Recruits in town for the Blackout
There are at least four known potential members of the Colorado recruiting Class of 2011 who will be in attendance for the game against Georgia.
The most prominent of the four is cornerback Stefan McClure, from Vista, California. McClure, at 5’11”, 175 pounds, is considered by Rivals to be the 5th-best cornerback prospect in the nation (6th by Scout.com). McClure has offers from nine of the 12 teams in the new Pac-12, though he has reportedly narrowed his list down to his top four or five. McClure has already taken an official visit to Washington, and has expressed an interest in Oregon and Cal as well.
“I’m just going to see how their program runs, and see how their coaches interact with their players, and see how they coach them up pregame and during the game,” McClure told Scout.com about his trip to Boulder. “I want to see the talent they have on the field while they’re playing the game, not just hear about it or see it on TV.” At least the Buffs appear to be in the running for McClure’s services. “Any schools I’m taking visits to are in the finals, and I’m considering them pretty hard,” said McClure.
Joining McClure in Boulder this weekend is his high school teammate, Alex Kelley. The 6’3, 295-pound offensive lineman is also from Vista, California, and will join McClure along the Colorado sidelines. Kelley is considered a three-star prospect, and has offers from Minnesota, Boise State, San Jose State, and New Mexico State. Kelley is being recruited as a center, and the Buffs might have an “in” – Alex Kelley’s father is Karry Kelley, who played offensive tackle in Boulder from 1976-79, and was the starting right tackle for the Buffs in Chuck Fairbanks’ first season as head coach.
The two other recruits may not get as much attention as the pair from Vista … because they have already committed.
One is a Colorado commit, quarterback Nick Sherry from Petaluma, California. Sherry is a 6’4″, 211-pound three-star prospect who committed to play for the Buffs back in June. The other is a 5’10”, 182-pound athlete by the name of Ezekiel Bishop. A Dener East prospect, Bishop committed to play for Arizona back in July, but he is taking all of his official visits nonetheless. Bishop took an unofficial visit to Boulder for the Hawai’i game, and liked what he saw. “What stood out for me about CU is how the players are all great guys,” Bishop told BuffStampede.com. “I feel like I could learn life lessons from those players. They are great role models.” If he came to Boulder, Bishop would be amongst friends, as kicker Zach Grossnickle, tight end DaVaughn Thornton, and running back Quentin Hildreth, all came to Boulder from Denver East High as part of the Colorado recruiting Class of 2009.
Friday’s Fearless Forecasts
After a weekend to recover from yet another blow to the Fearless Forecast record (I went two-for-three for the Hawai’i game – I predicted that the attendance would be the lowest for a non Division 1-AA opponent in an opener since 2002, but the University announced a home crowd of 47,840, slightly better than the 47,723 for the 2006 home opener against Arizona State), we press on with a seven-for-nine record for the season.
This weekend’s Fearless Forecasts
– Gary Barnett will hear more cheers than boos when his name is announced at halftime of the Georgia game. Barnett was the quarterbacks and fullbacks coach for the 1990 national championship team, and is reportedly going to be on hand for the halftime festivities honoring the 1990 team. True, Barnett was run out of town amidst scandal and scorn after the 2005 season, but his 49-39 overall record, which included four Big 12 North titles and the 2001 Big 12 championship, will overshadow Barnett’s short-comings.
In addition to Gary Barnett, who was head coach at Northwestern before coming to Colorado, there were a number of other assistant coaches of note from the 1990 team. Gerry DiNardo, who was the offensive coordinator in 1990, went on to be the head coach at Vanderbilt (1991-94), LSU (1995-99), and Indiana (2002-04). Mike Hankwitz, the defensive coordinator, served as an interim head coach at Arizona in 2003. Hankwitz, in 25 seasons as a defensive coordinator, including 12 seasons in Boulder, has put together 14 teams which have been in the top 25 nationally in defense. Bob Simmons, who coached outside linebackers in 1990, was a finalist for the Colorado head coaching job in 1995 when Bill McCartney stepped down. Passed over in favor of Rick Neuheisel, Simmons went on to be the head coach at Oklahoma State (1995-2000). Ron Vanderlinden, the defensive line coach for the Buffs, served as head coach at Maryland from 1997-2000, as is currently the linebackers coach at “Linebacker U”, Penn State. The Buffs also had, as the inside linebackers coach, one Brian Cabral, who is still an assistant at Colorado 20 seasons later.
