Random Thoughts – Volume VI – January 6, 2019

Buff Trivia Questions of the Week … Two former Buffs have recently been honored by the NFL, with Denver Bronco Phillip Lindsay being named to the Pro Bowl, and Green Bay Packer David Bakhtiari being named All-Pro.

Prior to Lindsay, who was the most recent Buff to be named to the NFL Pro Bowl, and prior to Bakhtiari, who was the most recent Buff named All-Pro? (Hint: both answers involve offensive linemen).

Early entrees into the 2019 NFL Draft

The deadline for players to submit their names for early entry into the NFL Draft is Monday, January 14th, so there is still time for players to opt to forego playing for their college teams this fall.

To date, however, the number of Pac-12 players who have declared is down considerably from prior seasons.

The Pac-12 list to date: ASU receiver N’Keal Harry, Stanford guard Nate Herbig, UCLA offensive tackle Andre James, Oregon wide receiver Dillon Mitchell, Washington safety Taylor Rapp, Stanford tight end Kaden Smith, UCLA tight end Caleb Wilson, and Stanford wide receiver J.J. Arcega-Whiteside.

That’s a total of eight.

According to a story by Jon Wilner at the San Jose Mercury News, in the seven prior drafts since the Pac-10 became the Pac-12, there have been 111 early entrants, or an average of almost 16 players per year.

When you are a Buff fan, and you are hoping for your team to get over the hump, having a few more stars from the rest of the conference opt for the draft certainly wouldn’t hurt …

While the number of players who opt for the draft may increase over the next week, one of the big stories this off-season so far is not the number of players who are leaving the conference for the NFL, but rather, the number of players who are staying.

Which leads us to …

Steven Montez – where does he rank on the list of Pac-12 quarterbacks?

Two players who could have declared for the NFL draft but did not are two star quarterbacks, Oregon’s Justin Herbert and Arizona’s Kahlil Tate (in Tate’s case, a transfer was also an option).

Both quarterbacks will be rated above CU’s Steven Montez in the preseason magazines, as will USC’s J.T. Daniels, Stanford’s K.J. Costello, Utah’s Tyler Huntley, and Jacob Eason, the former Georgia quarterback who sat out this season at Washington. In all likelihood, whoever gets plugged in as the new Washington State quarterback, along with, perhaps, UCLA’s Dorian Thompson-Robinson, will also be rated higher than Montez.

Montez, at best, will be considered a middle of the pack quarterback in the Pac-12. More likely, he will be rated in the bottom third of the conference.

As a senior, and a three-year starter, do Colorado fans deserve better?

Not that Buff fans saw much out of Sam Noyer or Tyler Lytle in limited action this past fall, but … the Buffs will only go as far in 2019 as the quarterback position can take them.

Steven Montez is already ranked in the top five all-time at Colorado in passing yards, pass attempts, pass completions, touchdown passes and total offense. With a good season in 2019, Montez could become the all-time leader in all of these categories.

He is also 12-15 as a starter at Colorado (7-14 after a 5-1 start). The memory Montez left Buff fans to spend their winter with is of a quarterback who threw two pick-six’s against Cal – with a bowl bid on the line – before many of the Bear faithful had even settled into their seats.

With a new coaching staff, the entire roster will be making their case for playing time when spring ball opens in March.

It should be an interesting spring for Steven Montez …

“University of Nike”

If you have been keeping up with my posts of late, you know that I have been plugging “University of Nike“, by Joshua Hunt.

The book not only outlines the history of Phil Knight’s donation of hundreds of millions of dollars (yes, hundreds of millions) to Oregon, but how Knight has totally taken over the administration of Oregon athletics.

One story I found particularly troubling (and telling) …

Former Oregon president David Frohnmayer’s family was devastated by a genetic disorder called Fanconi Anemia (which ultimately took the lives of all three of his daughters). The Frohnmayers started a foundation for research to find a cure.

Each year, around Christmas time, Phil Knight added to the Frohnmayer family’s holiday cheer with a gift of $1 million to the Fanconi Anemia Research Fund; some years, he even gave $2 million.

That was until Nike ran into a public relations issue with their products being made in sweatshops in Southeast Asia. Nike was under the gun, and celebrities like Michael Jordan and Kathie Lee Gifford distanced themselves from their sponsor. The University of Oregon was in a tough position, being so tied to Nike and its products. President Frohnmeyer tried to stay as neutral as possible while responding to protests over Nike’s production standards.

Knight’s reaction?

He not only pulled his promise to give $20 million towards Autzen stadium upgrades … but also pulled his donation to Frohnmayer’s foundation.

Nice guy.

A year later, as protests died down, Frohnmayer found a way to distance himself from the protesters … and Knight renewed his pledge to the stadium renovation (plus millions and millions more for other projects), but also renewed his pledge to Frohnmayer’s foundation.

Insert stories about the tail wagging the dog here …

There are other stories, most notably about how Nike operatives have infiltrated the Oregon athletic department to control every aspect of the athletic department, and how the University found ways to squelch stories of rape and assault by Oregon athletes from becoming made public … but I’ll let you read those yourself.

So, is it worth it? 

While the “University of Nike” book is disturbing from a fan’s standpoint, I also have to admit I find myself conflicted.

Jealousy is a tricky emotion.

Let’s look at some numbers.

Since 2000, when Nike money started having an impact, the Ducks have gone 176-68 (.721).

Over that same time frame, Colorado has gone 97-140 (.409).

In terms of all-time winning percentage, Oregon has raised its profile over the past two decades from a team ranked in the 70’s nationally to one which is ranked 53rd (.566).

Colorado, meanwhile, over the past two decades, has gone from a team which was ranked in the top 25 nationally in all-time winning percentage to one which is currently ranked 41st (.579).

Another decade or so of the same results, and Oregon – a team which went the entire 20th century without a single ten-win season – will pass Colorado in all-time winning percentage.

The University of Oregon sold its soul to Phil Knight and Nike become a nationally relevant.

But I don’t hear Duck fans complaining …

Buff Trivia Questions of the Week … Answers:

Prior to Phillip Lindsay, the most recent CU Pro Bowl selection was David Bakhtiari, who was a Pro Bowl pick in 2016.

Prior to David Bakhtiari, you have to go back to Andre Gurode, offensive lineman for the New Orleans Saints, to find the last Buff named All-Pro. Gurode was named All-Pro three straight seasons, 2007-09.


One Reply to “Random Thoughts – Vol. VI”

  1. Dang. Now I am going to have to give up my Nike Free shoes. You also want to compare the desire to prosecute Night for something or anything with that of Sean Miller. Night’s alleged obsessive depravity almost makes recruiting violations look piddly.
    I wont feel bad for Steve Montez if he does finally get NFL money (its always about the money, of course) but, at the risk of inciting Eric, he has been the victim of bad coaching. I will withhold judgement on Roper due to the abysmal play calling. Montez natural talent and the talent of receivers like Viska have been the main reasons he has put up the numbers. Viska and Brown are still around so I hope Mel doesnt go whole hog on the running game.
    I am real surprised Nate Solder didnt get an all pro nod.

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