-20 to Nebraska last Thanksgiving weekend to close out a forgettable 2009 campaign. “We had a good spring. We are way faster than we’ve ever been,” Hawkins said. “All of our numbers are way, way lower than they’ve ever been before. Our strength numbers continue to go up.”
Hawkins went on to compare the Buffs’ efforts as being “like taking out pavement. You’ve just got to keep pounding and pounding. [Sometimes] nothing happens and nothing happens, and pretty soon there’s a crack and it falls away.”
No Name Buffs …
It was announced previously that the Buff players will be wearing 1990 vintage uniforms when they take the field at Folsom this fall. The uniforms will be worn as part of a season-long tribute the the 1990 national championship team. Dan Hawkins also noted this week that the team recently voted to have their names removed from the backs of their jerseys, opting to go with one identity this fall – that of the CU Buffs. “It came from them…and it tells me a lot [about the Buffs’ sense of unity]”, said Hawkins, noting that 2010 will mark the first time in his coaching career that his players have elected to go “nameless” on their jerseys.
Buffs losing a few recruits?
Kyle Ringo is reporting on Scout.com that at least one member of the Buffs’ 2010 recruiting class may have trouble gaining admission to the University. Justin Favors , a two-star tight end recruit from Trotwood, Ohio, has been denied admission, according to Ringo – at least for now. The door might not be completely closed on Favors, as the undisclosed reasons for his denial (transcripts, test results, etc.) may still be clarified later, but it is certain that Favors will not be in Boulder for classes and workouts this summer.
Ringo also reported that three of the four running back recruits from the 2010 class (Trea Jones, Tony Jones, and Cordary Clark-Allen ), have been admitted with Justin Torres (who is also listed as a linebacker recruit) the only remaining question mark. However, as California high schools run later than most other states, Buff fans might not know about Torres and some other California recruits until mid-summer.
Rise and shine
Okay, it’s not the boldest move the Colorado coaching staff could have made, but, when you’re coming off four straight losing seasons, anything’s worth a try…right?
For decades, the Colorado football program has conducted its practices in the afternoons.
Starting this fall, the Buffs will conduct practices between 6:00 a.m. and 10:00 a.m. The announcement was made this spring so as to give Colorado players and academic advisors the opportunity to review and revise their fall course scheduling accordingly. Dan Hawkins reportedly was inspired to make the change after meeting with peers this past spring who have utlized morning practices in the past, or are doing so now. Two schools which are known to use morning practices are Miami (because of the heat and humidity in Florida), and Oregon, where head coach Chip Kelly implimented morning practices last spring, and carried them out the remainder of the 2009 season.
“It’s going to be a change, the team needs some changes,” said senior wide receiver Scotty McKnight. “Maybe this will rejuvenate us. It’s going to take some self-discipline and self-control to get going that early.”
Asked if he was a “morning person”, McKnight responded with a thought which might be running through the minds of many of Buff player: “I guess I’d better be”, he said.
Bowling news – Going Orange
The FedEx Orange Bowl has been around a long time. The two Colorado/Notre Dame Orange Bowls were amongst the first-ever for the title sponsor.
But no longer.
FedEx has ended its 21-year run as the Orange Bowl sponsor, walking away as it did not want to buy into a season-long advertising program with ESPN. The network, which is telecasting all of the BCS bowl games in for the next four seasons, is requiring such a package for all of the BCS game sponsors. The total package includes a four-month platform for its sponsors in addition to the game title rights (ESPN is continuing renewal talks with Tostitos for the Fiesta Bowl, Allstate for the Sugar Bowl, and Citi for the Rose Bowl).
The new Orange Bowl sponsor, you ask? ….
Hershey’s. More specifically – Reese’s.
Get it? Orange Bowl – orange packaging. A match made in advertising heaven.
Reese’s already has sponsorships with Texas and Tennessee, both of whom have an orange color scheme. Hershey’s, for its part, signed a mulit-year deal with the NCAA in 2008, and more recently signed new deals with the Big East and the Big Ten.
The Reese’s Orange Bowl…how does that sound?
Bowling News – Big 12
Colorado fans are having a hard time focusing on bowl possibilities right now, but, if the Buffs happen to be amongst the eight (or nine) bowl eligible teams from the conference this fall, their fans will find a new hierarchy amongst the bowl selections. As before, a BCS game goes to the Big 12 champion, with a second BCS bowl slot always a possibility for the conference. Next in line is the Cotton Bowl, in which the No. 2 team from the Big 12 will play a team from the SEC.
After that, things have shifted around.
For years, the No. 3 Big 12 selection went to the Holiday Bowl, with the Alamo Bowl getting pick No. 4. In 2010, the No. 3 pick goes to the Alamo Bowl, where the Big 12 entrant will play – instead of a Big Ten team – the No. 2 team from the Pac-10. Many Big 12 fans will recall that this was the pecking order the Holiday Bowl had for years – getting the matchup between the No. 3 Big 12 team and the No. 2 Pac-10 team.
The No. 4 pick now goes to the Insight Bowl in Tempe, Arizona, where the Big 12 qualifier will play the No. 4/5 team from the Big Ten (the other Big Ten No. 4/5 goes to the Gator Bowl to face SEC No. 6).
The Holiday Bowl slips all the way down to pick No. 5, where the Big 12 entrant will face off against Pac-10 No. 3. The No. 6 Big 12 team will travel to Houston for the Texas Bowl, taking on Big 10 No. 6.
