Jan. 11, 2003
Merry new year! Just seizing the opportunity to quote Eddie Murphy from Trading Places... Anyone else notice that Anna Kournikova's tattoo said: "Read Plati-'Tudes"...?
TRIVIA QUESTIONS... CU-Conference play started this week for the basketball teams... which schools do the CU men and women own their longest winning streaks against? Godfather-The main theme song to the Godfather is also known under what title?
BJORKLUND PROMO... University of Colorado junior Tera Bjorklund, one of the nation's top women's basketball players, has her own website to help aid in her promotion for All-America honors. It's chock full of stats, honors, photos, comments and even video highlights; coordinated by ace assistant SIDs Lindsay Anhold and Curtis Snyder, take a visit to: http://buffs.colorado.edu/tera/index.shtml.
YEP, HE WAS A BUFF... Also had a couple of inquiries about if the Ryan Sutter currently competing on ABC's "The Bachelorette" is in fact the same Ryan Sutter who played football for the Buffaloes in the mid-1990s. Yep, it sure is. One of 12 vying for the affection of 29-year-old pediatric physical therapist Trista Rehn, Ryan, 27, now resides in Vail and is a firefighter. He lettered between 1995-97 at free safety, originally joining the team as a walk-on before earning a scholarship. He led the team in tackles as a senior in '97 with 170, the second highest total in school history.
GUSSIED UP... Those of you who have visited the Coors Events Center recently should have noticed several decorative posters, about 15 feet in height, adorning the concourse walls on the second floor. Stop by and have look, as players both past and present are honored for men's and women's basketball as well as volleyball.
SEARS FALL CUP STANDINGS... The Buffaloes stand in 17th after the conclusion of seven fall sport championships, including football (ranked by poll position). Stanford leads with 443 points, with Penn State second (364), followed by Notre Dame (319), Michigan (297) and Wake Forest (277). CU has 187 points, the second ranked Big 12 school, as Texas is in at No. 14 just ahead of the Buffs with 201 points. Texas A&M was the third league school, in 27th with 145 points, with Nebraska next (29th, 137).
THIRD HIGHEST... Colorado finished 9-5 in 2002 and was ranked No. 20 in the final AP poll... the third highest final ranking ever for a 5-loss team, and the second-highest since AP went to a post-bowl ballot in 1968. In 1959, a 5-5 Notre Dame team was ranked No 17 in the final poll (Dec. 7); in 1984, an 8-5 Miami, Fla., team closed the year at No. 18. Only 11 teams with five losses have made the final AP rankings, three doing so in 2002 (Florida State and Virginia joined CU); Georgia Tech and Texas are the only ones to do it twice.
CU-WISCONSIN TOP CABLE BOWL GAME... The 4.40 rating that the CU-Wisconsin Alamo Bowl drew on ESPN was the highest of all bowl games on cable (ESPN, ESPN2) this past bowl season. Over 3.8 million households were tuned into the game; next on the list was the Holiday Bowl (Kansas State-Arizona State) with a 4.20, followed by the Outback Bowl (Florida-Michigan) with a 4.18. And despite the 31-28 overtime setback that left Buff fans sad, the game itself was ranked as the second most exciting of the 28 this year. First choice was the Ohio State title win over Miami in double overtime; their fifth choice would have ranked as my third-the Kansas State comeback win over Arizona State in the Holiday Bowl. And... of the 144 college games ESPN televised in 2002, the 4.4 Alamo Bowl rating was the highest as well.
MY VOTE FOR STORY OF THE YEAR... Did you happen to read Ivan Maisel's recap of Carson Palmer winning the Heisman Trophy? It was an excellent, well-written piece, one he seemed to put out within half an hour after Palmer was named the winner on Dec. 14. Check it out at http://espn.go.com/ncf/columns/maisel_ivan/1476466.html. If Chris Brown couldn't win it, I was glad to see it return out west. USC sports info director Tim Tessalone ran a clever smooth, but not overbearing or intrusive campaign, playing off a Tonight Show theme (Johnny Carson, get it?). And give some credit to ABC's Keith Jackson, who's word still means more than a lot of TV bubbleheads out there who were eliminating players as candidates on Sept. 7. Palmer selected USC, many believe, over Colorado in the very end back in the 1998 recruiting wars (Brian Cabral was recruiting him). CU landed his teammate, receiver John Minardi, but Palmer stayed in his home state. Palmer even won the northeast, to quell all the talk about an eastern bias. Now myself, being a New Yorker, don't buy into the eastern bias to the same degree as many do; however, one does have to wonder that of the six geographical regions of Heisman voting, the Northeast sector only has six Division I schools (Army, Boston College, Buffalo-as of 2000, Connecticut-and that's as of 2002, Rutgers and Syracuse); the region had more of an impact before the NCAA fractured off into divisions and teams like the eight Ivy league schools and Colgate, for example, were a integral part of the college football landscape.
