Colorado Buffaloes Football: The Colorado Daily and Pac-12 News

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Colorado Buffaloes Football: The Colorado Daily and Pac-12 News

February 8th

Arizona State needs a new coach

First, Arizona defensive line coach Mike Tuiasosopo left Tucson for Boulder. Now, Arizona State also has to replace its defensive line coach.

Grady Stretz, a Tempe, Arizona, native, the defensive line coach for the Sun Devils for the past five seasons, has been hired away by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. “It was going to take something special for me to leave,” said Stretz. “I’ve enjoyed my experience. I’ve created a lot of relationships. This has been my home.”

For a team with 19 starters returning, the defensive line is one area which is a question mark for the Sun Devils, as two starters from 2010 will need to be replaced. Dennis Erickson, Arizona State’s head coach, said that he hoped to have a replacement for Stretz named in the next few weeks.

UCLA soap opera continues

For about 12 hours last week, Rocky Seto was planning on becoming the Bruins’ next defensive coordinator.

Seto was formerly the defensive coordinator at USC, and was a current assistant coach with the Seattle Seahawks. Last week, Seto was offered the defensive coordinator job at Westwood, and a press conference was scheduled …

Then nothing.

“It was a unique situation,” said Seto. “I was a bit disappointed because I accepted the offer. Emotionally and mentally, I was there.”

What happened? UCLA head coach called Seto and told him that “it just wasn’t the right time.”

“He called, and he was really gracious about it, and very flattering,” Seto said. “I really believed he wanted to do it, but the circumstances just wouldn’t allow for it.”

No reasons were given, but it has been reported that some of Seto’s friends posted congratulatory messages on Seto’s Facebook page, and that the “leak” incensed UCLA. There is also speculation that UCLA fans were not excited about a former USC coach was crossing over to the Bruins.

Who knows?

The only thing that is certain is that Rick Neuheisel is still in search of a defensive coordinator.

February 7th

Kudos to Buffs in various sports

First, congratulations to two former Buffs who are members of the Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers. Linebacker Brad Jones is on injured reserve, but kicker Mason Crosby made the most of his opportunities, going four-for-four on extra points, and connecting on his only field goal attempt of the night. Jones and Crosby become the 30th and 31st Buffs to earn a Super Bowl ring and the first since Mitch Berger won his ring with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2008.

CU Ski Team performs well at worlds

The 25th World University Games were conducted this past week at Erzurum, Turkey, and Colorado skiers did the team proud.

CU ski team coach Richard Rokos was the captain of the team, and the United States had its best results in skiing ever. The United States won the most gold medals (four), the most medals (five), had the most top five finishes (nine) and the most top ten finishes (18) in the eight races.

The University of Colorado sent a total seven skiers to the Games, four of whom competed for the United States. In fact, half of the women’s alpine team was made up of Colorado skiers, with freshman Kirsten Cooper, sophomore Erika Ghent, and senior Katie Hartman competing on the women's side, and junior Taggart Spenst competing on the men’s side. The Buffs also had senior Gabriel Rivas skiing at the Games on behalf of France, as well as sophomore Sara Hjertman and senior Carolina Nordh competing under the flag of Sweden.

Katie Hartman had a gold in the Super G, while Ghent had a silver in the Super Combined (one of her four top nine finishes on the weekend).

These results certainly bode well for the Colorado ski team as they return to the United States. The Buffs will be competing for the ski teams 18th national championship in Stowe, Vermont, the second weekend of March.

CU Runner wins USA Cross Country Championship

Former CU runner Brent Vaughn won the USA Cross Country Championship this past Saturday at Mission Bay Park near San Diego. Vaughn won the 12-kilometer race with a time of 35:46.

Another former CU champion, Kara Goucher, competed in the women’s event, finishing seventh.

February 6th

Embree: “We’re probably going to be a little more aggressive earlier”

Dan Hawkins’ philosophy of recruiting: “If you build it, they will come”.

