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By: CUBuffs.com
Athletic Director Mike Bohn believes college football is a major benefit for the state.
Brooks: Bohn Awaits Pac-10 Details, But Hopes Surge Continues
Release: June 29, 2010
By: B.G. Brooks, Contributing Editor
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COLORADO SPRINGS - Most Colorado fans want all their questions concerning the Buffs' move to the Pacific-10 Conference answered yesterday.

Know this: CU Athletic Director Mike Bohn wishes he could have provided the answers day before yesterday. But like Supreme Court confirmation hearings, the conference changeover is a process not to be rushed.

The devils - more of them than you can imagine - are in the details, and while Bohn hopes all those can be attended to ASAP, he's even more intent on the university, its fan base, athletic teams and myriad constituents maintaining the surge of enthusiasm experienced when CU's invitation to join the Pac-10 was formally accepted on June 11.

Before the annual Sports Corp College Football Kickoff Luncheon Tuesday in Colorado Springs, Bohn spent some time answering questions, most of them focused on CU's impending move from the Big 12 Conference to the Pac-10.

No, he couldn't pinpoint the date, even the season, when the Buffs might begin competition. The preferred time for all parties is the 2011 football season, but that remains one of those devilish details still being bounced between league offices.

Same goes for what it might cost CU to leave the Big 12, what sport(s) might be added when CU arrives in the Pac-10, what division CU might wind up competing in once it begins Pac-10 play, whether the Pac-10 wants a championship football game, what the league eventually will be called . . . In short, questions currently outnumber answers.

"We don't have all the details about the move, (but) people want details - they want to start planning, building relationships . . .," Bohn reminded reporters.

But here's where his main focus (and probably his biggest frustration) is: "We want to continue to fuel that intensity of interest that our program so desperately needs; you can fuel it by talking about championship games and models and schedules - but that's the hardest thing, not being able to share that yet . . .

"This is a springboard opportunity for us and we have to seize it. We're probably not going to get this opportunity again certainly in the near history of the university. We need to seize this moment. We have to create a surge and a big push for us to take advantage of this."

Since his league expanded by a pair (CU and Utah) rather than half a dozen, Pac-10 Commissioner Larry Scott has said on several occasions that tying up all the loose ends should be accomplished later this summer.

For his part, Bohn hopes it's "sooner than later . . . what that means I don't know. I do know it's extremely complex. We recognize that (CU's) departure has implications to 22 institutions; we've got motivation from the Big 12, we've got motivation from the Pac-10 and certainly from (CU) to do it right."

But the majority of Buffs fans believe the right move was made; Bohn said the "approval rating" for joining the Pac-10 is running at a percentage - try 96 - that this and our last Oval Office occupant could only dream about.

After CU became the first domino to fall and Nebraska toppled (going to the Big Ten) a matter of hours later, rumors of the Big 12's total fragmentation appeared on almost every news outlet. Didn't happen, and Bohn said he was not surprised: "We recognized it certainly was a scenario that was in play."

He added: "All along we hoped that every Big 12 institution made the decision that was right for them. We felt for Colorado the right decision was to join the Pac-10 and move quickly, to seize an opportunity to join a conference that is a classic fit for our western orientation across the board as an institution."

Other topics addressed by Bohn included:

  • Baylor's lobbying for potential Pac-10 membership: "Everybody has their own style and approach, and their approach revealed many things about what was important to them and what works for them. That was their decision, but (CU) really chose to do something different."
  • Future football scheduling affected by the Pac-10 move: "We had some schedule models in place through 2020, but that has been or will be altered significantly (with) potentially starting in 2011 (in the Pac-10)."
  • The 2010 football season: "Obviously, it's a big year for Dan (Hawkins), we all know that. But again, it's an opportunity for us to say good-bye to the Big 12 Conference, potentially - whether it's this year or next. We can use it to enhance future recruiting opportunities and future growth of the program." The Buffs' 3-9 finish in 2009 put Hawkins' four-year record at 16-33.
  • Former men's basketball coach Jeff Bzdelik's $500,000 buyout: "We don't anticipate any problem . . . we remain respectful of what Jeff did for us." After leading CU to a 15-16 record last season, Bzdelik left for Wake Forest.

