July 6, 2001
A bi-weekly notes column penned by David Plati, who is in his 17th year as Colorado's Assistant Athletic Director for Media Relations.
A big thank you to the Denver Post for selecting P-Tudes as the paper's "web site of the week" in its June 24 edition... boy, is the pressure on now!... but this is a good one. That is, until the Knight Commission checks my core requirements and unearths my 5-credit not A, B, C or D, which leaves you know what, in Italian 101 (wanted to learn about my heritage... oops).
TRIVIA QUESTIONS... CU -- Dan Creedon retires today after 39 years as sports editor at the Boulder Daily Camera. What media person in the Denver Metro area now takes over in the longevity department when it comes to covering CU? Godfather -- From another P-Tudes fan (and from the book): The name of an old friend of Johnny Fontane's who sang a risqué Sicilian love song with him shares the same name as a recent student assistant in CU's equipment office. Name him!
P-TOOD SURVEY II... Conducted a quick three-question opinion poll over the last few days, 68 responded (no response from the other 30 or so on the list, summer vacation, you know). Here's what was asked and what feedback we received:
Q: CU men's basketball had an excellent recruiting year under the guidance of Ricardo Patton, the man who last coached CU in the NCAA Tournament. When do you see CU returning to "The Big Dance?"
2001-02 - 46% (31)
2002-03 - 43% (29)
2003-04 -- 4% ( 3)
Don't Know/Won't - 7% (5)
PLATI'-TUDE PROSE: It ran 50-50 for the most part between those who think CU makes it back to the NCAA's this year and those who believe the team is still a year away. My pick: I think we'll be invited this year, with the driving force being the inspiration of having a brother combination making it there (think of all that positive media coverage!).
Q: What do you think CU's record in football will be this fall?
12-0: 1% ( 1)
11-1: 1% ( 1)
10-2: 13% ( 9)
9-3: 34% (23)
8-4: 43% (29)
7-5: 7% ( 5)
PLATI-'TUDE PROSE: Gotta love the optimistic 12-0 by one respondent! The vast majority (93%) of those responding, and I believe most are fairly in tune with the program, believe the team will go 8-4 or better. My pick: 9-3 or better, as long as we win the first two. Coming off 3-8, with as many things that seemed to go against us in the bad break department, a quick infusion of some positive things will go a long, long way.
Q: When you think of women's athletics at CU, who immediately pops into your mind?
Ceal Barry: 78% (53)
Shelley Sheetz: 9% (6)
Lisa Van Goor: 6% (4)
Kara Grgas-Wheeler: 4% (3)
Jen Tubergen (Warden): 1% (1)
Don't Know/No Idea: 1% (1)
PLATI-'TUDE PROSE: Jim Hansen cast the vote for Jen Tubergen-Warden, a former CU hoopster now on Ceal Barry's staff. Ceal was the runaway winner as the most recognizable CU women's sports figure in this sampling, which likely represents the general public at-large. My pick: It'd be easy for me to pick a different name to play Mr. Obscure-Boy, but when I thought of the question, Ceal first popped into my mind as well.
GO EAST, YOUNG MAN... Matt Russell will be relocating east, hopefully temporarily, as his job with the New England Patriots has been altered a bit in the fact that he will now scout professional instead of college games. After winning the Butkus Award for being selected as the nation's top linebacker in 1996, his pro career was cut short due to a couple of knee injuries, but he want to remain in the biz. Russell will marry CU volleyball senior Sonja Nielson on July 7, but the two will be apart much of the fall since she'll wrap up her senior career and he'll be attending the game of whatever opponent New England has the following week. "It's a great job, it just involves leaving Boulder. That's the part that -----. I hope to pull a Moose and be able to come back soon (former CU staffer and Internet God Todd Benson, who moved to Los Angeles for two years but recently returned to Colorado). I love it here." July 7 is also the day former CU SID assistant Ollie Kirkpatrick will wed former CU soccer player Jenny Law. Get the feeling we could also run a dating service?
SINGLE GAME TICKETS... Single game tickets for the 2001 CU football season will go on sale July 16, there should be tickets available for all home games, but only a very limited number for the finale against Nebraska finale on Nov. 23.
