Attrition … Putting faces to the names

When I first saw the Daily Camera headline, “2 Colorado football players arrested, accused of stealing PlayStation, laptop“, I have to admit that the first questions which came to mind were:

– Which players?; and

– Are they starters?

Such is the nature of the beast for fans of college football.

We understand that there will be injuries, academic casualties, transfers, and, yes, discipline cases. All affect the depth chart. All affect the reputation of the team and the University.

And all have an impact on the team’s chances come September … which, at the end of the day, is the bottom line.

Colorado fans have been taking it on the chin lately, with the arrests this spring of Blake Robbins, Samson Kafovalu, N.J. Falo and Dino Gordon.

Thing is … Colorado is not alone. Buff fans just tend to focus on their team, and gloss over the troubles of other teams. How many of us clicked on the following recent headlines …

— “Hokies indefinitely suspend Alexander, Gaines after arrests“;

— “Miami suspends RB Walton following DUI stop“;

— “Ole Miss football player Speaks arrested, charged with DUI“; and

— “University of Hawaii Defensive Lineman Kennedy Tulimasealii Arrested“.

In a story posted last fall, Colorado came in 23rd in the nation in arrests over the past five seasons, with 13. Washington State, a media darling after making it to a bowl game under Mike Leach last season, led the nation … with 31 arrests.

Any arrest, of course, is unacceptable.

Every discipline case is a black eye on the athletic department.

The reality, though, is that the 85-man football team roster is a very fluid document, with attrition a reality.

There were only 11 scholarship seniors on the roster in 2015, but the Buffs received Letters of Intent from 17 players on Signing Day, and have been adding players to the roster ever since.

How is that math possible?


— Four scholarship players – defensive tackle Clay Norgard, cornerback John Walker, defensive end De’Jon Wilson, and cornerback Yuri Wright – decided to pursue their degrees and forego their senior year of eligibility. Tight end Hayden Jones, a scholarship sophomore-to-be, left the team for personal reasons.

— Two more players – quarterback Cade Apsay and defensive back Evan White – were dismissed from the team in March for undisclosed violations of team rules.

— Then there was the arrest of defensive end Blake Robbins on fifteen charges, including several felonies, for assaulting two Boulder police officers following a domestic dispute. Robbins has been dismissed from the team.

— Next came the arrest of defensive lineman Samson Kafovalu for obstruction charges for an altercation outside a Boulder bar. Kafovalu has been suspended from the team, and while a path exists for Kafovalu’s return to the team, it will be a long road.

— Now there comes news of the arrest of two more players, running back Dino Gordon and linebacker N.J. Falo. The pair were arrested this week on suspicion of second-degree burglary, theft between $2,000 and $4,999, drug possession and second-degree trespassing. Both have been suspended indefinitely from the team.

Kafovalu, Gordon and Falo may eventually find their way back onto the depth chart at the University of Colorado. Last season, defensive lineman Josh Tupou received a full year suspension from the University even though criminal charges for assault were dismissed. Reports from CU head coach Mike MacIntyre are that Tupou has done everything necessary to return to the school and the team, and will be a Buff this fall.

The return of Tupou will help to offset the loss of Blake Robbins along the defensive line, and help the Buffs’ chances at securing a bowl bid come December.

And that, unfortunately, is part of the problem for fans when it comes to dealing with these sorts of issues.

As noted above, my first thoughts when the Falo/Gordon story broke were of the impact of the arrests and subsequent suspensions on the team’s chances this fall.

From a purely one-dimensional view of the players involved, the loss of Falo hurts considerably more than the loss of Gordon.

Dino Gordon, a red-shirt freshman, scored a touchdown in the Spring game, and was starting to turn heads, despite a crowded backfield. “I am kind of at the bottom of everyone right now so I am just trying to learn and as I learn, I get better, slowly,” Gordon said. “I got bigger when I redshirted so now I am tying to take advantage of every opportunity I get out here. The competition is thick.”

N.J. Falo, meanwhile, saw action as a true freshman last season, seeing action in seven games. In his 116 total plays, Falo posted 17 tackles (12 unassisted). In a linebacker depth chart without much depth, Falo was being counted on to see considerably more playing time this fall.

Then there are the outside repercussions of the potential loss of these two players.

Will the recent arrests have an impact on the decision of quarterback Davis Webb? … Probably not.

Will the recent arrests have an impact on the decision of four-star tight end Josh Falo? … Almost certainly.

CU coach Mike MacIntyre successfully recruited two of Josh Falo’s brothers, with Nathan playing at San Jose State and N.J. playing for the Buffs.

“They’ve got a younger one that might be better than the other two, to be honest”, said MacIntyre when introducing N.J. to the Buff Nation, referring to Josh, who has offers from almost every school in the Pac-12, to go with offers from schools like Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Auburn.

While it was a longshot for the Buffs to sign Josh Falo, Mike MacIntyre certainly had an “in” with the family.

And now?

Probably not going to see Josh Falo sign with CU come February 1, 2017.