Hawkins preferred for his recruits to come to him, let them enjoy their senior seasons, let them take their official visits, then let the Colorado program speak for itself. The recruits would feel they had the chance to make an unpressured choice. Those who chose Colorado would be loyal, and play hard for the Buffs.

Problem is, Hawkins never posted a winning season. Recruits have been giving out their verbal commitments earlier and earlier. Colorado was always left in January with a handful of commitments, trying to play catch up.

That era is no longer.

The new coaching staff already has over 30 offers of commitment made to prospects still juniors in high school. Still, Colorado will be at a disadvantage compared to other schools. “We’re probably going to be a little more aggressive earlier,” said Embree. “But we have to be better about the evals and transcripts we get academically. We’ve got to make sure we get kids who can stay in school … We had to pass on some kids, to be truthful, who we probably would have had a good chance of getting, but they couldn’t do it academically, in our estimation.”

Colorado does not have a special admissions policy for borderline students, and does not have a fall-back “general studies” degree (Check out the Archived 1988 CU v. Nebraska game for a story about how a “discussion” with Nebraska fans about “general studies” degrees almost got Brad and I killed). As a result, if Colorado makes an offer to a prospect who is only mid-way through his junior year in high school, there may be some players who commit to the Buffs who turn out not to be eligible.

Still, it’s full speed ahead on recruiting the Class of 2012

Recruits from the Class of 2012

Cyler Miles

A name which Buff fans will be hearing a great deal over the next twelve months.

You may know that Mullen high has won the Colorado 5A titles three years running. The quarterback for the team coached by former Buff All-American Dave Logan is Cyler Miles. Last season, as a junior, Miles completed 70% of his passes. He threw for 20 touchdowns, and two interceptions. At 6′4″, 215-pounds, he is already a perfect size for a college quarterback. He can already run a 11.0 in the 100-meter dash.

Oh, and by the way, the Buffs are in the market for a quarterback.

Miles already has offers from Colorado and Cal, with interest from Notre Dame, Arizona, Oregon, Washington, Texas A&M and LSU. “I wouldn’t want to rush into any decisions on a college,” Miles told BuffStampede.com. “I’m just going into it. I’m trying to have a really good senior season and really improve … Then  I can get more offers and improve myself the most I can. Then kind of after the senior season look over everything, discuss it with my parents, and look at the colleges that fit me the best.”

For better or worse, the judgment of Jon Embree’s recruiting Class of 2012 may well begin and end with the decision made by Cyler Miles.

Shane Callahan

Callahan is a 6′7″, 277-pound offensive lineman from Chaparral high in Parker, Colorado. Callahan was an honorable mention all-state player as a junior, and will likely move up in status his senior year.

Colorado offered Callahan last summer, an offer reaffirmed in December by Jon Embree. Callahan met with new offensive line coach Steve Marshall on December 18th, and took an unofficial visit to Boulder on January 15th. “CU is definitely a possibility in my future, so it felt really good to talk with the new coaches,” Callahan told BuffStampede.com. I really like coach Marshall … and Coach Embree kind of overwhelmed me. He was a Colorado kid, and I really like it because he wants us other Colorado kids to play for him.”

While Colorado seems to be a favorite for Callahan’s services, the junior has also taken an unofficial visit to Notre Dame, and is attracting interest from USC, Nebraska, Oregon, Wisconsin, and Alabama.

Paul Thurston

Another offensive tackle which Colorado has already offered. Thurston is 6′5″, 266-pounds, and plays for Arvada West, the same school which gave the Buffs Marc Mustoe as part of the Class of 2011. Thurston, who has already started 35 games for Arvada West, is coached by his uncle, Paul Thurston, who played two years for Colorado in the early 1980’s.

Like Callahan, Thurston has already met with the new coaching staff. “Coach Embree basically said that he is a guy that they want to get up there to play and be a Buff,” said Paul Thurston. “So that was pretty exciting for Paul.”

