If … When I Win the Lottery …

On Saturday, I was witness to the highs and the lows of being a college football fan. The annual “Brawl of the Wild”, the regular season finale between Montana and Montana State is always a huge event, but Bozeman was in a frenzy because ESPN GameDay was in town. We took in the sights of GameDay, with guest picker Sir Nick Faldo (?), along with Lee Corso, picking the Bobcats to beat the Grizzlies. In the afternoon, the Bobcats took care of business, with No. 3 Montana State dominating No. 12 Montana, 55-21.

The joy of being a part of the home town victory was quickly quashed in the evening, when my school was inept, ineffective, and just plain not interested in a 54-7 loss to No. 15 Washington.

Saturday morning and afternoon in Bozeman reminded me how fun college football can be. Saturday night reminded me how far the Buffs have to go to even be relevant on college football weekends.

What does CU have to do to regain relevance?

A quick influx of funds wouldn’t hurt …

Okay, so I didn’t win the recent $2 billion lottery (“only” $950 million or so in actual payout). Still, the ramp up in the national media to the day when the winning ticket was finally sold did get my attention. The lottery frenzy did, though, get me to thinking:

What I would do with the money if I actually did win the lottery?

Short answer: After taking care of my family and my favorite charities … I would make Colorado football competitive again.

Please note that I didn’t say: “I would buy CU a national championship”. Over the last quarter century, Phil Knight has invested over $100 million in the Oregon football team (and has donated over $1 billion – that’s billion with a “B” – to the University of Oregon overall). Despite all of Knight’s money, Nike U has failed to win a national championship.

That said, a nice influx of cash into the CU athletic department and NIL campaigns certainly wouldn’t hurt the Buffs’ chances of a quick turnaround.

Want to buy a quarterback? The signal caller for CU’s last three opponents – Oregon’s Bo Nix (Auburn), USC’s Caleb Williams (Oklahoma) and Washington’s Michael Penix (Indiana) – were all imports.

“The thing I’m seeing that I think is so important is when you do add a portal quarterback to do so (with someone) that’s had success and gone through the ups and downs of being either a freshman or sophomore or even a junior starter,” CU head coach Mike Sanford said this past week. “And I think that’s what you’re seeing with, particularly, Washington, Oregon and USC.”

So, let’s say I won the lottery. I’m not greedy, so let’s say the winning ticket was worth around $600 million, with a $300 million payout.

What to do first?

Family … 

I’m not a complete idiot, so I would take care of my family first. Before doing anything else, I would take $100 million off the top, and place it into a Trust, a Trust which would be so impossible to alter that an army of attorneys and accountants couldn’t touch it.

My family would then live off of the interest from the Trust. Let’s say that the Trust returned a modest 5% return each year. That’s still $5 million every year to live off of … more than enough for anyone to live on, and do so quite comfortably.

The grandchildren’s college education would, of course, be paid for. After that, I would pay off the mortgages for our three children. That may sound simplistic and not overly generous. But, such a move would have a positive impact on our children’s lives, and yet would hopefully do so without altering their lifestyles. Costs of housing usually make up about 30% of household budgets, so having their mortgages paid off would have an immediate impact on their day-to-day lives, freeing up dollars to pay off cars or student loans, and buy some nice things for themselves. The goal, however, would be for them to continue on with their lives as they were living them … just with less stress.

My wife and I would certainly travel more. We have always enjoyed traveling, but we have grown sour on the process of getting to our destination. Access to a nice private jet would make getting around the world much easier, and I would certainly take advantage.

Now, on to more important items …

University of Colorado campus … 

My donations wouldn’t be limited to CU athletics. My undergrad years in Boulder were some of the best years of my life, and I have friendships from those years which have endured decades of distance and the distractions of life. I understand Hellems Hall in the center of campus is undergoing a huge renovation, so I might start there.

As to the law school … not so much. Those were a tough three years, so I’m not feeling as magnanimous about donating to the institution. While I probably wouldn’t donate to the law school itself, I might set up a scholarship or two for new students.

CU Athletic Department … Facilities … 

— The first $25-$50 million would go towards the upgrade of the west stands and the Balch Fieldhouse. The blueprints have been there for years, and now would be the time to make it happen. While a complete teardown and rebuild might be the right thing to do, I would be sensitive to the history of the building. The Balch Fieldhouse has been around since 1937, and I would want input from the Balch family as to how to preserve and honor their namesake facility.

