A notes column penned by David Plati, who is wrapping up his 21st year as Colorado’s Assistant Athletic Director for Media Relations.
Welcome to Plati-‘Tudes... Summer is just days away so it’s time for the spring wrap... I’m all over the place below, but that’s the beauty of P-Tudes: no rules, bay-bee!... This summer won’t be so quiet, as new athletic director Mike Bohn, my new colleague here in cyberspace, has the entire department energized and you’ll be hearing a lot of things CU leading up to the 2005-06 openers in soccer, volleyball and football, all before Labor Day.
TRIVIA QUESTIONS... CU—Former CU wide receiver Darrin Chiaverini has a big role in the current movie remake of The Longest Yard (see below); name the former Buffalo defensive back who got TV time starring in commercials in the 1970s. Seinfeld—Name the one episode that both George and Kramer did not appear in (hint: he wasn’t Cosmo Kramer yet, so it was an earlier one). Bonus—name the only other episode that Kramer was absent.
CHIV IN THE LONGEST YARD... Darrin Chiaverini, who lettered four years at wide receiver for the Buffaloes between 1995 and 1998, had a big role playing receiver for the guards team in the remake of The Longest Yard, currently in theatres and starring Adam Sandler. The movie, an update of the 1974 classic that starred Burt Reynolds and Eddie Albert among others, pits the inmates at a prison against the guards. Chiaverini actually helped tutor Sandler on a few of the intricacies of the game, especially on catching the football (which Sandler did on a few trick plays as he was the quarterback for the prisoners). Chiaverini, wearing No. 86 in the photo (above, next to No. 39, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin), got to mingle with the movie’s stars, such as Reynolds, Chris Rock, James Cromwell and Nelly. He led CU in receiving as a senior in ’98, hauling in 52 balls for 630 yards and five touchdowns; he’s 12th all-time with 97 catches for 1,199 yards. He played Arena Football this past spring and has hopes of returning to the NFL one more time. (Photo courtesy of Paramount Pictures.)
ADVANCE WARNING... Those of you who loved our football media guide, all of its 492 pages, be forewarned that the NCAA has instituted a mandatory 208-page count for all guides beginning this year. So, I have to trim 284 pages, which means a lot of our detailed history and records will have to come out. Those will still be available here on CUBuffs.com, though it just won’t be the same. For the record, I did not support the cut; all 12 Big 12 SID’s did not. I won’t bore you with the details, but suffice it to say the detailed (and time-consuming) arguments submitted by myself and some colleagues were basically totally ignored by the sub-committee in charge of reviewing the legislation. Hopefully, this will be reversed at some point in the future. It is a shame that those of us who dedicated our publications to in-depth historical and program reviews will be penalized because of this totally ridiculous and unnecessary legislation.
COLORADO SECOND TO CALIFORNIA... The state, that is; with all but three NCAA championships decided (baseball and men’s and women’s outdoor track remain), Colorado has the second most NCAA Division I titles in 2004-05, trailing only California (seven). Between CU’s two in men’s and women’s cross country and Denver’s pair in skiing and men’s hockey, that’s four titles for the Centennial State; 31 have been awarded to date, plus the BCS champion in football. Georgia has three (all by UGA: men’s golf, women’s gymnastics and women’s swimming) as does Indiana has three (Notre Dame won women’s soccer and fencing, Indiana won men’s soccer). In the conference battle, the Big 12, Pac-10 and SEC are all tied with six; the Big 10 has four and the ACC three. The roll call of schools with championships this season: 3—Georgia; 2—Colorado, Denver, Notre Dame, Stanford, UCLA; 1—Arkansas, Army, Auburn, Baylor, California, Duke, Indiana, Johns Hopkins, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Carolina, Northwestern, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Pepperdine, USC, Tennessee, Wake Forest.
