The Colorado Daily – May

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May 30th

Sports Illustrated investigation digs deeper into Ohio State’s transgressions

Perhaps now we can understand the timing of Tressel’s resignation.

Sports Illustrated is coming out with an article in this week’s edition, outlining an eight-year pattern of NCAA violations under head coach Jim Tressel.

In the article, the authors report that at least 28 players have been alleged to have traded or sold memorabilia, “at least 20″ players swapped memorabilia for tattoos, and at least four players traded memorabilia for marijuana.

The history of Tressel’s “ignorance is bliss” started at Youngstown State, where he claimed not to know that his star quarterback had received a car and more than $10,000 from a school trustee – even though it was later revealed that it was Tressel who told the player to go and see the trustee.

In 2003, Buckeyes’  running back Maurice Clarett became a pariah after he was found to have received money and other benefits, but Tressel, who had said that he spent more time with Clarett than any other player, claimed he had no knowledge of Clarett’s violations.

In 2004, an investigation uncovered a $500 payment to quarterback Troy Smith. Again, Tressel said he had no knowledge of the payment.

Beginning to detect a pattern?

The most recent troubles – which had led to Tressel agreeing to a five-game suspension to start the 2011 season – began in December, when the Department of Justice informed the University that six players had received tattoos or cash in exchange for Ohio State memorabilia. Tressel had said that he wasn’t aware of the problem - consistent with the “I didn’t know” defense he had raised over the years. The problem this time was that it was later disclosed that Tressel did in fact know about the problem all the way back in March.

Now, Tressel was not only complicit in the NCAA violations – he was caught lying to the NCAA about his knowledge. Rather than alert his superiors about the violations, as he was required to do, Tressel said he “couldn’t think” whom to tell (but he did tell Terrelle Pryor’s hometown advisor). Tressel managed to protect key players for the 2010 season, but in the end his actions cost five players (so far) five games of the 2011 season.

Sports Illustrated’s investigation reveals that the five players suspended may be just the tip of the iceberg.

According to SI, since 2002 a total of 28 players – 22 more than Ohio State has acknowledged – have been involved in memorabilia-for-tattoos. That total includes – and this is what is important to Buff fans – an additional nine current players whose alleged wrongdoing may fall within the NCAA’s four-year statute of limitations on violations.

On the list of nine players: Both the first and second string middle linebackers, Etienne Sabino and Storm Klein; the starting left defensive end, Nathan Williams; the starting right defensive end, John Simon; as well as backup running back Jaamal Berry. If these players were to be suspended, to go with the losses of quarterback Terrell Pryor, running back Dan Herron (Jamaal Berry was expected to carry the load during the first five games), starting offensive tackle Mike Adams, starting wide receiver DeVier Posey, and backup defensive tackle Solomon Thomas (who was the backup to the newly implicated Nathan Williams), there would be real problems in Columbus.

For those keeping score – that would be seven starters and three backups for those starters – who might not suit up September 24th, including both running backs, both left defensive ends, and both middle linebackers.

One former Buckeye, defensive end Robert Rose (whose career ended in 2009), told SI that he had swapped memorabilia for tattoos, and that “at least 20 others” on the team had done so as well (but some of those allegations are more than four years old now, and are not punishable by the NCAA). The magazine’s investigation also uncovered allegations that Ohio State players had traded memorabilia for marijuana, and that Tressel’s violations of NCAA rules may go back as far as his days as an assistant coach at Ohio State in the mid-1980′s (the story here: Tressel was in charge of the summer camps. Participants were allowed to buy raffle tickets for Ohio State gear. Tressel allegedly fixed the raffles so that elite prospects won the OSU gear).

It may not be a coincidence, then, that Tressel resigned two days after Ohio State was infomed of Sports Illustrated’s findings.

Tressel resigns as head coach at Ohio State

“After meeting with university officials, we agreed that it is in the best interest of Ohio State that I resign as head football coach,” Tressel said in a statement Monday morning. “The appreciation that Ellen and I have for the Buckeye Nation is immeasurable.”

Assistant coach Luke Fickell, who had been named to fill in for Tressel during the first five games of the 2011 season in which he was to be suspended, will take over as the interim head coach, Ohio State said in the news release.

The news comes two weeks after Buckeyes athletic director Gene Smith affirmed his support for the coach amid an ongoing NCAA investigation for rules violations.

“We look forward to refocusing the football program on doing what we do best — representing this extraordinary university and its values on the field, in the classroom, and in life,” Smith said in the statement. “We look forward to supporting Luke Fickell in his role as our football coach. We have full confidence in his ability to lead our football program.”

Then there is this … I have it on good authority that former Utah and Florida head coach Urban Meyer, native of Ohio, purchased a home in Ohio this spring. Whether that means that Meyer, who is employed as an analyst for ESPN, has plans to return to coaching anytime soon, or that Ohio State would be interested in Meyer, is open to speculation.

But it is an interesting coincidence …

More on the new head coach … Luke Fickell, 37, graduated from Ohio State in 1997 and was a four-year starter at nose guard from 1992-96. He started a school-record 50 consecutive games for the Buckeyes. Fickell began his coaching career in 1999 as a graduate assistant at Ohio State. He spent two seasons at the University of Akron as defensive line coach.

He was brought onto the OSU staff full time in 2002 as special teams coordinator before becoming linebackers coach in 2004. Since 2005, Fickell has been co-defensive coordinator and assistant head coach.

May 29th

Even worse than I thought …

In “Predicting the Predictions” (scroll down to the May 14th story, below), I painted a fairly bleak picture of how the University of Colorado would be portrayed in the college football preseason magazines.

As it turned out, I was being optimistic …

Athlon Sports

Athlon pegs Colorado as its 76th-best team in the nation, falling between Virginia and Duke of the ACC, and behind such powers as Navy, UCLA, Tulsa, Iowa State, Hawai’i, Toledo, and Kansas State. Colorado is predicted to finish sixth in the Pac-12 South (it’s worthy of note that Colorado, in its time in the Big Seven, Big Eight, and the Big 12 never finished last alone in its conference – or, in the case of the Big 12, in its division).

Athlon points out as its “Number of note” for Colorado is “18″, as in the 18 straight losses away from home suffered by the Buffs.

Some of the other low-lights:

On offense … “No one is going to confuse the Buffs with some of the more explosive offenses in the Pac-12″.

On defense … “If the Buffs can get competent play at cornerback, they could be competitive against the explosive offenses around the Pac-12. If not, coaches will have to get creative.”

Specialists … “Colorado needs consistency here after the roller-coaster ride of the past three seasons in the kicking game.”

Final analysis … “There’s excitement around the program with the arrival of a new coach, CU alum Jon Embree. But this is largely the same team which went 5-7 last year … Anything but a last place finish in the Pac-12 South would be a surprise.”

Prediction: 3-10 overall; 1-8 in the Pac-12

The most scathing report about the 2011 Buffs came in the “Coaching Carousel” report about the 21 new head coaches in Division 1-A. Of the 21 new coaches, Athlon rated Jon Embree the 20th-best hire, above only Bill Blankenship of Tulsa. Of Embree, Athlon reporter Mitch Light wrote: “Colorado reportedly made overtures toward Les Miles from LSU and Troy Calhoun from Air Force before hiring one of its own. Embree comes without a high salary – which is good for the cash-strapped CU athletic department – but he also comes without a proven track record. This is far from the most exciting hire of the off-season.”

The Sporting News

The Sporting News was a little friendlier to the Buffs, picking Colorado to finish fifth in the Pac-12 South (ahead of UCLA), and did rate senior offensive guard Ryan Miller as one of its All-American candidates.

On offense … “If (Tyler Hansen is) effective, the Buffs may fare better in their new home (in the Pac-12) than last year’s 52-7 loss to California would suggest … Rodney Stewart is a quality running back (1,318 yards) but there isn’t much in the way of proven depth … The same goes at wide receiver. (Other than Paul Richardson), there are no apparent playmakers at the position.”