Thurston has interest from schools like Cal, Arizona, UCLA, Notre Dame, Nebraska and Wisconsin, and is also interested in taking some official visits before committing. “I am going to try and wait through the whole process,” Thurston told BuffStampede.com. “But I don’t know how it is going to turn out, if I will be able to wait to do that.”

Conner Crane

Buff fans were excited about the hire of Bobby Kennedy.

Not only because they wanted Kennedy as the new wide receivers coach, but because of his seven year stint as recruiting coordinator at Texas.

An early dividend might come by way of Conner Crane, a 6′4″ 180-pound wide receiver from Denton, Texas. Crane averaged a gaudy 24.4 yards per catch as a junior, and is attracting interest from Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Arizona, and Boise State … but Colorado’s Bobby Kennedy was the first to offer Crane a scholarship.

“Coach Kennedy thinks I can be an intermediate threat, and help move the chains,” Crane told BuffStampede.com. “They don’t have a lot of receivers on scholarship at Colorado right now, so I would have a chance to go in and play early. So I like that.”

Crane hopes to take an unofficial visit to Boulder this summer. “I have talked to some people about it, and everyone has said that the campus is beautiful, and they have good academics at Colorado,” said Crane. “I want to visit the school and see what it is like, and keep in contact with the coaches, and build a relationship with them.”

That’s what coach Embree says it’s all about, relationships.

 

 

February 4th

Embree challenges team to bring home a road victory in season opener

Okay, so perhaps it wasn’t a “win one for the Gipper” speech, but Colorado head coach Jon Embree has challenged his new team to start a new tradition by restoring an old tradition— winning on the road

“There have been a lot of great traditions around here that got swept under the rug, and they’re coming back,” Embree told 1,200 fans and boosters at the Colorado annual recruiting luncheon. “We’re going to start with one of the things that means a lot to me and a lot of the former players in here.” Embree went on to explain that when the Buffs, under Bill McCartney, won a big game, that a brick would be painted gold, with the date and the score painted in black, with that brick placed against a wall in the Dal Ward center.

“As a former player, you like to go back in that building and see how many bricks you put in that wall. You had pride in that,” said Embree. “So what I told the team, former players, ‘You want those bricks back up? We have to earn one.’ ” Embree’s challenge to the team was to win the season opener on the road against Hawai’i. “When we win a brick, all your bricks come back,” said Embree, speaking to the former players at the luncheon. “So when you see the players, you remind them to get that brick on the wall.”

A little hokey? Sure. But college football is all about emotion, and getting the current group of players motiviated to play hard for their new coaches starts now. A season-opening victory over Hawai’i would not only end a 17-game road losing streak, it would signal that the Dan Hawkins’ era has officially come to an end, and the Jon Embree era has officially begun.

Can’t happen soon enough …

Larry Scott in town

It was a small gift—a Pac-10 baseball cap—but it carried with it a great deal of meaning.

Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott was in Boulder for the Colorado recruiting luncheon, back in town for the first time since Colorado joined the Pac-12 last June. Scott only brought with him a token gift for the new Colorado head coach, but it was a nice gesture for the commissioner to come to a CU function nonetheless.

Scott did hold a press conference, though there was little new news to report. The heading of the Daily Camera article, “Buffs, Pac-12 reach deal”, sounded enticing. In reality, Scott was only commenting on the agreement which has been public for weeks, namely that Colorado and Utah will share in the revenue from the Pac-12 championship game, as well as a pro-rated share of the additional revenue from Fox Sports which the league will earn as a result of having additional games to telecast this fall.

Scott did comment that the agreement between ESPN and Texas to form a Texas network bodes well for the Pac-12 as the new league negotiates its television rights this spring. “My view is if they can get that kind of money ($300 million) for a one-school network, with the kind of programming they’re going to have on it, it bodes extremely well for what we’re going to do with the premium product we’re going to have as a 12-team conference,” said Scott. The new television contract may be in place for the league spring meetings (June 3-5 in Seattle), but Scott indicated that negotiations could last through the summer.

Say it isn’t so …

The 2011 Colorado football schedule remains incomplete. On September 10th, that tough opponent, TBA, remains on the calendar.