ABC, CU, CSU, AFA, OU, ETC. ... When ABC released the game times for its Sept. 1 football slate, local fervor was created because the CU-CSU and Air Force-Oklahoma games are both set for 1:30 p.m. kickoffs. There was a lot of behind the scenes stuff going on with the ABC schedule that day, some of it having to do with the network trying to slot a college game in on Monday night since there is no NFL yet on Sept. 3 (and no, not CU-CSU, we may have gone for that... they were shooting for Miami-Penn State). When the network didn't opt to show college football that night, there literally was a surplus of one game for Sept. 1. The prime time window early in the year is usually reserved for intersectional match-ups, which to the unbiased eye, Miami-Penn State and Wisconsin-Oregon top CU-CSU and OU-AFA in that regard. So it came down to if CU or Air Force wanted to kickoff at 10 a.m., and that's just a bit too early, especially at the time of year when there's still a lot of youth activities Saturday mornings. That, and the fact that the Big 12 had the 10:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. windows that day filled once ABC made the CU-CSU pick. By contract, the Big 12 game on ABC must kickoff at 1:30 p.m., the Mountain West is the floater game. So the 10 a.m. mountain kickoffs are North Carolina-Maryland and West Virginia-Boston College, both Noon local starts in College Park and Boston. It really came down to the fact that ABC, in good faith, had made their picks for Sept. 1 that then started the domino effect of other networks making their picks. If ABC then decided to pass on CU-CSU or OU-AFA after the commitment, then one of the games likely would not have been on. But ABC doesn't do business like that. The hope here is that it will still work out, ABC is looking into the possibility of making both games will be available in several area markets, either through pay-per-view or arranging for the game to be on another local station. But the final arrangements won't likely be known until two weeks before the games. Figure CU-CSU to be on in the Denver area on KMGH, however, based on two Colorado schools competing head-to-head, and the fact that ABC and the Big 12 have a full partnership while the one with the Mountain West is on a smaller scale.
PLATI'-TUDES Q & A... He's retiring with little fanfare, in fact, he didn't depart with a farewell column that is so accustomed in the profession. But today, Friday, July 6, marks the end of an era in local newspaper history, as Dan Creedon says goodbye as sports editor of the Boulder Camera after 39 years on the Camera staff. Dan, who was a prep basketball star in Montclair, N.J., ventured out west for college, and he would graduate from CU in 1961. He worked at the Colorado Daily and for Fred Casotti in the CU sports information office while in school, and then for the Grand Junction Sentinel for a brief time before joining the Camera in 1962. He's seen it all during his days, and he agreed to the following at-length Q&A for Plati-'Tudes on the eve of his last day. It is quite enjoyable and most reflective of his time at the Camera.
Q: What brought you to Colorado?
Creedon: "My dad was a native of Minturn, he played second base for one of Harry Carlson's baseball teams back in 1929. My grandparents still lived in Denver, so that's really how I got out here."
Q: Few people know you were a standout prep basketball player and that you once tried out as a walk-on for Sox Walseth back in the late 1950s. Did you get a fair shake?
Creedon: "I'm sure I did. I don't think I was really that interested, either."
Q: You basically spent your entire adult life at the Boulder Camera. What was the newsroom like 40 years ago and what changes came down for the better and for the worse?
Creedon: "Actually, after college, I was going to go to either the Miami News or the Grand Junction Sentinel, and I went to the Sentinel. That was probably a wise choice. The guy I replaced at the Camera was Dave Rose, who went out to California. He more or less took pictures because the Camera didn't have a full-time photographer. So I had to take pictures for a while. Back in those days, at some places, you just snapped a couple of pictures and brought the camera equipment back to the paper. But at the Camera, you had to do everything from loading to developing the film. The Camera was tiny, maybe 10,000 in circulation. So the first real thing I ever got accomplished was to convince them to get a full-time photographer.
"Howard Baxter was the sport editor. We were in a tiny little building-four or five editors sat downstairs, three reporters sat upstairs in our same location, but a tiny building on 11th and Pearl. We were next to the Navy recruiting office, and the walls didn't go all the way to the top so we'd be able to hear their pitch to recruits. It was a six-day a week paper, we didn't have a Sunday edition until the summer of 1964. But it was a wonderful situation because it couldn't help but grow, and Howard provided great freedom. Doug Looney (later of Sports Illustrated fame) soon joined us and covered part-time the new Fairview High School, which was just starting.