Funny how good assistants can make a head coach look good …
– Colorado will not lose a fourth straight nickel back to injury. Maybe this is just wishful thinking, but the Buffs can’t lose a fourth straight starter to injury at the same position … can they? Patrick Mahnke is the likely starter, though Jonathan Hawkins, who played most of the Hawai’i game at the position, will also see a great deal of playing time.
– Colorado will have its best home game against a team from the SEC … EVER! Okay, so Colorado has hosted only one team from the SEC in school history prior to Georgia. On September 15, 1979, in Chuck Faibanks’ second game as the Buffs’ head coach, Louisiana State thumped Colorado, 44-0. While it’s true that the Buffs under Dan Hawkins have had some memorable meltdowns, including the 58-0 against Missouri two years ago, and, most recently, the humbling 52-7 loss to Cal, the Buffs should be able to fare better than the 0-44 effort put forth by the 1979 team.
Pac-12 division decision still on hold
The Pac-12 athletic directors are meeting in San Francisco next week. Will this be the week conference fans are told what division in which their favorites will play in 2011?
“I don’t expect any announcements or news coming out of the AD meeting,” said Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott.
That does not mean that the issue will not be discussed. However, it will be discussed in reference to revenue distribution, which will be the first priority of the meetings. It is widely anticipated that the new Pac-12 will adopt an equal sharing of revenue model, consistent with what the SEC and Big Ten run. However, this is a departure from the appearance-based model, which favored USC and UCLA. Adoption of the equal-sharing model will likely come with concessions from the California schools, which may be made as part of the division alignment and/or championship game site location discussion.
Stay tuned. There still may be some relevant information which comes out of the athletic directors’ meetings. After all, it is only about three weeks until the presidents and chancellors meet, at which time all three issues are expected to be finalized.
Big 12 adopts round-robin schedule for 2011
With Colorado and Nebraska now officially out of the picture for the 2011 season, the Big 12 athletic directors approved a round robin schedule for next fall. Only ten teams remain in the league, so the Big 12 will be playing the same schedule the Pac-10 is playing this fall … each team plays the other nine; no conference championship.
The exact scenario the Pac-10 worked so hard this summer to get away from …
California drops baseball program
It was June, 1980, at Cal-Berkeley on Tuesday.
It was during that month 30 years ago that the University of Colorado, with a cash-strapped athletic department, cut a number of non-revenue sports, including baseball, wrestling, and gymnastics. None has returned in the past three decades.
Visions of programs like baseball coming back to Boulder was resurrected when the Buffs joined the Pac-10 this June, with hopes that new television revenue would give the athletic department enough funding to bring back some long dormant programs.
If it happens, the Buffs will have one less conference opponent to face …
The University of California-Berkeley, with an athletic department which has exceeded its budget by $10-13 million in recent years, has eliminated baseball, men’s and women’s gymnastics, and women’s lacrosse. The cuts, according to published reports, will save the school $4 million in 2011-12.
The Bears’ baseball team has been around since 1892, won two national championships, and has made five trips to the College World Series. Last year’s team made it to the post-season with a 29-25 record.
It now appears that the 2011 season will be the team’s last …
Jonathan Hawkins ready to take his chances at nickel back
“It’s a little nerve racking,” said junior defensive back Jonathan Hawkins of taking on the role of nickel back, a position which has felled three starters in as many games this season, “but I just got to know what I have to do as far as keeping myself healthy – extra stretching, extra running. Just always be prepared, playing hard. I feel like playing hard will keep (a player) from being injured a lot of times.” Hawkins will share time with Patrick Mahnke, who started his Colorado career at safety before moving to linebacker. Another linebacker, Liloa Nobriga, could also see time at nickel back.
But it was Hawkins who was in for 41 snaps against Hawai’i after Paul Vigo was injured. Hawkins was in on three tackles, and had a late interception against the Warriors.
Hawkins is all too familiar with losing playing time due to bad wheels, having endured several injuries in his career already.
Hawkins is one of the few players left on the team who was recruited by Gary Barnett. After suffering an ACL injury in his senior year of high school, Hawkins gray-shirted in 2006. “I’ve been battling with knee injuries on and off, trying to stay healthy,” said Hawkins. Primarily a basketball player in high school, Hawkins spent most of his first few seasons in Boulder learning the defense. “Freshman year and sophomore year, I was doing a lot of thinking, playing timid.”
Prior to this year, Hawkins had only be on the field for three defensive plays, and those came in 2008. Hawkins did see action in five games in 2009, but all on special teams. Now, Hawkins believes, he is ready to contribute. “I feel like I just recently developed the whole football mentality and mind frame of understanding the game,” said Hawkins. “I understand the defense more than I’ve understood it since I’ve been here. Now it’s just using my athletic ability and flying around.”