HEY MOMS AND DADS... If you're looking for a safe way for your children to have fun yet be safe on the Internet, check out www.cubuffbrowser.com. This interactive site includes an animated model of Gary Barnett, worth logging on to just see alone-the "Cyber Gary" will interact with your child on-line. It's a division of www.MomsandDads.com. Check it out for your family today!
JAY SFERRA IS ALIVE AND WELL... in Tempe, Ariz. The former CU baseballer is the top assistant coach as well as recruiting coordinator for the Arizona State Sun Devil baseball team. A letterman in the mid-1970s, Jay wants baseball back at Colorado some day... and judging by his current ascent up college baseball's coaching ranks, there's no doubt he wants to coach his alma mater when the sport returns, hopefully as planned as part of our Athletics 2010 vision.
TO KILL A RUMOR... Received an e-mail from a concerned fan about a potential switch to black helmets. Equipment man Mike Smith says it ain't so. "Not in the stars, has not even been discussed." The rumor included that the logo would be scrapped for COLORADO in the uniform font. While I've gotta admit that might actually look cool, we love the black "pigalo" on the gold. So there are no changes planned anytime soon.
GOOD LUCK CHRIS... Chris Brown announced last Friday (Jan. 10) that he will forego his senior year and opt for the NFL draft. While it would have been nice to see him stick around and make a run at CU's all-time rushing and scoring records (he finished fourth on both lists), it's easy to understand why he made the choice he did. After all, if IBM approached a junior in our business school, knowing he could write computer programs like no one else and offered him or her $1 million a year, what would that student do? Stick around for some poli sci classes? I think not. Good luck to both Chris and Marcus Houston, who has decided to further his education and football career elsewhere. (A note on the latter: don't believe some of the crap, as it relates to me, being posted in some message rooms by these anonymous types. They're full of it.)
Q & A WITH A BUFF... This latest edition of "Q & A With A Buff" is with the legendary Russell "Sox" Walseth. Walseth, who will turn 77 this April 6, coached the CU men's basketball team from 1956-1976 and the women from 1980-83. While enjoying his retirement, he is currently fighting cancer, but he does have a recent history of overcoming some health issues. On January 9, I had the privilege of sitting down with Sox, along with retired Boulder Camera sports editor Dan Creedon and sportswriter Neill Woelk. We chatted for almost three hours, capturing what it was like from when he played at CU to the present. He coached in over 600 games and has seen over 1,000 between the two programs, and speaks fondly of each coach that followed him on the bench and how Tom Miller even stopped by on his way out of town to give him his CU golf bag, one he still uses. Below is an in-depth interview with Sox, and the Camera also ran a detailed look back at CU basketball in its Sunday (Jan. 12) editions:
Q: How is your health?
A: "Well, I'm battling cancer. But there is hope for the future. You know, everybody's going to get something."
Q: How did the nickname "Sox" come about?
A: "I really don't know. Everywhere I've gone, it stuck to me. Think it started when I was a little kid, and even when I was in the Navy (stationed in Helena, Mont.), a couple of guys knew about it and tagged me with it there."
Q: You played basketball and baseball at Colorado, but talk about how you returned here as a coach.
A: "I got out of college and was playing baseball. My mother kept writing, when are you going to get a job? I kept saying I don't know, I might go get a masters. But I had a couple high school jobs lined up. About Labor Day I get a call from my mother ... in those days, nobody ever called long distance unless somebody died. She found me in a coffee shop in Victoria, B.C. She said Dean Carlson called and said Frosty (Cox) wants you to be an assistant coach. He'll send you a telegram if he can get your address. This is around Labor Day and I'm getting a little nervous myself. I mean I'm hitting about .250 for the old Victoria A's...but I get a telegram asking if I'd be assistant basketball coach, freshman coach, for a couple of thousand dollars. So I show up and that's how I started. And when I show up, they tell me I'm intramural director. And that turned out to be a lot of work."
