March 4th

How good is your memory?

Colorado head coach Dan Hawkins’ first words about the 2010 quarterback race were not unexpected. “We’ll see how it shakes out,” said Hawkins said in a controlled interview with CU’s own B.G. Brooks. “Both of those guys (Tyler Hansen and Cody Hawkins) will play with the ‘ones’ and the ‘twos’. We’ll evaluate them every day and see what happens in the scrimmages. And then we’ll see where we’re at.”

Hope you didn’t just throw your mouse across the room.

It’s okay. As you read here a few weeks ago, this was to be anticipated. “So don’t go nuclear if you read about the quarterback race being an ‘open competition’ “, were the wise words posted in the “Spring First Look: Offense” on February 20th. Nothing’s changed here. In fact, there is no guarantee that Buff fans won’t still be sweating out the naming of a starter well into the summer. When asked about naming a starter at the end of spring practice, Hawkins was non-committal. “I think after the spring game you’d like to (name a starting quarterback”, but you just have to wait and see where you’re at,” said Hawkins. “If there’s a clear emergence or a strong feeling one way or another amongst the guys on the staff, you do it. If there’s not, there’s not.”

So, as spring practice opens, Tyler Hansen is not the annointed starter …. and likely won’t be when spring practice concludes.

Patience.

Other quotable quotes from Dan Hawkins

Off-season preparation: “They’ve worked really hard this off-season. I think our results are showing up again in the weight room”.

Spring areas of emphasis: “A lot of football always comes down to run the football and stop the run … I think certainly from an emphasis standpoint, getting turnovers and eliminating turnovers is a big part of it … Then, for us, in special teams in terms of kicking/punting the ball and being able to be more consistent.”

Dan Hawkins on Position changes:

Clark Evans from quarterback to tight end … “He’s big, strong, and he can run. He’s athletic. You just knew he was something.”

Jost Moten from quarterback to defensive back … “He’s a DB … early reports on him and Clark from the players, they like him and Clark in those positions.”

Liloa Nobriga from linebacker to defensive end … “We still have him at linebacker right now. If he were to put on some more weight … we’ll see where he plays.”

First practice is this Saturday morning, followed by Junior Day Saturday afternoon.

March 3rd

Door open for Simas?

The Boulder Daily Camera’s Kyle Ringo is reporting on his blog that the chances for wide receiver Markques Simas to return to the field this fall. Simas, arrested for DUI a month ago (.13 BAC), has been suspended indefinitely from the team. With Simas’ checkered past (academically ineligible in 2008; suspended for the first two games of the 2009 season for violating team rules), the fear has been that the once promising career for Simas was in jeopardy.

Colorado athletic director Mike Bohn, when asked about Simas being reinstated, said “That’s up to him”. While nothing was spelled out, there appears to be a path (good grades, no further incidents, extra time in the weight room?) by which Simas can regain his place on the field. Fellow wide receiver Toney Clemons said that Simas is attending team meetings and has been participating in seven-on-seven drills this spring.

Though Simas will not be participating in spring practices, Buff fans can hope that the receiving star of November, 2009 (three 100-yard games in the final four games of the season), will be on the field at some point in 2010. “We’re not good enough to not be a full strength,” said Clemons. “And his not being out there kind of hurts us.”

We’ll see …

March 2nd

The Colorado Daily just got longer

It was announced Monday that all of the Buffs’ spring practices will be open to the public. There are some limitations – only credentialed members of the media will be allowed to take notes or record events. As a result of the open practice policy, there will be more information available on the internet, some of which – when it has been verified and filtered – will find its way to CU at the Game.

The Buffs will open spring ball this Saturday, but will not have another practice until the following Tuesday (the 9th). Practices will be conducted everyday next week (through Saturday the 12th). There will be only three practices the following week, with the first scrimmage taking place on Friday, March 18th, before the Buffs take off for Spring Break.

Colorado’s Spring Game will be on Saturday, April 10th.

Junior Day

Colorado spring practices start this Saturday, March 6th,  with shorts and helmets for two hours after meetings in the morning.

Saturday will also be Junior Day in Boulder.

At other schools, Junior Day is a big deal. Any number of schools, notably Alabama, Texas and Florida, recent national championship participants, use Junior Day to sign up half of the upcoming recruiting classes (Texas, for example, picked up 13 commitments at its Junior Day on February 13th). Not so much at the University of Colorado, where Buff fans usually have to wait until June to get the first verbal commitment. 

