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Colorado Daily

September 12th

… CU in a few minutes … 

Switch to wishbone changes CU’s fortunes in 1985 

From the Daily Camera … During the Colorado Buffaloes’ first spring scrimmage in 1985, the offense fumbled 18 times.

“I can remember coming into the old locker room that was there and (defensive coordinator) Lou Tepper says, ‘There will be better days,’” said Gary Barnett, CU’s quarterbacks/fullbacks coach in 1985.

There were eight fumbles in the second scrimmage and four in the third, Barnett said.

The days got better, but it wasn’t until Sept. 7 of that year that the Buffaloes truly felt confident in their switch to a wishbone offense.

Coming off a miserable 1-10 season in 1984, CU debuted its new offense in the 1985 opener at Folsom Field by smacking Colorado State, 23-10, and changing the trajectory of the program.

One of the worst rushing teams in the country the year before, CU gained 358 yards on the ground against the Rams. Halfback Ron Brown rushed for 104 yards, quarterback Mark Hatcher ran for two touchdowns and the Buffs won their opener for the first time in head coach Bill McCartney’s four seasons.

“We had not been physical the year before in a way, shape or form,” Barnett, who later became CU’s head coach (1999-2005) and color commentator for radio broadcasts, said this week. “We were physical in that game. I think the physicality that we displayed that day was new to us, it was new to the fans and probably new to CSU. They hadn’t seen us do that.”

Going into 1985, nobody had seen much good out of CU in years.

… Ultimately, CU relied on the dedication of offensive coordinator Gerry DiNardo, offensive line coach Les Miles and Barnett to learn the offense.

“I went to the Air Force every single day,” Barnett said. “Les went to the Air Force; Gerry went to Arkansas, Army and Air Force. We spent the spring and all summer going to those places learning the ins and outs of it. Fisher’s staff (at Air Force), they were wonderful. They were really amazing.”

Barnett had coached the option at Air Academy High School and Fort Lewis College, but some of the concepts of the wishbone were new. He credits Air Force assistant coach Charlie Weatherbie for getting him comfortable with teaching the wishbone to quarterbacks and fullbacks.

The adjustment wasn’t easy. CU was more of a finesse offense before 1985, but had to get tough to run the wishbone. The Buffs also had to get used to the idea that three potential plays – fullback run, quarterback run or a pitch – could happen on almost any play.

“What we had to go through (to prepare for 1985) was amazing, but one of the reasons that we went to it was that it was the ultimate team offense,” Barnett said. “When the ball is snapped, nobody knows where the ball is going to go. You’re going to have to block your butt off, you have to execute. … That’s one of the things that really appealed to Mac is that it was the ultimate team offense.”

Eventually, the team bought in.

Continue reading story here

Just for fun: A 12-minute video review of the 1985 season

From BuffsTV … Hard to believe it was 35 years ago! Keep an eye out for No. 2 during the highlights … that’s CU Associate Athletic Director Lance Carl …

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September 11th

… CU in a few minutes … 

Football delay could actually help Dorrell’s staff 

From the Daily Camera … When Karl Dorrell was first hired as Colorado’s head football coach in February, there was a mad scramble to assemble a coaching staff and prepare for spring football.

That quickly turned into months of waiting, as the coronavirus pandemic put spring football and almost everything else on hold.

Nearly seven months later, Dorrell still hasn’t held an official practice with his team and it’s unknown when the Buffaloes will have that first practice or play their next game.

What was initially a major disadvantage for CU might actually turn into a benefit, especially now that the Buffs are allowed to spend five hours per week on the field with non-contact work.

For now, the Pac-12 has postponed all competition until at least Jan. 1. The extended time off could give Dorrell more of an opportunity to evaluate players and prepare for his first season.

“First year coaches are going to benefit by not playing,” former CU head coach Rick Neuheisel said. “You’re going to get on field, you’re going to get to know the kids, you’re going to have much more in the way of the glue that culture requires to take hold. You’re going to have an opportunity to get where you want to go.”

When the football season was originally slated to start on Sept. 5, time wasn’t on Dorrell’s side – especially after spring drills were canceled.

… While CU and the rest of the Pac-12 would love to be playing games, a silver lining is that Dorrell is getting an opportunity to see his players on the field.

“He’s had very little time, until the past month, to engage with his student-athletes, so I think the more time that we have I think it’s going be better for us,” athletic director Rick George told Buffzone.

George then added, “I liked our team anyway, whether we had a little time together or not. I like what we’re going to put on the field this year and that’s why I’m so eager to give them the opportunity to compete, because I think this football team is going to be a really good football team.”

Continue reading story here

A total of 19 Buffs are on NFL payrolls; 13 on active rosters

From CUBuffs.com … The National Football League begins its unusual 2020 season Thursday night, and as the first weekend of the season unfolds, several Colorado Buffaloes will be part of the action.

A total of 19 players are on NFL rosters to start the 2020 season, 13 of which are on their team’s active 53-player rosters. Four more are on practice squads and two have opted out of the season due to COVID-related reasons.

Spanning the spectrum from rookies Arlington HambrightLaviska Shenault Jr. and Davion Taylor to veteran Mason Crosby, starting his 14th season with the Green Bay Packers, there’s plenty to be excited about for Buff fans on Sundays this fall (and some Thursdays and Mondays, too).