On defense … “The Pac-12 South is no place for a fragile defense. And yet the Buffs, who yielded 40 points or more four times in 2010, have issues at every defensive position.

In “Ranking the Conferences”, The Sporting News rated the new Pac-12 third, behind the SEC and the Big Ten, giving props to Utah – “The addition of Utah makes the league stronger in the middle”, while concluding, “The league desperately needs UCLA to return to the elite” … No mention of Colorado at all, either as a positive addition to the league, or as a team which the Pac-12 needs to “return to the elite”.

Okay, Buffs. Colorado has been down for so long that a losing record is a given by the preseason magazines, and a last place finish is all but guaranteed.

Yes, we all know the schedule is tough, with 13 straight games without a bye, and only five home games.

Yes, we know that few outside of the Denver metro area have ever heard of Jon Embree, and that the coaching staff lacks a head coach and two coordinators with one season as a coordinator between the three of them (Greg Brown at Arizona last year).

Any yes, we know that there is inadequate depth and speed at many of the positions.

But it won’t get better until it gets better. One of the Buff teams – in the very near future – is going to have to over-achieve and break the cycle.

The first brick can be earned on September 3rd …

 

May 27th

Fun with numbers

In case you’ve just joined us … I like stats.

So checking out the “Cumulative Overrated/Underrated Teams” compilation was a natural for me. Stassen.com went back to 1989, comparing preseason and postseason polls, checking out which teams over-achieved in a given year, and which teams under-achieived. For example, this past season, Oregon started the 2010 season as the No. 10 team in the nation. After falling to Auburn in the BCS national championship game, the Ducks were ranked third, or a net “plus-7″ on cumulative list. Conversely, Nebraska began 2010 as the No. 9 team in the nation, but finished No. 20, or a “minus-11″ on the cumulative list. (Teams which dropped out of the poll by season’s end were considered to have finished 26th for counting purposes).

Taking only those teams which were ranked at least seven times in the pre-season or post-season over the course of the 21-year survey, the researchers found that the most underrated team in the nation since 1989 has been Oregon. The Ducks racked up a total of 78 1/2 total points, finishing higher in the final polls than the pre-season polls ten times in the past 21 years (including five of the past six). Conversely, the most overrated team in the nation over the past two decades has been USC. The Trojans have had a higher pre-season ranking than post-season ranking twelve times in the past 21 years. Since 2004, USC has only finished higher at the end of the season than in the beginning of the season once, and that was in 2006, when the Trojans finished exactly one spot higher in the final poll than they were in the preseason poll. Overall, USC was a whopping 89 spots worse in the final polls than in the preseason polls.

What about Colorado? The Buffs finished in the middle of the pack, with a minus-7 overall score. In the past 21 seasons, Colorado has improved its preseason ranking six times, while falling below preseason expectations six times. The best years for Colorado came in 1995 and 2001, when the Buffs bested the experts’ opinions by nine spots and 13 spots, respectively. The worst seasons, conversely, came in 1997, 1999, and 2002, when Colorado failed to live up to expectations to the tune of 18, 12, and 13 positions in the poll.

Other observations from the Overrated/Underrated list:

- The Big 12, counting Colorado, had seven teams qualify for consideration, with three teams finishing in the most Overrated Top Ten. Texas came in right behind USC at the bottom of the list, with a cumulative score of minus-85. Oklahoma followed Michigan and Notre Dame to finish sixth, while Nebraska trailed Florida, Florida State, and Clemson to finish tenth, with a final cumulative score of minus-61 1/2. Texas A&M also finished below Colorado, with a score of minus-34, while Texas Tech (plus-23) and Kansas State (plus-31) overachieved over the past 21 seasons;

- The Pac-10 had nine schools qualify for consideration (only Washington State failed to be ranked at least seven times over the past 21 years). As noted, USC was the nation’s most overrated school (minus-89), and Oregon was the most underrated (plus-78 1/2). In between, four schools were overrated overall: UCLA (minus-43 1/2); Washington (minus 28); Arizona (minus-11) and Cal (minus-10); while three schools were underrated overall – Arizona State (plus-eight); Stanford (plus-21); and Oregon State (plus-24 1/2). It is worthy of note that Stanford had a negative score over the first 20 seasons of the survey (minus-one), but went into the underrated category due to a huge leap this past season, going from unranked to a final poll position at No. 4 in the nation;

- The team which was best at over-achieving over the past 21 seasons was Boise State. Six times over the course of the survey (all in the last ten years), the Broncos finished at least ten places better in the final poll than where they started the season (more fodder for those who believe that non-BCS teams have too high a hill to climb to be considered in the national championship race).

- The team which consistently received too much love from the preseason polls was USC. Not only did the Trojans have the worst overall score, but, remarkably, USC fell at least ten spots from preseason to postseason seven times. Translation: in one out of every three seasons over the past two decades, USC has been so overrated as to fall at least ten places in the polls over the course of the year (including both 2009 and 2010).

- The most Schizophrenic teams in the nation are Alabama and Wisconsisn. Nine times over the past 21 seasons Alabama has been off by double digits in the polls. Five times, the Crimson Tide has been underrated; but four times the Tide has been overrated by at least ten spots. The same numbers apply to Wisconsin (five times underrated; four times overrated), but the Badgers managed to pull off the feat in only 14 seasons of rankings. Translation: out of the 21 seasons considered, Wisconsin was not ranked in either the preseason nor postseason, meaning that in the 14 seasons in which the Badgers earned a ranking, pollsters were off by double digits nine times – or 64% of the time!

- Other than USC, with seven seasons of double digit overratings, there have been four teams which have been overrated by double digits five times - Texas; Notre Dame; Miami; and UCLA. Eleven teams, meanwhile, which have been overrated by double digits four times: Oklahoma; Nebraska; Tennessee; LSU; Texas A&M; Washington; Georgia; Auburn; Iowa; Wisconsin; and Alabama. For those keeping score at home, that would be five teams from the SEC; four teams from the Big 12; three from the Pac-10; two from the Big Ten; one from the ACC; and one indepedent.

I’ll leave it to you to draw your own conclusions …

May 25th

USC loses NCAA appeal

USC has lost in its appeal to have its NCAA-imposed sanctions reduced.

The Trojans appealed the sanctions imposed last year, and were allowed to recruit a full class this February while their appeal was pending.

USC will now lose 30 scholarships (10 per season) over the next three seasons, and will have to play with 75 scholarship players instead of 85. The Trojans will also be barred from playing in the inaugural Pac-12 championship game, and will not be allowed to participate in a bowl game.

The sanctions were imposed in June, 2010, after ruling that Heisman trophy winner Reggie Bush and basketball player O.J. Mayo received improper benefits. The school was also cited for the all-important “lack of institutional control”. In addition to the above penalties, USC will be on probation for another three years, and will have 14 victories from the Reggie Bush era vacated (not that anyone pays any attention to vacated victories).

There is also the chance now that some of the USC seniors will transfer. As was the case last year, seniors with one year of eligibility remaining will be allowed to transfer to another FBS school without penalty. This is not likely for the 13 seniors on the USC roster this year, as these same players had the opportunity to transfer last summer, and chose not to do so.

Scholarship math … USC, at least in theory, was prepared to lose its appeal. “I’m not terribly optimistic,” athletic director Pat Haden said back in January, when the USC appeal was heard. “Statisically, you only win ten percent of appeals. The burden of proof is high.”

Despite the odds, USC did not prepare its roster for future sanctions. The Trojans signed a full class in February, and has 82 players on scholarship for 2011. With 13 seniors on the roster, that leaves USC with 69 players on scholarship for 2012 – and a scholarship limit of 75 players.

Will that mean that USC will only sign six players in 2012? Not likely. With attrition, there is a chance that USC will be able to sign a full class – with a “full class” for USC in 2012 (and 2013 and 2014) being 15 players.

