CU Spring – By the Numbers

It’s a busy time for Colorado athletics:

– The football team will conclude spring practices with the Spring Game, which will be played next Sunday (2:00 p.m., Pac-12 Networks);

– The ski team will be competing next weekend in Lake Placid, New York, one of the favorites to win the national championship;

– The basketball teams have shown that, despite tough seasons, were able to play well at times;

– The lacrosse and ski teams have been testing their talents against top ten teams on the road.


With a great deal of activity, it’s a good time to take a look at CU’s Spring … by the numbers.

8 … The ranking of the Oregon State Beavers women’s basketball team … before losing to CU in the Pac-12 quarterfinals

The Colorado women’s basketball team had a tough season. A 13-16 overall regular season record, including a 6-12 record in Pac-12 play, left the Buffs facing the first losing season in five years under head coach Linda Lappe.

It wasn’t supposed to be this way. The Buffs had three quality seniors – Lexy Kresl; Jen Reese; and Jasmine Sborov – together with a pair of star juniors in Jamee Swan and Arielle Roberson. Before the season started, though, Roberson was lost to a torn ACL. Already in the top 20 in CU history in blocked shots and double-doubles after only two years in Boulder, Roberson’s absence was felt all season.

A 75-63 win over USC in the first round of the Pac-12 tournament gave the Buffs some satisfaction, off-setting the pain of 15- and 20-point losses to the Trojans in the regular season.

Up next, though, was the No. 1 seed, Oregon State, ranked 8th in the nation. The Buffs and Beavers met only once in the regular season, with the Beavers coming away with a dominating 66-44 blowout in Boulder on January 20th.

What was supposed to be another blowout win for the Beavers in the Pac-12 quarter-finals, however, proved to be anything but. Lexy Kresl opened the barrage for the Buffs, equaling Oregon State’s 14 points with 14 of her own as Colorado built a 23-14 lead. When the Beavers made their runs in the second half, another senior, Jen Reese, made her presence felt, scoring all of her 13 points in the second stanza as the Buffs held on for a 68-65 upset.

The win was the first for Colorado against a top ten team away from home since the Buffs defeated No. 5 Stanford in the 2002 NCAA Sweet Sixteen. It was also the Buffs’ first win over a ranked team in seven attempts this season.

The dream of an NCAA bid died with a 68-55 loss in the semi-finals to No. 4 seed Cal, but the Buffs did finish the season with a renewed sense of pride.

10 … The number of pounds put on by defensive backs Kenneth Crawley and Ahkello Witherspoon this off-season

Weight training has been an emphasis for Colorado this off-season, and has apparently been paying dividends this spring.

“[DB] Kenneth Crawley is having a really good spring and he is getting bigger,” MacIntyre said this past week. “Him and Ahkello Witherspoon, I was teasing they can actually wear their sleeves up now. They’re getting bigger and stronger and getting into the 180’s. John Walker has gained 10 pounds, so all of those guys are getting bigger and stronger. Evan White, too, so it’s exciting seeing all of that happen, it really is.

“I think our strength is really improving,” MacIntyre continued. “We changed around the weight room a little bit this off-season; it’s a lot more power oriented. So, that’s really helping us, too. I think it is translating to the field.

“I do see a lot more power,” he said. “And the guys are wanting to get in the weight room and starting to understand what we’re doing with the squats and dead lifts and bench and everything we’re doing. A lot of power stuff there.”

How well this power training translates onto the field this fall, of course, remains to be seen.

But it does have the Buff Nation excited.


17 … The number of scholarship defensive linemen on the spring roster

3-4 is an important figure for the Colorado defensive line under new defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt.

Not 3-4 as in the 3-4 defense, although that formation will play a much greater role for the Buffs under Leavitt.

But 3-4 as in three-to-four waves of defensive linemen Colorado can throw at opposing defenses this fall.

You could have the “returning starter” wave … Josh Tupou, Jimmie Gilbert and Derek McCartney all return from last season.

You could have the “junior college transfer” wave … with Jordan Carrell, Blake Robbins and Leo Jackson all joining the team this spring.

You could have the “back from injury/obscurity” wave … led by Samson Kafovalu, Tyler Henington and Markeis Reed.

All that, and we haven’t even mentioned contributors like Justin Solis, Clay Norgard, De’Jon Wilson and Timothy Coleman.

“It [defensive line depth] does everything for the defense,” MacIntyre said this past week. “This depth is going to help us in the fourth quarter, making big sacks, clogging up the run. All of a sudden you get the ball back. That type of thing makes a big, big difference for us in the fourth quarter and in overtimes.”

One of the mottos for this upcoming season is “The Fourth Quarter is Ours”.

With such an improved lineup along the defensive line, that might become more than just hyperbole.


19 … The number of NCAA national championships for the CU ski team, with No. 20 a real possibility this weekend

This past weekend, the CU ski team won the Rocky Mountain Intercollegiate Ski Championships, doing so for the 27th time. The RMISA championships, which also serve as the West Regional for the NCAA ski championships, has been won by Colorado 27 of the 65 times CU has competed (41.5%). The Buffs have finished either first or second in these races 48 times, a remarkable 73.8% clip.