Hambright (seventh round, Chicago Bears), Shenault (second round, Jacksonville Jaguars) and Taylor (third round, Philadelphia Eagles) all made the final cuts for their respective teams.  Hambright is listed third at left guard on the Bears depth chart, while Shenault, who missed some of the Jags training camp with a hamstring issue, is listed as ready to go and second on the depth chart at one receiver spot.  Taylor is also second on the depth chart for the Eagles at the Will linebacker spot.

All three will make their NFL debuts in the early window Sunday when the Jaguars host Indianapolis, the Bears head to Detroit and the Eagles travel to Washington.  And speaking of Washington and its Football Team, two more rookies are on the practice squad there as both Steven Montez and Tony Brown were picked back up for the club.  Other practice squad players currently are Devin Ross with New England and Delrick Abrams with Atlanta.

The Falcons are also home to Isaiah Oliver, who enters his third season with the club and is listed as a starting cornerback on the team’s first depth chart.  Oliver was drafted in 2018, but three of his 2016 defensive backfield teammates are all entering their fourth season in the league.   Chidobe Awuzie is entering a contract season and the Cowboys could use him more at safety as the season progresses.  He’s currently listed second at cornerback on the team’s first depth chart.  Tedric Thompson moved on from Seattle and landed in Kansas City in the offseason and he’s listed as the backup to Tyrann Mathieu on the team’s first depth chart of the season.  Ahkello Witherspoon is listed as a co-starter at the right cornerback position on the 49ers season-opening depth chart.

Two of those four will open the season in prime time and all four are in different time slots in Week 1, with Thompson seeing action Thursday night when the Chiefs hosted Houston, and Awuzie and the Cowboys host the L.A. Chargers on Sunday night (6:20 p.m. on NBC).  Oliver and the Falcons open up against Seattle in Sunday’s early window and Witherspoon and the 49ers host Arizona in Sunday’s late window.

The fifth defensive back in the NFL for the Buffs is Jimmy Smith, getting ready to enter his 10th NFL season as he looks to add to his career totals of 14 interceptions and 70 pass breakups.  Smith and the Ravens host Cleveland in Sunday’s early slate of games.  Smith was a first-round draft pick in 2011, the same season that Nate Solder was also a first-round pick.  Solder has opted out of the 2020 season, citing his son’s battle with cancer and his own battle with cancer during the pandemic as his primary concern.  Josh Tupou also opted out of the season for the Bengals.

Per NFL rules, players who opt-out will not get credit for a year of service but their contracts will essentially hold for a year.  If both Solder and Tupou report for 2021 camp and fulfill all team obligations, they will not be in breach of their contracts.

Throughout Solder’s career, he has been one of the highest-paid tackles protecting future Hall of Fame quarterbacks Tom Brady and Eli Manning.  The other player who fits that description is David Bakhtiari, who will begin his seventh season in Green Bay protecting Aaron Rodgers.  Bakhtiari is coming off his second Pro Bowl appearance and he has been named to an All-Pro team for each of the last four seasons.

Bakhtiari is joined in Green Bay by Crosby and Kabion Ento, who made the 53-player roster after making the team on the practice squad in 2019.  The converted wide receiver is the Buffs sixth active player in the defensive backfield.  Those three Packers will travel to Minnesota and play in the early window on Sunday.

Two players will have to wait until Monday to make their season debuts, when Tennessee comes to Colorado to play the Denver Broncos.  Daniel Munyer, a journeyman entering his sixth NFL season playing for his fourth squad, made the Titans final roster after joining the team’s practice squad midway through the 2019 season.  He’s listed as the backup at left guard to open the season.  Munyer will travel back to the Centennial State and play the Broncos and running back Phillip Lindsay in the late Monday night game (8:20 p.m., ESPN).

Lindsay made headlines in 2018, making the Pro Bowl as an undrafted rookie, and he had his second consecutive 1,000-yard season in 2019.  He’s listed as a co-starter at tailback alongside the newly acquired Melvin Gordon for the Broncos.

Perhaps it was said best by L.A. Chargers coach Anthony Lynn on HBO’s Hard Knocks, “This will be a year like no other.  There very well may be more transactions this year than any in NFL history.”

That could bode well for a bunch of other former Buffs, including Paul Richardson, Ken Crawley and Juwann Winfree, who were all in the NFL last season and part of the final cuts last week.  All three, including other former Buffs, could push the CU In the NFL number over 20 for the first time in several seasons.

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September 10th

… CU in a few minutes … 

Remembering ESPN’s first football broadcast: Oregon at Colorado (1979)

From the Daily Camera … Often the historical impact of a moment is lost to those just trying to do their jobs in the middle of another day at the office. In other instances, historical relevance of a moment cannot be properly evaluated until the passage of time.

Both stances are applicable to the University of Colorado’s football season opener on Sept. 8, 1979.

The game is most notable as the debut of coach Chuck Fairbanks, who endured a legal hassle from his former employers with the New England Patriots before finally taking over in Boulder. Yet the contest proved to be a game-changer in the sports world. Not because of the Buffs’ 33-19 loss to Oregon, or because of the debut of a coach who went 7-26 in three forgettable seasons.