THAT NFL/NBA STAT... Utah recently did some excellent research on schools which had a top five pick in the NFL and NBA drafts in the same season; the Denver Post on April 17 picked up the research and ran it. Only five schools have met that criteria: Michigan (1966, Tom Mack No. 2 NFL/Cazzie Russell No. 1 NBA); Tennessee (1968, Bob Johnson No. 2 NFL/Tom Boerwinkle No. 4 NBA); Kentucky (1978; Art Still, No. 2 NFL/Rick Robey, No. 3 NBA); North Carolina (1981; Lawrence Taylor No. 2 NFL/Al Wood No. 4 NBA) and Illinois (1990; Jeff George No. 1 NFL/Kendall Gill No. 5 NBA).
Now the Buffaloes came close on the NFL/NBA requirement: in 1974, Bo Matthews was the No. 2 pick in the NFL draft by San Diego, and Scott Wedman the No. 6 selection in the NBA draft by the Kansas City-Omaha Kings. However, there was an ABA draft that year, and the Memphis Pros selected Wedman as the No. 2 overall pick. So technically, CU can also join that select group.
NO, NOT GOLF... Is it just me, or have golf analysts seemed to have stepped it up a notch in their criticisms during PGA Tour coverage? Comments on wrong club selection, bad decision to play to a certain spot, etc., seem up in number. Well, I have an idea. Let’s have a tournament for all the analysts, maybe a one-day affair, with complete Tour rules, and make public their scores. That would shut them up. Johnny Miller, the most despised analyst in the sport judging by surveys or pro golfers, saw his game blow up because he got the yips (inconsistent putting inside three-to-five feet), if what I’ve read often is true. Most if not all analysts are no longer on the Tour if they ever were; don’t tell me Tiger Woods is making a mistake on a club selection or that he may have won the Masters but didn’t dominate it. He just won the Masters—something most of the “experts” probably never were invited to play in, much less won. And that brings me to something from my April Stampede Plati-‘Tudes...
NANTZ ONE OF THE ALL-TIME BEST... Don’t know how many of you saw the story back in March in USA Today on CBS’ Jim Nantz working his 20th NCAA Final Four.
I first met Jim back in 1989 when CBS had the rights to Big Eight national television football games. Let me just tell you the man just drips with class. That’s why this quote from him was of no surprise to me: “My style is a tribute to the men who preceded me (he was citing Brent Musburger, Jim McKay, Pat Summerall, Jack Whitaker, Chris Schenkel, Dick Enberg, Keith Jackson, Curt Gowdy, Jack Buck, Jim Simpson, Verne Lundquist). They are all Hall of Famers who were, and are, great storytellers. That is what we are there to do, not stand out with a red light over our head.”
He continued: “Broadcasting is different today. People are looking for a guy who barks the loudest. A lot of that is self-serving, an attempt to grab the headlines. I’ve never concerned myself with that. The fan is looking for an honest effort. That’s what I try to bring to the job—honesty, integrity and a heartfelt effort.”
How refreshing is this? Look again at that list of names. How many times can you say that any of them make themselves part of the story? And the word integrity can be attached to all like a Ph. D. tag. There are many out there who should take notice, on the local, regional and national level. But it seems like it’s only going to get worse, especially as newspaper reporters transition into broadcasting gigs on the side. The way they get noticed is to scream the loudest. Be the most obnoxious. The old guard is vanishing, and style over substance is triumphing.
(Speaking of which, one of the quotes on my wall for years has been: “Hype is the triumph of image over substance.” Learned that in the CU journalism school—from 9News’ Ed Sardella.)
The thing in this country, controversy and negative stuff sells, or so everyone thinks. I hope every American understands the basic premise of “freedom of the press.” But the line has been greatly blurred over the last couple of decades. Innocent peoples’ lives are uprooted and often ruined under the claim of, “Well, it’s the public’s right to know.”
Many in the media will tell you, and it was backed up by a USA Today survey of media people last year (to the tune of 61 percent), that ethics are not as much the concern anymore as is turning a profit. But the first amendment, last time I checked, did not say, “Freedom to make a profit at the expense of embarrassing people, ruining lives or trafficking in gossip.”