"I didn't realize at the time that the arrival of my timing was almost perfect, as my first year back in 1962, Hale Irwin and Duke Prentup were seniors at Boulder High, Dick Anderson was a junior and it was the beginning of the golden era of Boulder High football. They were 9-1 that year, the only loss coming to Aurora High School with future CU stars like Dan Kelly, Kerry Mottl and John Farler. There were some great athletes across the board at Boulder. But as I've said, without putting down the Buffs, Boulder High was the much more interesting team at that point because CU had just got placed on probation. A year later, when Dick was a senior and Bobby was a sophomore, they won the state championship.
"You get involved in everything when a paper is that size, and I got to cover CU baseball, which I liked.
"But everything has certainly changed. There's more politics you have to put up with that you didn't 25 years ago, like everywhere else. One time, the Camera staff was down to Craig Harper and I going into the football season. Craig had another assignment, and I think I was out of town at the Big Eight Skywriters. But I returned to the office early to get things in shape. On one Monday afternoon alone, I hired about five people. Barney Hutchinson, Nick Larson, Cheryl Lindstrom, Coke DeBruin among them. You can't hire people that way today."
Q: What's the best change you've seen in the sports world in your career?
Creedon: "The best change, if you relate it to college athletics in my mind, was the victory of Chuck Neinas and the CFA, when they represented Oklahoma and Georgia, to overturn the backwards and asinine, whatever you want to call it, TV policy of the NCAA. That was the worst thing that ever had happened to college athletics, and college athletics would be better off today had they not had that ridiculous policy for almost 30 years of one game a week, although they loosened it, though very little, in later years. But there had to be the right mix, you couldn't have too much college football on. Boxing died because it was on every night. The shortage of college games back then contributed to helping the NFL become what it is today. It didn't hurt the Colorado program when (Bill) Marolt and (Bill) McCartney were here with the philosophy of scheduling great teams to get on TV all the time. The point was proven when the floodgates opened for college football and NFL ratings immediately went down. I believe Art Modell (Cleveland Browns owner) said that people used to really look forward to our games, but with college football on all day Saturday, people are OD'd on football come Sunday.
Q: And the worst?
Creedon: "It's hard to say. I think of things more in terms of college athletics. When you're talking about the good things, you can change the previous question into what was the worst thing and that would be the NCAA's early TV policy. So one of the best things might be the acceptance of women's athletics as one of the most dramatic changes in sport. The only thing that's been negative is that very few colleges have stepped up to support it. And I don't mean the athletic departments. The support and the enthusiasm is there for women's athletics in many areas. I grew up in an era when girls were lucky if they could get the gymnasium for an hour a week, and we probably even complained about that.
"The most disturbing thing going on right now, and it will turn out to be the most damaging in the long run, are the runaway costs of what schools are now paying football and basketball coaches. I don't see how anyone can justify $2 million a year for Bob Stoops or $250,000 salaries for coordinators. I probably speak a little bit from a selfish standpoint, because it will be hard for Colorado to play in that league. And most everybody else. Certainly, one thing Bill McCartney did over the years, and Eddie Crowder did too, was to continually strengthen their staffs. CU was a good program and was appealing to people, though CU was never No. 1 in salaries, and it really worries me that Gary Barnett could be in position where it will be hard to compete for assistants with the kind of money that's being thrown around, or at least being able to do so without costing something else down the road. The program are most fun to watch when everyone is spending around the same amount of money. When Irv Brown came in here as (baseball) coach, the top spender in the Big Eight was spending maybe $90,000 back in those days, with the bottom team spending $60K. So everyone had a chance. Now there are $50 million budgets and $14 million budgets out there, and that's too wide a discrepancy. Everybody shouldn't have to have a 100,000-seat stadium to make things work."
Q: You've followed CU as closely as anyone for the last four decades. If you had been the AD, what was one thing you would have done and perhaps the one thing you would not have?