The date was to be the return game of a home-and-home with the California Bears, but that schedule was made before the two teams became league opponents. When Colorado joined the Pac-12, it was widely assumed that the contest would become Colorado’s first-ever Pac-12 game, but then the schedules were devised, and the Buffs and the Bears were not scheduled to meet in league play.

Colorado already has seven road games, one neutral site game, and four home games on the calendar. With local merchants already upset that the Buffs will not have six home games, simply cancelling the game and going with a 12-game schedule with only four home games is not an option. Colorado reportedly wants to find a new opponent (Portland State?), but Cal reportedly wants the game to be played as scheduled.

Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott, for his part, is not excited about league foes playing before conference play officially begins, but the league won’t stand in the way of the game taking place. “I would just chalk it up, if it happens, to one of those transition issues that you have to deal with when a conference expands,” said Scott. “Kind of like the reason we had to do a one-year (television) deal for a Pac-12 championship game.”

Colorado is expected to announce a resolution to the September 10th game issue in the next week to ten days.

Let’s hope it’s an announcement that the Vikings are coming to town.

Jon Embree’s first year schedule is hard enough as it is. Yes, a “revenge” game against Cal would be nice, but there is plenty of time for that down the road. For Colorado to break a streak of five losing seasons, and to become bowl eligible, there must be seven “W’s” posted this fall. To get there, Colorado would have to win all of its home games – including games against USC and Oregon, and win at least two more games outside of Folsom Field. For a team which hasn’t tasted a road victory since October, 2007, that is a great deal to ask without bringing another BCS opponent.

No need to pile on. CU can “Bring on the Nation” (See, Archives, 1993 Season) later.

Let’s give the Jon Embree era a chance to get started on the right foot.

Show me the Money

It’s always going to be about dollars.

Texas and Nebraska always had more than Colorado. Oregon and USC will always have more than Colorado.

Colorado, by the same token, will always have more than Colorado State.

It’s just the nature of the beast.

While the revenue from the new Pac-12 television contract will help ease the pain in 2012, this next year is going to be one of deficit spending. Colorado will need all the revenue it can generate as it foregoes its $6.86 million penalty for leaving the Big 12, and lives without Pac-12 television revenue (for the most part) this fall.

So it was no surprise that former head coach Bill McCartney tried to rally the troops at the luncheon, urging the fans to “fill the seats” at Folsom, to “buy the tickets”, not only to show the Pac-12 opposition that Colorado was a tough place to play, but in order to keep the coffers full.

The 1,200 in attendance donated $75,000 to the athletic department.

This weekend, several members of the coaching staff are heading west to meet with donors. Athletic director Mike Bohn will take along head coach Jon Embree, along with assistant coaches Eric Bieniemy, Brian Cabral, and Kanavis McGhee. The quartet of coaches, all former CU players, will meet with donors in Los Angeles, Santa Monica, and Palm Desert.

On March 15th, the Colorado Excellence Fund will kick off, with fans and boosters allowed to donate directly to the Colorado football team.

Jon Embree and his staff are hot right now. Colorado fans are as excited as they have been in five years. Optimism about the future of the program in the Pac-12 is bursting out all over.

Time for us to get out our checkbooks and show the new coaching staff that we are behind them all the way.

February 3rd

Dave Plati-isms

If you are a Buff die-hard, you have to love some of the details Dave Plati comes up with in his releases. There is always something good there to make a Buff fan smile …

Academics: Of the 17 high school signees in the Class of 2011, 15 have a GPA of 3.0 or higher, with seven at 3.5 or higher. Translation: we might not have to – for a  change – have to spend the summer worrying about qualifiers …

Speed and athleticism: A priority for the Colorado coaches this cycle, and it appears as if they were successful. Seven of the seniors participate in track and field, six play basketball, four are in baseball, while others play golf, lacrosse and soccer.

