Random Thoughts

Program Note … The next two Sundays (December 13th and 20th), the weekly essay will concentrate on looking back on the 2015 season, with a look at the offense next weekend, and the defense and special teams in two weeks.

For now, here are some random thoughts taken from the news of the week …

Troy Walters leaves Colorado for UCF

This past week, CU’s wide receiver coach and recruiting coordinator Troy Walters left the Buffs to become the offensive coordinator for Central Florida. The announcement has been met with dismay in the Buff Nation, as Walters was seen as the bright young star of the Colorado coaching staff, with his boundless energy and enthusiasm for the program evident in his interviews, on-field demeanor, and his ever-optimistic tweets.

While there is much hand-wringing over the loss of Walters, there are some realities – and even some positives – to be found in Walters’ departure.

First, the move to offensive coordinator at a Group Five school is the next logical move for a coach who has a bright future ahead of him. Walters has been a position coach at Texas A&M, North Carolina State, and Colorado, and, if he aspires to a head coaching position, taking a coordinator job when offered makes all the sense in the world.

Now, before you write in to suggest that Walters should have been promoted to replace CU’s existing offensive coordinator, Brian Lindgren, I would remind you of the debacle the Buff Nation endured the last time Colorado hired an offensive coordinator with no experience in that role (see: Bieniemy, Eric).

Second, as difficult as it is to take, Buff fans should be glad that there are coaches on Mike MacIntyre’s staff which other schools covet. Last off-season, CU “lost” to coaches to UNLV, but no one believes that Kent Baer and Andy LaRussa left the Buffs for the Rebels as an upgrade to their careers.

All we can do at this point is thank Troy Walters for his service and his dedication to the University of Colorado while he was here, and wish him the best of luck at UCF.

Rick George gets it

If you haven’t read the Brian Howell interview with CU athletic director Rick George, you need to right now.

Some quotes from the article are heartening:

– “I’m very disappointed in where we are,” George said less than a week after the Buffs (4-9) completed their 10th consecutive losing season. “From a competitive level, I think we stepped our game up. We were in every football game, maybe but one. But our outcome needs to be different.”

– “I think that our talent level has gotten better every year since I’ve been here,” George said. “We’ve got to finish this recruiting season off right. We’ve got to have a good recruiting class and I think we’ve got the make-up of that right now. How we finish is going to be real important.”

– “I’m not ready to say it’s bowl or bust (in 2016), but I do believe that we need to show much improvement from this year,” George said. “We have to eliminate mistakes; we have to manage the game better in some ways. We’ve got a lot of work to do in the offseason, but I’m confident in Mike and the direction he wants to go with this program. We’ll let him make the changes and adjustments he feels are necessary.”

– “You have to look at it and say, why did that happen?” George said. “Is it technique? Is it coaching? Is it preparation? We have to look at all those factors. That’s what Mike and his staff are in the process of doing. We’ll come up with a good plan moving forward.”

I believe it is safe to say that Rick George “gets it”.

He understands our frustration, and shares it.

He understands that the football program is the “front porch” of not only the athletic department, but the entire university.

He understands that building a program begins and ends with solid recruiting, and the steps which need to be taken in order for solid recruiting classes to be signed each February.

He understands that being ahead of USC 17-3 or coming from behind to take the lead against UCLA are positive signs … but they are not victories.

He understands that, while Mike MacIntyre deserves credit from raising Colorado from a laughing stock in football (see: University of Kansas) to a program which is competitive is indeed a laudable feat, it will not be enough to save Mac his job if the Buffs don’t start winning the close games against conference foes.

Rick George has indicated that he is not a candidate for the open athletic director position at his alma mater, Illinois. While the position remains unfilled (a search committee was named just this past week. Members of the committee including the soccer coach, a softball player, and an animal sciences professor … imagine the hysteria if such a committee was put together in Boulder), it doesn’t appear that George is going anywhere.

Defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt may have been the best “recruit” of the past off-season.

Retaining George may be the best position move the Buffs make this offseason.

Nelson Spruce repeats as Most Valuable Player

I honestly don’t know what to make of Nelson Spruce.

This week, Spruce became just the fifth player in school history to earn Most Valuable Player honors more than once. Spruce joins guard Joe Romig (1959-60-61), tailback James Mayberry (1977, 1978), quarterback Darian Hagan (1989, 1991) and receiver Rae Carruth (1995, 1996) as multiple recipients of CU’s team MVP honor.

Spruce set 41 career, season and/or single-game Colorado records, including the big three as a pass-catcher: career marks in receptions (294), yards (3,347) and touchdowns (23).  The 294 catches are also the most by any player in Pac-12 Conference history, and his 19 receptions against California his junior season are both CU and Pac-12 records.

Yet the Buffs didn’t win while he was here.

Quarterback Sefo Liufau also has a slew of records, but hasn’t won a Pac-12 game in over two years.

The players Spruce and Liufau keep beating out for CU records: quarterback Cody Hawkins and wide receiver Scotty McKnight.

Both talented players … but also players who were unable to deliver winning seasons to the Buff Nation.

Spruce joined an elite group of CU luminaries as a multiple winner of the team’s MVP award, but the other recipients all played in bowl games; all played on New Year’s Day in games which had national implications.

It was altogether fitting – and sad – that the award was given out at the team banquet on Saturday. As USC and Stanford players were preparing for the Pac-12 championship game Saturday night, the Buffs were, once again, packing up and going home.

Spruce’s efforts are appreciated, and his records will likely remain in the CU books for years.

But his legacy … like that of Cody Hawkins, Scotty McKnight, and perhaps, Sefo Liufau, will have nothing to do with his individual achievements.

It will be all about the won/loss record he leaves behind.

Josh Scott: “I’m not a fan of CSU”

Colorado senior center Josh Scott minced no words this week when talking about the road game against Colorado State (Sunday, noon, ROOT Sports).

“I’m not a fan of CSU,” Scott said bluntly. “I won’t pretend like I’m a fan of them, their fans, any of that sort of stuff. I know who lost last year. Do I plan on having a big night? Yes. Do I think our team’s going to win? Yes. We felt the loss last year and no one wants to feel it again.”

In last year’s game, a 62-60 CSU win in Boulder. Scott suffered through one of the least-productive games of his career, finishing with just two points — both on free throws — on an 0-for-7 night from the field. CSU big man Tiel Daniels, who hounded Scott for most of last year’s game, will be on the floor again, likely in the same role.

CU head coach Tad Boyle is expecting a tough crowd.  “You can make an argument that this will be the most hostile environment we’ll play in all year long,” Tad Boyle told cubuffs.com. “We don’t go to Arizona this year. Utah is probably the next closest … This and Utah will be the two toughest environments as I look forward.”

Colorado leads the all-time series against Colorado State by a wide margin, 88-37. The Buffs even have the advantage in games played in Ft. Collins, and won the last time the game was played there.

Still, it is a rivalry game, and the Buffs are in a better frame of mind than they were last year (5-2, while CSU came into the game 8-0).

“I’m expecting to be bruised, but I expect to be doing some bruising myself,” Scott said Friday morning after practice. “Banged up, tired. In the end, that’s just CU-CSU.”

Here’s hoping he winds up his career with a 3-1 record against the Rams



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