Instead, it was the very first college football game broadcast by the brand-new all-sports network ESPN, which launched just one day earlier.

It wasn’t the first live college football broadcast by ESPN — that didn’t occur until three years later for the 1982 Independence Bowl — yet the tape-delayed broadcast that aired later that day was the small stone cast into the ocean of the sports media world whose ripple effects eventually caused a tidal wave of media upheaval.

That night, however, it was business as usual in the Folsom Field press box.

“There really wasn’t anything special about it, because it was so new,” said Tim Simmons, the CU football sports information director at the time. “It was not like a typical game is now with Dave (Plati) and the network comes in and does something, he’s jumping through hoops. At that time, the fanfare was around Chuck Fairbanks. It was my first game as SID in place of the late Mike Moran, and I was just making sure everything was going good.

“From my standpoint, did they come in with outrageous demands, asking for this and that? No. They just set up and did their job.”

Continue reading story here

Jon Wilner on CU/PointsBet deal: “Super smart business”

From the San Jose Mercury News … The 60-degree temperature change in 24 hours, from blistering heat to snow showers, wasn’t the only stunner in the Boulder area on Tuesday.

At lunchtime, Colorado announced a partnership with PointsBet, a global company that’s exactly what the name suggests: a gambling operator.

It might sound unseemly; it might give the impression NCAA investigators will come knocking on the Buffaloes’ front door at any moment.

In reality, it’s perfectly legal and super smart business.

Officially, the sponsorship deal with PointsBet will run through Colorado’s multimedia partner, IMG Learfield College.

The five-year agreement provides the Buffs with anti-gambling education and financial support (through the university’s Scripps Leadership program for student-athletes).

To be clear: CU coaches and athletes haven’t been green-lighted to gamble on sports — that remains verboten in intercollegiate athletics.

But sports gambling is the law of the land, and you can bet your last dollar that other athletic departments, including those in the Pac-12, eventually will follow Colorado’s lead and sign sponsorship deals with gaming operators.

To this point, only UNLV and Nevada had traveled that road — for obvious reasons.

But sports betting became legal in Colorado this year, and the Buffaloes supported the legislation.

That’s right. CU backed the move because it understands that gambling oversight and integrity move in lockstep:

Nobody does a better job policing the sports gaming industry than the sports gaming industry.

Not the Feds. Not the NCAA. Nobody.

“Sports gaming in college athletics is becoming more and more prevalent and is going to expand going forward,” CU athletic director Rick George told reporters Tuesday.

“The education piece is a critical part of that. The partnership with PointsBet and with the gaming industry in the state will help us protect the integrity of our competition and our sport.”

(PointsBet, an Australian company, is building its North American headquarters in Denver.)

This stands as the second example of the Pac-12’s easternmost campus wheeling and dealing on the cutting edge:

In June, CU announced the “Buffs with a Brand” initiative designed to educate athletes on marketing possibilities in advance of the passage of name, image and likeness legislation.

Sports gambling will eventually be ubiquitous — there’s too much money (in the form of tax dollars) for states to turn a moral cheek to the checks.

By this time next year, we expect several Pac-12 schools to have sponsorship deals sealed with gaming companies.

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September 9th

… CU in a few minutes …

Buffs practicing wearing helmets (for the first time in the Dorrell era)

From Neill Woelk at CUBuffs.com … Colorado head coach Karl Dorrell continues to provide a steady hand to the rudder as the Buffaloes navigate the uncertain seas produced by the Covid-19 pandemic.

That means taking advantage of every opportunity possible under the current circumstances.

Last week, the Buffs hit the practice field wearing helmets — the first time they have been allowed to do so in the Dorrell era.

The NCAA recently approved a modified practice schedule for teams whose conferences are not playing this fall, which includes the Pac-12 and Big Ten. The approved schedule allows a total of 12 hours a week for football activities, including time for meetings, strength and conditioning and on-field activities with helmets. No contact is allowed, and no 11-on-11 and 7-on-7 work is permitted.

But teams can conduct individual and group skill sessions, and run offensive and defensive schemes. That is an improvement over the walk-through sessions that were permitted in August.

The 12-hour schedule will be revisited by the NCAA later this month, with possible adjustments on tap as soon as Oct. 4.

The Buffs, from Dorrell down to his staff and players, would no doubt rather be playing this fall than practicing. As Dorrell noted over the summer, this is the first fall in 33 years that he won’t be coaching games on the weekends.

But the Pac-12 — along with several other conferences across the nation — postponed the fall schedule until the spring. Currently, no Pac-12 competition is scheduled to resume until at least Jan. 1, although that could change with the recent acquisition of rapid-result testing for every school in the conference.

Continue reading story here

NCAA establishes a new “COVID-19 Medical Advisory Group” 

Press release from the NCAA … The NCAA has established a new COVID-19 Medical Advisory Group that brings together professionals from all three NCAA divisions and all five of the autonomy conferences in Division I.

This group of infectious disease, public health and medical experts includes some members from the original advisory panel, plus representatives from organizations and medical groups that have been working collaboratively with the advisory panel and NCAA schools. The Medical Advisory Group will tap further into the expertise on university campuses across the country and ensure close communication.