Okay, I’m off the P-Tudes soapbox, but please, can the journalism profession return to churning out more people like Jim Nantz and less like “Heywood Ulookatme.”
THE BCS... May is the annual time for BCS bashing by many nationwide. This time around was no different, as once again some in the media were figuring out a new way to rip into what’s admittedly has been a not-always-perfect system.
Those who follow my columns know that I’ve been a BCS-diehard, and I’m as staunch as ever in support of the system. Not always because I’ve felt that it is the end-all for selecting the nation’s best teams — I’m also on record for saying we need to junk the computer poll element of it — but because as long as there is a BCS, there won’t be a playoff and the bowl season will survive.
Remember CU’s 33-28 win over UTEP in the EV1.Net Houston Bowl last December? It was a feel-good way to end the season after dropping the Big 12 Championship game three weeks earlier. People can say what they want, but if there were ever a playoff, bowls such as this would likely disappear. Maybe not the first year, but within five years most or all could be gone. Division I-A football has always been unique, and the bowls unique to Division I-A football. I guarantee many who are calling for the end of the BCS and a playoff now would long for the days gone by if a playoff system was adopted.
What is so bad about ending every season with 28 bowl winners? And please, don’t give me the comparison to March Madness argument. The Final Four still almost always comes down to No. 1 or 2 seeds with a lower one occasionally mixed in. As for its popularity, it’s increased with an office pool explosion tied into the increased use of the Internet, not only to follow the action but in creating nationwide competition among fans.
BIG 12 CONFERENCE ALL-IN-ONE?... Have you seen the argument about eliminating the divisions in football, brought forth mainly by Oklahoma and Texas? There’s little doubt those two were the class of the conference a year ago, but at one time in the not-so-distant past, the same claim could be made about Colorado and Nebraska, and then Nebraska and Kansas State. This is a cyclical thing; I for one hope this never comes to pass. Schools have a much better chance of reaching the title game from a six-team division rather than a 12-team race. Incidentally, if this were the case, over the first nine games, CU still would have still played in three of them (sub in 1996 for last year), Oklahoma in the same exact number (four) and Texas in four rather than three (gaining one at the expense of Kansas State in 2000).
GOLF ALUMS ALL OVER COLORADO... Don't know if you saw the results for the U.S. Open Local Qualifying from May 23, but 22 former Buffaloes competed for the 15 positions that advanced to the sectional qualifying round. One Buff advanced (current freshman Derek Tolan) and two others were alternates (Steve Irwin and Ben Portie).
HANCOCK BOOK OUT IN AUGUST... Bill Hancock, the former PR man for the Big Eight Conference who moved on to the NCAA and has been one of the lead men in planning Final Fours, has a book coming out this August entitled Riding With the Blue Moth. Produced by Sports Publishing out of Champaign, Ill., advance promotion of the book calls it Bill’s chronicle of his journey as he comes to grip with the passing of his son, Will, the Oklahoma State assistant sports information director who perished with nine others in a private plane crash east of Denver on January 27, 2001, after the Cowboys played Colorado in Boulder earlier that afternoon. There’s more info at this link: http://www.mountainbike.com/community/article/1,4823,3862_621_P,00.html. CBS’ Jim Nantz wrote the forward. Bill is truly one of the good guys in the business; he was one of my first friends in the profession and always gave me good, solid sound advice. I’ve had the opportunity to read the first two chapters of the book, and it’s a must-read for those close to the OSU situation.
MESSAGE FROM ‘SPOON: Anthony Weatherspoon wanted to pass along this message to all those who have contributed to the fund to help him and his family as he fights MDS: “Words simply can’t express the gratitude and appreciation that my family has for the Buffs. We are all connected, mentally, physically, and most of all, spiritually. It is our spirit and our minds that are the most prized possessions that keep us connected. This is our guarantee that we will always be a Buff family, for now and the future to come. May God bless you all.”
Spoon has undergone three rounds of chemotherapy and surgery for colon cancer, which doctors believe is all gone, though part of his colon, which had developed a few polyps, was removed in mid-May. They had also found a donor with a 90 percent match for his bone marrow and the hope was that process could begin this month.