Big 12 pick No. 7 goes to the new bowl game, the Pinstripe Bowl, to be played in Yankee Stadium in New York City. There, organizers hope that enough midwestern fans will ignore the cold weather venue, and travel to the Big Apple to see the stadium and Times Square on New Year’s Eve (the bowl game will be played December 30th). The opponent will get a home game, as the Big 12 No. 7 will take on Big East No. 4.
The final Big 12 bowl participant, if the conference qualifies at least eight, will play in the new Dallas Classic Bowl in the old Cotton Bowl in Dallas. The game will be played on January 1st, with the traditional Cotton Bowl itself (with Big 12 No. 2) being played on January 7th. The opponent for the Big 12 No. 8 in the Dallas Classic will be the No. 7 qualifier from the Big Ten. If not enough Big 12 teams qualify for bowl participation, the slot will go to a team from Conference USA.
Random thoughts about the bowl lineups
Every Big 12 bowl game will be visible to a nationwide audience, which is better than when the Insight Bowl was played on the NFL Network. Fox has the Cotton Bowl on January 7th, and is the only bowl game to be played that day (the BCS title game, at the site of the Fiesta Bowl, will be played January 10th). All of the other Big 12 bowl games are on ESPN, with the exception of the Dallas Classic, which will be on ESPNU.
Why is it that the Big 12 always is faced with a higher ranked team in bowl games? Is it just me, or does it seem like the Big 12 No. 7 is going to be at a significant disadvantage against Big East No. 4? If the game is to be played in the backyard of the Big East, shouldn’t the game be Big 12 No. 4 against Big East No. 7?
Four of the eight bowl games with Big 12 participants are to be played in the state of Texas. Any further questions about the balance of power in the Big 12?
The Mountain West conference is doing better for itself. There have been seasons recently where a qualified MWC team has stayed home, but now the conference has five bowl tie-ins, down to the Armed Forces Bowl (Ft. Worth) and New Mexico Bowl (Albuquerque) for its 4th and 5th place teams.
The SEC has nine bowl game contracts. If two SEC teams qualify for the BCS, the SEC could send 10 of its 12 members bowling each fall.
I also like the fact that the earliest play date amongst the Big 12 bowl games is the Insight Bowl, which is to be played on December 28th. Not having a bowl game on Christmas (Aloha) or shortly thereafter (like the Independence Bowl), will give potential bowl travelers a better chance to enjoy Christmas at home, and still make it to the bowl game.
Okay, a little wishful thinking on my part, but taking Shreveport off the rotation, and adding Dallas and New York, does make Colorado bowl trips potentially more appealing.
For those interested – the Pac-10’s current bowl tie-ins include, in order, the Rose Bowl, the Alamo Bowl, the Holiday Bowl, the Sun Bowl (El Paso), the Maaco Bowl (Las Vegas), and the Fight Hunger Bowl (San Francisco). Other than El Paso, some pretty nice destinations. I’m just sayin’…
Big 12 / Pac-10 collaborating partners?
The Kansas City Star broke the story this week that Big 12 athletic directors were meeting this week with their Pac-10 counterparts in Phoenix as part of the Pac-10’s annual meeting of coaches, athletic officials, network television officials and sponsors. Nine of the Big 12’s athletic directors attended, with the AD’s from Nebraska, Kansas, and Texas citing scheduling conflicts.
“It was an informal gathering”, said Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe. “We talked about how we might cooperate going forward.”
The meetings were interpreted as being a preemptive move in case the Big Ten expands, a move which is being more and more widely reported as a likely move within the next year. A cooperative alliance could strengthen the conferences in television negotiations, as between them, the two conferences have schools in or located near six of the nation’s top 13 media markets – Los Angeles, Dallas, San Francisco, Houston, Seattle, and Phoenix.
One of the topics discussed was creating a partnership of games involving the two conferences, much like the Hardwood Series, in which Pac-10 and Big 12 schools matchup in basketball (the series has been played the past three seasons). “The main thing was the aggregation of our media rights,” said Washington athletic director Scott Woodward. “Whether it’s a combined network that we do as a [joint venture] or anything in between. There’s definite interest to go further instead of it being a one-and-done type thing.”
Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe was talking along the same lines. “You could have a football series that would provide high level inventory in September,” Beebe said. “It’s something I’ve discussed and thought about since I got two months into the job in 2007.”
Still, the discussions this week added little other than to create additional speculation as to possible Pac-10 expansion. Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott, at the heart of the debate, stuck to what he has been saying for the past few months. “Now going forward, we’re looking at the value of adding two teams, since that is a requirement by the NCAA in order to have a league championship game,” Scott said. “We’ve been analyzing all of our TV possibilities, and having a title game is regarded as a high priority…We’re going to ascertain whether the addition of even more teams would add value to our current institutions.”
One Pac-10 athletic director did have a quote, though, which does not give cause for celebration amongst Buff fans. Cited by Dennis Dodd of CBSSports.com, the athetic director stated, ”The conventional wisdom is Utah and Colorado doesn’t get you enough eyeballs,” referring to additional television viewership. “The home run is obviously Texas and Texas A&M”.
The wheels of the bus go ’round and ’round …
In his May Plati-tudes, Colorado media relations director revealed the results of his own poll of Colorado fans as to the issue of expansion. As to the issue of Pac-10 expansion, Plati gave his participating voters three options: 1) Join the Pac-10 conference; 2) Join the Pac-10 conference only if the national landscape is significantly altered; or 3) Stay put in the Big 12 conference.
57.8% opted for joining the Pac-10 conference;
24.7% voted for joining the Pac-10 only if the national landscape has been altered; while
17.5% want to stay in the Big 12.
Just for fun, I have put the same language up as this week’s CU at the Game poll. Let’s see what you think …