The purpose of the Medical Advisory Group includes:

  • Reviewing emerging COVID-19 research and data to provide guidance to the NCAA membership regarding training, practice and competition, with a primary focus on testing paradigms and mitigating infection spread.
  • Specifically providing guidance regarding appropriate COVID-19 protocols applicable to training, practice and competition in winter and spring sports.
  • Providing guidance for conducting all sports competitions and championships, including on-site management of student-athletes and essential personnel, nonessential personnel and fans.
  • Providing guidance related to physiological, medical and mental health consequences of COVID-19.
  • Assessing other emerging information such as vaccines and new medical treatments for the purpose of providing guidance to NCAA member schools.

As a body reflecting independent experts and the broad membership of the Association, the Medical Advisory Group, to be chaired by NCAA Chief Medical Officer Brian Hainline, will meet regularly and will provide reports to NCAA President Mark Emmert and the NCAA Board of Governors. In addition, the group will provide reports to all the divisional governance bodies and sport oversight committees, including the Division I Council and Division I Board of Directors, Division II Presidents and Management Councils, Division III Presidents and Management Councils, Division I Competition Oversight Committee, Division I Football Oversight Committee, and Division I Men’s and Women’s Basketball Oversight Committees.

Hainline and the Medical Advisory Group also will work collaboratively with other established medical advisory groups (for example, the Autonomy 5 Medical Advisory Group). The intent is for conference and school medical advisory groups and the NCAA COVID-19 Medical Advisory Group to share information.

The COVID-19 Medical Advisory Group is not a policymaking body but rather will provide guidance to the entire NCAA membership. The Medical Advisory Group, for example, will not make decisions regarding competition dates, end-of-season issues or the number of contests/weeks in regular season. Rather, the group will provide guidance so that appropriate membership and governance committees can make informed decisions regarding these matters. The group will continue to provide protocols for health and safety in a manner consistent with Resocialization of Collegiate Sport documents. It is anticipated that the first report will be released in three to four weeks and specifically will address men’s and women’s basketball.

The Medical Advisory Group will meet at least weekly and periodically produce public information. Additionally, the group will conduct biweekly videoconferences in which Hainline and other panel members will update representatives from each of the conferences and engage in question-and-answer discussions. Each conference will be asked to select an individual who will attend this biweekly meeting. Hainline also will continue to make himself available to participate in governance activities of the membership.

What will it take for CU to jump to being like the other CU (Clemson)? 

From The Athletic

What are the best examples you can recall of schools that have gone from middle-tier recruiting hubs to recruiting juggernauts? Is it possible to make that sort of jump, or if it hasn’t been a priority to this point, is it fair to assume they are what they are? — Eric D. 

Dabo Swinney officially became the head coach at Clemson in 2009, and if you take a look back at what the Tigers have done on the recruiting trail in that span, you’ll find that they have finished, on average, with the No. 15 class in the country. Swinney’s first class (in 2009) at Clemson ranked No. 36, and he didn’t sign a class that ranked higher than 10th until his seventh year in the program.

Clemson signed its first top-five class last season, so what you’ll find here is that Swinney is not only the best talent evaluator in college football, but he’s a dynamic personality and one heck of a coach. When you look at the transformation Clemson has made — progressing from a program that has always prioritized football but didn’t compete for national titles to perhaps the biggest powerhouse in the sport the last five years — that is a product of finding the right coach and sticking with him even when people were calling for his head.

Clemson fans didn’t love the Swinney hire when it happened. And he wasn’t a popular coach in Year 2 when his team went 6-7 or maybe even Year 6 when his team when 10-3. Yes, the Tigers have won at least 10 games every season since 2011 (Swinney’s third year), but there was a time when “Clemsoning” was a thing and the Tigers came up short of expectations in heartbreaking fashion. It could have been easy to give into the temptation of firing the current coach and finding one who could move past the “Clemsoning” stigma, which to this day still irritates the heck out of Swinney.

So how can a nine- or 10-win program turn into a national championship contender? Three things: time, recruiting and financial buy-in.

But doing what Clemson did is not easy. It’s almost impossible. It took identifying the right coach — who at the time was a relatively little-known position coach — and giving him time to develop, both as a recruiter and a coach. Swinney signed classes that were good but not great, developed those players and started winning 10 games on a consistent basis. And when it seemed as though the Tigers had reached their ceiling, he was afforded the time to continue to chip away at his goal. And as Clemson started enjoying more success on the field, he was able to attract even better players. That, combined with his ability to still find under-recruited talent, allowed him to build a championship roster without having a natural in-state talent pool. Now Swinney has a program that has become the prime counterpoint to the argument that stars matter. Clemson, as a university, has also made a huge financial commitment to the program.

It may seem like a cop-out answer, but how can a team go from good to elite? Well, it has to start with making sure you have the right coach. And deciding whether that’s the case is the hardest aspect of any athletic director’s job. Maybe Swinney wasn’t the “right coach” for Clemson when he first got the job, but now? How many other coaches in college football can match his personality, recruiting prowess, eye for talent, development and coaching? The answer to that question may legitimately be zero.