Q: You played and coached for Frosty Cox. What was he like?
A: "He was tough-nosed, but he was a good guy. I remember we used to think here was this old guy, when he was actually only 38 or 39, and he'd go out and play half court with us."
Q: What do you miss from coaching?
A: "Being around the kids, and getting together with other coaches and with your own staff after games. That's what I really liked about baseball, we had a game every night."
Q: Is coaching that much different today?
A: "It's the same deal. You had to win then; you've got to win now. There are a lot of problems you have now that we didn't have then, but I know there are a lot then they don't have now. Like planes, trains and buses."
Q: Who had the worst gym back then?
A: ""Missouri. It was just like ours, except we used to sweep our floor once in a while. We came in the dressing room one time and there was a foot of water on the floor. Shoes were floating around. It was a little tiny room with hooks on the wall and benches along the wall. The shower was way down the hall. KU used to have a worse one that that. You had to dress in another building, then you walked about a block to get into Hawk Auditorium, which was a stage. They had a stage and the crowd was down below. You had to walk down the aisle, and on the other side was a wall. They really needed a new one. Oklahoma had an old gym that seated about 5,000. OSU was a big old gym. But no question the worst was Missouri, but Iowa State wasn't any gem, either."
Q: And who had the best?
A: "Kansas State. They got the fieldhouse built in about 50-51. Ahearn. That was a big-time deal."
Q: How did the large crowds in a place like Balch Fieldhouse help?
A: "It helped tremendously... a lot of noise. In those days there was very little television, so you had to go to the games to see all these guys you were reading about, home and away. But obviously, we won a lot more games at home than we did on the road. The whole league was like that."
Q: What was traveling like back then?
A: "You should have seen some of the planes we were flying around in. You wouldn't have liked them, either. I remember one time, end of the 50-51 season and we just lost at Oklahoma... we're in a DC-3, and everything in Colorado was closed down due to snow. We're flying west, it's midnight, and the snow started to reach Kansas. We were going to land in Garden City, but there was a foot of snow. So we had to turn around because we were running out of gas, landed in Dodge City where there was only six inches on the runway. Some old guy in a truck pulls up, puts some gas in the wing, and we take off in this blinding blizzard and make it back to Denver. This was the last game of the season... I'm thinking it's been a bad season, but this tops it off. We'd take the train to Kansas, Kansas State, Nebraska, and when I was playing, to Iowa State.
Q: Who was the best player you ever coached against?
A: "(Wilt) Chamberlain. When they came here we held him to six points. We put five guys on him and just dared them to shoot. We got the ball we went into a delay game. Everybody did that. Everybody had a delay game because there was no clock. We were ahead until right at the end and then they got ahead and we had to go out and push it up a little big. We had to leave the zone and go out and press and foul and all that stuff. They beat us by about 20 points... but we were in the game. We had a couple guys and told them 'I don't give a crap where Chamberlain goes, you go with him. He goes to the washroom, you go with him.' They didn't take into consideration the score. At the end of the game, he'd go out to midcourt and we'd have two or three guys following him out there and we had one guy on defense underneath and they were just layin' them in. They (Kansas) had really good players other than Chamberlain."
Q: What was your most dramatic road-home turnaround?
A: "The biggest one, and most important one, was when I was an assistant. K-State had beaten us 92-40. It wasn't so important to us, but it was important to K-State. They poured it on, or at least we thought so. Two or three weeks later we played them out here. It was between KU and K-State to probably win the national championship. They had been No. 1 and No. 2 all year, and there wasn't anybody that was going to beat either one of them. The winner of the NCAA went to the Olympics that that year (1952). That was really an important game, and they couldn't get knocked off by somebody like Nebraska or Colorado or Oklahoma. They had to win them all, and if they split, they'd have a playoff. Everybody was getting ready for the playoff. KU had (Clyde) Lovellette and all those guys. So we end up beating K-State by about 10 points. That was a very, very good victory for us. They didn't have to have a playoff, KU ended up winning the NCAA and they had about half their team on the Olympic team. The other half came from the AAU teams. In those days the AAU was really good. They were as good as the pros or better. They used to have the tournament in Denver. You couldn't get into that thing."
Q: What was recruiting like when you were coaching?