The same would hold true for the Fred Casotti pressbox, as well as suites and areas with names attached. I had the pleasure of meeting Fred, and have met some of his family members. I would want to make sure Fred’s memory would not be lost in the revamping and upgrading of the Fieldhouse.

— $1-$2 million would go toward upgrading the bathrooms around the stadium. Communal peeing went the way of the dodo about the time the dodo went the way of the dodo. Bringing the bathrooms into the 21st century would be a quick and easy fix … and should have been done decades ago.

— $2-$4 million to fix the sound system. The new system, costing over $2 million, went into service this year, and it’s still not right. Perhaps another $2-$4 million would do the trick.

— $1 million to scrape off the rust and paint the stadium. Anyone coming to Folsom for the first time can’t help but be impressed by the view, but then be unimpressed when they try and find their seats. The row numbers are poorly marked, and their are splotches of rust everywhere.

I have had the same seats in Section 218 for decades. And, during that time, I have hung my head in despair after a poor play or bad call many, many times. Imagine me sitting at my seat, hands clasped behind my head, facing down. Elbows on my knees, I’m left staring at my shoes … and all of the rust spots at my feet. It’s been the same spots for years, and has become my own personal Rorschach inkblot test. No excuses for this not being fixed.

CU Olympic sports … 

I would lure Ceal Barry out of retirement, and have her coordinate an outlay of $20 – $25 million for CU’s Olympic sports. Off the top of my head, I would give the lacrosse team a better place to play that the field next to Kittridge, and give the CU ski team a recruiting budget which would allow them to recruit even more heavily in the Scandinavian countries. The ski team has 21 of CU’s 29 national championships, and I would want to assist in bringing the best available international alpine and Nordic talent, ensuring additional national titles.

As to the revival of the sports which were axed my freshman year of 1980 … like baseball, wrestling and gymnastics?

Definitely on the table …

CU football: Coaching staff … 

Hiring an expensive coach may not guarantee success, but it sure as Hell helps. I wouldn’t insist on CU chasing the latest hot coach, and plunk down $95 million in hopes that the outlay would be the panacea for the program (see: Michigan State and Mel Tucker; Texas A&M and Jimbo Fisher).

But we would have to start somewhere. My first donation would be for $50 million, to be paid out over five years. Having an extra $10 million to pay coaches – including quality assistants – isn’t large enough to in and of itself make the difference. Hopefully, however, like the paying off of the children’s mortgages, the outlay would give enough cushion to the athletic department budget that sound choices could be made, and a strong foundation for success laid.

CU football: NIL Donations … 

This is a tougher nut to crack.

Jon Canzano, in his Bald Faced Truth column, recently wrote about where the Pac-12 stands with regard to Name, Image and Likeness payouts.

He was writing about Oregon State, and it’s new NIL Collective.

“Oregon State’s supporters got serious about joining the NIL game this week. A new booster collective popped up on Thursday morning. “Dam Nation” bills itself as “The preferred collective of Oregon State athletics.”

adding …

… Arizona State has the “Sun Angel Collective.” Jeffrey Burg is one of the founding members. He told me after the launch that the collective quickly raised more than $1 million. It focused on soliciting recurring donations from its massive alumni base.

Oregon has “Division Street, Inc.” — launched by Nike co-founder Phil Knight and some other high-profile UO boosters.

And Washington State has the “Cougar Collective.” It gave transfer quarterback Cameron Ward a $90,000 package that includes an apartment, a leased truck and flights to Pullman, Wash. for his parents.

OSU’s serious arrival in this space was overdue.

The University of Colorado has the Buffs4Life Collective. Unfortunately, we don’t have much information on how the Collective is doing. Interim head coach Mike Sanford did mention in his press conference this past week that Jordyn Tyson, perhaps CU’s brightest prospect, had received some NIL money to help offset transportation and other costs associated with his surgery this past week, so there is that.

“Like I was talking about three, four weeks ago, whether it’s a small gift, whether it’s a big gift, it matters (to players),” Sanford said. “It still goes a long way, especially for a young man like that that’s hurting. … These are real life things that these players are going through and just to see him excited about that was cool.”

But is it enough? Will it be enough to keep Tyson in black-and-gold for the remainder of his collegiate career? If the history of CU booster donations is a guide, the answer is probably “no”.