Can other programs do what Clemson did? Can going from good to the best in the sport be something to shoot for? Sure. But the reason Clemson is so rare is because coaches such as Swinney are rare. It may seem hopeless if the answer to this question is “go find the next greatest coach in America and keep him long term,” but that’s the reality of being a program that competes for national titles. It’s supposed to seem impossible.

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September 8th

… CU in a few minutes … 

CU announces a corporate partnership with PointsBet

Related … “COLORADO, POINTSBET SIGN FIRST-EVER DEAL BETWEEN NCAA PROGRAM AND SPORTS BOOK” … from Sportico

Related … “Partnership first of its kind for Division I athletics program” … from the Daily Camera

Correction … from CU SID Dave Plati … We were given some bad intel … in our earlier release, it stated we were the first school to have a partnership; that was not correct; UNLV and the University of Nevada have had ones in place dating back at least three years.  The correct wording thus is: “The exclusive partnership is one of the few in existence between a sports betting operator and a major NCAA Division-I Athletics Program”. 

Press release from CUBuffs.com … Learfield IMG College, the media rights holder of University of Colorado Athletics, and PointsBet, a premier global gaming operator, announced Tuesday that they have signed a five-year corporate sponsorship agreement that makes PointsBet a proud partner of the Colorado Buffaloes.

The exclusive partnership is the first ever between a sports betting operator and a major NCAA Division-I Athletics Program.

The five-year deal provides a financial boost for CU Athletics during a time when athletic department budgets nationwide are stressed by the COVID-19 pandemic.  The arrangement includes specific support for the department’s Scripps Leadership and Career Development Program, which helps prepare student-athletes for success beyond their playing days.

PointsBet recently began construction of a new North American headquarters in downtown Denver.  The company is committed to recruiting employees from the deep pool of tech talent located along the Front Range – including CU Boulder tech grads.

PointsBet has been viewed as a market leader for its responsible gaming efforts, and the partnership with CU Athletics will emphasize and create awareness around responsible gaming and sports betting education.

“We’re thrilled to have PointsBet as a partner and for the benefits this sponsorship will provide for our student-athletes for years to come,” CU Athletic Director Rick George said.  “We are impressed with their commitment to raising awareness around responsible gaming.  And we’re particularly excited whenever we can partner with sponsors who call Colorado home.”

Buffalo Sports Properties (BSP) is the locally based Learfield IMG College team that manages all broadcast operations and corporate partnerships for CU as part of the overall multimedia rights relationship between the company and the athletic department.

BSP/Learfield’s deal with PointsBet covers the entire gaming category, including free-to-play sports games, daily fantasy sports, casino, online casino, and retail and online sports betting.  The deal will give PointsBet visibility at Folsom Field and the CU Events Center through gameday promotions and advertising space, as well as placement on radio broadcasts of CU games and other media channels.

PointsBet prides itself on its proprietary, in-house technology platform that delivers the fastest and easiest sports betting experience in the United States.  Though not yet available in the state of Colorado, PointsBet is expected to soon release its market-leading sports wagering app for sports bettors within the Centennial State.

“As a tech company at heart that is proud to call the state of Colorado home, we are thrilled to announce this partnership as part of our ongoing quest to become synonymous with Colorado sports betting,” noted Johnny Aitken, CEO of PointsBet USA.  “Since announcing our plans for a new headquarters in Denver, we’ve consistently stated our desire to work closely with the state’s first-class university system and rich pool of tech talent.  It is an honor to become a partner of the Colorado Buffaloes, where we look forward to bolstering general sports betting knowledge and responsible gaming awareness while recruiting some of the best and brightest minds to help install a foundation for prolonged success.”

Earlier this month, PointsBet announced a similar sponsorship deal with Kroenke Sports & Entertainment, making PointsBet the official and exclusive partner of the Denver Nuggets of the National Basketball Association, Colorado Avalanche of the National Hockey League, Colorado Mammoth of the National Lacrosse League, and their home arena, Pepsi Center.

New chair of the Pac-12 CEO Group: No “massive overhaul of the conference structure” in the works

From the San Jose Mercury News … The bar is high for Michael Schill, the new chair of the Pac-12 CEO Group.

On July 1, he replaced Colorado chancellor Phil DiStefano, whose two-year run in charge of the conference’s governing board produced significant changes on two key fronts:

1. Better collaboration between conference executives and campus officials — in particular, enhanced involvement of athletic directors on policy matters and decision making.

2. Increased transparency with regard to the complicated financial structure of the conference.

Thus far, Schill appears intent on continuing the approach established by his predecessor.

On the day of the presidents’ vote to postpone fall sports, Aug. 11, Schill appeared on a videoconference to answer questions from the media while the Pac-12 released a 12-page report on Covid-19 safety issues from its medical advisory board.

(That combination helped limit the post-vote frustration throughout the footprint.)

What else can we expect from Schill during his two-year tenure as CEO chair?

Q: In an email to Colorado chancellor Phil DiStefano and Washington president Ana Mari Cauce, you mentioned the possibility of changing the “entire structure and composition of the PAC 12.” Could you elaborate on the specifics of your plan and the reasons for considering a new structure?

Schill: “Your recent headline on this” — available here — “was technically accurate in terms of it being a quote from an email, but it’s not accurate in the broader context to say that the conference is considering a ‘massive overhaul of the conference structure.’