A: "They had a limit on what you could give a kid, but you could give 100 basketball scholarships if you had the money those days. The first year I coached here you could not send a kid any form of transportation to visit the campus. They had to pay their own way. That eliminated a lot of kids. One alum could buy them a plane ticket or train ticket, so there was a lot of that going on. But it couldn't be a pool of guys. It had to be one guy flying them in or paying for the ticket. It was so unwieldy and hard to check. It really hurt us a lot because we were depending on having the kid visit the campus a lot and seeing those mountains. That was our selling point. They changed that, and then they had a scholarship limit of 20. You could split them up. Give a partial -- one guy room and board, another guy tuition and fees, if they would do it. And you could get a lot of out-of-state kids for tuition and fees. We really had for a while unlimited grant-in-aids for tuition and fees. You could split up the full rides any way you wanted to.
"Everybody had a freshman team. The Big Eight (7) in their wisdom wouldn't let the freshmen play in any games. So we had this freshmen team and we had to scrimmage each other before the varsity games. They didn't change that until the 1960s. Then we finally got six or eight games and played some junior college teams, things like that."
Q: Who was CU's first black player?
A: "Our first black player that I remember ... we might've had some before I got here as an assistant, but I don't think so... that was Jimmy Liggins from Pueblo. That had to be around 1950-51. That's the first one I remember. Of course nobody else had any. I can remember when KU had their first black player, and we played Stanford when they had their first black player." (Liggins was the first African-American to play at Colorado, on the freshman team in 1951-52. He was a 5-10 forward.)
Q: Were there any troubles on the road?
A: "We never had any trouble anywhere except Tulsa, Oklahoma. After a game we went to this restaurant and one of the guys came up and said, 'we just can't serve blacks. There's a restaurant around the corner for your black player.' So we all walked out and went around the corner and got something to eat over there. There was absolutely no discrimination. Now maybe the kids felt differently. But we never had any trouble with housing, travel, nothing.
"The first two recruits I recruited when I got to Colorado were Stan Williams and Billy Lewis (both black). That would've been in the spring of '56. By then we could have full rides, so we were in business. Both of them played. That wasn't a big story. Nobody thought much about it. But coaches figured out by then that if you didn't recruit black players, you weren't going to beat anybody."
Q: How did you land Wilky Gilmore?
A: "Bill Toomey... same high school. And there was a track kid named Gene Wild. Both of them really helped. They wanted to get Wilky out here and he was looking around. He didn't want to stay out there ... except for Yale. He was really looking at Yale. Our great recruiting efforts, our effervescence, the personality of the head coach ... Nah, Bill Toomey was the guy. I'd never heard of him. But he could play. If he hadn't hurt his knee, he would have been one of the big-time, all-time great players in the NBA. He really wrecked his knee. It was against Oklahoma."
Q: Who were your favorite teams?
A: "I never had a team I didn't like. Even when things were going crappy, I still liked the kids. I figured it was my fault more than their fault. ... Favorite teams? Not really. I can say that honestly. I think we had a lot of teams that reached their maximum potential, but that's just because I was coaching 'em. A lot of people didn't think so ... just kidding."
Q: Was there anybody you liked coaching against?
A: "Probably one of my favorite all-time guys was Jerry Bush from Nebraska. Most coaches are pretty good guys, as far as I'm concerned. Most coaches I ran into are really nice guys. I was at a coaching clinic 10 years ago in Uruguay, and they had the same look in their eyes. If they didn't win, they were on the ropes and going to get fired. Wondering when the axe is going to hit and why they got screwed in that last game."
Q: Who were your best five players?
A: "No way you can do that. Every year I had a couple good kids. But it's in relationship with who they're playing against, an era, and how they shot. I always thought there was a tremendous improvement in basketball ability in about the early 50s. They went from about 33 percent shooting percentage... there were a lot of missed shots. I thought that was one big maximum jump. When I was playing, in the middle 40s, nobody shot the jump shot, even then. It's interesting that the one guy that I would say invented it, certainly started it, was Kenny Sailors from Wyoming. Everyone thinks Luisetti did, but he didn't. He shot a one-handed shot. But it wasn't jumping up. Wyoming had Sailors and they won the national championship. That league was pretty good in those days. Wyoming won a national championship, Utah won it, we won it, all in the space of about seven or eight years. It wasn't any bunch of dogs."
Q: You mean the NIT rather than the NCAA, right?