I wouldn’t want to write a blank NIL check, but using NIL money to improve the roster would be the best – and certainly the fastest – way to get CU back to relevance. We have plenty of evidence that it works:

  • From the high end – USC going from 4-8 to a College Football Playoff contender by buying a coach and a slew of players; to
  • The medium end – Washington going from 4-8 to a Pac-12 contender by bringing in the right coach and a top quarterback; to
  • The lower end – where teams like Kansas and Arizona can vault from obscurity to relevance in a year by bringing in – and paying – its players.

I wouldn’t start paying offensive lineman $50,000 apiece for basically just breathing (as Texas is doing), and CU may not be able to attract a high end quarterback in the first season of the rebuild, but a hefty contribution to the CU NIL Collective would be a great first step towards bringing the Colorado football program back from the dead.

Phil Knight’s money hasn’t bought Oregon a title. T. Boone Pickens’ money hasn’t bought Oklahoma State a title.

But Phil Knight and T. Boone Pickens have been able to position their teams back to being in the national conversation year-in and year-out.

Sounds like a good place to start.

Time to get those lottery tickets purchased.


7 Replies to “When I Win the Lottery …”

  1. I have been having the same thoughts in my dreams (nightmares) lately. I have many of the same thoughts, except all my financial largess would come with a contingency-that of a change to CU’s admission policies which would enhance any financial donation significantly. How about creating a CU Buff hotel , which could be a continuing source of revenue for the program when my lottery funds run out.

  2. The alternate reality of JT Shrout playing like JT Shrout during the TCU game is bizarre. Brenden Lewis starts vs air force, probably wins, and maybe cu beats Arizona or ASU as well. We’re never subjected to the JT Shrout “sails every other throw and makes generically awful decisions with the ball” experience. Instead, we would be shouting at Lewis for never throwing to wide open receivers while still losing by fifty.

    Or not. Who knows.

    Either way, why are we playing JT Shrout again?

    Life sucks.

  3. That’s pretty much my blueprint plus/minus a few things around the edges if I were to win the “big one”. I would think that rubbing that much money under the noses of the decision makers at CU might lead to unclogging the transfer portal too. Maybe.
    Mercifully I let myself fall asleep after the 1st quarter last night…

  4. So what are those emotional stages that people are supposed to go through after a tragedy, a death or, in this instance, the death of a program? Something like anger-grief-denial etc. ?
    Does the lottery fit into the denial category?
    Ahhh the lottery.
    I buy a few tickets every week. Fantasy certainly does help somewhat.

    I used to think my tongue in cheek talk of a curse was part of the denial stage but it looks more and more real every game. Every game?…… every year.

    A&M made a lot of noise about buying their players but looked what happened to them. I know I know, there are exceptions to the rule. They had an overrated coach whose hay day was when he had the pick of the talent in FL.

    Williams, Penix and Nix already had names and could pick their schools. I wonder how much money it would take to get the next Penix from going to Washington as oopposed to here?

    This season should be over…..now. That means forfeiting to Utah. Get it over with. Dont take a chance on any season ending injuries or further humiliation. The heck with senior day. If I was a senior on this team I wouldnt want to be heralded in the face of this season’s failure with the addition of the failure of the senior day game.

    If I was running a sports booking shop I wouldnt even take bets on CU anymore now that they are a sure thing.

    A premier QB would be nice. Shoot, even a mediocre qb would ne nice but first we also have to have a team. I cant believe we dont already. A coach makes a team. The question is, how much longer will the Buffs be like that greek guy? I think it was greek guy, who was wandering around with a lantern looking for an honest coach?

    I just hope the next poor slob who RD picks that is willing to come here doesnt think he can use cookie cutter football to succeed and is smart enough to think of something out of the box he can use, at least temporarily to get us to a point where conservative cookie cutter football might work again.
    Sheesh…. I’m getting as redundant as earache.

  5. Fun to fantasize about how one would deal with a windfall like that. Who hasn’t? Guessing most are similar too. Problem is, reality always rears it’s head, and we’re right where we began. Losing players in droves to the portal may only be part of a major issue, as recruiting players in the portal will become increasingly difficult without significant increases in monetary incentives, clearly missing at CU currently. That said, Tad Boyle seems to be making out alright…so far.

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