Preceding a short Q&A session with four in-state coaches - Air Force's Troy Calhoun, Colorado State's Steve Fairchild, CSU-Pueblo's John Wristen and Northern Colorado's Scott Downing - at Tuesday's luncheon, Bohn reminded the gathering of the importance of college football in Colorado.

He called it "a rallying point for fans and communities . . . a great economic engine and a great developer of leaders."

Notable, quotable:

  • Hawkins missed the luncheon. Daughter Ashley was married Saturday in Boise, Idaho, and the Hawkins family stayed several extra days in their former city and later took a driving trip to Oregon.
  • Fairchild, whose team opened 3-0 last season (including a 23-17 win against CU in Boulder) before losing nine straight, said the Rams' improvement in 2010 hinges on better pressure on opposing QBs and regaining the knack for explosive offensive plays that CSU exhibited in 2008.

Asked by luncheon emcee Mike Moran to pinpoint what the Rams' success might depend on, Fairchild said the quick development  of a young quarterback - redshirt freshman Nico Ranieri or true freshman Pete Thomas - and the rebuilt offensive line in front of them.

Fairchild likes his stable of running backs, which includes UCLA transfer Raymond Carter, and his linebacking corps, which features senior Ricky Brewer and junior Mychal Sisson. Carter is one of "four or five" running backs that Fairchild said he "wouldn't hesitate to put in a game right now. We're stacked in there pretty good. The task in fall camp is to decide the rotation - who does what well and how do we use them? But that, no question, is a strength - the running back spot."

He also likes his past two recruiting classes. All but three members of the 2009 group redshirted and the 2010 contingent - on paper anyway - supposedly was better. "I don't pay attention to the stars much anyway," he said. "We've stacked in two classes that I think will get our talent level to what it needs to be to compete on the upper end of the (Mountain West) conference."

  • The CU-CSU game returns to Denver this season (Sept. 4) and the move is fine by Fairchild. Talking about the Rams' non-conference scheduling now that Boise State has joined the MWC, he said, "We've got CU now for the next 10 or 11 years and we were smart enough to get that game back in Denver, so that's good for the entire state and both schools. We came to our senses."

Bohn also said this season's Rocky Mountain Showdown at Invesco Field will have a new title sponsor. He declined to reveal the name but said it is a Colorado company with no previous involvement.

  • When it appeared the college football landscape would be wracked by realignment, Fairchild was as mystified as any fan. He said he understood, but still seemed dismayed, that television revenue was the driving force.

"You know what's sad about that, I think, is that people were disguising it a lot of different ways, but ultimately it was chasing television football contract money," he said. "And when you do that - I get that finances are part of college athletics - but when you do that at the expense of the fans, the heritage, rivalries and geographic things, I'm not sure it's good for the sport. But we'll see."

What surprised him most during those tumultuous two weeks?

"If you'd said last December that this summer Texas would consider going to the Pac-10, that to me was the surprising thing - how quickly it gained momentum and almost happened. Yeah, that surprised me," he said.

And he doesn't appear to be a fan of any future mega-conferences: "I don't know . . . I'm just not sure that all this was occurring for necessarily the right reasons. I see both sides. But I think for CU not to play Oklahoma, that's maybe not good for the program. Fans should be taken into it a little bit, too. I hate to think of the day where Colorado State and Wyoming don't play. That wouldn't be a good thing. If money can dictate how that happens, I'm not sure it's the right thing."

  • Wristen, the former CU assistant, is among that 96 percent approving of the Buffs' move west. Here's his take: "I've been fortunate enough to be in both conferences. Without knowing all the dynamics of what was going on, you felt like as an outsider looking in, it was like adult musical chairs. You'd better jump on that chair first. I think CU played it right and parlayed it into what they needed . . . I think they're in a conference where they can compete at a high level - and that's what we all want (as coaches)."

Had the Pac-10 been able to add five teams from the Big 12 South, Wristen can't see how it would have benefitted the Buffs. "It just compounded your problems; you might as well just stay (in the Big 12)," he said. "I think the way it is now will be a good thing for CU."

  • Wristen's CSU-Pueblo staff includes former Buffs Dusty Sprague and Donnell Leomiti, both of whom attended Tuesday's luncheon.

Contact: BG.Brooks@Colorado.EDU

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