Plati-‘Tudes No. 87 ... The most famous Buff to wear 87? Almost exclusively worn by tight ends (or ends in two-way days), it’s a toss-up between Ken Blair (’62) and John Perak (’89), both of whom played on conference championship teams. Of course, Riar Greer wore 87 the last four years, and he posted some of the best numbers by a tight end in Buff annals ... What am I going to do after P-‘Tudes No. 99; we don’t keep track of bib numbers in track or skiing, and no jerseys go that high. A quandary ... Spring is upon us, which means a couple of wacky weeks in March where we have basketball, skiing, track, tennis, golf and spring football, volleyball and soccer all in action; there is no idle program!
The opening four mind teasers:
CU—The men’s basketball team closed the third split of the Big 12 schedule with three straight wins and a 4-2 record; tied for the third best 6-game mark to close league play since the conference started play in 1997. The other two times, CU finished 5-1 down the stretch. Name the years and the key players that led the way.
Who Am I?—I had what most would agree was a pretty good career at Colorado, lettering three years. I went on to play professional ball, but injuries took their toll and shortened the experience. I’ve basically been in Boulder since my playing days. My best game wasn’t just a double-double, it was a 40/20, one of those nights where everything went right. Who am I?
Music—This person appeared in a cameo roll on M*A*S*H, singing a ditty about how they missed the nurses when they were evacuated for safety reasons. He also sang the memorable to some and forgettable to most, Dead Skunk In The Middle Of The Road. Who is he?
Name That Tune—What song is this lyric passage from: “All those night when you've got no lights, The check is in the mail;
And your little angel, Hung the cat up by it's tail.”
Buff Hat Trick
Larry Zimmer, Steve Hatchell and Chris Fowler
Things Are Looking Up
With the men’s basketball team, 15-15 on the year entering the postseason, things are definitely on the upswing for Jeff Bzdelik’s program. If you feel like CU’s setbacks came to mostly the nation’s best, you wouldn’t be far off. Let’s analyze who administered the 15 regular season losses this year, which came at the hands of 12 different teams. Eight of those 12 won 20 games, with two others above .500 and the other two just below .500. These 12 teams have combined for a 249-118 record, a 67.8 winning percentage (324-134, .707, when counting the records twice for the three teams that beat the Buffs on two occasions). Five are ranked: No. 2/2 Kansas (29-2), No. 5/5 Kansas State (24-6); No. 14/18 Gonzaga (25-5), No. 23/24 Texas A&M (22-8) and NR/25 Texas (23-8). The others: Missouri (22-9), Oklahoma State (21-9), Tulsa (21-10), Arizona (16-14), Colorado State (16-14), Iowa State (15-16) and Oregon State (14-16).
One amazing statistic in CU’s three-game winning streak to end the regular season was the fact that the Buffaloes had been outrebounded 115-71, including a 52-8 edge on the offensive end. Ironically, opponents outscored CU just 50-16 in second chance points when that advantage could be a lot worse. But part of it was due to the fact that in the three games, Colorado shot 58.5 percent from the field, making 83-of-142 shots, which included a 28-of-53 mark (.528) from three-point range.
Now That’s What I Call A Survey
Gallup surveyed/interviewed over 350,000 people covering all 50 states in 2008, and through detailed study, developed the following rankings for the top 10 happiest states. Note how well Colorado fared; this stuff can’t be made up with that deep of a base for a foundation, and should easily be pointed to in recruiting to counter the negativity our coaches endured during the last football recruiting cycle. Take a look:
Top 10 Happiest States
The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index to calculate the happiest states included questions on six types of well-being, including overall evaluation of their lives, emotional health, physical health, healthy behaviors (smoking, exercise, etc.) and job satisfaction. The top 10: 1. Utah; 2. Hawai’i; 3. Wyoming; 4. Colorado; 5. Minnesota; 6. Maryland; 7. Washington; 8. Massachusetts; 9. California; 10. Arizona. Rest of Big 12: 16. Nebraska; 21. Texas; 22. Kansas; 27. Iowa; 43. Oklahoma; 44. Missouri. It kind of begs the question, how can Hawai’i not be number one?!