Which presents another problem for Lane Kiffin and the USC coaching staff. With the commitment of offensive lineman Max Turek this week, USC has eight players who have given their verbal commitments, leaving a maximum of seven scholarships slots for USC to fill.

What it means to the Buffs … The impact on recruiting for Colorado and the rest of the Pac-12 over the next three years cannot be understated. With USC losing ten scholarships per season for the next three years, there will be thirty quality recruits which will be playing elsewhere in the nation. While some prospects will opt to play for other national powers, it’s a safe bet that the majority of those 30 players will suit up for other Pac-12 teams.

Will any of those players wind up wearing the black-and-gold? Perhaps. One example might be Colorado recruit Shane Dillon. The El Cajon, California, quarterback gave his verbal commitment to Colorado on May 12th, but since then, Dillon’s high school coach has been quoted as saying that other programs have been sniffing around, including USC.

With only seven scholarships left to offer – assuming the Trojans can keep the eight they have lined up already – will Shane Dillon still fit into the Trojans’ plans? USC currently has eight quarterbacks on their roster (not all are on scholarship), with only one of those eight a senior. Two of those quarterbacks are freshmen – Cody Kessler and Max Wittek - who are four-star members of the Class of 2011 who enrolled this spring.

Safe to say that quarterback is not a high priority for USC this recruiting cycle, so can the Trojans take a flyer on Shane Dillon? Probably not.

Does that guarantee that Dillon will sign with Colorado? No (Miami is also reportedly very interested in stealing Dillon away).

But with USC down to 15 scholarships this year – and for the next two years after that – the field has opened up for the Trojans’ rivals.

May 24th

CU passes APR test

It wasn’t exactly an “A”, but the CU football program will take it.

The Colorado football and basketball programs are back in good standing after making significant improvements in this year’s Academic Progress Rate (APR) report.

In the 2009-10 report, football achieved an annual APR of 958, improving the four-year average (2006-07 to 2009-10) from 920 to 929. The improvement was enough to avoid any penalties, which occur when a team’s four-year rolling average falls below 925.

According to the CU press release:  “School officials designed an academic improvement plan for football that was implemented last fall, and predictors are that an upward trajectory in APR scores will continue when the current year’s scores are gathered this fall for next year’s report. CU’s Faculty Athletics Representative, Dr. David Clough, noted that new coach ‘Jon Embree and his staff are attunde to the  team’s APR situation, crediting the transition under the new staff, as well former head coach Dan Hawkins and his staff, the team, and to the great academic support provided in Athletics and by te faculty and staff on the Boulder Campus.’ This improvement came after the football program was issued a contemporaneous penalty in last year’s report, which amounted to a one-year reduction of five scholarships (absorbed in the 2008-09 academic year).”

The Colorado men’s basketball team posted a perfect 1,000 annual score for 2009-10. The four-year score, after three years below 900, jumped to 926. the basketall team also absorbed the loss of a scholarship in 2008-09 (from 13 to 12).

All of the 14 remaining Colorado programs – for the seventh consecutive year – are in good standing, with 12 of the 14 programs showing improvement in the past year (the two which went down – women’s basketball and women’s golf – had perfect 1,000 four-year rolling averages, were reduced to still more-than-acceptable scores of 965 and 964, respectively).

Other than football and men’s basketball, every other program at the University of Colorado scored over 950, and are in no danger of falling below the required cumulative average score of 925

 

May 23rd

Shane Dillon’s coach on his quarterback

Cajon (Calif.) Christian head coach Matt Oliver has a quality quarterback to work with this fall.

And Buff fans hope that quarterback, Shane Dillon, will be wearing black-and-gold in 2012.

Dillon committed to Colorado on May 12th, but it is still a long way to February 1, 2012. “Miami really likes him. They were out here recently and they really, really like him,” Oliver told BuffStampede.com. “USC has been coming by. He has a lot of people interested.”

Time for Buff fans to get nervous? “We knew for a while that he has been on Colorado’s radar, so I think they were extremely happy to get him to commit,” said Oliver. “I guess things can still happen, right? But he seems very content and happy on going to Colorado and everything seems to be solid.”

So, if the Buffs can hang onto Dillon, what sort of quarterback can the Buff Nation expect? “He has a strong arm and he is very accurate. He is tall, 6-foot-4 or 6-foot-5, and I think that helps him”, said Oliver. “I have been doing this at the high school level for 11 years and he has a lot of presence in the pocket. He’ll feel pressure and he is able to just kind of move or roll when he needs to and keeps his eyes downfield whereas a lot of quarterbacks at this level will start watching the line or the guys rushing him. He doesn’t have super great speed but he is tall and has a long stride so he is able to escape pressure”.

The bad news? Colorado is going to have to beat off the likes of USC and Miami if Shane Dillon is to become a Buff.

The good news? Colorado is competing with the likes of USC and Miami for players, instead of Wyoming and New Mexico.

That, in and of itself, is cause for optimism.

May 22nd

Justin Nonu, 22, killed in Oceanside, California, shooting

Justin Nonu, 22, was killed, and a second man injured, in a predawn shooting in Oceanside, California, on Saturday. Nonu was killed as he was standing with four others in a driveway when an unidentified male opened fire on the group from the opposite side of the street.

In 2005, Nonu was voted San Diego County defensive player of the year, and was a member of the Colorado recruiting Class of 2006. Nonu was ranked by Rivals as the No. 45 linebacker prospect in the nation. Nonu suffered from back injuries, and was also involved in the “rock punch” incident involving another Colorado linebacker recruit, Lynn Katoa. Nonu was listed on the roster as a true freshman in 2006, but was no longer with the team in 2007.

There were no known suspects of the crime, and the murder remains under investigation.

May 21st

Stanford/USC to have at least ten BCS games per year

USC is used to playing a minimum of ten games per year against BCS foes. As a member of the Pac-10, the Trojans annually played the other nine teams in the conference, as well as the annual inter-sectional grudge match with Notre Dame.

Count Stanford in on that list as well.

The Cardinal have agreed to extend their contract with Notre Dame for eight additional years, carrying the rivalry through to at least 2019. The two teams have met every year for the past 14 seasons, and 21 of the last 23 counting back to 1988.

In all, Stanford and Notre Dame have played 25 games, with the Fighting Irish holding a 17-8 edge in the series. Stanford, however, has won the last two games, with the teams scheduled to play this fall on November 26th at Stanford.

Colorado, of course, is no stranger to playing double digit games against BCS opponents. Despite having only an eight game conference schedule instead of nine, the Buffs have annually used its four game non-conference schedule to pit the team against a myriad of quality BCS opponents. During its 15-year run as a member of the Big 12, Colorado faced the following BCS schools in non-conference games (not including bowl games): Washington State (three times); Michigan (twice); Washington (twice); USC (twice); UCLA (twice); Florida State (twice); Miami (Fla.); Arizona State (twice); Georgia (twice); West Virginia (twice); and California.

Welcome to our world, USC and Stanford. Don’t forget to bring the rest of the league along with you …

Utah not ready to break out the champagne just yet

What do you do when your television contract payout goes from $1.3 million per year to over $20 million per year?

While Utah is more than happy in its move from the Mountain West to the Pac-12, there are no immediate plans to buy every coach a Porsche.

“There are going to be some growing pains, financially,” Utah athletic director Chris Hill told the Salt Lake Tribune. The Utes have, by far, the lowest athletic department budget in the Pac-12, about $31.8 million a year. This amount is some 20% lower than the next lowest budget (Washington State; $39.3 million), and light years away from the top school budgets in the league – Stanford ($81.7 million); USC ($75.7 million), Oregon ($75.4 million) and Cal ($69 million) (Colorado has had a budget in the mid-$40′s for the past few seasons).

“We have to step it up, there’s no question,” said Hill. “There is no question that we’re going to be in the bright lights, and we have to support our program that way. Everybody has to jump on board … Everybody.”

Utah is already hitting up fans for more dollars. Ticket prices for football games are going up 20-24 percent this year, along with a brand new requirement that all season ticket holders (except those in the bleachers) also donate to the Crimson Club. “The charge is for every one of our resources to grow,” said Hill.