A: "In those days the NIT was the national championship. In 1939 the NCAA started the NCAA Tournament, which started on a shoestring. Oregon beat Wisconsin, I think, in the finals, in 1939. But in the mid-40s, New York was the big publicity so the NIT was the big-time tournament and the NCAA was the stepchild until about the mid-50s, maybe earlier than that, when they really eclipsed the NIT. Wyoming won the NIT, Utah won the NCAA, and we won the NIT one year and were second in the NCAA one year. My senior year in college (1947-48) is the year we changed leagues. From the Big 7 (Skyline) to the Big 7. We went to the Big 7 tournament in '47 and thought, 'Man, these are some pretty good teams.' We were always dinkin' around with tuition and fees, trying to get some kid a job hashing. But going into the other league was really an eye-opener. They can say what they want about how good the Skyline was, but I thought the Big 8 was really tough."
Q: How was playing in New York?
A: "That was a big deal. We stayed right there on Broadway. The first year we stayed there I got 20 points in that game and I never got 20 points the rest of my career (versus NYU and Dolph Schayes in 1947-48). We had a pretty good reputation because we'd won so many games in the early '40s. After that, I went downhill."
Q: What did you think of the old Big Seven and Eight Preseason Holiday Tournament?
A: I liked it. Everyone stayed there, in Kansas City, everyone knew each other. Everyone stayed in the same place, ate in the same restaurants. There might still be some guys you didn't like, but everybody really knew each other. After the games, all the coaches would get together. Those were the days of innocence, I guess. Of course nobody was making any money."
Q: Talk about those back-to-back Big Eight champion teams in 1962-63.
A: "That was really a close-knit team. They really liked each other. The first year we had three guys who played on the same high school team (Eric Lee, Ken Charlton and Gil Whissen). All from Denver South. Guys would say you can't win with Colorado boys, I'd say I don't know, look at this. (Milt) Mueller was from Cheyenne Wells. We always took the train to K-State game and the train would stop in Cheyenne Wells about midnight. Everybody always gave him a tough time. He just showed up and we gave him a scholarship after a year."
Q: There was an unsung hero on that '61-62 team.
A: "Lonnie Melton. He didn't play all year. If we were 20 points ahead or behind, he might play a little bit. The last game of the year, we're playing KU here and if we won, we won the conference. Our kids were nervous, obviously. KU wasn't much better than .500. I look up at the scoreboard and there's four minutes to go and we're down eight points, 58-50. It looks like we're blowing the conference. They were playing a zone and we couldn't hit our hats. We kept shooting and shooting and shooting and couldn't hit the rim. Finally, I say, 'Lonnie, you're supposed to be an outside shooter. Get in there.' Lonnie Melton, I believe, hit something like six or seven that would be NBA three-pointers to keep us in the ballgame. We made a rally and won. After the game, everyone is saying 'Why didn't you play him sooner?' CU won 63-59, outscoring KU 15-1 the last 4:17; Melton drained six baskets, all in the final 8:39 of the first half, including one at the buzzer to revive a lackluster offense).
"Now the next year, we go into the last game of the season at Kansas State. They haven't lost a game at home for about 10 years. I thought well, we'll finish second and that's not too bad. They're one game ahead of us. I look up at the scoreboard with about a minute to go and we're up by 15 points. The crowd is quiet. They have one of those old circular clocks and nobody knows for sure how much time is left. The gun finally went off, and that put us in a tie with K-State. We won the K-State game out here, so that was the tiebreaker and we went to the NCAA. They had the NCAA at Kansas State the next week. They were getting ready to host their own regional because it was going to be between them and Cincinnati. Of course we went out there and got clobbered by Cincinnati."
Q: There was a player who could have been in the mix then as well that few know about.
A: "Connie Hawkins. He could have been here in '62-63. He was out here during the summer, in school, trying to get in. Guy said well, if he'd gotten a B in this English, we'd let him in. But he got a C."
Q: How many of your teams would have gone to the NCAA's if they had always taken 64 teams?
A: "I don't know. We were in the first division most of the time, I imagine in the top four ... we probably would've been there 10 times."
Q: What were the differences between coaching the men and women?
A: "Oh, I don't know ... we just did the same thing with the girls that we did with the guys. Girls were more receptive to learning, but they had a lot farther to go, at that time. Not anymore. They're on par with the boys now as far as knowing the game. Our girls had a lot of fun. They spent more time figuring out where to eat after the game than they did worrying about the game. Or what we're going to have on the menu for the pre-game meal. But they also won a lot of games."
