Random Thoughts –  Linda Shoemaker Ain’t Going Away Edition – Volume XXIX

Buff Trivia Question of the Week … CU 2019 Athletic Hall of Fame honoree Barry Helton was the first Buff to be honored as a three-time All-American. CU has had only three All-American honorees in the past 15 years. Can you name them? (Hint: We are talking about a kicker, a linebacker, and an offensive lineman).

Shoemaker not going away … 

Linda Shoemaker is making a name for herself.

The CU Regent has been a vocal critic of the University of Colorado football, despite her claims to the contrary.

Last December, before Mel Tucker had been introduced to Pearl Street, he was introduced to the reality that Boulder is not SEC country. Linda Shoemaker, along with fellow Buff-hater Jack Kroll, voted against Mel Tucker’s initial contract at CU (it bears mentioning that the last two head coaches, Jon Embree and Mike MacIntyre, had their initial contracts unanimously approved by the Board of Regents).

Shoemaker’s beef with CU football purportedly has to do with too many concussions and other head injuries befalling football players.

“It is very much a moral dilemma for me now,” Shoemaker said last summer. “I don’t want to watch it. I don’t want to participate in it. I don’t believe that it has a good place in the academic enterprise, which is the University of Colorado. I know that’s very much of a minority viewpoint, and I understand that, but that’s why I asked to take this time because it’s not a topic that we talk about on a regular basis on this board.”

Not getting enough traction from making speeches at Regents’ meetings, Shoemaker took her case to the New York Times, where the publication with “All the news that’s fit to print” saw fit to publish, “At Colorado, a Breach in Football’s Wall“. The writer, Michael Powell, showed his depth of experience in sports writing by calling the NFL, the “N.F.L.” (honestly, have you ever seen the NFL referred to that way in any legitimate sports publication?). 

From the article … Shoemaker is a former journalist and now a grandmother, and several times she has walked down to the football field and just listened. “It’s frightening to hear the hits,” she said. “We have physicians there, but they all work for the university and they are very much in favor of football.”

She added: “Hard hits lead to head trauma, and that makes lives more brutal. I can’t do this anymore. I don’t think the game can be played safely.”

To the athletic department’s credit, they are not ignoring Shoemaker and her rants, but taking her head-on.

This past Thursday, Rick George, CU’s athletic director, led a panel discussion for the board of regents. The purpose of the panel — which included Eric McCarty, who is the chief of sports medicine and shoulder surgery for CU and the head team physician for athletics — was to inform the regents of what is being done at CU to care for the student-athletes in what is an ever-evolving field.

“We come to work every day with student athlete health and wellness and safety at the forefront of everything that we do,” George said.

In addition to McCarty, who played football at CU from 1984-87, the panel included faculty athletics representative Joe Jupille; senior associate athletic director of health and performance Miguel Rueda; professor of psychology and neuroscience Theresa Hernandez; and associate professor of integrative physiology Matt McQueen.

George and other members of the panel highlighted much of the personnel and financial resources CU has poured into the health and well-being of student athletes for several years, as well as the improvements being made.

In an interesting note, professor McQueen said that on campus, “over 60 percent of the concussions we see through the general student body are non-sport related.”

Neill Woelk followed up that meeting with a well reasoned article, “It’s Not About Football; CU Student-Athlete Health Initiatives Will Benefit Entire University“.

Was that enough to appease Shoemaker?


Asked by the Daily Camera after the meeting if CU is doing a good job of protecting football players, Shoemaker said, “Not sufficiently in my view.

“Our guys are on the board of governors, they’re on the committees. They have a national voice. So, my frustration is when I feel like they’re not recognizing the realities.”

Shoemaker, who said she will not be attending any CU football games this year, would like to see more being done, and she hopes CU continues to do more.

“We are uniquely positioned to actually make some changes,” she told the Camera. “The question is, what changes can we make in Boulder, Colorado? If I were still in the K-12 world, I’d be more worried about pee wee (football) than I am CU, but I’m a CU regent, so right now, for the rest of my term, this is going to be one of my main focuses.”