When Bill Marolt returned to CU in 1984 after his skiers had won a then-record five (alpine) medals in the Sarajevo Olympics, he left the United States Ski Association is pretty good shape. After 12 years as CU’s athletic director, he returned as the group’s president. Now, some 14 years later, American skiers went nuts in the Vancouver Olympics, with alpine, Nordic, freestyle and snowboarders accounting for 21 of the 37 U.S. medals; those included a record eight by the alpine team. Twenty one! Bill, nicknamed “Will-dog” by his inner circle, was pretty modest ahead of the games when I asked him how many medals he thought we could win. “Well Plato, we’ll win some, and if things go really well, we could hit a dozen or so.” I’d say 21 are more than some. The only sad thing about it was that Jimmie Heuga, the former CU ski great and the first American male to officially medal in skiing in the Olympic games, didn’t live to see it; he passed away at the age of 66 just five days before the games started on Feb. 5. He had battled multiple sclerosis since 1970 and was an inspiration to many. He died 46 years to the day he won the bronze medal in the slalom; fellow Buff Billy Kidd won the silver in the same race, but Heuga finished ahead of him and was in the silver position until Kidd’s second run. All three were teammates on the ’64 U.S. Olympic team, with Marolt returning to coach the Buffs in 1969, soon to lead CU to seven straight national titles from 1972-78 before moving on to coach the alpine skiers for the U.S. Team.
While we’re on skiing, Colorado is hosting the 57th Annual NCAA Ski Championships at Steamboat Springs, March 10-13. It culminates Richard Rokos’ 20th season at CU, with the Buffs gunning for the sixth title in his reign; he led the team to crowns in his first season, 1991, and again in 1995, 1998, 1999 and 2006. Richie, as most know, escaped communist Czechoslovakia in 1980, first relocating to the Detroit area and then to Colorado. For those who may have missed Neill Woelk’s column in the Boulder Camera, you can read more about that subject here: http://www.dailycamera.com/sports-columnists/ci_14431624#axzz0hH27Qv4g.
CU is the nation’s top-ranked team going into the meet. Here are some CU tidbits hardly anyone knows:
Spencer Nelson, a freshman walk-on alpiner, the first to be selected to ski in the NCAA’s for CU in quite some time, was in a life-threatening motorcycle accident last May. He had a quick recovery, began training on time and qualified for NCAAs on a fairly senior-laden men's alpine team. He secured his qualification for NCAAs at Regional's last week with a seventh place finish in the GS.
Erika Ghent, a frosh women's alpine skier, is a third generation CU student and her dad, Brad, skied for CU during the Buffs run of seven straight national championships.
Freshman cross country performer Joanne Reid is from quite the athletic bloodline. Her mother is the former Beth Heiden, the 1979 world all-around speed skating champion and the 1980 world road cycling champion and she won a bronze medal in the 1980 Olympics in speed skating. Her uncle is Eric Heiden, who won five gold medals in the 1980 Olympics in speed skating and set one world record in the process.
Now That’s Original
Former Buff golfer Ed McGlasson (’06) has been creative in securing sponsorship dollars in his bid to earn his PGA Tour card, and the usual grueling path it takes for many to attain it. He is holding the inaugural Ed McGlasson Golf Classic on April 12 at Tustin (Calif.) Ranch Golf Club in Orange County, Calif. The goal of this classic is to drive sponsorship for his 2010 season expenses; he is hoping to have a 120 player field, including 30 professionals, so each team would consist of one pro and three amateurs. There will be awards and prizes for the top three teams and contests for everyone. So if you're in the Orange County area and interested in participating, please email Ed at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone him at 714/931-1523. More information is available on Ed's website at www.edmcglassoniv.com.