There is also the reality that Utah, unlike Colorado, will not become a full partner of the Pac-12 until 2014-15 season. In the first season of the new television package, 2012-13, Utah will be a 50% partner, moving up to a 75% share in 2013-14.

The first priorities for the Utes will be upgrading football and basketball facilities. Utah has introduced  plans to expand their football headquarters, which will cost at least $16 million. The school is also adding an athletic trainer, an academic advisor, and an extra employee in the compliance office this year, “just to make sure we’re on top of everything”, said Hill.

Like Colorado, the Utes have fans already clamoring for the addition of Olympic sports, but, as is the case with the Buffs, that may be several years away. “There’s so many variables,” said Hill. “Do they have the potential to get us more visibility? Do we have the athletes in place to be successful? Do we have the recruiting budget? Can they have the potential to generate money? Do they have a chance to win a Pac-12 championship? … The one thing we don’t want to do is make somebody feel like they’re not a priority. It may take some sports longer … but we’re trying to get there as fast as we can.”

Sounds a great deal like what Colorado fans are hearing, but the Buffs do have a head start over the Utes. For starters, Colorado already has a larger budget with which to work, so the increased income can be directed to loftier goals. Second, Colorado will be a full partner from the first year of the new contracts (2012-13), so the new inflows of cash will start almost immediately. Finally, Colorado, despite some Buff fans beliefs to the contrary, does not have substandard facilities. The new basketball facility will be ready for next season, with football poised to make significant upgrades of its own. The golf team has a new course to call their own, and improvements have already been made to track and soccer facilities.

Yes Colorado will have to endure, as Utah athletic director Chris Hill put it, “some growing pains”. But Colorado is, undeniably, in a much better position than it was a year ago, when the future of the program as a member of the Big 12 conference was very uncertain.

May 19th

Forrest West to become a member of the Wolfpack

North Carolina State head coach Tom O’Brien announced Wednesday that former Colorado defensive lineman Forrest West has transferred to Raleigh and will play for the Wolfpack.

West will have to sit out the 2011 season, and will have two years of eligibility remaining. As a sophomore in 2010, West had 19 tackles and 5 1/2 sacks. Earlier this year, new Colorado head coach Jon Embree had indicated that West would not be invited back this fall to play for Colorado, then later clarified his statement, indicating that West’s departure “had nothing to do with any academic or disciplinary issue, a lack of commitment to the team, or any question about his ability to continue making substantial contributions as he has done in the past two seasons under former coach Dan Hawkins. In his best interests, Forrest has decided to take his athletic talents elsewhere. He is a fine young man, and will be a tremendous addition to another college football program.”

West was a two-star recruit out of Salisbury, Connecticut, and was a member of the 2009 recruiting class. After suffering a weight room injury during his junior year in high school, West was not highly recruited. His only scholarship offer from a 1-A school came from Colorado.

May 18th

“No directive to establish a playoff”

Two weeks ago (see May 5th story, below) the Justice Department sent a letter to NCAA President Mark Emmert, asking why the NCAA does not have a college football playoff system for the Division 1-A schools, indicating that there are “serious questions” as to whether the current format to determine a national champion violates antitrust laws.

Specifically, the department’s antitrust chief, Christine Varney, asked the NCAA President: 1) Why does the Football Bowl Subdivision not have a playoff, when so many other NCAA sports have playoffs or championships?; 2) What steps, if any, has he (Emmert) taken to create a playoff? To the extent steps were taken, why were they not successful? What plans does the NCAA have in place to create a playoff at this time?; and 3) Have you (Emmert) determined that there are aspects of the BCS system that do not serve the interests of the fans, schools, and players? To what extent could a different system better serve those interests?  

Emmert’s response: “Don’t ask me”.

In a letter to the Department of Justice, NCAA President Mark Emmert, said the NCAA has no role in the BCS, other than to license games. Emmert added that, without direction from its member colleges and universities, “there is no directive for the (NCAA) to establish a playoff.”

Emmert, in essence, put the ball back in the Justice Department’s court, stating that questions about the current system “can best be answered” by the BCS.

Bill Hancock, the executive director of the BCS, said he hadn’t seen the NCAA’s letter but was confident that it was responsive to the Justice Department’s questions. “We’re confident the BCS complies with the law and we know it has been very good for college football,” Hancock told ESPN.com. Hancock had previously said that it was a waste of taxpayers’ money for the government to look into the BCS.

Matthew Sanderson, co-founder of Playoff PAC, which wants the BCS replaced with a championship playoff system, said he wasn’t surprised by the NCAA response. “The NCAA has now confirmed no private solution to this problem exists. It will need to be solved through other means,” Sanderson said, referring to a lawsuit.

Your serve, Ms. Varney.

May 17th

No Buffs to be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2011

Alfred Williams, 2010 inductee into the College Football Hall of Fame, will have to wait for his teammate and his coach to join him in the Hall.

Former CU head coach Bill McCartney and All-American running back Eric Bieniemy were on the ballot for the Hall of Fame this year, but were not included in the list of 16 coaches and players who will be inducted this December.

Two coaches did make the list. Lloyd Carr was head coach at Michigan for 13 years, compiling a 75% winning percentage and a share of the 1997 national championship. Fisher DeBerry, longtime head coach at Air Force, will also be inducted. In 23 seasons at the Academy, DeBerry had 17 winning seasons, and took the Falcons to 12 bowl games. DeBerry was the national Coach-of-the-Year in 1984, leading Air Force to a 12-1 record.

Players included on the list who are likely familiar to most fans include: defensive back Deion Sanders (Florida State), running back Eddie George (Ohio State), defensive lineman Russell Maryland (Miami), defensive back Jake Scott (Georgia), offensive lineman Will Shields (Nebraska), and wide receiver Gene Washington (Michigan State).

There were two players from Colorado’s new conference on the list of 2011 inductees - Arizona defensive lineman Rob Waldrop and Oregon State fullback Bill Enyart – along with three from the Buffs’ old conference – Shields, Texas defensive lineman Doug English, and Oklahoma tailback Clendon Thomas.

May 16th

“When in doubt, Colorado Buffs schedule up in Pac-12″

Not that any Buff fans need to be reminded, but it is nice to see some love for the Colorado program when it comes to quality non-conference games.

Matt Hayes of The Sporting News put out an article entitled, “When in doubt, Colorado Buffs schedule up in Pac-12“. Hayes did an article breaking down the best and the worst of the Pac-12 conference’s non-conference games, and, not surprisingly, Colorado, with a gauntlet of @Hawai’i, Cal, v. CSU, and @Ohio State, came in first.

“The conference that annually plays better non-league games than any other,” wrote Hayes, “now has the program that set the standard”. Hayes notes that when given the opportunity to pick another non-conference foe due to the game at Hawai’i, the Buffs went out and picked Ohio State (we’ll forget, for the moment, that the Colorado athletic department needed the $2 million payday that the road game with no promise of a return visit provides the Buffs).

Colorado’s non-conference slate was picked as the best in the Pac-12, followed by – in order (with the toughest non-conference opponent in parantheses) – UCLA (Texas), USC (at Notre Dame), Arizona State (Missouri), Oregon (v. LSU), Oregon State (at Wisconsin), Utah (at Pittsburgh), Washington (at Nebraska), Stanford (Notre Dame), Arizona (at Oklahoma State), California (at Colorado), and Washington State (at San Diego State).

Only USC plays every non-conference game against a BCS opponent (Minnesota, Syracuse, at Notre Dame), while only UCLA and Washington State fail to go on the road to play a BCS opponent (we’ll give Oregon the benefit of a “road” game against LSU in Arlington).

My main issues, in joining the Pac-12 … Do I now have to cheer, cheer for old Notre Dame (v. USC, at Stanford)? … or even worse, root for Texas (at UCLA), or, God forbid, Nebraska (v. Washington)?? Can’t see that happening!

