A notes and comment column penned by Associate Athletic Director David Plati, who is in his 22nd year as the Buffaloes director of sports information:
Welcome to Plati-‘Tudes...where I am proud to say that I work on this in my spare time and on weekends but do not bill the taxpayers $99 a day for my efforts... I know, I know, that means last year I would have made $99 more, but I promise more ‘Tudes in ’06; heck, here’s No. 2 already and it’s not even March (barely)!
TRIVIA QUESTIONS... CU— The CU men’s basketball team has twice reached the Final Four; what teams, located just miles apart, kept CU out of the title game? Seinfeld—Helen Slater guest starred in an episode as “Becky Gelke,” who had her car hit by a women Jerry was going to turn into the police but wound up dating. What was she referred to before the audience was told her name was Becky Gelke?
PATTON HITS MILESTONE... The men’s basketball team is fighting for an NCAA tournament berth (I think as long as the first digit to our win count is a 2 and the loss count is a single number, as in 20-9 or 21-9 or better, we’re in), as well as a first round bye in the Big 12 tournament. Regardless, the Buffs, standing at 18-7 after the 78-60 romp over a beleaguered Missouri team, reached that win total for the sixth time in Ricardo Patton’s 10 full seasons as head coach. That’s over half of the total number (11) in school history. Patton is now 175-137 at the reins of the Buffaloes.
YES I CAN YES YOU CAN... No, I’m not trying to motivate you but Jay Leeuwenburg is doing just that for those who suffer from diabetes. Jay, the former unanimous CU All-American center (1989-91), has had Type 1 diabetes most of his life and overcame the illness to have a stellar college football career and play nine years in the National Football League. Written by Denny Dressman, the former sports editor of the Rocky Mountain News, the book delivers messages of encouragement and hope to families dealing with juvenile diabetes. For more information, go to www.YesICanYesYouCan.com. Jay and I are planning to co-write a book on his experiences as a Buffalo that is scheduled (tentatively) for publication next summer. Look for more information on that “Pulitzer” in the future!
KUDOS TO HURDLE... Colorado Rockies manager Clint Hurdle is doing something very cool for state colleges this spring training. He is wearing hats and shirts from most of Colorado’s colleges every day in spring training. He told me he had CU “batting cleanup” in his order, wearing CU gear Mike Bohn had sent him on the fourth day of workouts.
OH YEAH, I FORGOT THAT!... While cleaning up a box of assorting press clippings brought to our office recently, I came across the Boulder Camera sports section from Sunday, October 26, 1986... the headline? At last: Buffs 20, Nebraska 10. That win was coined “The Turning Point” in the fifth year of Bill McCartney’s tenure as head coach, as CU defeated the No. 3 ranked Huskers for the first time since 1967. The only other story on the front page that day? “Mets unleash miracle rally in 10th.” Yes—you guessed it, Mookie Wilson’s grounder that went through Bill Buckner’s legs and New York beat the Boston Red Sox 6-5, sending the World Series to game seven, where the Mets won to win the title. Tracy Ringolsby, the excellent baseball writer for the Rocky Mountain News, was working for the Dallas Morning News at the time and the Camera picked up his story for its baseball lead. Ringolsby’s fourth paragraph? “And if the Red Sox come out losers, they will be haunted by Saturday’s 10th inning debacle when they literally gave the game away.” Haunted, as anyone who follows baseball knows, turned out to be right on the money!
WHERE ARE THEY NOW... Dave Eck, former assistant marketing director for the Buffaloes back in the 1990s, has made his professional bones in his native Chicago. After spending years with the Chicago White Sox (but leaving before he could grab a World Series ring), he is with the Chicago Bears as the club’s manager of corporate sales. One of Eck’s sidekicks at the time in department, Chris Kiser (of the department formerly known as the GBSF—now Buff Club), left CU and worked for the College Football Association, then spent three years at Colorado State and ran his own marketing and consulting firm for five years. In that role, he was instrumental in developing the Ranch and the Budweiser Events Center in Loveland. He recently returned to intercollegiate athletics as an associate AD at Northern Colorado.
BEST WISHES... To Colorado State assistant coach Mark Lubick (Sonny’s youngest son), who has been diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. Fortunately, doctors believe they caught it early and at this point it is treatable and curable. The younger Lubick is CSU’s wide receiver coach. We have had enough bad luck in this state when it comes to coaches and cancer; we’ve lost Tom McMahon (who coached at both CSU and CU) and Mark Simpson to lung cancer, as well as former CU wrestling coach Mike Sager, this decade. Sincere best wishes to the Lubick family and that Mark can beat this.
MUCH BELATED CONGRATS... to former CU skier Dick Malmgren, who was inducted last year into the Leadville-Lake County Sports Hall of Fame. Malmgren, a downhill skier, graduated from Leadville High School in 1958 and was a member of CU’s first two national champion ski teams in 1959 and 1960 for coach Bob Beattie. He narrowly missed a berth on the 1960 U.S. Olympic Team. Following his competitive days in the sport, he went on to teach and founded such programs as the Battle Mountain High School ski team, the Vail Buddy Werner program and the learn-to-ski programs at the Eagle County and South Routt County schools. He earned both his undergraduate and doctorate degrees from CU-Boulder.
WOW... A recent Harris poll indicates that the number of Americans getting their information from newspapers is at an all-time low: only 18 percent read a national newspaper. Local television was the leader (77%), followed by network/cable news (71%); local newspapers are still faring well (63%). National newspapers include USA Today, Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, etc.; figuring USA Today and the WSJ are doing well, the Times fall from grace must be continuing. Guess that’s what you get when you make up the news. For a complete look at the poll, here’s the link: http://www.harrisinteractive.com/harris_poll/index.asp?PID=644.