Creedon: "If I was the AD, I also would have been the football coach at the same time, so if I had been Eddie Crowder I would never have stepped away from coaching after the 1973 season. That was the one unfortunate thing about it. Eddie had accumulated such an array of talent and that was proven two and three years later. And instead of hiring Bill Mallory, I would have hired Don James. James had a more impressive record at Kent State than Bill did at Miami, Ohio. Don had been around good programs. He was an assistant here and was an assistant at Michigan. He won quickly at Kent State, and he went in after the National Guard shootings when it was hard to recruit there and won faster there than Mallory did at Miami. I really believe the course of CU football history would have changed had he come here. There would have been no Chuck Fairbanks. But conversely, there may not have been a Bill McCartney era, either. But Don James did prove that he could win a national championship. Ironically, in the year McCartney won his national championship, a season with many key wins, I view the victory over Washington and James here (20-14) when they had Brunnell and all those great lineman as one of the greatest games ever played here."
Q: Who were your favorite CU sports personalities through the years?
Creedon: "Certainly Fred Casotti. He's the one who got me involved in the business (as a student assistant in the SID office). There was Fred and one student assistant, so I got to do a lot of good things then. He was gone one year for a long time working the Winter Olympics, and I distinctively remember a five-overtime win over Iowa State. I enjoyed Dal Ward, though he was not the head coach when I became involved with him, but Eddie Crowder did a nice job keeping him involved with the program. And then there was Eddie. He did a sensational job of really picking the program up out of the doldrums. Of course, everyone was affected by McCartney, who was a last minute choice in a coaching search that had bogged down. What I still remember is when he came in here, on a Monday I think, for some reason Neill Woelk was up there. Neill called up and said you won't believe this guy, he had a talk with Mac and here's Neill, at maybe 140 pounds, ready to go out and play. Neill said this is the guy, and he was obviously right on about that one. He eventually brought the most dominant player to CU that the university has ever had in Darian Hagan. Hagan never lost to Nebraska, and if he hadn't been hurt that third year, he would have been 3-0 against them instead of 2-0-1. The more you look at it, the more amazing it seems now. There are a million things you remember Darian for, but how can you forget that second play of the Texas game in '89 where he went 75 yards on Labor Day night and set the tone for the entire season. There wasn't any question then on how good Darian was going to be. In some ways, his last game may have also been one of his best, even though Colorado lost. CU changed its offense in a bowl game against Alabama, which was a great defensive team that won the national championship the next year. Here's Darian operating in something that was certainly not his offense, and they were a play or two away from winning that game. It was also sweet to see Colorado dominate Texas for a long period. I don't know if the Longhorns had a longer drought against any other program, and there were a lot of people involved in that. The great game in '94 when (Rashaan) Salaam burst on the national spotlight, with all those yards (317) on an incredibly hot day. I remember (Michael) Westbrook making a catch flat on his back for a key first down on the last drive. Westbrook was such an unselfish player as a senior, he was willing to sacrifice himself despite posting really big numbers earlier in his career.
"In the 1970's, though Eddie was the AD, he was also coaching so Fred was running most of the day to day aspects. There were some good people there-Bill Marolt, Irv Brown, Don Meyers. And I know I'm forgetting a lot of people, but I remember that group of coaches because they were all fairly young. Fred used to tell them, 'Don't be afraid to push everything as far as you can. Spend every nickel why you've got it.' Then there was Sox Walseth. You certainly couldn't fault Sox' record there for a long time. The fact that he won three Big Eight titles doing some amazing coaching jobs stand out, especially since they'd lose by 40 at K-State and then beat them here. And Bill Blair got the Events Center built, I always enjoyed Bill. You enjoy it when you had good people to work with in those jobs that were successful in what they were coaching. I also remember teams. And talk about characters, Arnie Weber was certainly one (the former CU president). I used to call him Arnie the AD, and he used to get a kick out of it, because his friends at Carnegie Mellon would be surprised to see him referred to in that way."
Q: Of all the events you covered, which ones stand out as the most memorable?
Creedon: "I start thinking most about football games. It certainly wouldn't rank real high in terms of significance, but when Colorado won Bud Davis' last game over Air Force in the finale of the '62 season, a huge upset and a big win, 34-10. The '72 Colorado win over Oklahoma probably deprived the Sooners of another national title they could have had in the 1970s.... just a great defensive effort. For Colorado fans, there were some very sweet victories over the Air Force Academy in what was a very short but bitter series between the two. John Farler kicked a game winning field goal in 1966 that went farther than he had a right to kick. In 1970, Air Force was headed to the Sugar Bowl and CU went down there and won 49-19 and had almost 700 yards in offense. In 1971, the year of the great CU wins at LSU and Ohio State, at the end of the year, the CU freshmen beat Air Force on Friday, 69-7, and then on Saturday the varsity won big (53-17). If memory serves me, Charlie Davis played almost all the way in that game, because Eddie said he was the only tailback he had. It was a wonderful series, and there was no love loss between Eddie Crowder and (AFA coach) Ben Martin. It's too bad it had to end. You can't leave out the first win over Nebraska in 19 years in 1986, or the two wins over Nebraska in 1989 and 1990 in the Darian Hagan era."