This is going to take some getting used to …

May 14th

Predicting the Predictions

The number 11 was not kind to the Buff Nation this past week. Colorado was listed at No. 11 in the ESPN Pac-12 power rankings, while Jon Embree was ranked by Sports Illustrated as the 11th-best new head coach amongst BCS coaches … out of 11 new hires.

Get used to it, Buff fans.

If you pay attention to the preseason magazines coming out the next month or so, you will be disappointed/frustrated/angered about how Colorado is being depicted.

So, in order to save you some time and energy seeking out the next Athlon, Lindy’s or Sporting News “College Football 2011 Preview”, here’s a prediction of what you will see …

Buffaloes at a Glance

- Coach Jon Embree – At Colorado: 0-0; Overall: 0-0

- Offensive Coordinator – Eric Bieniemy (first year)

- Defensive Coordinator – Greg Brown (first year)

- Last League Title (Big 12): 2001

- Last Bowl: 2007 Independence

- Returning Starters: 18; 9 offense; 8 defense; punter

- Players to Watch: Quarterback Tyler Hansen; running back Rodney Stewart; wide receiver Paul Richardson; offensive guard Ryan Miller; defensive tackle Conrad Obi; linebacker Jon Major.

Primary Strengths: The Buffs have nine starters returning on offense, as the new coaching staff returns to a pro-style, power rushing game. Quarterback Tyler Hansen no longer has to look over his shoulder to see if Cody Hawkins is being sent in as replacement. Running back Rodney Stewart and wide receiver Paul Richardson return after strong 2010 campaigns.

Potential Problems: Colorado lost two long-time starters at cornerback to the NFL draft in Jimmy Smith and Jalil Brown, and has yet to find adequate replacements. No wide receivers have emerged to help keep attention away from Paul Richardson. Two of the three starting linebackers from last season are no longer with the program. Special teams remain a significant hindrance to overall success.

OFFENSE:

The good news for senior quarterback Tyler Hansen is that there is no longer a Hawkins on the roster (nor is  there one on the coaching staff) to impeded his success. Hansen emerged from spring practices as the clear starter, and it will be up to him to lead the Buffs’ new power offense. Running back Rodney Stewart returns after a stellar junior season in which he rushed for 1,318 yards, and will now have a fullback to block for him.

The offensive line, despite the loss of Nate Solder to the New England Patriots in the first round of the NFL draft, should be a team strength, with four starters returning. Senior guard Ryan Miller will be the next Buff offensive lineman in line for All-Conference recognition.

The issue for the Colorado offense will be one of balance. While Colorado should be able to run the ball effectively, the question is whether the Buffs can generate enough of a passing attack to keep opposing defenses honest. Lost is Colorado’s all-time leading receiver, Scotty McKnight. Sophomore Paul Richardson was impressive during the second half of the 2010 season, but the remainder of the receiving corps was ineffective. Colorado needs senior Toney Clemons to live up to the hype he generated when he transferred from Michigan two years ago.

DEFENSE:

Colorado ranked 110th in the nation in 2010 in passing defense, and that was with Jimmy Smith and Jalil Brown earning All-American and All-Big 12 honors at cornerback. No clear cut favorites have emerged from spring practice to replace Smith and Brown, which will test defensive coordinator – and secondary coach – Greg Brown’s efforts to combat some of the best passing offenses in the nation in the Buffs’ new conference. The Buffs do have both starters returning at safety, in senior Anthony Perkins and junior Ray Polk, but these two players are going to have to have outstanding seasons if Colorado is going to keep the likes of Andrew Luck (Stanford), Matt Barkley (USC), Darron Thomas (Oregon), and Bryan Moniz (Hawai’i) from having record-setting performances.  

The defensive line is solid, with the return of starters Josh Hartigan, Curtis Cunningham and Will Pericak. The star of the Colorado spring practices, though, was senior defensive lineman Conrad Obi, who languished under the Dan Hawkins’ regime, but seems energized by the new coaching staff. Last season Colorado was decent (48th in the nation) against the run, but will have to be even better in 2011 in order to protect a suspect secondary.

The linebacking corps loses two starters from last fall, with senior Jon Major left to lead the talented but inexperienced crew. For the Buff defense to be successful, new stars will have to emerge from the group including junior Douglas Rippy, sophomore Derrick Webb, and sophomore Liloa Nobriga.

SPECIAL TEAMS:

Once the cornerstone of Colorado excellence, special teams under Dan Hawkins fell into disrepair. Gone is inconsistent kicker Aric Goodman, but his replacement, sophomore Justin Castor, had his only field goal attempt of the 2010 season blocked. The punter is also a sophomore, Zach Grossnickle, but he did not have much better freshman season than did Castor. Last season, Grossnickle averaged less than 40 yards per punt, ranking him 75th in the nation overall. Kick returning is so unsettled that the new coaching staff under Jon Embree didn’t even attempt to work on this phase of special teams during the spring, opting instead to wait for new – and faster – kick return candidates from the recruiting Class of 2011 to hit campus in August.

SCHEDULE

The schedule makers did not do Jon Embree any favors. Colorado plays 13 regular season games in 13 weeks, with seven of those games on the road. This is an ominous sign for a team which hasn’t won a game outside of the state of Colorado since 2007. Colorado opens the 2011 season on the road against Hawai’i, with its brand-new cornerbacks going up against an offense which was the No. 1 passing team in the nation last season. The Buffs then return home to face a California team which waxed the Buffs, 52-7, last fall. Next, after a rivalry game against Colorado State in Denver, the Buffs must face Ohio State on the road. The Buckeyes will be without head coach Jim Tressel and star quarterback Terrelle Pryor, both suspended for the game, but that may prove to be of little consolation as Ohio State remains a loaded and talented team.

In the first season of Pac-12 play, the Buffs drew the short straw. Fellow new entrant Utah misses both Stanford and Oregon (both projected to be top ten teams), while the Buffs have to face them both. The league also gave Colorado five conference road games, with two of the four Pac-12 home games coming against conference heavyweights Oregon and USC.

OVERVIEW

Colorado has suffered five straight losing seasons, the second-longest such streak in the 121-year history of the program. Gone is Dan Hawkins, who could not translate success at Boise State into victories in Boulder. The Buffs went retro in hiring Jon Embree, a former star player and coach at Colorado. The two coordinators, Eric Bieniemy and Greg Brown, also have long-standing ties to the program. None of the three, though, have ever been a head coach, and only Brown – last season with Arizona – has even served as a coordinator. It is yet to be seen whether this experiment with such an inexperienced coaching staff will pay off in the long term.

There is renewed enthusiasm in Boulder. The new coaching staff promises to bring the Buffs “back to the future”, restoring a winning tradition with the Buffs’ entry into the Pac-12. The lack of overall talent, the lack of depth at key positions, and an overall lack of speed throughout the roster, though, will hinder the return to prominence for the program. A brutal schedule, including seven games on the road, will likely doom Colorado to a sixth straight losing season.

PREDICTION: 4-9.

If you must, go ahead and buy the preseason magazines (yes, I will, too), but be prepared for language consistent with much of the above.

The renewed energy in the Buff Nation is palpable. But in order for the rest of the nation – including preseason magazines – to take notice, Colorado will have to make its mark on the scoreboard this fall.

May 1th

Fiesta Bowl gets a reprieve

The Fiesta Bowl will remain a part of the Bowl Championship Series after all.

After numerous allegations of illegal campaign contributions, inappropriate spending, and mismanagement of funds, there was speculation that the Fiesta Bowl would be removed from the rotation of the BCS. Instead, the BCS presidential oversight committee will allow the Fiesta Bowl to remain in the club, but only after paying a $1 million fine and agreeing to greater supervision of its officials.

“The message is that they had cleaned house and addressed their problems, but our group doesn’t believe they went far enough,” said Bill Hancock, director of the BCS in a telephone interview with the Associated Press. Hancock added that the $1 million fine was designed to reflect the “serious nature of the matter.”