Shoemaker followed up her rants Thursday with a vote against the extension of Rick George’s contract on Friday. Shoemaker joined fellow Buff hater Jack Kroll in worrying about $8-9 million which goes from the university to the athletic department (out of a budget of $4.79 billion).

Shoemaker’s term, in case you were wondering, runs through 2021.

So stay tuned …

“Nothing personal” … 

Both The Sporting News and CBS Sports came out with their rankings of Pac-12 coaches this week.

Not surprisingly, Chris Petersen at Washington was ranked by both sites as the No. 1 coach in the conference.

And, not surprisingly, Mel Tucker at Colorado was ranked by both sites as the No. 12 coach in the conference.

Mel Tucker is not only the only new head coach in the conference, but he enters the 2019 season with a resume which includes zero games coached at the collegiate level.

At least CBS had the courtesy of noting Tucker’s lack of experience when putting Tucker last. “Nothing personal … There’s just not much to base his ranking off of yet”.

Nowhere to go but up! …

CU’s Fifteenth Class has Class …

CU announced its 15th Athletic Hall of Fame Class this week, and it’s a good group.

Ten Golden Buffalo legends who are representative of five different sports, along with a trailblazer in administration, all of whom have their special place in history created during their careers in a group that collectively covers over a century of CU athletics.

A pair earned their way into the Hall through coaching, one of whom has the stadium named for him, another through both playing and coaching and a fourth who was the first of just two women’s athletic directors in school annals.  Two cross country and track stars, two skiers and two football players, one of whom also played baseball, round out the class.

The full list, including the bios of all of the 2019 inductees, can be found here.

While all ten are deserving (how is that Fred Folsom wasn’t part of an earlier Class?), I’d like to single out a contemporary from my time at CU, punter Barry Helton.

In a time when CU was struggling to re-establish itself as a player in the college football world, Barry Helton gave Buff fans a measure of pride.

Helton was a consensus All-American in 1985, CU’s first consensus All-American since defensive back Cullen Bryant in 1972.

When Helton repeated as a consensus All-American in 1986, Helton became only the second Buff to be so honored, joining offensive guard Joe Romig (1960-61).

In 1987, Helton was given honorable mention All-American status, making him the first Buff – ever – to receive All-American recognition three times (only linebacker Kanavis McGhee, who was an honorable mention All-American in 1987, and second-team All-American in 1988 and 1989, has equaled Helton’s feat).

Barry Helton not only made a name for himself, he established the University of Colorado as a place for punters to find success.

Over the next five seasons, the University of Colorado produced not one, not two, but three more first-team All-American punters … Keith English (1988; consensus All-American); Tom Rouen (1989; consensus All-American); and Mitch Berger (1992).

Helton was not only excellent, he left a legacy of excellence which carried over after his time in Boulder …

Buff Trivia Question of the Week … CU 2019 Athletic Hall of Fame honoree Barry Helton was the first Buff to be honored as a three-time All-American. CU has had only three All-American honorees in the past 15 years. Can you name them? (Hint: We are talking about a kicker, a linebacker, and an offensive lineman).

Answer … Kicker Mason Crosby was a consensus All-American in 2005, and was again honored after the 2006 season. Linebacker Jordon Dizon was a consensus All-American in 2007. The last Buff to be named an All-American was back in 2010, when offensive tackle Nate Solder was named a consensus All-American.


2 Replies to “Random Thoughts – Shoemaker Ain’t Going Away Edition”

  1. I agree that football cannot be played safely. I also think that is kind of the point. Football is a violent game, and that is what makes it so exciting. Anybody who doesn’t want to subject their body to that violence absolutely does not have to do it. I chose to play football in high school. My parents and I signed a waiver that we would not sue the school in the event of my serious injury or death. I broke my arm, my tailbone, and probably had a few concussions. I wouldn’t trade it for anything, it was one the most fun and rewarding experiences of my life to play football.

  2. Since regent Shoemaker isn’t going to attend any of the CU Football games this season, do you think she might donate her seats to me or any other Buff fan?

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