Still, there will be several prospects on campus who may become future Buffs. Amongst those reported to coming to Boulder include: quarterback Brock Berglund from Highlands Ranch; linebacker Kellen Jones, from Houston; and quarterback Brett Hundley, from Chandler, Arizona. According to Scout.com, Hundley already has offers from Arizona State, Colorado, Colorado State, Stanford, Texas A&M and Washington. The Buffs might have an in, though, as Hundley’s family is from Colorado. “I was born in Arizona, but all my family is originally from Colorado,” Hundley told Websider.com. “That’s where most of my family is based in, so it will be a place I’m already comfortable with.”

One for the Road

A tip of the cap to the Colorado men’s basketball team for defeating Nebraska on Tuesday night, 81-68. The win was the first on the road for the Buffs after 36 consecutive road losses in Big 12 conference play, and 28 consecutive road losses against Division 1-A competition overall. Colorado is now 5-10 in Big 12 play, and is alone in eighth place in the conference (the Big 12 will probably have seven teams going into the NCAA tournament, so 8th place is a step up for a program which has lost 20 games or more in each of the past three seasons).

The regular season finale against 9th-place Texas Tech at home this Saturday will have great significance. A win, and the Buffs, in the first round of the Big 12 tournament, will play another team not bound for March Madness (short of a Big 12 conference tournament win) . A loss, and the Buffs could play a first round game against a 20-win team.

That’s a big difference for a 14-15 team which needs a win on Saturday, plus a first round Big 12 win, to have any hope of post-season play.

For now, Buff fans can celebrate the road win; celebrate the 14th win of the season.

Not to mention a regular season sweep over – let’s say it together – last place Nebraska.

 February 26th

Positioning

While it is not official (translation: it’s not showing up on the CU website), it does seem to be the consensus that two Colorado quarterback prospects are practicing at different positions this spring. Clark Evans, a red-shirt freshman, has been practicing at tight end during seven-on-seven drills over the past two months. The status of Evans overall remains undetermined, as the disciplinary action Evans may face as a result of the ticket for marijuana possession he received in December. The position taken by the athletic department is that the legal process needs to run its course before team punishment will be determined. With spring practice starting next Saturday, it is likely that Evans will be a participant – at least initially.

The other quarterback who is not getting reps at the position is Josh Moten. A 2009 recruit, Moten did not see the Boulder campus until January, after resolving issues over his testing (his tests seemed too high to the NCAA, but Moten re-took the tests, and did just as well). Moten has been working as a cornerback during the “unsupervised” seven-on-seven drills (the players are not being coached – or at least not being watched by the coaches – during these practices). Moten did say during his recruitment in 2009 that he wanted to play quarterback, but he also indicated at the time that he would do whatever was best for the team.

It was only a few short months ago that there was the potential of having too many Colorado quarterbacks on the roster. In addition to Hansen and Hawkins, there were Moten and Evans in the fold, Nick Hirschman and Munchie Legaux on their way, and two walk-ons, Seth Labato and Jerry Slota, already in uniform. Now, Slota is gone (to DeAnza Community College in California), Legaux is a Cincinnati Bearcat to be, and Moten and Evans are practicing other positions. This leaves the Buffs with just Tyler Hansen, Cody Hawkins, true freshman Nick Hirschman, and walk-on Lebato.

It’s not all that dire. There will be plenty of opportunity this spring for Hansen to make the team his own, and for true freshman Hirschman to gain some invaluable practice time with frontline players. In the meantime, Evans can quickly move up the depth chart at tight end, where three seniors played last fall, and Moten can demonstrate his athletic ability in an ever-improving Buff secondary.

February 23rd

Big 12 commissioner discusses expansion

Perhaps no one has as more at stake in the battle of expansion than Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe. If Missouri and Colorado leave for the Big Ten and Pac-10, respectively, it will be left to Beebe to put together a new Big 12 with a sufficient television footprint to compete with the other national conferences. If Texas leaves … Beebe might be looking for another job. Without Texas, the Big 12 as we’ve come to know and appreciate it might disintegrate, with its members splintering off in any number of directions.

What does Beebe make of all this? “We’re actively looking at all options that may be available to us, and making sure our institutions understand the value we provide for them,” Beebe told the Dallas Morning News. “I’m not taking anything for granted.” Is Beebe concerned about losing one, two, or even more of his members? “I feel pretty comfortable with where we are, and I think we’re going to be in a good place in the future.”

While stating that expansion for the Big 12 itself was a “cumbersome” option, Beebe did not entirely rule it out. “I think you have to consider any change to your membership or where there’s an interest in doing more with your membership in terms of having more institutions,” said Beebe.

One ace in the hole that Beebe might have in keeping Texas around is the disproportionate allocation of revenues by the Big 12. Other conferences, including the SEC and the Big Ten, share revenues equally. In the Big 12, though, fifty percent of the revenues are divided equally, with the remaining fifty percent divided based upon national television appearances (as noted, below, in the February 18th notes, Colorado received about $9 million in 2009. An equal distribution would have netted the Buffs around $10.8 million).