“I was asking my own question, not speaking on behalf of the conference.

“In the email, I was asking if we hire a consultant, then what is the appropriate scope – should it just be limited to media or should it include any long-term changes to the footprint of the PAC-12, specifically new members or expansion.

“We have no current plans to hire a consultant. Ultimately, that’s up to the CEO group, but that was my question and does not reflect the views of my colleagues.”

Continue reading story here

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September 7th

… CU in a few minutes … 

Andre Gurode named one of the Top 60 players in Dallas history

Press release from CUBuffs.com … Former Colorado Buffaloes offensive line great Andre Gurode has added another honor to his already impressive resume.

Gurode, who enjoyed an 11-year NFL career after leaving CU following the 2001 season, has been selected as one of the Dallas Cowboys’ all-time Top 60 players in franchise history. The Cowboys are honoring their Top 60 this year in recognition of their 60th year anniversary celebration.

Gurode played nine years with the Cowboys and became one of the league’s most dominant and consistent centers, earning five consecutive Pro Bowl honors and three All-Pro designations during his time in Dallas. He also produced eight seasons in which he had five or fewer penalties, and he finished with 131 starts in 161 games played.

But being selected as one of the top 60 players in the history of one of the NFL’s most-storied franchises is an achievement that cements his standing as one of the best Cowboys ever.

A four-year letterman at Colorado, Gurode was a three-year starting mainstay at guard and center for the Buffs from 1999-2001. He anchored the 2001 line that produced one of the most productive rushing attacks in CU history (2,742 yards), paving the way to a historic 62-36 win over Nebraska in the regular season finale, a 39-37 win over Texas in the Big 12 championship game and a Fiesta Bowl berth. Gary Barnett’s Buffs finished ninth in both of the major polls that season, the last time a Colorado team has finished in the top 10.

An Associated Press and Sporting News first-team All-American in 2001, Gurode was selected by Dallas in the second round of the 2002 NFL Draft. He worked his way into the starting lineup in his first training camp, and became the first rookie in club history to start at center on opening day.

In 2003, Gurode was moved to guard and he struggled with the switch. But by 2006, he had moved back to center and reclaimed his starting spot. That year, he earned his first of five straight Pro Bowl honors, and he is still the only Dallas center ever to be selected for five consecutive Pro Bowls.

Gurode is No. 51 on the Cowboys’ all-time list, a group that includes such legendary players as Bob Lilly, Roger Staubach, Troy Aikman, Tony Dorsett, Emmitt Smith and Michael Irvin, as well as current players such as Dak Prescott.

Gurode still makes his home in the Dallas area.

College Football a “Big Hot Mess” which will lead to permanent change

From the Deseret News … Today we continue with our ongoing theme of the last couple of weeks — College Football is a Big Hot Mess.

You’re probably thinking the restiveness and confusion that are part of this Big Hot Mess are temporary and all will return to normal when the pandemic ends.

Probably not.

The NCAA’s failure to take charge and lead college football through the pandemic has paved the way for change — long-lasting (and much-needed) change. Where the NFL produced a pandemic plan for all of its franchises, the NCAA came up with nothing and chaos has followed.

Players, coaches, athletic directors and universities have been left to figure things out for themselves. Some conferences chose to play this fall, some chose not to play at all, some will play in the spring, some changed their minds several times and still don’t know what they’re doing (we’re talking to you, Big Ten) and now the courts are involved. It’s a hot mess, all right.

Given the independence the various conferences and schools have had thrust upon them this summer it’s difficult to imagine that they will not assert themselves on various issues in the future rather than submit to the authoritarian NCAA again. The NCAA has only as much power as the schools give it, after all.

During the pandemic, players in the Big Ten and Pac-12 created a list of demands before they would agree to play — safety protocols for COVID-19, labor grievances, athletes’ rights, amateurism, transfer rules, the top-heavy pay structure that enriches coaches and administrators but demands athletes live paycheck to paycheck, the lack of long-term medical insurance, the nonsensical draft rules that prevent athletes from choosing to return to their college teams after the draft, an end to the ongoing arms race among football programs that results in ever more expensive football facilities.

As you can see, most of them had nothing to do with the threat of the virus. It’s as if the pandemic has brought all of college football’s long-festering issues to the surface at once. When the pandemic subsides, schools, players and coaches could choose their own way — pay and endorsements for players, new recruiting rules, new draft rules, whatever. There might never be a better time to strike. We’ll see how serious the players are about their rights when the pandemic relents. It’s easy for Big Ten and Pac-12 players to make demands and say they won’t play when their conferences are threatening not to play anyway.

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September 6th

… CU in a few minutes … 

Steve Rosga paying it forward: “I call it championing boys to men”

From the Daily Camera … Bill McCartney, as he did with dozens upon dozens of young men during his prolific tenure at the University of Colorado, gave Steve Rosga a chance.

Pretty much from the last day Rosga donned the black and gold for the Buffaloes, he has been trying to pay that opportunity forward.

The former safety with a knack for making big plays returned to his native Minnesota once his playing days were over and has forged a fulfilling career training young athletes. Rosga, a key part of the 1995 CU team that defied expectations 25 years ago by going 10-2 with a Cotton Bowl rout of Oregon, has trained pro athletes to aspiring Olympians over the past two decades.