Q: After coaching the men for so long, did coaching the women matter as much?
A: "We're playing Texas and there's nobody there. A friend asks how I'm doing and I tell him Oh, I don't give a damn about these girls' games. We just have fun and mess around. Kind of apologetic ... and about five minutes into the game I get a technical. After the game, he says, 'Yeah, you don't give a damn...'"
Q: How good was Lisa Van Goor?
A: "I think she could more than hold her own. She's like Chamberlain. You think Chamberlain could play against these guys? Everybody thinks their generation is the best. But Lisa could play against anybody and be a star. That's true. And that was with a big ball. Think what she'd do with a little ball. ... I think we beat Tennessee by 20 points out here. We weren't chopped liver." (CU beat No. 10 Tennessee, 78-60, on Dec. 8, 1981; CU was 43-0 at home under Walseth in three seasons.)
Q: Does a smaller ball help the ladies?
A: "(It) makes a lot of difference. The old ball, girls couldn't throw it the length of the court. Nobody could break on a fast break. It makes a lot of difference. And it should be easier to shoot."
Q: What about officials, officiating and rules?
A: "When they started, women's officials were about as inexperienced as you could find. But they soon improved. It's a difficult game to officiate. How'd you like to be an official? It's tough, probably the toughest of all the major sports to officiate. As much as I know about basketball, I'd have a tough time refereeing scrimmages. And now there are a lot more rules, to the point where if Wilt Chamberlain played today, there's no telling how much he'd score."
Q: What are your thoughts of the modern day 3-pointer?
A: It certainly has changed the game. Every rules change we've had... has taken away the ability of the team with the poorer material to win. The 3-point line is not anywhere near what the clock has done, but it is a factor. You think David Harrison would see the ball much if they didn't have the 3-point line? They'd put five guys on him and say go ahead and shoot."
Q: How much money did you make coaching?
A: "I got $2,000 when I started, and $24,000 at the end... as the head coach. I didn't even have a contract. I'd just go over and see how much I was being paid. I never signed anything. I'm not poormouthing it ... $24,000 wasn't bad. But I never thought I'd see a day when coaches were making $500,000 or more, or even $50,000. We had nine-months assistants usually, and they made around $6,000, I think."
Q: How does Colorado get basketball popular here again?
A: "Well, if they don't like the way Ceal's teams are playing, there's no hope. And the boys ... they've got a helluva team. Everybody's on Ricardo's rear-end, but not me. I think he's doing a great job with those guys. With this bunch of kids, without trying to put pressure on him, they've got a chance to get a little lucky along the line and really have a good year. I'd hate to play him in Boulder, I'll tell you that. (I think the) main thing that screws our attendance up is parking. Trying to get here and get in the game and fight all that stuff to get in the game. Nobody gets there at 7 o'clock anymore. There must be some way to get cars in and out quickly.
"It's hard to understand (the low student support). We used to have great student support, but there was little else to do. When I was in school we had one guy in our house that had a car. Where were you going to go on a Saturday night... heck, take a date... or on a Wednesday night? Students would get there an hour ahead of time and start chanting, and that made it hard for the visiting team. But there's obviously a lot more to do today than back then.
"But I'd really like to believe that by the end of the year, our place won't be big enough. How's that for going out on a limb? I don't think our guys are going to be beat at home. It comes down to winning. Kansas State is a prime example; it used to be the best place in the conference in terms of interest, rabid fan support. They'd line up two hours in advance. They always had pretty good teams (under Jack Gardner, Tex Winter and Jack Hartman), and they didn't lose too many and hardly ever at home. But then they had a few bad years in a row, and support waned a bit. It has nothing to do with football success at all; sorry to say, you have got to win. Win, and they'll come."
Q: You've been a regular at the Coors Events Center since you retired.
A: "I've been to most of the games, men's and women's. I like to watch CU games... nowhere else to be, if you're me. It's a nice honor (to have the floor named for him). I impress a lot of relatives... here I am, this Norwegian, and there's our name on the court."
Some other historical tidbits Sox relayed to us included:
- The direction of the floor in Balch Fieldhouse was switched from north-south to east-west for the 1959-60 season. It actually lowered the capacity a bit (to around 3,800), but increased the number of sideline seats. The reason was because the permanent chair-back seats were behind the baskets in the old formation, and those 1,500 seats became much more "primo" after the switch. -Herman "Hank" Knoche, who played at Colorado in 1945-46, finished up collegiately at Washington & Jefferson and was selected by Pittsburgh in the very first NBA draft in 1947. He would eventually become a prominent official with the CIA.