The speculation is that Texas would not want to give up its extra advantage by joining a league with equal revenue sharing …

Well, what does DeLoss Dodds think?

DeLoss Dodds in the Texas athletic director, and was when the Pac-10 came courting 15 years ago. It would be hard to name an individual with more cards to play right now than Dodds, whose teams are nationally ranked, and whose athletic department makes more in profit than most schools generate in gross income.

For his part, Dodds sounds happy ruling the Big 12 roost. “(The Big 12 has) been good to us and for us,” Dodds told the The Oklahoman. “Geographically, it works. It works politically, and it has to work politically. It’s worked financially.”

What would it take for Texas to want to make a move? Dodds said Texas is “married” to the Big 12, and that won’t change “unless something drastic happens”.

As for the comment about Texas not wanting to move and give up is status as the top revenue recipient, Dodds had this to say. “It’s (the 50% equal/50% weighted revenue distribution) the foundation upon which the conference was formed,” said Dodds. “It’s not something that is going to be changed easily”. It would take a 9-3 vote by the conference members for the Big 12 to change its policy, so, as long as Texas, Oklahoma, Texas A&M and Nebraska own the lion’s share of the revenue, it isn’t going to happen.

Will the extra revenue be enough to keep Texas around, or will it take even a bigger payout to keep the burnt orange wearing Big 12 logos? Big 12 commissioner wouldn’t rule out creative options, including a “Longhorn Network” deal. “I don’t think you can come out and say, ‘We’re going to do a traditional deal or we’re going to do a network deal’ “, said Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe. “I think we have to be open to all possibilities”.

This last part is the most disconcerting to Buff fans. In order to keep the league together, more concessions to the “haves” may have to be made, to the detriment of the “have nots”. Colorado is enough on the fringe of the “have nots” to make this a scary proposition.

Buff fans – It’s time to get while the gettin’ is good …

February 21st

Buffs add 22nd recruit to the Class of 2010

Colorado announced this weekend that Terrel Smith, a 5’10”, 185-pound cornerback from Paterson, New Jersey, has signed a letter-of-intent, becoming the 22nd member of the Buffs’ 2010 recruiting class. Smith, who played for Passaic County Tech High School, played on both sides of the ball in high school. As a running back, Smith rushed for 1,261 yards and ten touchdowns. On the defensive side of the ball, Smith was credited with 24 passes broken up and three interceptions.

Academics do not appear to have been the issue when it comes to the timing of Smith’s commitment, as he is a member of Honor Roll in high school. Smith, though, is considered as only a two-star prospect by Rivals.com, and does not even show up as a prospect under Scout.com.

It is unclear, from the information presently available, what the Buffs intend to get from Terrel Smith. He does have a history of success at running back, but his size is more like that of Rodney Stewart and Brian Lockridge, not the bigger, inside runner the Buffs need. Smith can play in the defensive backfield, but his height – 5’10” – is not what most schools are looking for from their cornerbacks these days.

By the same token, little was expected from “throw in” signee Rodney Stewart two years ago …

February 18th

Why expan$ion i$ being di$cu$$ed

The path to expansion is lined with gold … literally. “I think the Big 12 athletic directors and leaders in the Big 12 recognize the SEC TV agreement has created a gap for us,” said Colorado athletic director Mike Bohn, “and we’re working every day to try and close it.”

How big is the gap, anyways?

We’ve heard about the SEC’s $3 billion deal with CBS and ESPN. The breakdown: Well, it’s a 15-year deal, with $2.25 billion coming from ESPN; another $825 million coming from CBS. That works out to just over $17 million per SEC team each year over the course of the contract. The current Big 12 contracts are generating $480 million from ABC/ESPN over eight years (through 2015-16), with an additional $78 million from Fox Sports Net (over four years, through 2012). This works out to a base average of around $6-7 million per team per year. The Pac-10, meanwhile, has contracts which expire at the end of the 2012 season (hence all the present excitement), but between the ABC/ESPN and Fox Sports Net contracts, Pac-10 teams are receiving only around $5.5 million per team (and this number includes basketball contracts).

Quite the gap …

The Big 12 is not exactly egalitarian when it comes to distribution of television revenue. Half of the revenue (including revenue from NCAA tournament appearances) is split twelve ways. The other half, however, is split with consideration given for televised non-conference games and longer runs in the NCAA basketball tournaments. Here, the Buffs come up a little short of average, with the extra splits from taking on the likes of Georgia, Cal, and West Virginia in non-conference games off-set by the Buffs’ absence from television screens in March. In 2009, the Big 12 generated $130.1 million to distribute to its members. A 1/12th cut would have been $10.8 million; Colorado collected roughly $9 million.