These days he serves as the strength and conditioning coach at St. Thomas Academy, an all-boys private school near the Twin Cities.

 

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September 5th

… CU in a few minutes … 

A list of Buffs who survived NFL Cut Day

… The list could change, and does not include players, like Nate Solder, who have opted out of playing this season …

Jimmy Smith – Bal

Isaiah Oliver – Atl

Arlington Hambright – Chi

Chidobe Awuzie – Dal

Phillip Lindsay – Den

David Bakhtiari – GB

Mason Crosby – GB

Kabion Ento – GB

Laviska Shenault Jr. – Jac

Tedric Thompson – KC

Davion Taylor – Phi

Ahkello Witherspoon – SF

Daniel Munyer – Ten

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September 4th

… CU in a few minutes … 

CU Athletic Department cuts continue – Rick George: “This is the first time I haven’t enjoyed my job”

From the Daily Camera … Throughout his seven years as the athletic director at Colorado, Rick George has seen a lot of ups and a few downs within the program.

This year has provided unprecedented challenges for George and college athletics in general.

“This is the first time I haven’t enjoyed my job,” George told BuffZone on Friday.

CU continues trying to navigate through the coronavirus pandemic, and that has led to another round of layoffs and furloughs this week.

Since July, CU has gone through about 30 layoffs and furloughs. Most of those are furloughs, but at least a handful of athletic department staffers have been laid off. CU has also had “five or six” open positions that will not be filled.

“We continue to trim our budget,” George said.

That trimming has, unfortunately, led to George making “extremely difficult” staff decisions.

“I hate it,” he said. “It’s the worst part of my job, by far, but we’ve got to look at the whole.

“It’s difficult because it impacts families and impacts children. … Not playing sports, and particularly football, has a huge financial impact on the department.”

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Rick George editorial: “Maximizing Student Athlete Outcomes Should Be The Only Priority”

An editorial written by CU Athletic Director Rick George, published by AthleticDirectorU.com

Too often in College Athletics do the pressures surrounding our industry and higher education as a whole create a state of affairs in which administrators are overwhelmed with addressing a seemingly endless stream of issues, forcing us to spend inordinate amounts of our time focused on finding temporary fixes to nuanced problems that require much more intricate solutions. And while some may contend that the distraction of our attention is perhaps warranted given the current circumstances, the on-going crisis has really only exposed our inclinations towards taking a patchwork approach when trying to solve challenges fundamental to why our industry exists in the first place – to maximize the academic and athletic opportunities available to each one of our students athletes.

 

In professional sports, an organization’s decision-making behavior is driven almost exclusively by how much revenue that result of that decision will produce or consume. On the contrary, in intercollegiate athletics, while programs must maintain financial solvency to function, every decision we make and action we undertake should always intrinsically connect back to whether it furthers the goal of providing a world-class experience for each and every student-athlete on our campus. We have committed ourselves to their long-term well-being, and that means that when it comes to prioritizing what we do on a daily basis, the outcomes of our choices should always create a significant and measurable benefit for the student-athlete.

For the longest time, administrators could simply ask, “How many student-athletes have we graduated?”, and proceed to justify any number higher than the general student-body as a victory. Yet today, for an athletics director to proudly proclaim their program has graduated all of its student-athletes, would be doing themselves a disservice. In this day and age, every student-athlete receiving their diploma is just one non-negotiable component of a larger holistic outcome that must also include a job upon graduation, as well as a guarantee that they will be equipped with the knowledge, skills and habits necessary to prosper in their future endeavors.

If the end goal is to do what is absolute best for the student-athlete in every given situation, then we should strive to optimize our resources accordingly to maximize the positive effect on the WHOLE student-athlete. At the University of Colorado, WHOLE stands for Wellness Health Optimal Life Experience. It means that from the moment a student steps foot in Boulder, they are given every conceivable resource and tool necessary to make the most of their time there. Participating in intercollegiate athletics further opens up unique opportunities for our students, including programming specifically focused on academic success, physical and mental health, as well as professional and career development.

The development of each of these initiatives and programs is unique, primarily because the landscape of higher education has required department’s like ours to evolve tools and resources to meet the changing needs of our student-athletes. We have made it a priority to systematically analyze the larger services our department offers, and identify any gaps therein. This type of analysis always includes whether our program’s positioning within the larger university and local community creates any specific advantages or disadvantages to its execution. This allows us to properly allocate our resources to programs which we have determined will have the largest immediate impact on a student athletes well-being.

Perhaps the best example of this type of prioritization occurred several years ago when a number of recently graduated student-athletes approached me to request assistance with finding work. Initially, I was surprised that a group of accomplished young men and women were struggling to find employment, especially in a renowned business, entrepreneurial and tech hub like Boulder. When my staff and I began to scrutinize what our department had done to link our student-athletes with companies who had offices in the local community, it quickly became evident that while we were surrounded by the likes of Arrow Electronics, Google, IBM and Ball Aerospace, we had largely failed to build meaningful relationships with these firms. Even more troublesome was the fact that they were filled with alumni and supporters of our program, and yet we were obviously not leveraging this network to provide professional development and internship opportunities for our student-athletes.