The Buffs will need Hawkins against Saturday, with potential first round NFL pick A.J. Green returning for Georgia from a four-game suspension. “That was my main goal this year, to stay healthy and prove myself as to why I was brought here.”
Staying healthy may be the first goal. In the opener, nickel back Parker Orms suffered a torn ACL. Travis Sandersfeld took over the starting role against California, but fractured his fibula against the Bears. Then, against Hawai’i, Paul Vigo suffered a lower leg injury. Orms is lost for the season, while Sandersfeld and Vigo are out for another 4-6 weeks.
Being named the starter at nickel back has been a mixed blessing for Buff players this fall. Here’s hoping Jonathan Hawkins repeats his performance that he had against Hawai’i, which included an interception …
… and that he will be around to be the starter against Missouri October 9th.
Georgia cancels games with Oregon
Georgia is not used to playing games outside of the southeast, and is abandoning the chance to play a game out on the west coast.
The Bulldogs were to have a home-and-home with Oregon in 2015 and 2016, but, by “mutual agreement”, the two schools have cancelled their contract. However, Oregon is expanding its horizons, recently signing an agreement to play LSU, so it sounds more plausible that it is Georgia which is pulling the plug. “We think we’re going a long way this week,” said Georgia athletic director Greg McGarity, “try Eugene, Oregon. That’s even further. It’s not fun when you see the itinerary when you get back to Athens at 6:00 a.m. on Sunday morning, like will be the situation this Sunday.”
Anyone think that some of the Georgia players might also be looking ahead to their flight home from Boulder with something less than enthusiasm?
Hey – any edge Colorado can get is welcome …
Georgia 1-3 heading to Boulder
Missisippi State, which hadn’t defeated Georgia in nine tries dating back to 1974, held the Bulldogs from Athens out of the endzone for 58 minutes in holding off Georgia, 24-12. The game was close throughout, with the Bulldogs from Starkville nursing a 7-6 lead for all of the third quarter. It wasn’t until Mississippi State scored two touchdowns in just over a minute of play with less than five minutes to go that the 56,721 on hand could enjoy the victory.
The loss left Georgia with a 1-3 record, and a number of broken streaks – all bad.
Georgia has now lost three straight games for the first time since 1990, and is 0-3 to start SEC play for the first time since 1993.
Georgia now has a four game losing streak in SEC play, dating back to a loss to Kentucky at the end of the 2009 season. The loss to the Kentucky Wildcats was the first to Kentucky on the road in 32 years. The loss to South Carolina was the first on the road against the Gamecocks in ten years. The loss to Arkansas was the first to the Razorbacks in 17 years. The loss to Mississippi State was the first in Starkville since 1951.
How bad is it right now in Athens?
Head coach Mark Richt, in his tenth year at Georgia, and is 91-30 overall (in four plus seasons in Boulder, Dan Hawkins is 18-34), yet Richt may actually be on the hot seat. The Bulldogs went 8-5 last season, the worst of Richt’s nine seasons at the helm, and now are 1-3 on the 2010 campaign. Despite winning four division titles and two SEC championships, Richt is, according to one columnist in Atlanta, “in trouble”. Mark Bradley, writing for the respected Atlanta Journal-Constitution, noted that Georgia is 10-9 dating back to the end of the 2008 season. “No longer does an opponent tremble at the sight of Georgia approaching,” wrote Bradley. “On the contrary, this has become – three weeks running – the team you want to play if you’re looking to establish your program.”
This Saturday, it will become four weeks running, as Colorado looks to establish its program with a signature win over Georgia …
Georgia arrest number hits double digits
As if Georgia head coach Mark Richt didn’t have enough problems …
The Georgia Bulldogs returned home from their 24-12 loss to the Mississippi State Bulldogs to learn that freshman linebacker Demetre Baker had been arrested for improper driving and underage possession of alcohol early Sunday morning. Baker, who had not played in 2010, and who did not make the trip to Starksville, was dismissed from the team on Sunday.
Baker, said Richt in a statement, “was fully aware of the possible consequences that could result from this type of poor judgment.”
Baker is the tenth Georgia arrested this year – and the fourth dismissed from the team.
Offensive line set?
Two weeks after using eight players along the offensive line, Colorado used the same five players on every down against Hawai’i. Nate Solder, at left tackle, and Ryan Miller, at right guard, have played every down at their positions this fall. Joining Solder and Miller for every snap against the Warriors were junior Mike Iltis at center, junior Ethan Adkins at left guard, and red-shirt freshman David Bakhtiari at right tackle.