For its part, the Fiesta Bowl and its officials are happy just to have the matter resolved. “The Fiesta Bowl Board of Directors understands and accepts the sanctions imposed by the BCS,” said Fiesta Bowl Chairman Duane Woods in a statement. “We think that these tough but fair measures are consistent with our commitment to reform the Fiesta Bowl’s governance, and rebuild trust.”

The Fiesta Bowl has cleared a major hurdle, but is not completely out of the woods. An NCAA panel must still decide whether to continue licensing the bowl, but this will likely go through after the NCAA has had the opportunity to review the findings of the BCS presidential oversight committee.

USC, Oregon and Stanford earn ABC/ESPN exposure

ESPN has confirmed a minimum of 19 games involving Pac-12 teams this fall, including several which will appear on ABC. While there will certainly be additions once the regular season gets underway, the league knows that five of its teams will be on national television before the 2011season is a week old.

On the first full Saturday of college football, Oregon, USC, and Colorado will be on the ABC/ESPN family of networks. The inaugural Pac-12 season will begin with USC at home against Minnesota in a split national telecast on ABC.  Oregon will then face LSU in Arlington, Texas, as the primetime ABC game, before Colorado finishes off the first Saturday of the season on ESPN2 in the Buffs’ road trip to Hawai’i. The second week will get underway with a Thursday night game between Arizona and Oklahoma State, with Missouri at Arizona State on ESPN on Saturday night.

There are several non-conference games the network has already deemed worthy of scheduling, with Texas @ UCLA; Utah @ BYU; and Notre Dame @ Stanford all on either ABC or ESPN. In all, five USC games have been slated for telecast, followed by Oregon, Stanford and Arizona with four each. The only two Pac-12 schools which have yet to pick up a national telecast are Oregon State and Washington State.

Other than the Colorado/Hawai’i game, the only other game which Buff fans know for a certainty will be televised is the USC @ Colorado game, which has been moved to Friday, November 4th, for a 7:00 p.m. kickoff on ESPN2.

 

May 5th

BCS executive director’s response to Justice Department inquiry: “Goodness gracious!”

The Justice Department this week sent a letter to NCAA President Mark Emmert, asking why the NCAA does not have a college football playoff system for the Division 1-A schools, indicating that there are “serious questions” as to whether the current format to determine a national champion violates antitrust laws.

Specifically, the department’s antitrust chief, Christine Varney, asked the NCAA President: 1) Why does the Football Bowl Subdivision not have a playoff, when so many other NCAA sports have playoffs or championships?; 2) What steps, if any, has he (Emmert) taken to create a playoff? To the extent steps were taken, why were they not successful? What plans does the NCAA have in place to create a playoff at this time?; and 3) Have you (Emmert) determined that there are aspects of the BCS system that do not serve the interests of the fans, schools, and players? To what extent could a different system better serve those interests?  

Let’s back up a bit … The Justice Department letter is the latest attack on the BCS system, but last month Utah attorney general Mark Shurtleff fired the first legal shot across the BCS bow. In April, Shurtleff stated his intent to file an antitrust lawsuit against the BCS, claiming “serious antitrust violations that are harming the taxpayer-funded institutions to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars.” Shurtleff is planning on highlighting the disparity in BCS revenue between the six Automatic Qualifying conferences and the five non-AQ conferences (the former made $145.2 million this past year versus $24.7 million for the latter. These numbers, of course, do not even count the new huge contracts for the Big 12 and Pac-12). “I am not an attorney,” said BCS executive director Bill Hancock at the time. “But I know antitrust laws challenge entities that limit access, and the BCS provides access in spades.”

The Justice Department now seems to agree with the Utah attorney general. “Serious questions continue to arise suggesting the current Bowl Championship Series system may not be conducted consistent with the competition principles expressed in federal antitrust laws,” wrote Varney in her letter to NCAA President Emmert. “Your views would be relevant in helping us to determine the best course of action with regard to the BCS.”

For its part, the NCAA has stated it will reply to the letter upon receipt. Spokeman Bob Williams said Emmert has consistently said that the NCAA is willing to move to a playoff format if the schools wish to go that route.

The executive director of the Bowl Championship Series, Bill Hancock, who said last month that the “BCS provides access in spades” to the BCS championship game, stated that he was confident that the current system complies with the law. “Goodness gracious,” said Hancock. “With all that’s going on in the world right now, with national and state budgets being what they are, it seems like a waste of taxpayers’ money to have the government looking into how college football games are played.”

Aside from Hancock’s simplistic statements, those who are in the know – and have the power instigate change – aren’t budging.

Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany, who serves on the BCS committee, also believes that the current system is on “solid ground” with regard to this antitrust claim. Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott stated that these claims have “no merit”. Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe said, “I don’t understand how anyone thinks, how any court, or any legislator, can force us to require the creation of a college football playoff system.”

Other than the “the federal government should have better things to do” argument, there is the real question of whether this letter – and the response to it – will gain any traction, or whether the antitrust lawsuit promised by Utah attorney general Mark Shurtleff will go anywhere.

One school of thought is that there may be a move to at least a +1 championship playoff, as the BCS, according to one antitrust lawyer, “recognizes, despite its public statements, the weakness of its case, and because it may not want to have all of the inner workings of the BCS come to light.”

There are other lines of defense which the BCS may take.

For starters, the BCS may argue that the NCAA is free to set up a playoff system if it so chooses. For one example: The NCAA basketball tournament wasn’t always in place. The NCCA tournment (which, by the way, didn’t allow any team other than conference champions into the tournament until the early 1970′s) came into existence after the National Invitation Tournament. For many years, the winner of the NIT was considered the true national champion. The NCAA is free to establish a playoff system anytime it wants one.

The NCAA, though, won’t go out and set up a playoff system in football without the blessings of the presidents and chancellors of the colleges and universities which constitute the BCS conferences, and that is not going to happen. There is too much money at stake for these schools to scrap their system, and create a playoff of four, eight, or sixteen teams. It was reported last month that about half of the BCS teams which went to BCS bowls this past year lost money on the trip. The money is not in the bowl games for these schools, it’s in the regular season revenue. And to dilute the product by eliminating a regular season “where every game counts”, is not likely an avenue the member schools will wish to pursue. (There would also be the argument that schools cannot – and will not – ask their fans to travel to multiple games during the holidays. If schools are not able to sell enough tickets to make money on one bowl, how  can they be expected to make money on two bowls … or three?).

Then there is the more practical argument … If a playoff system is the only fair way to crown a champion, what constitutes a “fair” way to crown that champion? Is a four team playoff “fair”? What about eight teams? Sixteen? Will it only be “fair” if the champion of every conference allowed in (as is the case with the NCAA basketball tournament)? What about the manner in which the participants are selected? If you don’t like computers or subjective press polls, where do you turn? Would participants be based simply upon won/loss records (if so, say good-bye to non-conference games between quality opponents). Would an undefeated Conference USA team automatically get in, while a one-loss SEC team stays home?

The letter to the NCAA submitted by the Justice Department is not likely to generate any change. As noted, the NCAA executive director is already on record as being in favor of a playoff … if its members ask for one. That will likely be the reply NCAA President Emmert will send back to the Justice Department.

As to the Utah lawsuit, it’s hard to say where it will go … it hasn’t even been filed yet. Notwithstanding the fact that Utah attorney general Mark Shurtleff’s threatened suit has lost some steam locally – what with Utah joining a big bad BCS conference, and BYU going independent – the BCS and its supporters have the will and the means to fight the lawsuit, and the case could drag on for years.

After all, the BCS schools have a lot of money to fight over, and to fight with …

May 4th

Buffs’ wide receiver recruit arrested

Nelson Spruce, a member of the Colorado recruiting Class of 2011, was arrested for marijuana possession late last month. The arrest, according to the Daily News of Los Angeles, took place at Spruce’s school in Westlake Village, California. Senior Deputy Jim DeSoto said a drug-sniffing dog supplied by a private company detected marijuana in Spruce’s vehicle on campus.