Q: And a memory from another sport?
Creedon: "It was either in 1966 or 1967 and Oklahoma came in here and had to win only one game to win the Big Eight baseball championship, and CU swept the three-game series behind Dan Kelly and a good left-hander, Taylor Toomey. I think he won on Friday and won in relief on Saturday. In a lot of ways, the basketball wins seem to blend together, and it was certainly big when Ken Charlton, Jim Davis, Eric Lee and Wilky Gilmore were on those great teams in the early 1960s. In '68 when Sox (Walseth) won the championship here, Colorado opened with four league wins, but then the semester break came. They opened the second half of the season and lost at Kansas on a Saturday night, in Jo Jo White's last game. He had started playing in the middle of the year and thus he had to leave in the middle of the year. So on Monday, they had to go to Missouri and Norm Stewart had the program really going and the Buffs won in overtime. It turned out to be the last game for Ron Smith, the big 7-foot-3 pivot from Pueblo, but that was the impetus to go on and win the Big Eight tile. You had Cliff Meely, Gordie Tope, a lot of good solid players."
Q: What was the most unusual story you ever covered? Creedon: "In some ways I enjoyed those kind of stories, but the drawn-out search for Bill Mallory's successor which ended up being Chuck Fairbanks was certainly interesting. Bud Wilkinson for a time being a candidate, and then Tom Osborne showing up for a visit here one Monday. Certainly that was one of the most unusual."
Q: Ever write something that you regretted or wished you had done differently later on? Creedon: "Dave, newspaper men never think they're wrong. I am sort of sorry we got into a brouhaha with Bill Mallory after a game here, and I almost got into a fight in the lockerroom with (assistant coach) Les Steckel. CU had lost to Nebraska in a game where the Buffs scored nothing but field goals (24-12 in 1976). The agreement was once Mallory came downstairs, the dressing room was open. Well he didn't want it open that day. Michael Knisley (a Camera scribe at the time) was up there, then I went up, and Knisley said, 'Les Steckel ripped up all my notes. I guess we're not supposed to be here.' I went up and challenged Les, who was always a great friend before and after that incident, but Bob Reublin (assistant coach) stepped between us otherwise Les would have surely flattened me. When I was looking through some of our old junk while cleaning up at the Camera, I found a staff picture someone had taken then and had written fictitious cut lines about that incident that year.
Q: What one story that you personally scooped the world on are you most proud or fond of?
Creedon: "The story that we ran that Fairbanks was going to be the coach, and at the very same time, the Denver Post had a story saying he wasn't. Howard Cosell may think he had the credit for it that night on Monday Night Football, but it was in the Camera that day."
Q: What sport do you feel is under-reported?
Creedon: "There's no college baseball team here anymore, so how can it be under-reported? I was a long-time college baseball fan, but I'm not one really anymore because of the aluminum bats. I'm also not one of those people beating down the door for CU to bring back baseball. A lot of the people who want the sport to come back were never there, it used to be a sport when you didn't play many non-league games, so the meat of the season was from the start of April until the middle or end of May, and that gave Colorado a better chance to compete. Now you see Air Force playing games in February, and it's just too hard to get baseball going here at that time of year. There are programs spending an inordinate amount of money on college baseball between new fields and complexes. If CU were to ever bring back one of the sports it cut, I'd say bring back wrestling. Rarely do you ever hear anybody ever say that."
Q: What gets too much attention?