“Mike played pretty well in there, Ethan stepped up,” said Dan Hawkins. “Obviously our O-line, particularly in the second half, was pretty dominating”.
Perhaps the biggest surprise in the lineup is Bakhtiari, who has supplanted last year’s starter, sophomore Bryce Givens. Bahkhtiari, said Hawkins, has “stepped up and played well … He’s pretty consistent, strong, athletic, and has kind of fended off a fierce battle with Bryce (Givens). We’d still like to have some opportunities to get Bryce back in the mix as well, but David’s done a real good job.”
Does this mean that the Colorado offensive line, which produced over 200 yards rushing (252) for the first time in two years?
“I don’t like anything to be settled,” said Hawkins. “You’ve got to continue to play well, keep playing, and give guys opportunities to earn shots.”
So stay tuned …
The bad news … for the third straight week, Colorado lost its starting nickel back. Paul Vigo joins Parker Orms (Colorado State) and Travis Sandersfeld (California) on the sideline. Vigo suffered a lower leg break early in the game against Hawai’i, and will be lost for four to six weeks. Vigo’s replacement, junior Jonathan Hawkins, had five tackles and an interception against the Warriors, and will be assisted for the next few weeks by safety-turned linebacker Patrick Mahnke, a junior, as well as true freshman Terrel Smith.
The good news … other than Vigo, the Buffs did not suffer any major injuries against Hawai’i. Several starters, including Nate Solder and Scotty McKnight, were held out of practices this week as they recovered from minor injuries. Colorado head coach Dan Hawkins did indicate, however, that if the Buffs were playing this weekend, all of those players held out of practices during the bye week would have played.
Colorado and Big 12 agree on exit fees
Pack your bags for the Pac-12!!!!!!
Colorado and the Big 12 agreed on terms by which the University of Colorado will officially leave the Big 12 Conference on June 30, 2011. The Big 12 will withhold $6,863,000.00 from the revenues otherwise distributable to the University. The amount due is significantly less than the $9.255 million Nebraska will pay to leave at the same time (see story below). The $6.863 million accounts for 36 percent of the conference revenue from the last academic year (2009-10) and the present academic year (2010-11).
The total payout to the remainder of the Big 12 ($16.118 million) is not exactly the $30-$40 million numbers being thrown out when the Big 12 “left behinds” were trying to convince most of the Big 12 south from defecting, but it will add to the Big 12 conference coffers. Distribution of the extra funds will be discussed at a Big 12 board meeting next month.
The press release from Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe was almost identical to that given for the University of Nebraska, with Beebe stating that “the agreement was accomplished through a collegial, respectful process among the Conference, its institutions, and the University of Colorado that led to a resolution that all parties believe is fair … The Big 12 has enjoyed its relationship with CU, and wishes it well in the future.”
“We are very excited that Colorado will be joining the (Pac-12) Conference in 2011,” said Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott in a prepared statement. “Our plans all along were for them to join the Conference in 2012, so this puts the Pac-12 ahead of schedule, which is great news.”
Colorado Chancellor Phil DiStefano and university council members spent Sunday and Monday at the Big 12’s headquarters in Dallas, working out the details. “I felt that with a mediator, we would get this done,” said DiStefano. “That individual was able to work not only with Colorado, but also obviously with Nebraska and the Big 12.” The agreement was unanimously approved by the Colorado Board of Regents at a special meeting in Denver Tuesday afternoon.
How will Colorado pay- or more correctly, make up the lost revenue of – $6.863 millionn? The Pac-10 will float the University of Colorado a loan, with the funds to be re-paid – or, if you prefer, withheld – from Pac-12 revenues over the next few seasons. With the new Pac-12 television contract expected to generate significantly more revenue than the existing Big 12 television contracts, the loan should be repaid quickly, and at no noticeable loss to Colorado. In essence, like its new Pac-12 partner Utah, which will forego a full share of revenue for three years, it will not be a matter of deficits, but rather, delayed gratification.
The Pac-10 was prepared to loan Colorado as much as $10 million, so it is quite apparent that DiStefano, Bohn, and the Buffs’ negotiating team, did a good job of striking a deal. “Very pleased,” said regent Steve Bosley of his reaction to the settlement. “I don’t think we anticipated it to be this low. I was prepared for a little bit more.”
Nebraska’s move also a done deal
The Big 12 announced Tuesday that it had reached an agreement with the University of Nebraska regarding the withdrawal of the Cornhuskers from the Big 12 on June 30, 2011. The agreement calls for the Big 12 to withhold $9.255 million in revenues which would otherwise have been paid to the University. If Nebraska plays in a BCS game this season, and the Big 12 receives two BCS bowl bids, the Cornhuskers will receive an additional $500,000.