There was no other information released as to the arrest, and the University of Colorado athletic department has yet to comment.

Spruce, one of only two wide receiver recruits from the Class (Tyler McCulloch is the other), was considered a three-star prospect when he signed with the Buffs in February. Spruce, at 6’2, 195-pounds, caught 73 passes for 1,292 yards and 18 touchdowns in being the named the most valuable player in the Marmonte League last fall.

May 3rd

Colorado at Hawai’i an afternoon affair … in Honolulu

ESPN has set the Colorado/Hawai’i game for 4:15 p.m. local time, or 8:15 mountain time, on Saturday, April 3rd. The game will be shown nationally on ESPN2. The game was previously set for 6:00 p.m. local time, or 10:00 p.m. mountain time.

So, while it will still be a late night for the Buff Nation, it won’t be quite as bad as previously thought.

May 2nd

Blackout coming …

The Colorado/USC has been moved to Friday, November 4th, and will be televised nationally on ESPN2, the Pac-12 announced Monday.  The game will kickoff at 7:00 p.m.

Colorado has played a Friday home game in every odd year since 1997 … but those were against Nebraska on Thanksgiving weekend. The last home weeknight  game not against Nebraska was on September 18, 2008, against West Virginia. Before that, Colorado has only played on a weeknight in 1990 (v. Stanford on a Thursday night), and in 1989 (v. Texas on Labor Day). Colorado won all three of those home games (since we’re only counting home games, we’ll quietly ignore for the moment the Friday night debacle on the road against Toledo in 2009).

“I believe this game will provide us another opportunity to highlight our beautiful campus and its many achievements,” said CU-Boulder Chancellor Philip DiStefano. “These rare weeknight games provide a spotlight on CU-Boulder for a national audience, and create a sense of community across our cvampus.”

The game will represent a short week for the Buffs, who will travel to play at Arizona State the weekend before the USC game. The Trojans will host Stanford the weekend before traveling to Boulder.

The short week notwithstanding, the move to Friday night represents a golden opportunity for the Buffs and the Colorado program. It’s likely that a “blackout” will be planned, and the exposure will be a great chance for the Buffs to put CU in the national consciousness.

 The only other potential downside is that the Buffs’ coaches were probably looking to the USC game as a great weekend for high school players to take their official CU visits. With a Friday night game, though, many of those potential recruits might be in uniform for their teams that night, and will miss the game, and possibly the benefits of attending a Colorado home game.

Ohio State suspends linebacker for 2011 season

Ohio State has suspended linebacker Dorian Bell for the entire 2011 season due to violations of unspecified team rules. Bucknuts.com, which first reported the suspension, cited sources which said that Bell committed a third violation of the same rule.

Bell missed the Sugar Bowl last season due to a suspension, and was already suspended for the season opener before the latest infraction. As a red-shirt freshman last season, Bell played in eight games. As two of the Buckeyes top linebackers were drafted this past weekend, Bell was being counted on to contend for a starting position this fall.

A member of the recruiting Class of 2009, Bell was considered by Rivals to be a five-star prospect, the No. 3 outside linebacker in the nation. Scout was even more flattering, ranking Bell as the No. 2 overall linebacker prospect in the country.

41 Responses to “The Colorado Daily – May”

  1. Michael

    Well, the Buffs certainly couldn’t catch the Buckeyes at a better time; especially if the additional players get the boot. Smells like an upset in Columbus . . .

  2. JW Blue

    the damage Hawkins did, not only to the program but to all the psyches here is amazing. We may not win the conference title but I feel sure that CU will be spoiler and a team no one wants to play.

  3. Oregon Buff

    Nice prediction Mr. Thompson

    It has become apparent that every school on the 2011 schedule has circled CU as a win. I too have a strong “gut” feeling that the Pac 12 will be surprised. We may not have a full stable of blue chip recruits, but I whole heartedly know that J E and E B and the rest of the staff will have this team ready to compete. Tyler is off of everyone’s radar, and he should have a strong senior year. We now have coaches that can coach up performance , unlike recently. Regardless if we lose every game, I know we will be competitive. I can handle losses, as long as we are competitive.

    Here come the Buffs!

  4. Rob Thompson

    The sad truth :( is that it usually takes 3-4 years to bring it back. The Hawkins years do not count either, they were a big black hole in CU Football history. 2011 will be remembered as we remember 1983. It was not until 1986 that we started to see progress worth noting. There is also the possibility that Embree will not have the answer and we will be broken hearted in 2015 as we chase him out the door. I seriously doubt that that will be the case, however, if CU is going to turn it around it will take more than a good coaching staff. I do see one unforgettable upset in the 2011 season, Colorado is going to upset the Ducks at Folsom. I have the same gut feeling that I had in the 2007 and 2008 pre-seasons when CU upset #3 OU and #23 WVU. If you think I am crazy just remember that high powered Hawaii offense gasping for breath last year. Oregon will not be the same team as they were in 2010 and will not be able to hack in the altitude against a pissed off CU team that they overlooked. I also think that CU has an excellent opportunity to make a statement in the Horseshoe next fall. What a wonderful message that would send the nation to begin the Embree/ Bieniemy era. I think the Buffs will start off strong and fade fast though. 4-9 seems like a very wet dream considering the strength of their schedule. The PAC XXII is not going to be tougher to play against than the Big XXII was. Oregon seems like the only team that even comes close to the caliber of Oklahoma,Nebraska, Texas, Missouri and the up and coming Cowboys. Pac 10 teams are fast but lack the power of the conference the Buffs leave behind. Yes USC is a powerhouse but they are going to be falling on some seriously hard times in the next few years and will probably resemble UCLA before it gets better for them. To hell with Athalon and The Sporting News ,however, you heard it here first!

    GO BUFFS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  5. CUBuff85

    Stuart,

    Do you have any insight into the Forrest West departure? Not being invited back and then a glowing recommendation from JE…all very confusing.

  6. Sam

    There is no pride in getting blown out all the time. It would be one thing if we faced a hard schedule and won a few but we don’t. We have to get better before we go rushing into places like Columbus, Eugine and Palo Alto. Does every one have amnesia on this site, Cal was in the bottom half of the Pac 10, 52-7 or how about the great defensive effort put up against Toledo by our boys Jimmy and Mr.Brown. Right now WE are the cupcake others schedule and until we put some check marks in the win column, that isn’t going to change. Stop playing the big boys at least until we can hang with them and as fans stop taking pride in getting slaughtered, there is a reason Stuart has to write about we will be picked 11th, because we deserve it!

  7. Rob Thompson

    Thanks for the shot of dark energy Stuart. I am not even going to bother looking for Lindy’s or Athalon this season. This is more depressing than anything I even read last season. Looks like I’ll continue to wear out the centerfold of my 1994 Athalon College Football pre-season spectacular. Who would you want to Quarterback your team? Kordell Stewart? Tommy Frazier? Or Tyler Hanson? :( I would say better than Cody but, well, you know. On a lighter note, I was watching Coy Detmer playing pass and catch with OU’s DB’s during the 92 season on Youtube yesterday. I think he threw 6 pic’s in that game. I remember the Corn _uckers game was not much better. If you remember the 93 season looked much improved and by 94 CU had returned to dominance.

  8. Michael

    Stuart

    Sadly, a realistic if not a tad pessimistic. It’s too early for me to make a call but if I had to, I’d guess 6-7.

  9. Sam

    Even if a dog smells something in a persons car, and even if it is on school property, the police must provide a warrant showing probable cause (which they did have) to search his belongings.

  10. Congrats to Messrs. Solder and Smith. Their college careers (in terms of wins/losses) was probably not at all what they had anticipated or projected but they have now been rewarded for their hard work. Great opportunity for both. Here’s to wishing them well in making the most of it. Go Buffs!

  11. Michael

    Congratulations Nate and Jimmy! Your hard work and dedication, together with extraordinary talent have brought you this special opportunity very few get to enjoy. Good luck to you both and do the Buff Nation proud!