If the new “Pac-12” were to obtain a contract anywhere in the vicinity of what the SEC is generating, Colorado could be in a position to roughly double its annual television revenue. Granted, the television footprint for the “Pac-12” would not be as significant as that of the SEC (or the new Big Ten/Eleven/Twelve, either, for that matter), but with the addition of a championship game, and the continued rise in popularity of college football, the infusion of television dollars will only continue to rise.

“We’ll monitor (the expansion discussion) as it develops,” said Mike Bohn.

Let’s hope so …

 February 17th

Are we finally getting somewhere?

“It’s so difficult to comment because it’s simply speculation,” said Colorado Athletic Director Mike Bohn on Tuesday. “We have not called the Pac-10 or the Big Ten and they have not called us. We’re focused on being a great member of the Big 12 conference”.

The only confirmation that Mike Bohn was willing to the press make was that if a move is to be made, it will likely be made by July 1st. As departing schools are required to give two year’s notice to the Big 12 of their intent to leave, and with existing Pac-10 television contracts due to expire at the end of the 2011-12 seasons, the convergence of necessity will come this summer.

Still, Bohn was not willing to speculate that any moves would actually be made.

Bohn did acknowledge that the television package put together by the SEC (some $3 billion coming in from CBS and ESPN) is a driving force for the rest of the BCS. “The financial accomplishments of that league are creating a gap, which is a competitiveness issue for all of us,” said Bohn.

And so it goes …

In case you were wondering …

 In what was supposed to be a dead period between Signing day and the start of spring practice, college football has continued to make headlines. Still, the calendar marches on, and spring practice is now just two-and-a-half weeks away. ESPN blogger Mark Schlabach identified three issues facing the Buffs this spring:

1) How good is transfer Toney Clemons? The former top ten wide receiver recruit sat out last season under NCAA transfer rules. Clemons was supposed to complement Markques Simas, who had three 100-yard receiving games in the last four games of 2009. With Simas suspended indefinitely after a DUI arrest last week, Clemons will be counted on even more than before to produce;

2) Who will replace Smart and Burton at linebacker? Smart was second on the team in tackles in 2009; Burton seventh. Michael Sipili (11th in tackles, 3rd amongst linebackers) and Jon Major (17th; 7th) will be expected to pick up the slack; and

3) Will the offensive line find a starting five? Colorado has a number of good, but not great, offensive linemen. Ryan Miller needs to find a permanent home at guard or tackle, while Nate Solder needs to show he can dominate. Some of the focus will be on newcomer Eric Richter, a junior college transfer who is already enrolled in school, and Maxwell Tuioti-Mariner, who sat out last season after yet another knee surgery.

There will be much, much more on spring practice as March 6th edges closer …

… unless another BCS commissioner holds a press conference …

February 16th

Is no news good news?

The number of stories being published about conference expansion has certainly not slowed in the past week. However, there has been precious little in the way of actual news. No new interviews with the commissioners of the major conferences, no press releases from any of the schools rumored to be on the move. Depending on which story you read, Texas is either moving to the Big Ten (all the new televison sets eyeing the Longhorns!) or would be crazy to move (Texas doesn’t need the money. Why invite Michigan, Ohio State and Penn State to recruit in your backyard?).  There is even speculation about the ultimate creation of super-conferences – 24 teams in four six team divisions, with semi-finals (more $$$!!!) to go with a conference final.

There have been few quotes from the University of Colorado administration. Colorado chancellor Phil Di-Stefano did comment on the price the university might be forced to pay should the Buffs give two years notice of their intent to leave the conference. “As we’re thinking  about the decision, we have to look obviously at revenue and expenses,” said Di-Stefano. “The revenue that we would bring in either by staying in the Big 12 or moving to the Pac-10 and what the expenses would be and certainly the upfront expense of moving from the Big 12 to the Pac-10.”

The “upfront expense” goes to the penalties Colorado might face if it leaves the Big 12. Published reports have that figure at 80% of revenues over the next two seasons. If consistent with previous seasons, that would translate from anywhere from $10 to $15 million. That would not necessarily be out-of-pocket dollars for the University, however, as the raiding conference (Pac-10) could assist with the transition costs, as could the off-set of future revenue streams (new television contract for the Pac-12, including the lucrative Pac-12 championship game). It is not uncommon for a school raiding another school for its head coach to help with the “buyout” of that coach’s existing contract.

Long story short – if the decision is made to make the move, the dollars will be made to work.

After all, increased revenues are the driving force behind this frenzy.

More – when there is actual news to report …

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.