The P-‘Tudes Mailbag
The usual grab-bag of questions fired my way by P-‘Tudes readers and others that I thought others would be interested in:
Q: If the Pac-10 calls, CU accepting is basically a slam dunk, isn’t it?
A: While many are saying that, no one is inside the university is saying that. The number of factors to take into consideration are many; here’s just a short list: conference distribution dollars (current and potential future), television exposure, game times dictated by such exposure, potential conference divisional alignment, travel expenses for all 14 conference sports (skiing doesn’t figure into this), do we need to add sports such as baseball and softball, marketing and promotion opportunities, scheduling (day after Thanksgiving spot, non-conference possibilities and maintaining current rivalries), fundraising, alumni reach out and concerns, and a real big one: financial penalties for leaving the Big 12.
In end, CU needs to do what’s best for CU. In 1994, the Pac-10 came calling the last time it considered expansion, but because CU was one of the major players in the formation of the Big 12, the Regents voted then (6-3) to stay the course and join the league we helped to create.
There are too many unanswered questions; for instance, maybe the Pac-10 could be looking at adding four teams if the Big 10 adds three; or perhaps they stay the course with 10. The only thing that has been said so far is they are exploring the possibilities. Maybe the Big 12 will look at expanding to 14; remember in the 1990s, the idea of the “super conference” was first floated. We could be headed to four 16-team leagues or even six 14-team leagues one day (the Big East is already at 16 for basketball). One Pennsylvania reporter has the Big 10 expanding to 16, with Colorado, Missouri and Nebraska joining Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Northwestern and Wisconsin in a proposed Big 10 West Division. He has Rutgers and Syracuse joining the six remaining schools to form the East, with the conference then covering TV sets from New York to Denver.
As Mike Bohn said, there’s a different feel to it this time, and the domino effect could be one of the biggest in college conference history.
Q: Settle this argument. Was the Big 12 a new conference or did the Big 8 just expand?
A: Good one. I’ve recently read where some south division schools say they were behind the Big 12, but Colorado people like Jim Corbridge (chancellor) and Bill Marolt (AD) were major players if not the major players; some apparently need a crash course in Big 12 history because they’ve become historical revisionists. Corbridge was the chairman and started working with the other schools in early 1993, while Marolt’s savvy ability to work with television made his contributions key. At the time, we were all told to say it was a new conference, not a merger. But any of the old Big 8 schools will tell you it felt like more of an expansion of our conference; facts are facts, all eight Big 8 schools were included and just four of the eight Southwestern Conference schools. Media stories were about the Big 8 presidents inviting four Southwest Conference schools to join. A release from the Big 8 office dated February 26, 1994, read "Big Eight Confirms Expansion Plans." So it really is fairly obvious, don’t you think? Some say the SWC was dying because of the massive cheating scandals that permeated the conference over the previous decade, led by the death penalty issued to SMU, and this saved them. Now I wouldn't go that far; C'mon, Texas and Texas A&M could alwaays write their own ticket and always will. But the move created one of the most powerful conferences from the get-go. So call it what you will, expansion, merger, new; it doesn’t really matter, it was definitely for the best. But the credit belongs to the North and schools like Colorado, make no mistake about it.
Q: I’ve read on-line that you closed spring football practice last year to hide the fact that the team wasn’t very good. Please tell me that wasn’t the case?
A: You have to be kidding? Then again... no, we were open at the start, but the coaches didn’t care for some things that were making the way to the Internet. Most were of the insulting variety, commenting that this player was slow, or out of shape, etc., things normally that don’t make it into the mainstream media. Most things we really don’t care about, but we certainly don’t feel we need to cooperate with those who want to make personal attacks on coaches, players or staff and then to do so under some alias in a gutless and cowardly manner. That’s what happened last year.
Q: I was appalled at a commercial that ran during the CU-Nebraska (basketball game) in Lincoln. What is CU doing about it?