Championship mentality: I have always liked this part. Most of the signees—16 of 18—won a championship of some kind during their playing days, either conference, district, regional or state. Four won state championships, while two from California won CIF titles. Both of the junior college signees played for bowl teams last season. In all, the 18 players accounted for 10 undefeated seasons.

Partners: Since 1983, Colorado has picked up a pair (or three) players from the same high school in the same year. This recruiting class witnessed three such partners: Jermaine Clark and Rashad Hall from Oak Ridge Military Academy in Greensboro, North Carolina, Paulay Asiata and Juda Parker from St. Louis high in Honolulu, and Stevie Dorman and Will Harlos from Somerset, Texas.

Wait and see: The NCAA All-American teams in both 2009 and 2010 had members whose average on the five point scale was 3.3 stars. There is a great deal to be mined from the talent from year one to year five. Yes, it helps if you start with good material, but it will still come down to good coaching.

Buffs still looking for respect

While not entirely unexpected, it certainly is a wake up call to the Buff Nation that the Colorado recruiting Class was ranked by Scout as no better than 60th in the nation. With 120 teams in Division 1-A, that would make Colorado’s Class, by definition, mediocre.

Two Pac-12 opponents, Arizona State (67th) and Arizona (68th) were ranked below Colorado, with the Buffs not far behind UCLA (54th), Washington State (53rd), Utah (46th) and Oregon State (44th). Five Pac-12 opponents, USC (5th), Oregon (10th), Cal (14th), Washington (19th), and Stanford (22nd) were ranked in the top 25 nationally. (Rivals does not rank schools past 50 any longer, and Colorado did not make the cut.)

Buff fans can take solace in the fact that eight of the players signed were once committed to other schools. For example, all three of the Hawai’i players CU signed—Paulay Asiata (Washington), K.T. Tuumalo (Boise State), and Juda Parker (Tennessee)—were once “solid verbals” at other schools. “We were able to convince them and show them what we had and what Colorado’s all about,” said Embree. This is another good sign that the Colorado coaching staff will, in time, be able to compete for the best talent”.

Embree, for his part, was pleased with the results. “I wanted to balance the roster,” said Embree. “The roster wasn’t balanced at certain positions. Then I wanted to find players that could come in and help us, be it at the position we recruited them or in special teams. I wanted guys that could come in and have some versatility and upgrade our speed a little bit.”

While content with the players he signed, Embree understands that four and five star players will expected in the future, but he is not concerned about the rankings assigned by others.

“I’m sure if you’ve got all five-stars you’re going to end up with some good players, but you’re going to end up some that don’t play,” said Embree. “To me, it’s more about what you do as far as developing them. You’ve got to develop the kids and you’ve got to have kids that fit your system.”

Buff fans can also be heartened by Jon Embree’s comments about the Class of 2012. Embree indicated that Colorado had already made offers to about 30 prospects. That, in and of itself, is refreshing. Colorado under Dan Hawkins had the philosophy of wanting potential recruits to take their time, take all their visits, and then decide where they wanted to play. While good in theory, it was an antiquated concept in an era when Texas has most of its five-star class sewn up before the end of spring practice. Top prospects don’t want to be left behind, so commitments are coming earlier and earlier.

It’s time for Colorado to take a seat at that table.

February 2nd

Making way for the Class of 2011

In order for the new coaching staff to make way for the larger than expected recruiting class, several current scholarships will not be renewed. For various reasons, it is being reported that wide receiver Kendrick Celestine, wide receiver Terdema Ussery, wide receiver Andre Simmons, and defensive lineman Dakota Poole will not be returning in 2011.

None of the four were significant contributors in 2010, and both Celestine and Simmons would have been seniors this  fall. Poole is medically retiring from football, but will remain on scholarship if he decides to stay at Colorado and finish his studies. Ussery, meanwhile, is simply giving up the game. He is not leaving school; nor is he ineligible.

Six walk-ons are also leaving the team, including kicker Marcus Kirkwood.

Position Changes

Two players are switching positions this spring … as outside linebacker Tyler Ahles and inside linebacker Evan Harrington, both seniors, will move to fullback.

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