The Wells Fargo account for the family is still active, those in a position to donate can still do so to account 2679018396. In addition, Spoon loves hearing from former teammates and coaches; his numbers are 713-383-9140 (home) and 714-797-4502 (cell). Notes and cards can be sent to Anthony at his home: 8181 Fannin Street, Apt. 2418, Houston, TX 77054.
KEVIN MAY RECOVERING... Another former Buff who recently had a tough time is Kevin May (’87-88). Last fall, he was diagnosed with colon cancer, and underwent surgery to have a portion of his colon removed. It entailed undergoing chemotherapy, in order to insure that none of the cancer got outside of the infected area, and he was progressing well. But some medication he was on led to some complications, and he suffered seizures and eventually a stroke. He was intensive care for a time while receiving treatment; but that’s all the bad news; the great news is that he is well on the road to recovery. He is back home and progressing steadily in his rehabilitation. He relayed through Lamarr Gray that he feels he is 85-90 percent recovered. Several former Buffs answered the call for support and flooded the family with cards and letters; he and his wife Angie said that those were a tremendous help during the tough time. Anyone wishing to send his or her well wishes or re-establish contact with Kevin can write him at his home address: 4341 Cathay Street, Denver, CO 80249.
JAMIE HALLUM PASSES... Former track performer and football player Jamie Hallum (’89) succumbed on April 18 after a seven-month battle with melanoma cancer. His employer set a website during Jamie’s battle at http://www.fullercompany.com/Jamie.htm; it includes a message center with something from Jamie himself a few months before he died. Hallum was a top decathlete and the No. 1 javelin man as a senior in 1989, when he earned Academic All-Big 12 honors. He had joined the football team as a walk on split end as a true freshman in 1984 and eventually turned to track to make a lasting mark on CU athletics. Those interested in donating to a fund in his name can do so in care of the Jamie Hallum Memorial Fund, Fuller and Company, 1515 Arapahoe St., Suite 1200, Denver, CO 80202.
FORMER BUFFS HELP RUN CALIFORNIA CAMP... On May 14, about 150 kids attended a football camp in Berkeley, Calif. The kids came from some pretty rough neighborhoods (most were from the Oakland/East Bay area, but a few came from as far as Los Angeles). The camp’s founder is Hannibal Navies, the former CU outside linebacker now playing professionally with the Green Bay Packers. Navies, who prepped in the Bay area, and 11 other NFL players (10 active with five others also former Buffaloes including Rashidi Barnes, Daniel Graham, Victor Rogers and Jashon Sykes) worked the camp. All players covered their own expenses, most including airfare to volunteer their services during the camp. Most traveled by plain to attend and none were paid. The format called for group leaders, with two NFL players, to mentor and coach 15-20 kids for the entire day. The day’s events included combine style drills, offensive drills, defensive drills, an autograph session, and a dual 40-yard dash competition. Velocity Sports employees and coaches from around the Bay area volunteered their time and participated in all activities. The State of California Senate and Legislature recognized Navies for his contribution to the community, while the City of Berkeley designated May 14 as “Hannibal Navies Day.” The day concluded with an award ceremony for best athlete and best sportsmanship, a group prayer, and several moving speeches by NFL athletes regarding the importance of completing high school and college.
What was kind of sad about this is that CU graduateMicah Page (’97) sent the above information to bring attention to some of the contributions CU alumni and former players are making within different communities to a few area media outlets and none followed up with any coverage of this positive story. Page was one of a dozen volunteers who worked the camp, four of which were also CU alums. The volunteers did a variety of things, including acting as group leaders for the kids (what Page did). He made special note that it’s important to point out that there was no media coverage, free corporate apparel, parents or crowds by design; the kids were dropped off at 9 a.m. and picked up at 5:00. “In short, it was all about the kids,” he said.