Background: CU alum Charlie McBride (’61), who went on to become Nebraska’s defensive coordinator for over two decades, told a story that basically made fun of the Buffs (which was most surprising because he's been a good if not great alum all these years).
A: Well, there’s not a lot we can do about it; everyone on our end of it thought it was classless, and even more so since it came from an alum we all used to be proud of. Now that’s only my personal opinion to use the phrase “used to,” because I know Charlie and I’m extremely disappointed, but I can say that many of us here are. And if Fred Casotti, his SID at the time, was alive, he’d no doubt call him and dress him down with a not-too-kind limerick. The line McBride was referring to was in the 1978 game in Boulder where Nebraska fell behind 14-0, and then he told a story, with a smile, where some sideline scrub said something like “Coach, it’s only Colorado.” Well, Chuck, when you were a Buff, we beat Nebraska three out of four times when you dressed; doubt you heard anyone on our end say something similar. Perhaps it was fitting the men’s basketball team kicked the Huskers by 13 on their senior night due to the bad karma created from the advertisement. I mean, who designs an ad like that in the first place? Not the first time a school or team’s marketing department has made such a dunderheaded move; history is loaded with examples (like the Neuheisel ad in the L.A. Times he had no knowledge of or the famous Joey Harrington billboard in Times Square). Or ask most any PR man in the major leagues, for that matter!
Editor's Note: The above has led several Nebraska fans to e-mail in (some apparently think we don't have the right to be disappointed with one of our own alums over this); some have been nice, others, not so; the worst of the worst, from a Shane Sorrell (who goes by huskersorrell), who sent just this in from his wireless phone: "Sal is dead Go Big Red!" How sad is that.
Keith Miller Update
From Larry Zimmer, who hooked up with former Buff fullback and opera singer Keith Miller (’96): “The Metropolitan Opera's new Carmen opened on December 31. This is the opera in which Keith probably had his biggest role at the Met to date. It was carried live on the Met Opera Radio on Sirius. Brigitte (his wife) and I listened and were impressed by the job Keith did. He plays Zuniga, who is the head of the police, but it along with about three others are considered "secondary" roles. Usually only the stars, in this case four of them—Carmen, Michaela, Don Jose, and Escamillo, are mentioned in reviews. But Mike Silverman of the Associated Press gave the entire production a positive review and said, ‘There's much to admire in an unusually strong supporting cast, with bass Keith Miller a particular standout as Zuniga.’ Anthony Tommasini of the New York Times gave the production a rave review and after discussing the four principles wrote, ‘The bass, Keith Miller, was a standout as the wily officer, Zuniga.’ Keith is really good and is still young for a bass. He has a great career ahead of him.” Congrats!
Things That Make You Go Hmmm...
Ah, the whole Tiger Woods affair ... okay, bad choice of words there. Whatever side of the fence you’re on, if you think it should be public or private, the way this has played out confirms the one thing that we control on this side in the PR biz, and that’s access. The Golf Writer’s boycott of Woods’ apology session (can’t call it a press conference since there was no planned Q&A) was borderline ridiculous. It still merited in-person coverage. Then you had the media split, the thoughtful ones siding with Woods on how tough it was and how he was sincere, it was a hard thing to do, etc., and what I call the “look at me” media (like Stephen A. Smith) ripping into him like a pit bull into a cupcake, taking the other side to play up controversy. And don’t forget all the so-called PR experts, who always know everything to do after the fact but wonder when they’ve ever been in the middle of a fire themselves, also ripping Woods saying the event didn’t help him. Until you look at the 3 million people or so that voted in an ESPN poll with something like 64 percent saying it did help him. As for my opinion, I thought he just went too long, repeating himself here and there. I will say this—I have done my fair share of public speaking, and I have found it harder to speak to a room full of people where I know everyone or almost everyone than one filled with 500 strangers. I mean, who wouldn’t be nervous confessing to adultery (or whatever) with your mom seated in row one, six feet from you?