  12. fluffybuff

    god the taunting rule is several decades late, i dont even see it as an issue nowdays! would have worked great for the convicts in the 80s and 90s (before my time but i despise the U)high stepping or saluting, the latter is sooo disrespectful. I see this rule changing the outcome of several games perhaps ruining some teams season. this rules probably going to be overturned next year. Ps any news on the california WR i thought for sure he was a lock, could he be one of our walk ons?

  13. Matt

    I don’t really buy the whole Will Jefferson thing. Why would a player play in the spring game and then suddenly be ruled medically ineligible the next monday? My theory is that it is academics. Jefferson is in a class of mine this semester and he is never there. There are three other football players, all first or second year players, who show up everyday. The class is fairly difficult and attendance is taken everyday with clickers so if Jefferson can’t get himself to show up for that class, then he probably isn’t going to his others. No sense in keeping someone around who would probably be ruled academically ineligible anyway. I don’t really care what Embree says about it, I approve of the job he has done so far anyway, but I see this as a ploy to avoid that penalties of not having a kid graduate.

  14. CUBuff85

    Stuart,
    Is Jarrod Darden still with the Buffs? I have not heard a thing about him. When recruited, he was between a WR and TE because of his size. With the lack of depth at TE, why not try him there?

  15. Steve

    A question to anyone out there: I really want to fly back to Colorado this fall to see a game, but I’m concerned that any given game could be moved to Thursday or Friday, thus making plane reservations a precarious proposition. Does anyone know when the ESPN Thursday and Friday night games will be finalized?

  16. Michael

    looks like Embo talks the talk and walks the walk. He’s definitely set on re-making the Buffs in his image: tough, talented and no-nonsense. A little surprising about West but not so with any of the others. Coach has commented recently about Jefferson’s inability to focus and his chronic knee pain so that’s not a surprise. Mobley has a ton of talent but judging by his tweets he’s got alot of growing up to do.

  17. Stuart, nice work lately. thanks.

    about the TEs, on saturday Fernandez dressed in #99 and lined up several times as a wingback/H-back. he was used as a blocker and had a nice lead block on a short TD run. didn’t he catch a couple of balls last year, one for a TD? so it appears he is in the mix as a blocking TE/wing and as a limited-use receiver. i suspect he and Bahr will be the 2nd & 3rd TEs in short yardage situations.

    it is a shame about Jefferson and MTM. both will be able to finish their degrees in boulder as medical hardships, correct?

    the game replay at cubuffs.com is worth the time.

  18. WarBuff

    Thanks again for all the updates Stuart. Will have an extra adult beverage tonight for you until you can make it to a game in Boulder. Then you will hopefully have one with me for all the stellar work you do here.

    Nice to see Barnett back. I hope his team loses though. After Klatt made all those nasty comments about “old guys” (i.e. C.J.), I hope C.J. cleans his clock. Who would want to lose to a guy who gets his haircuts at a pet shop?

  19. RJ

    Maybe it’s just me, and based on the polling that Stuart did, I may be just me, but is there anyone else out there that is bothered by the naming of the stadium? I understand that there are very large dollar amounts but I think that there are places where tradition out weighs money. I, along with many thousands of student did not trudge across campus to go to “Frontier (Airlines) Stadium” we went to Folsom Field, named for the great coach Fred Folsom. Messing with this is no different than Invesco Field at Mile High. GIVE ME A BREAK. Please, please, some alum that has a ton of money, please donate and tell them that you will give if the just leave Folsom alone.

  20. Dave Casotti

    What ticks me off is how the university in general treats the athletic dept. This loan should at 0% interest to the athletic dept. What makes the university tick…it’s athletics! If not for CU athletics, I would have never been a CU fan , and wouldn’t be spending my money on season tickets (since I didn’t go to school there). Nor would I be a “fan” of any university. I am an ISU grad and I don’t root for Iowa State University School of Business!! Just had to get that off my chest. Hope that made sense.

  21. Mile High Buffs

    With all the revenue being earned and all and were not looking to bad now going into the Pac 12 , I wonder if the Athletic Department wasn’t paying fired coaches and didn’t have the Loan to pay back to the University wonder what the profit margin would be and where we would be ranked in revenue then. Any ideas Stuart ????

  22. vk

    Stuart, here is the link you want for the new pac 12 logo video

    http://www.youtube.com/pac10conference#p/u/0/niiWyvrjh_c

    dang it is good I have my eye on you.

  23. Clark

    Stuart,

    I heard Brock Berglund left the KU football team already, is that true?

    Thanks

  24. JW Blue

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

    need you say more?

    “Hurting” the Ohio States, the USCs and Alabamas of the world would be hurting cash cows. Amateur sports indeed. Sports, politics or religion…….its all about the money

  25. dave

    hey stuart asu is the sun devils not aztecs…

  26. Phil

    Nevermind saw your note on the ‘hose!

  27. Phil

    Hey Stuart,

    Any update on the empty schedule slot?

  28. Michael

    CONGArats to Ryan Walters, a true Colorado Buff! Couldn’t happen to a better person. Lets hope he has much success EXCEPT against his alma mater.

  29. Dennis

    What is the status of the wide receiver from California, Mike Thomas? Is there still a chance he can be a CU recruit for the 2011 class?

    • Stuart

      Dennis,
      All I am hearing right now is crickets …
      That doesn’t mean Mike Thomas might still visit, and might still become a Buff. But in the last week, there has been no new news …

  30. good piece on contracts.

    a coule of questions. 1) how do the figures discussed above and in the linked article ($170M/yr)compare with the dollar amounts that were tossed around last spring and summer when the pac10 expanded? i was under the impression that the pac12 was expected to generate revenue consistent with member school distributions closer to but not quite the equivalent of the big10 ($22M/school/year). $170M/yr seems more like $14M/yr after league expenses, etc. CU received about $9M from the big12 in ’09, right? this is a nice increase but it seems to be short of expectations, or am i mistaken? 2) how does the ‘exclusive negotiating window’ help pump the bids (i’m not familiar with these negotiation protocols)? any clarifications appreciated.

    a nice to link to an espn pac12 blog piece about CU and Embree.
    http://espn.go.com/blog/pac10/post/_/id/19354/embree-is-colorado-to-the-core

    thanks Stuart.

  31. Michael

    Re: Pac-12 TV contract.

    Gotta be ESPN/ABC. The Fox announcers are TURRIBLE (per Chas Barkley)! Especially that nasally Greek dude Popadaikus or whatever. Whenever he had our games, I literally turned the volume OFF and either watched without sound or turned on my radio and got the Buffs Radio Network coverage with Mark Johnson and Larry Zimmer. Now there’s an announcing crew!

    I’d even have the Pac-12 take less money to get away from the crappy, 2nd rate announcers of Fox. And dont even get me started on the FCS (Fox College Sports) network with the TURRIBLE camera work and audio feed. YUCK!

  32. jaheathjah

    CU staff has only been in place for a month or two. With no long term contracts, I hope these guys stay put, especially in lite of all the activity in Texas, Arizona, Nebraska etc.

    I’m holding my breath. In this realm, we are at a disadvantage acthually. Here’s hoping the staff chemistry, beautiful Boulder, and higher salaries will keep these guys here. One or two months means nothing to me so far.

  33. JW Blue

    I may be wrong
    but
    I thought I heard that the Blue Hose beat Bz’ Wake forest in Bball.
    ouch

  34. JW Blue

    sure would like more inside info on the Brock Bergland story. (inquiring minds want to know)
    Was it really the Kansas O system? Or was it more the relationship with the departed Eric Kiesau. Even a high school kid had to know that Hawkins was a dead man walking and that Eric’s status was thin ice as a result. All the talk about being a Buff at heart was pretty shallow.
    Here is hoping that Cyler Miles will fill that void. Here is hoping that Embree feels confident that will happen.
    Historically not many Colorado born QBs haven’t gone far. Be interesting to follow Bergland and hinder at Cal.

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