These revelations led us to focus our fundraising efforts towards establishing a program that would allow us to take full advantage of the resources available right in our own backyard, and eventually led to the creation of  the Scripps Leadership and Career Development Program. At the core of the Scripps  is a multi-prong, mutually reinforcing, approach to ensuring that not only are our student-athletes moving diligently towards the obtainment of their degrees, but also that they will: (1) be armed with a broad assortment of both hard and soft skills to excel in a post-grad environment, (2) equipped with a substantial professional network to leverage in the future, and (3) ultimately have a job in a field of their choice when they decide to enter the workforce.

The first prong, skill development, is largely the focus of Buffs With A Brand, a comprehensive program specifically designed to give student-athletes hands-on, real world experience led by renowned industry experts. Programming includes workshops, webinars, one-on-one meetings and mentor sessions. The program is based on three foundational pillars – brand management, entrepreneurship, financial literacy – and requires completion of the following projects:

  • Brand Management: Student-athletes develop their own personal brand and marketing plan to use in their future career, following industry expert Jeremy Darlow through Darlow’s series called the Darlow Rules.
  • EntrepreneurshipDeveloped with Erick Mueller, an award-winning professor and faculty director of the Deming Center for Entrepreneurship in CU’s Leeds School of Business, programming centers around “Company Pitch Night” where student athletes formulate a business idea and pitch the key facets of the enterprise to the cohort, instructors, and industry professionals.
  • Financial Literacy: Led by industry experts, student-athletes are led through a series of workshops to understand and practice the basics of financial literacy.

The second prong focuses on building each one of our student-athlete’s networks, with the goal of helping them develop authentic relationships with industry professionals and other individuals who can provide career mentorship and guidance. Core programming includes:

  • Industry Networking Nights: Boulder is a truly one-of-a-kind place, and one of its greatest strengths is the diversity of companies in the area. A tech hub, home to top entrepreneurs, riddled with creative genius, and serving as a gateway to the Rocky Mountains, there are seemingly limitless opportunities for our student-athletes to expand their professional networks. Our events are run in conjunction with campus Career Services, as well as with the different career services programs for each respective academic unit – for example, we host a Pro Sports & Outdoor Industry networking night in partnership with the Leeds School of Business certificate program, Business of Sports.
  • Buffs to Biz Flex-Internships: This program is specifically focused on helping current student-athletes participate in a local flex internship in their field of interest. Flex-internships are generally 20 hours a week for two – three months, and designed to fit around a student-athletes academic and athletic obligations. Currently, several of our student-athletes are interning with local tech company NuAge Experts, while others are interning with Black Lab Sports in their Fly Wheel Project.

By the time our student-athletes near graduation, they should be well equipped with not only a deep rolodex of contacts, but also knowledge and wherewithal to impress employers when they enter the workspace. To ensure that we support each one of our student-athletes as they pursue internships and full-time work, the third-prong of our holistic approach focuses on our partnership with Boulder based InXAthlete. The custom school platform they’ve built at BuffsGoPro.com is a centralized repository where our student-athletes can find and apply for internships and jobs with both local, regional and national firms. They can also stay up-to-date on the latest networking and career related programming, and also have access to resume templates, webinars, and other key resources to develop their professional portfolio.

We recognize that the student-athletes face different challenges with their time demands, and our programming is intentionally and strategically designed to maximize existing campus resources while creating individualized events as needed. All of our student-athletes are also consistently encouraged to participate in the offerings provided by their respective academic units. We deeply value the knowledge of our peers on campus, and utilize their industry knowledge to drive our execution of a holistic and world class experience. We have also partnered with numerous professors on campus to begin analyzing the data around the outcomes of these programs so as to ensure that we can continuously improve upon our efforts.

As leaders in our industry continue to navigate through an ever-changing landscape that seems more uncertain than ever, we must constantly remind ourselves to focus on what is truly important. The temptation will always be there for us to spend our limited time and attention on addressing the short term. But if our industry is to survive and prosper far into the future, we must always remember that every decision we make should be firmly rooted in our mission to better the lives and outcomes of the student-athletes that walk our campuses. To do so requires us to take a systematic, methodical and consistent approach to allocating our resources towards projects and investments that directly lead to an increase in the long-term value propositions that we offer our student-athletes. If we do so, we have a chance to ensure that college athletics continues to make a tremendous positive impact on the lives of millions of young men and women for years to come.

3 Replies to “Colorado Daily”

  1. So. pee wee football in Colorado, no problem. High School, back on. Broncos, no problems. Fans in the stands even. CU, no way. CU basketball delayed already 5 months out. And Polis is about to lift the mask order. You can’t make this stuff up…. Maybe this is all good for Dorrell, but it seems pretty bad for CU and the rest of the PAC 12……

  2. “Neuheisel hopes so, because of his strong ties to CU. (Howell)
    Not so sure how “strong” those ties are. I have heard him say some pretty lousy things about CU on his radio show.. And not just things about the team’s performance but stuff about the school as a whole and Boulder. Things that would definitely have an impact if a recruit was listening. Maybe whatever “ties” he has with KD will at least help keep his mouth shut going forward.

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