Such in the nature of how we look a the business of college football.

Who is the next man up? Who can you recruit for next year who will be able to push the players you already have on the roster? How can you maintain balance on the roster with all of the attrition which comes with college football?

How can you keep your sanity – and your $2 million/year job – when your future is dependent upon the decisions made by 19- and 20-year olds?

And that’s the saddest part about the news of the arrests of Dino Gordon and N.J. Falo.

When we receive news of player arrests, we (and yes, I include myself) almost immediately think about the depth chart, wondering how the how the loss – or at least the potential loss – of these names from the roster will affect the Buffs’ chances come Pac-12 conference play.

We lose focus on the individuals involved, and focus on the bottom line.

Dino Gordon is 20 years old; N.J. Falo 19.

They have their whole lives in front of them. If they were not football players, their arrests would have not been front page news. They would likely receive some sort of suspended sentences, probation and a fine, and told by the judge to learn from their mistake.

Since they are football players, however, their actions will receive greater scrutiny, with their punishments likely to far exceed their crimes.

They might never again find themselves wearing the black and gold in Folsom Field, where they were just three weeks ago.

If the pair are ultimately dismissed from the team, two more scholarships will open up – potentially to be filled with junior college prospects even before the team reconvenes in August.

Two more names added to the attrition list.




4 Replies to “Attrition”

  1. It is really regrettable that this type of thing occurs. I think that CU probably has a slightly higher rate than other schools because of our recruiting struggles. We are not going to be able to be picky when an athlete has all the physical traits needed but may not have the ethical compass and or foresight to balance the repercussions. My personal hope is that people understand that this is not the sign of the program but more a sign of kids making really poor decisions. I am a real big fan of second chances for kids and so regardless of the result I hope that these kids can go through this process and understand the consequences of their actions and be reinstated to the team. I think a year suspension is required for a crime such as this. These kids need to go home, work a low paying job and realize the benefit the cu education is going to give them someday regardless of the opportunity to play football. I think the coaches should tell these kids that their scholarships are not going to be held and that they are going to go out and recruit kids and if when the year is up these two slots are not available then that is the consequences. The coaches need to reinforce the kids actions and the potential consequences to the entire team. Learning to weigh your actions and be responsible for them is one of the most important aspects of growing up and the coaches should take this opportunity to reinforce it.

  2. Excellent article. I now hope RG doesn’t force you to bring it down. Gotta protect those big paychecks, you know. I disagree on Webb. With McIntyres probable warnings, players aren’t listening, and he takes them back anyways. Terrible example for discipline. Do what you want, Disrupt other victims lives, and no worries. He even prompted Apsay on bad behavior. I seriously doubt Webb wants to be a part of McIntyres turning his head for regular intervals of bad behavior and taking back more lurking problems ahead for intended NFL journey. We will soon see. I think this broke the camels back for Webb coming here.

    1. Scott = TOOL! To start with, RG has no influence over Stuart or his writing, so a fat BS on your first point. Secondly HCMM has no history of “turning his head” on disciplinary cases. Instead, recognizing kids are kids he gives second chances laden with conditions. If a kid remains so stupid as to violate a second time, he’s gone! That’s been obvious, so a fatter BS on your second point.

      Who know what Webb will do? He was obviously looking out for himself all along. If he choose to go someplace else, then he’s a hypoctite.

      As for you, get a clue! Maybe we can get less BS from you.

  3. Yo Stuart,

    A very pinpoint analysis of a not-uncommon problem facing our society. This is not a Buff problem or a local problem, it is a problem of human nature. Young men often do really stupid things. I certainly know I did, and every guy I have ever known did as well.

    The cause? Who knows? It is the belief in invincibility so common at that age? Is it just the failure to look forward at the possibility of “what happens if I get caught” or even “Is this a good idea” or “what would my mother think if she knew what I was doing?”

    Sometimes alcohol impairs better judgment. Other times it is peer pressure. In some cases it is just a dumb decision one makes on their own. But it is an all-too-common reality that leads most of us to wonder in years to come what the heck we were thinking.

    As a parent of three grown up children, I remember worrying that my kids would make some poor decisions as young adults. And, in my mind, of course they did so. Even so, my parents would have thought the same thing about me if they knew the some of the things I had done.

    None of this is to condone what Falo and Gordon did. They were arrested and will have to face the consequences of their actions. But we have to remember that no one was physically hurt. They did not commit a violent crime. And we have to keep that in perspective.

    Yet another former SEC player has admitted at the NFL draft yesterday that he was given money by the coaching staff while playing football for his school. And, of course, the school has vowed to “look into” the situation. Yeah right.

    The young men who get caught making youthful mistakes need to pay the piper for what they did. But society needs to hold adults in positions of authority to a higher standard. A coach making hundreds of thousands (or millions) of dollars who is using cash to entice young men to break the law and/or NCAA rules is engaging in an organized criminal activity involving big money.

    That’s a much bigger crime than a stupid youthful indiscretion. Our society needs to remember that.


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