This weekend, Colorado, ranked No. 1 in the nation, will compete for the national championship in Lake Placid, New York. The Buffs are one of only seven schools to qualify a full team of 12 (six alpine; six Nordic), a huge advantage over all of the other competing schools.

This group of athletes have combined for 29 NCAA Championship appearances and have racked up 17 All-America honors between them, including 11 first-team nods, and four individual NCAA Championships.

Nine of the 12 Buffs have competed at the championships previously, including all six alpine skiers, who have now combined for 17 appearances between them.

The last two times the NCAA titles were awarded back east (2011, Stowe, Vermont; and 2013, Middlebury, Vermont), the Buffs won the national title. Colorado also won the title the last time the championships were held at Lake Placid (1982).

The championships begin on Wednesday, and conclude on Saturday. You can look to full coverage here at CU at the Game, commencing Wednesday afternoon.


47 … The national ranking of the CU tennis team

The CU women’s tennis team was hit hard with reality this weekend. The Buffs, ranked No. 47 in the nation, ran up against No. 7 Cal and No. 10 Stanford on the road. The results were not pretty: a 7-0 sweep by the Bears; a 6-1 loss to the Cardinal.

“We battled today,” said CU head coach Nicole Kenneally.  “But whenever you play a tough team like this it’s definitely an experience to learn from.  We are just going to take everything we can learn from the experience’s this weekend and get home, healthy and ready for our next five conference matches which are at home.”

Since joining the Pac-12, CU tennis has gone 7-14, 0-10 (2011-12); 7-14, 2-8 (2012-13); and 8-14, 0-10 (2013-14) … numbers similar to that posted by the football team.

With wins this season against ranked opponents (Kansas and New Mexico), the Buffs have already surpasses last season’s win total, and have a 9-4 record overall.

The Buffs are improving … but they are not yet ready to challenge the powers of the Pac-12.


48 … Where the state of Colorado ranks in support for its state colleges

The University of Colorado has a $3.3 billion annual budget, with just over five percent of that coming from state funding. This microscopic amount ranks Colorado 48th amongst the 50 states in state funding of higher education.

While that reality may help when and if the state legislature threatens CU with cuts should the Buffs decline to renew their Rocky Mountain Showdown contract with the CSU Rams, it does not help matters when it comes to competing with Pac-12 rivals.

The governor of Arizona, for example, is proposing $75 million in cuts. This sounds bad, and it is. But it is nothing compared to that with which the University of Colorado already contends. The $75 million in cuts, if they go through, would take Arizona State University’s state funding down to an estimated $6,049, which is still almost double what Boulder receives ($3,243 per student).

Just a few numbers to chew on as CU tries to raise $156 million for facilities improvements …


$10,000,000+ … The amount each team in the Pac-12 will fall behind its SEC and Big Ten brethren each year unless something can be done about the Pac-12 Networks

Jon Wilner of the San Jose Mercury News has put together a series of reports concerning incoming being raised by the Networks run by some of the Power-Five conferences.

Wilner points out that the SEC Network, which is in the middle of its first year of existence, is likely to dole out $5 million to each of the conference’s schools come year end.

Pac-12 schools, meanwhile, at the conclusion of Year Three of the Pac-12 Networks, will be lucky to receive $1 million each.

The numbers get even more sobering:

… The subscription numbers, according to media research firm SNL Kagan:

SEC Network: 63 million subs
Big Ten Network: 60 million subs
Pac-12 Networks: 11 million subs

… Projected TV revenue gap in 2017-18, when the Big Ten starts its new Tier 1 deal (details here):

SEC: $35.6 million per school
Big Ten: $33 million per school
Pac-12: $22.95 million per school

True enough – It is difficult for Buff fans to complain about receiving around $23 million per year in television revenues, especially when CU was receiving $7-$10 million per year in the Big 12, and little brother CSU is having to make due with $4-$6 million annually. Colorado is enjoying a windfall in revenue not even dreamed of just a few years ago.

True enough – The contracts with ESPN and FoxSports, which run into the next decade, will continue to rise with each passing year, with the 14-year deal reaching over $2 billion by contract’s end.

True enough – The Pac-12 owns 100% of its Networks, whereas other conferences own a controlling interest (like 51% for the Big Ten), but have to share profits with an outside party. If and when DirecTV becomes part of the Pac-12 Networks world, the gap between the Pac-12 and other conferences may close somewhat.

But, assuming Colorado wishes to again become a player on the national stage, it is hard to imaging keeping up with the Power-Five “Joneses” if schools like Minnesota and Vanderbilt are raking in an extra $10 million more per year in revenue.

We’ll see how this all plays out.

It’s fun to play with numbers. As always, your comments and contributions. You can comment on this article by clicking on the Comments bar at the top or the bottom of this page, or by sending me an email at



One Reply to “CU Spring – By the Numbers”

  1. Great analysis Stuart! The defensive line play is going to be very interesting this year, and will probably be the biggest difference YOY. Finally some strength at the d-line position!!

    Crossing the fingers for the ski team, and the balance of the Olympic teams are doing well, just need to keep making the kinds of improvements that make goods teams great.

    Don’t know what it will take for the state to spend more money on higher ed. Not wanting to make this a political discussion, but the Dems had all the power for several years and never addressed it. Oh well, guess us donors will keep donating.

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