MR. TORRINGTON RESURFACES... Remember Kyle Smith, an offensive tackle from Torrington, Wyoming? He recently e-mailed in a message for the CU athletic family: "Let the players know how proud all of us past-Buffs are of the toughness and heart they are playing with. I look back with pride with my time as a Buff and still use the lessons learned in the hard knocks world of college football every day in my career. I'm a trial lawyer in Wyoming now but I still bleed Black & Gold and follow all of the games closely. My best to Doc Kreis and the rest of the staff." Kyle married fellow alum, Geri (CU ' 97), and they have a 4-year old son, Kolter, who enjoys running into things head-first. Kyle calls this "A Matt Russell-esque trait and am afraid he may be future Cabral disciple (i.e. linebacker)." They live and work in Worland, Wyoming, about two hours from Yellowstone in the Big Horn Basin. He has been practicing law in Wyoming for about 18 months and is the Chair of the Young Lawyer's Division for the Wyoming State Bar. Good to hear from you, Kyle!
AS DOES KENT DAVIS... Also recently corresponded with Kent Davis, good ol' number 7 between 1980 and 1984. As a senior in '84, he was third on the team in tackles with 85, with 52 stops and three interceptions as a junior the year before. He writes that he's been, "Married for 15 years, have two wonderful sons, working as a computer tech in an elementary school." He also serves as the co-defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach at West Lake High school in Atlanta, Ga. Any former teammates who'd like to catch up with him, his e-mail address is DavisKM@fulton.k12.ga.us.
CONGRATS TO MIKE MORAN... Former Colorado sports information director and United States Olympic Committee's head PR honcho Mike Moran was recently presented with the prestigious Douglas MacArthur Award, the USOC's highest honor. It is awarded to individuals who have dedicated their lifetime to sport, to America's athletes, and to the spirit of the Olympic Games. Mike was CU's SID from 1968-79, following a legend, the late Fred Casotti, and who lured me to CU by offering me $500 a year and a defined role in the office (I later heard he had said, "Great... We've got some sucker from New York who wants to come here and do our football and basketball stats!"). Way to go, Mike!
HEY! A TV PROMO I'D LIKE TO SEE... "Tonight, on an all new Boston Public. A bake sale raises badly needed funds for the school's debate team." I just had to do that, I mean, is it just me, or does that show overdo it? And I've only seen the promos they force you to watch during football games or Seinfeld...
IN RETROSPECT... Ever watch those year-end shows, the ones where they wax poetically pf those who have passed on? I was watching one that covered the deaths of both Jack Buck and Chick Hearn, and realized that I had the privilege of working with both on several occasions. It was simply as a game day stats guy for both, when the Hearn and the Los Angeles Lakers were in town in the 1980s to play the Nuggets, or when Buck was here for national radio for a Broncos game. But you can get to know a person in those situations pretty quick, and both were great people, fun to work with, and obviously at the top of their profession. It's not hard to know why their fans miss them.
AND ANOTHER PRIVILEGE... Also had the privilege to work the Fiesta Bowl and witness Ohio State's dramatic win in person (again, as a stats geek, keeping track of miscellaneous numbers for both the bowl and ABC). Did you know the Buckeyes won that game averaging just 2.0 yards on first down? Maybe it was because Miami averaged just 2.6; with all those second-and-longs, points in regulation were obviously hard to come by. The best part was a three-day schmooze fest with the top media in college football, as I did my best to feed 'em all Buff tidbits for 2003.
THE BIG 2-0... As of 5 p.m. on Wednesday, January 8, I became a full-time employee at CU for 20 years. Yup. Got the certificate from the chancellor commemorating the occasion, and am now vested 45% toward retirement, which if I time it correctly, will be about three years after I join the Senior PGA Tour. Okay, stop me when I'm funny...
THIS WEEK'S NUMBER... 20-4. That's the combined non-conference record of the CU men's and women's basketball teams, the best since a similar record by both in the 1994-95 season.
TRIVIA ANSWERS: CU-- Both are against Texas A &M: the women have won eight straight and the men three in a row. Godfather---"Speak Softly Love."
"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.