Creedon: "The one thing that has changed the most and gets a little tiring is the coverage of recruiting, especially football. Perhaps if the rules were relaxed a bit and the coaches could talk more about it, maybe we could get rid of some of these outsiders who have made it a business talking about recruiting and making it the monster that has become. The zealousness of the coverage of recruiting is off the charts, and I sense that I will not read a lot of that stuff now that I'm retired. Some of it might be accurate, but a lot of it isn't. I can remember a time back in the 1980s, we'd try to pick out some of the top notch recruits and write something about them before signing day. Hagan. Williams, Oliver, Hemingway. I don't remember big stories on Charles Johnson, Michael Westbrook or lot of other guys who turned out to be great players. I thought for years the Long Beach paper's 'Best In the West' was the most accurate, and they charted their past. These other recruiting services don't seem to want to bring up their past when it comes to predicting who they hit or missed on. Then there was the general theme over the years that Notre Dame always had the best recruiting classes, that they could recruit by just phone or fax, and usually they were grossly overrated."
Q: Did you have a particular disdain for anyone?
Creedon: "As the media relations director for Colorado, you might not like my answer. You would probably get this general response from most media people, and we know it's not usually you and that it comes down from the coaches. Whether there are pro teams or university teams, there often is too much management of the news. That can lead to access usually being cut off. As you know, particularly when I was young, I was not quiet when I thought access was being limited. Whether it was access to the lockerroom after Mallory's team lost or the gang press conferences. I understand it because there is more media now, but I still preferred it when lockerrooms were open and you could still go in and talk to whomever, even if you had to fight off boosters. I do think there are very good journalists, in both print and radio-TV, who still find ways to corner and find the people they want to talk instead of the mass interviews. Part of the fallout is that with the mass press functions, you don't get to know the people, coaches, staff members as well as you used to be able to."
Q: What advice would you give a budding sportswriter in today's day and age?
Creedon: "This is true of every business. You'd better be as versatile as you can. Take advantage of all the changes. Be well versed, you're not just a newspaper writer anymore. It wouldn't hurt you to be involved in other things, whether it's the web or with companies that cross promote between print and electronic journalism."
Q: What do you plan to do now that you will have all this free time?
Creedon: "I haven't found any of this so-called 'free time' yet. I'm not going to worry about it, and the most amusing piece of advice I've heard was from Dean Graves, the old Alumni Association director. He said, 'Every day is going to be like a Saturday.' Great. I told him, 'Well, Dean, Saturday was always my worst nightmare. It was the busiest day of the week.' Certainly I think I'll have the same interests that I've always had."
Q: Any challenges ahead of you?
Creedon: "The big test for me will be to not interfere. I followed somebody (Howard Baxter) who never wanted to interfere since the first day I got there. All his advice was very low key, and there was none after he retired. The one thing I do remember is when he said, 'Dan, I want you to know that it's not always going to be this good.' We had a pretty nice little staff, but what he was saying is that we're not always going to be that lucky to have that many talented people. Sure enough, for various reasons, a few people left in a short period of time. But we always bounced back, and we were rather strong many times after that one instance. The Rick Reillys, Mike Judsons, Neill Woelks, Gary Baines', David Hutchinsons, Dave Schaefers, and many others, started showing up."
Q: Will you subscribe to the Boulder Camera?
Creedon: "I'll always care. You can't do something for 39 years and suddenly not care about it. So I'll be on the delivery route."
CONGRATS TO ZAK GILBERT... Former CU student assistant Zak Gilbert, the assistant media relations director for the Colorado Rockies, is moving on. His first love is football, and he's landed with a legendary franchise as he was named July 6 as the assistant public relations director for the Green Bay Packers. Zak's first job for me at CU? He was the one on a headset back in 1994 during the Iowa State game, relaying Rashaan Salaam's updated season yardage total to the scoreboard. Of course, Rashaan clicked over the 2,000 mark on a 67-yard touchdown run. We wish you good luck as Wisconsin's newest cheesehead!
WHERE DID HE GO... We mentioned last month that Blake Anderson left CU to enter private business. He is working for the DeLine Box Company in Denver, both in sales and design. We wish him good luck, he'll accept any TIPS for new business!
ANHOLD A WINNER... Our own assistant SID and soccer nut Lindsay Anhold was invited to participate in the Colorado Rapid' sixth annual Media Cup on June 12 at Mile High Stadium. Over 50 local media members, including some fringe types like our own Lindsay, played in the final one to be held at Mile High. She played on the winning team, which was coached by Rapid players Scott Vermillion and Junior Agogo, and played along side of several fourth estate members, including Keith Bleyer and Todd Mansfield of Fox Sports Net. We often get cool perks like this, when I was the flak for the Denver Bears in 1982, I got to bat against Bob Feller in one of the classic minor league exhibitions. Most of our beat media took five swings against him, I was a dork and came to the plate wearing cowboy boots. I hit the first one, albeit his softest throw home, well into the right field bleachers, but then I was a smart aleck and bunted one. Needless to say, the next three pitches I didn't come close to... Lindsay never mentioned if she scored a goal, but her forte has always been defense.