Keeping A Watchful Eye
Former UCLA basketball player Ed O’Bannon is at the center of a lawsuit (the lead plaintiff in a class action suit), challenging the NCAA’s right to control in perpetuity the likeness of college athletes. Several of the companies that produce video games always claim the likenesses are just coincidence. Wonder if they’ll call any of us SID’s to testify? I remember getting calls to go through the roster and indicate who was white, light-skinned or dark-skinned, who had facial hair, and who may have changed their hairstyles to feature long hair. And it was always a name we matched the info to, never a random player number. Companies like EA Sports are discontinuing the practice due to the lawsuit, but that doesn’t change all those years where the players were definitely matched up with more than just a coincidental jersey number.
Website(s) of the ‘Tude
Former Buff golfer Pat Grady (’09) has started his own website for those interested in following his career; you can find it at webstarts.com/PatGradyGolf ... Here’s a cool video on YouTube and all-time rock ballads—it’s one of five or so, but you find yourself playing “name that tune” or “name that group” ... here’s the link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wRqa6eQaqYY&feature=related ... and courtesy Dave Sacher of CU’s audio department, this humorous look at television news: http://www.fark.com/cgi/vidplayer.pl?IDLink=4978814 ... and here’s a great one for trivia and games: www.sporcle.com; a lot of great sports ones on there, among dozens of topics!
Congrats Shouts & Sympathies
Ø To former assistant basketball coach Ralph Patterson, who was recently named director of development at Lander (S.C.) University. He’s been in a similar role at Erskine College. Ralph was an assistant under Tom Apke in the 1980s; anyone looking to reconnect with Ralph can find him at email@example.com.
Ø To former Buff hoopster Matt Daniel (’96), who is the head women’s basketball coach at Central Arkansas. As of February 27, the Sugar Bears had a 20-6 record and were tied for the lead in the Southland Conference with a 10-3 mark. He is in his second season at UCA, after serving as an assistant for three years at Missouri and for one year right here in Boulder, in Ceal Barry’s final season as head coach in 2004-05.
We lost one of the good ones when Denver Post sportswriter Charlie Meyers passed away the first week of January due to complications from lung cancer. The Post’s outdoor sports and lifestyles writer since the 1970s, Charlie often covered the CU ski team and gave the team and coaches their due, if not more so. He was a class act and he will be missed; many could learn from him and how he built and maintained relationships.
Sympathies also to the family of former Buff Jeff Christ (’81), who passed away on December 30 at the age of 52. A battalion chief with the Littleton Fire Department, he fought a courageous battle against brain cancer for two years. The Denver Firefighters website wrote this about him:
Jeff was a champion who worked hard to establish the fair treatment of fire fighters under the presumptive cancer law in Colorado. His case was one of the first in the state and he made huge strides in ensuring that Colorado's fire fighters got the treatment they deserved from performing their dangerous duties. Jeff will be missed and our thoughts and prayers are with his family and all of our Littleton brothers and sisters.
Jeff was a walk-on receiver and despite never seeing the field for a game, loved the Buffs as much as anyone. The team invited his family to be guests at a September practice, and Coach Hawkins surprised him with a personalized jersey as the players gave him a huge ovation. Click here for more a nice story on him being named the employee of the year for the LFD; this was a great man, folks: http://denver.yourhub.com/Littleton/Stories/News/Government/Story~673982.aspx.
We lost William Harvey (’87) on January 13, as he was shot to death in his own SUV in Denver; authorities are still investigating what happened. Thanks to teammate O.C. Oliver (’90), who coordinated a fundraising drive among ex-players, coaches and staff, expenses to the Harvey family were next to nothing; the donations covered all funeral expenses with leftover funds to help his two college-aged children who he was working hard to support. O.C. cited extraordinary gifts from Dean Pisani (‘88) and Erich Kissick (’89) in helping to exceed the goal. Several former teammates traveled to Texas for the funeral as well.