FLASHBACK... Sometimes, the best way to remember an era is through the quick short one-liners. I recently had an exchange with P-‘Tudes reader Tom Richardson, a CU alum and marching band/pep band member (1980-82) and current business manager of the New England Journal of Medicine. He reeled off some of his memories from his time on the Boulder campus; see what his memories may trigger for you:
--That basketball team with JoJo Hunter, Joe Cooper, Brian Johnson, Jacques Tuz, Jay Humphries, and Vince Kelley was a lot of fun to watch;
--Bill Blair having a good returning team with Jay Humphries and Vince Kelly and then taking off to be the assistant coach of the New Jersey Nets. I happened to meet Larry Brown several years ago, and was talking about how Vince got screwed by having to play out of position at center. Larry told me not to worry, Vince had about as good a career as he was likely to have had anyway;
--Rob Gonzalez coming in with a championship from Michigan State and bringing nothing;
--Randy Essington tearing up somebody in the opener, then Chuck Fairbanks inexplicably shutting him down in the second game, saying he wanted the Buffs to have "more balance.” They ended up with the losing team trifecta - won the opener, homecoming, and the finale;
--82-42. After losing to Drake. And one of the OU backs (Derrick Sheppard maybe?) was taunting the Buffs on a touchdown run, tripped on the goal line and had to be taken from the field;
--Walter Stanley. Wow. If you could only keep him on the field;
--Fairbanks' open spring practice where anyone on campus could participate (to get around the no football practice rules) - held in the fieldhouse;
--Playing Glory & Fight with a small group of marching band members on the runway of the Manhattan, Kansas airport after the Buffs lost in the last minute to a bad K-State team. Chuck Fairbanks was so happy to have anybody cheering he came over to see us.
--Bill McCartney planning on keeping the Fairbanks system, since he was hired after spring practice, but scrapping it because the coaches weren't quite sure how to run it;
--The first ‘Beat Nebraska’ bonfire;
--Sitting with a buddy in the Al Packer grill with the football schedule trying to figure out how the Buffs could manage to snag the Orange Bowl bid as the co-co-co-champion of the Big 8. Hope springs eternal. (With this addendum supplied by former Daily Camera sports staffer Paul Kaputska: “Now the kicker on the Al Packer bar story is that it was the last day of the spring semester for the bar to be open (this was the little 4- or 6-seat bar that was off the passageway to the Pizza Hut. We started out there with 25-cent beers, and pressured the bartender for nickel beers. Subsequent rounds went to 20 cents, 15 cents, a dime... and finally, "Nickel beers." At which point I stood up and shouted, ‘Drinks for the house!’ and slapped down a quarter.”);
--Feeling like Folsom Field was electric, though it didn't happen as much as we'd have liked in those days;
--And some of the opposing stars who came through who just put on clinics: Rolando Blackman, Jim McMahon, the UCLA offensive line.
A bit long as Tom pointed out, but it's fun to remember some of the fun from back then.
NOT ONE TV STAR, BUT A PAIR... Chiaverini and Poncho Hodges (Law & Order, Feb. 16), aren’t the only Buffaloes to get a paycheck from Hollywood in 2005. Former assistant SID Doug Strauss wrote in about volleyball alum Rachel Wacholder graced the television screen in an episode of NBC’s Medical Investigation back in January (http://www.nbc.com/Medical_Investigation/episode_guide/12.shtml). She was on there as were several other AVP Tour players.
BUFFS FANS ABROAD... Pictured below are servicemen and Buff alums aboard the Carl Vinson in the Persian Gulf during a "Steel Beach Picnic." Lt. Chad "Choad" Heirigs (Dec. ’00), Lt. Montell "Chet" Varner (May ’01) occupy the CU chairs on deck.
THE P-‘TUDES MAILBAG... Here’s a couple of recent questions I’ve received that could have some interest to all, so here you go:
Q: How does Colorado’s athletic budget compare to the rest of the Big 12?