WE LOST A GREAT ONE... The news of the June 25 death of local radio legend Paxton Mills came as a shock to us all. People might not have known that he was a big CU fan, and every now and then attended a game in the press box (he loved it up there). I first met him when he was with KIMN back in 1982, when I was signed up to write the scripts for something goofy called "Fractured Football," basically fake play-by-play broadcasts of Denver Bronco games during the NFL strike. I think I wrote six scripts, and we always tried to make them interesting in some way, I do believe it was Paxton's suggestion to have one of the games end with the Broncos winning on a safety at the final gun. Paxton was one of the good guys, when it came to sports, he never overly criticized anyone or any team, as was a true supporter of all. His funeral service this last Monday was a radio who's who, from several former radio compadres like Steve Kelley, Rich Beall and Randy Jay to concert mogul Barry Fey in attendance. John Denver's "Rocky Mountain High" was played in the middle of the service, adding a very nice touch. As with Kent Groshong's passing earlier this year, Denver has lost another of it's great radio voices. Paxton, you will be missed.
(Paxton is remembered on KOOL-105's website at http://www.kool105.com/paxtonmemory.html for those who might be interested in more information.)
SANDERS BAGS ALUMNI ASSOCIATION GIG... John Sanders, who will graduate this August with a degree in sociology (he's actually done-completed class work through CU's "Maymester" program), didn't have to go very far to land his first career position. He is the new "Buffalo Herd Leader" with CU's own alumni association, a student membership program designed to build spirit and enthusiasm amongst current students. His official title is Student Membership Director and the main focus of his job is to help students have a great college experience and work to make them feel connected to the Alumni Association, even before they graduate. Sanders, who was a member of the '96 football recruiting class, had his playing career cut short due to neck and back injuries, worked two years as a student assistant in the football office. Best wishes to good ol' No. 26!
FREQUENT QUESTION... We get a lot of, "When does football start camp?" questions, especially since we start a week earlier than normal due to the Jim Thorpe Association game. So, the answer is... the freshmen report on Tuesday, July 31 with the varsity officially in the night of Friday, August 3. The newcomers hit the field for the first time on August 1, the varsity on August 6, the first day in pads will be August 9. There are a maximum of 29 practices allowed before the first game (Aug. 26 vs. Fresno State).
CORRECT TIME... The Denver Post inadvertently reported the incorrect time to this year's Nebraska game in Boulder on Friday, Nov. 23, the correct time is 1:30 p.m., the release out of the conference office listed 2:30 p.m. Central Time (we're like the Island of Misfit Toys from Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer sometimes because we're the lone school in the league in the good 'ol MT). The other part of the story it ran last Sunday (June 24) is correct, the CU-NU and Texas-Texas A&M games will now alternate the early kickoff in two year blocks, meaning once every four years we will in fact start at 10:00 a.m. mountain time. It wasn't a bad trade to insure CU-NU remained a part of the post-Thanksgiving doubleheader, as it really wasn't fair for A&M to always host an 11 a.m. local kickoff since it's the home designate the same years CU is in the Nebraska series.
ADD ANOTHER... One more former SID student assistant was at Game 7 of the Stanley Cup-Mark Breidenbach, a December graduate, was at the Pepsi Center representing the local ESPN sales office entertaining clients. Tough gig there, Mark!
THIS WEEK'S NUMBER... 420-plus. Pages, that is. The size of this year's football media guide, which goes to the printer on Tuesday. Lots of new stuff... link to our order form on the front page of our website! Yee-ha!
TRIVIA ANSWERS... CU -- Quite a few people came on the media scene here in the 1970s, but it now goes to Larry Zimmer, who first started covering CU in 1971. Godfather -- Nino Valenti, a student manager with CU between 1989 and 1993, he's referenced on both pages 19 and 32 of the book. His brother, Chris, another former CU equipment "roomer," is in his fifth year on the equipment staff with the Denver Broncos.
"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 email@example.com, and the subject may appear in the next Plati-'Tudes.