“We can't take life for granted or put a price tag on the lifelong friendships and bonds we have made, so cherish each moment you spend with family and friends,” Oliver wrote in thanking the alumni for their support. “William Harvey will be missed deeply by us all but he is looking down on us with great pride knowing that we will keep his memory alive.”
Then on January 29, we lost Tom Brookshier (’53) at the age of 78 after a seven month battle with gallbladder cancer. An honorable mention member of CU’s All-Century Football Team (announced in 1989), Brookie of course became an All-Pro defensive back with Philadelphia in the NFL, and then went on to have a stellar broadcasting career, both nationally on CBS and locally in Philadelphia.
CU coach Dan Hawkins never met Tom, but still felt connected to him. “As with many, I grew up with he and Pat Summerall doing the NFL games, and I can’t tell you how much their voices are a part of my youth. He touched my life and I am sure the lives of many others.”
And Colorado and Philadelphia Eagle fan Raymond Church of Delta, Colo., pointed out to me in an e-mail, “Tom Brookshier was unabashedly an enormous CU Buff fan. In his NFL broadcasts, if a former Buff made an outstanding play, Brookie always informed his audience that the player had played his college ball at Colorado.”
In late February, we lost Martha Johnson, a long-time season ticket holder who founded what is now known as the Buffalo Belles in 1970, one of CU’s longest-standing booster groups. It started out small, with a group of her friends, and they called themselves the Ladies Quarterback Club. Little she know then it would grow into an organization that is some 400 strong that the coaches would visit every week at their in-season luncheons. Martha passed at the age of 88, and we’ll all miss her.
This Tudes’ Number: 20
Richard Rokos is completing his 20th season as head coach of Colorado’s ski team; he is now the ninth coach in school history to coach a program for at least two decades. Frank Potts coached cross country and track for 41 seasons (1927-68), while Charles Vavra piloted the men’s gymnastics teams for 32 years (1930-61); those are the three decade-plus mentors. The other six with 20 or more: Les Fowler, golf (29), Mark Simpson, golf (29), Frank Prentup, baseball (24), Dick Gray, men’s tennis (23), Sox Walseth, basketball (23; men’s 20, women’s 3) and Ceal Barry, women’s basketball (22).
CU—The 1999 and 2004 teams went 5-1 to close out league play. The ’99 group, led by Kenny Price, Jaquay Walls, Nick Mohr and Jamahl Mosley, finished 7-9 in conference; the ’04 squad used the run to post CU’s second best mark in 14 seasons of Big 12 action at 10-6; that was the David Harrison, Michel Moraindis and Blair Wilson group. The 2003 team also closed out at 4-2; otherwise, the other 10 seasons the Buffs were 3-3 (three times) or worse.
Who Am I?—CU Athletic Hall of Fame member Cliff Meely. In Balch Fieldhouse the night of February 13, 1971, he had a game that no one has since matched, on either front. In scoring 47 points in the 99-69 win over Oklahoma, he set the school single-game scoring mark that still stands; he also hauled down 25 rebounds, third most in school history at the time and not surpassed since. Meely was 18-of-26 from the field and 11-of-12 from the line, and had 27 points in a 63-point second half explosion by the Buffs that broke open what had been a 36-all halftime tie. P-'Tudes reader Brian McMillan attended that game and wrote in that he also believed Cliff had nine blocked shots that game, all with OU start Clifford Ray guarding him. That's a solid night's work in any era.
Music—Louden Wainwright III. Yep, him. I’ve got to stop watching M*A*S*H on TVLand at 3 a.m.
Name That Tune—The second verse from the theme song to Cheers. Ha!
“Plati-‘Tudes” features notes and stories that may not get much play from the mainstream media; offers CU’s take on issues raised by those who have an interest in the program; answers questions and concerns; and provides CU’s point of view if we should disagree with what may have been written or broadcast. Have a question or want to know CU’s take on something? E-mail Dave at firstname.lastname@example.org, and the subject may appear in the next Plati-‘Tudes.