A: Actually, thanks to a comprehensive survey by the Orlando Sentinel in May, I can provide a national comparison as well. These are 2003-04 numbers: Colorado’s revenues for the year were $36,335,486; that ranked 10th in the Big 12 and 49th in the NCAA. CU’s total expenses ($36,762,312) ranked eighth in the league and 39th in the country. Football revenue ($23 million-plus) ranked 5th and 24th, respectively, and women’s revenue ($1.1 million-plus) was eighth and 56th; women’s expenses were ninth and 52nd in the conference and nation. Football expenses ($9.7 million) were seventh and 38th. How’s that for timing?
And while we’re on budgets...
Q: What are the main sources of revenue for the athletic department?
A: Three sources provide 76 percent of our revenue: ticket sales (29%), contributions (26%) and the Big 12 Conference distribution (21%). Nothing else is over four percent by itself; sponsorship, the student fee and university support each account for about the same (4%), local radio and television and licensing/apparel come in at around three percent, with the remaining six percent from several sources. The conference distribution ($7.4 million budgeted for 2005-06) comes from nine sources, mainly football television ($3.67 million), the BCS bowl payout ($1.22 million), the NCAA basketball tournament ($1.02 million) and the football championship game ($800,000).
THINGS THAT MAKE YOU GO HMMM... Did you see the NBA’s referees lead negotiator’s comments last month? That the league needed to do a better job of defending its referees against criticism? Give me a break. I’ve probably worked 250 NBA games over the last two decades and watched/attended countless others. The NBA is the last bastion where some (not all) officials often act individually and think they’re the stars of the show. Huge egos... one official is great and the next one you have to tiptoe around because he has a short fuse, etc. Kind of like baseball with some umpires before it blew up in their faces in the late 1990s. Those egomaniacs found their way out of the game and umpire-player/manager issues and confrontations seem to be at a minimum any more. Thankfully we seldom if ever see those kind of egos in the college game.
WEBSITE OF THE ‘TUDE... From old friend Bill Warshafsky of Buffalo Sports News fame... if you have windows media player, here’s an awesome collage of video and audio sports clips; “The Catch” is part of this: http://www.netexpress.net/~sblum/montage.wmv.
BLATANT SHILL... P-‘Tudes shills for no one, other than CU of course, and the occasional Pasta Jay’s reference. However, on a personal note, those of you out there struggling to drop some pounds, which I’ve dealt with since I was 7, Slim4Life might be for you. I dropped 52 pounds between April 1 and June 1, and am still going strong (and need to—no one’s gonna mistake me for Gilligan just yet). But I do rave about the program—it’s real food and who would think that this Italian could go 62 days without a single serving of pasta or sausage. Check it out at wwww.Slim4Life.com.
BEWARE OF SOME REGISTRATION TRICKS... I obviously cruise a lot of newspaper websites, and more and more of those require registration. I used to type in a modified work address, legit but done in such a way where I could tell if they forward or sell it to others. Well, guess what? Sure enough, I get a rash of charity stuff with that address telling me that at least one of those on-line newspapers is doing just that. The problem is, I don’t know which one. However, I now enter an altered name and fake street address (Fifth Down Way is a good one) so shame on them if they do anything with it they’re not supposed to. Why does an on-line newspaper need your mailing address? Fortunately, all several want to know is a state and your age, and that’s cool for their survey and research info.
THIS WEEK’S NUMBER... 2. Or only two, to set this up better. That is the number of players in Ceal Barry’s former 4-year players in her entire career as CU’s women’s basketball coach who have not graduated. Jamillah Lang, a dominant player during her career (1990-94) earned her degree this past May, returning to CU after playing professionally to finish up her studies. That’s over 97 percent of her players who started as freshmen and finished as seniors in a Buffalo uniform.
TRIVIA ANSWERS: CU—Jeff Raymond, who returned an interception 76 yards for a touchdown in the 21-16 win at Nebraska in 1967, was a regular in the St. Pauli brand beer commercials throughout the 1970s. Seinfeld—The episode entitled “The Pen,” where Jerry had temporary ownership of a pen used by astronauts that could write upside down. Bonus—Kramer did not appear in “The Restaurant” where Jerry, George and Elaine were waiting for a table at a Chinese restaurant.