“This agreement was accomplished through a collegial, respectful process among the conference, its institutions, and the University of Nebraska that led to a resolution that all parties believe is fair,” said Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe. “The Big 12 has enjoyed its relationship with Nebraska, and wishes it well in the future.”
The Big 12 will now play with ten teams, and is not – at least for now – considering expansion. “All we hear from our membership institutions at meetings and individually is how excited they are with the ten-member conference,” said Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe. “I’m reflecting my membership’s desire, and it’s my own feeling, too.”
Some thoughts …
– It is not surprising that the Nebraska was completed easily. After all, there was no real dispute here. Nebraska gave one year’s notice, and is paying the penalty for leaving one year early. Colorado gave two year’s notice, which created a conflict – “Colorado originally was indicating it was going to stay for two years, and that was something we had to work through,” said Dan Beebe.
– If Nebraska had to sacrifice only $9.255 million, there should have been no way that Colorado should have had to give up more than that. After all, Colorado gave its two year notice, which would require less of a withholding for each year. The spin doctors for Nebraska and for Colorado haters will tell you that it was all about how Nebraska generates more revenue, and therefore has to pay more. Not true. The fact is that Colorado had every right to hold to its two year plan, and pay accordingly. The monetary concession from the Big 12 is – pure and simple – extra dollars to get the Buffs to leave in 2011 and not wait until 2012.
– Remember when Nebraska was saying – in June – that it would fight having against having to pay anything to the Big 12? Nebraska did not have to pay a “penalty”, the argument went, because the conference withholding was designed to compensate the league for lost revenue. There would be no lost revenue, but enhanced revenue, if Dan Beebe was to be believed. The Big 12 commissioner spent most of his time in mid-June trying to keep the Big 12 south from defecting to the Pac-16 – by promising greater revenues for the Big 12 south if those teams stayed. What happened to that argument, Nebraska?
– The remaining ten schools in the Big 12 are all excited about not having to play a conference championship game. A “true” champion will emerge, as all ten teams will play one another.
Really? The conference will be better without Nebraska and Colorado, and without a championship game? Funny, but that is exactly the system the Pac-10 has had in place since 1978, and is exactly the same system the Pac-10 spent the summer getting away from …
Buffs plan Blackout for Georgia game
It’s not exactly a night game, but it’ll have to do …
For the third time in four years, Colorado fans are being asked to wear black. The first Blackout came in 2007, when the Buffs fell to Florida State, 16-6. In 2008, Colorado defeated No. 21 West Virginia, 17-14.
There was no Blackout game in 2009, simply because the Buffs, on their way to a 3-9 season, did not merit a night game.
The Georgia game will mark only the second time in school history in which a member of the Southeastern Conference has visited Boulder. In 1979, LSU came to face the Buffs, with the Tigers thumping the Chuck Fairbanks’ team, 44-0. Overall, Colorado is 2-9-1 against teams from the SEC, with the wins coming in a 47-33 Liberty Bowl win in 1969, and a 1971 regular season victory over LSU in Baton Rouge, 31-21. The tie, of course, came in the 1990 season-opening Pigskin Classic against Tennessee, when the Buffs fought the Volunteers to a 31-31 tie. The last time Colorado played a team from the SEC, it was the 2007 Independence Bowl, with Colorado falling to Alabama, 30-24.
Nickel back trauma
Last Friday night, in a speech to the team before the Hawai’i’ game, College Hall of Fame inductee Alfred Williams challenged the Buffs to be great. As senior captain Scotty McKnight put it, “He said if you’re a starter, you need to work harder than anyone on the team. If you’re a backup, make it your goal not to be a backup next week.
Apparently, if you want to be a starter at Colorado, all you need to do is to volunteer to be a backup nickel back.
For the third week running, Colorado had a new starter at nickel back. For the third week running, the starter went down with a long-term injury. In week one, Parker Orms was lost for the season with a torn knee ligament. Against Cal in week two, replacement starter Travis Sandersfeld broke a bone in his leg. Then, against Hawai’i, Sandersfeld’s replacement, Paul Vigo, suffered what was described as a lower leg injury, which will keep the red-shirt freshman out for four-to-six weeks. Vigo’s replacement, junior Jonathan Hawkins, had five tackles against Hawai’i, and had the Buffs’ lone interception.
Here’s to keeping Hawkins healthy against Georgia …