THE P-‘TUDES MAILBAG... I offered members of my survey group to fire off anything and everything they wanted to know about; here are those questions I received that I thought had some interest to all:
Q: I know that the Athletic Department recently received a generous gift to help construct an indoor practice facility. Has enough money been raised so that this project can be started? If so, where on campus will the facility be built and what is the timeframe?
A: Tom and Cydney Marsico started the drive for an indoor facility by donating $1.5 million the same day Dan Hawkins was named head coach (December 16). The time frame, like you would expect, is as soon as possible, and we work with the campus planning office on logistics, including the yet-to-be-determined location, but have a goal of completion by October 2007. We have estimated that we need $2.4 million for the project, and we’re still about a half million short of the goal.
Q: What’s the best ending you’ve ever seen?
A: Um, need to clarify! Ending of a CU game, or ending of anything? I’d go with at the end of Newhart, when Bob woke up with Suzanne Pleshette on the old set of the Bob Newhart Show thinking his new series had all just been a dream. That rocked! As for the best end of a CU game, there are many. Stephane Pelle’s jumper to beat Kansas 60-59 in hoops three years ago immediately comes to mind, but heck, there’s “The Catch” and Deon Figures’ interception to seal the national championship. Or even simpler moments, when Steve Jones tapped in his final putt on the 18th hole of the playoff to win the U.S. Open in 1996 (you knew I’d work in a golf one!).
Q: Why are we settling for a bubble instead of a full-fledged indoor practice facility? I realize there is a money difference, but the full-fledged version seems like the right long-term answer.
A: The simple answer is money. We can construct a bubble that will have an immediate impact for several of our programs as well as for others at CU, and do so for under $3 million. Designs for an indoor facility that were drawn up earlier this decade pegged the cost for that kind of facility in the $45 million range. The reality is that we have now gone over 15 years since our last major facilities update (Dal Ward Center; the suites/club seating doesn't count for this). So, we need to find a way to raise those dollars to fund a project of that magnitude; it needs to come from the private sector (and holding out for Powerball is not an option as the clock is ticking!).
Q: There’s all this recent talk that Richard Roby will turn professional. What do you know or think?
A: I don’t know much, other than he’s a levelheaded kid and will visit with all the right people about it at the right time. We obviously hope he returns for at least his junior year, if not two more, and he has a chance to rewrite the record book much the way Joel Klatt did in football (44 records).
Q: Will the Dal Ward Center still be used as the home of football operations, locker rooms, etc?
A: As has been reported, the practice facility will mainly consist of a bubble, and what is needed to support the structure. Thus, the Dal Ward Athletic Center will still be the main hub for all things football.
Q: Will there be “gold’ turf at Folsom for the 2006 season?
A: Ah, like the blue turf at Boise State? Well, unless the grass dies and we try to pawn it off as gold with black chalk lines, don’t look for that any time. Ever.
Q: I have read that most of the former football assistant coaches have landed new jobs. I have not seen anything about Shawn Simms. Do you know what his status is?
A: Every full-time assistant on the former staff did land on their feet and joined other college staffs. In addition to Brian Cabral and Darian Hagan, retained by Dan Hawkins on his staff, the remaining seven all had new jobs by the next-to-last week in February: Dave Borbely (Virginia), Craig Bray (Minnesota), Mike Hankwitz (Wisconsin), Bill Inge (San Diego State), Shawn Simms (Iowa State), Shawn Watson (Nebraska) and John Wristen (UCLA).
Q: Brian Calhoun keeps saying he left CU because he was going to be moved to wide receiver. What is the truth?
A: The truth, as I know it, is that wasn’t necessarily the case but I have no doubt Brian may have been concerned that it could happen. Gary Barnett explained to me that in the spring of 2004, with a healthy Bobby Purify back at tailback, the plan was to get Bobby back into synch with the majority of the practice reps with the first team and as a way to get Calhoun on the field, practice him at wide receiver. This way, Calhoun could improve his route running which would make him even more dangerous of a tailback. He didn’t want to do it, but he likely thought he would be asked to make the move permanently, especially since we had just graduated Derek McCoy and D.J. Hackett, receivers who had combined for 141 catches in ’03.
Q: Jim Ryan used to call you “Wowie.” What did that mean?
A: Jim did color commentary for a number of years on KOA-Radio with Larry Zimmer and nicknamed me that—short for the “Wizard of Worthless Information.” All in jest, as I have this knack for coming up with goofy trivia (go figure). Not always in sports, either—name the only two movies where the last spoken word by a MALE actor is the word “damn”? Gone With The Wind (the famous, “Frankly me dear, I don’t give a damn” line by Clark Gable—though Scarlett spoke to herself afterwards) and Urban Cowboy (remember John Travolta putting the Cissy license plate back against the window and muttered, “damn.” But what do you expect from someone who shares a birthday with Eliot Ness, Dudley Moore, Tim Curry, Dick Sargent, Picasso’s kid, Ashley Judd and Kate Hudson?
Q: Do you think they will ever bring wrestling or swimming back as a varsity sport at CU?
A: I can’t see that happening in the foreseeable future considering our budget situation. We want do everything we can for the 17 sports we currently sponsor; adding wrestling back into the fold would skew Title IX numbers so we would need to add a woman’s sport to counter it; now you’re talking well over a half million dollars.
Q: Do you think we will ever see hockey as a varsity sport at CU? If so would you ever drive the Zamboni?
A: Hockey is no doubt cool and would have a chance to come close to meeting expenses—if we had an arena that was hockey friendly. The Coors Events Center floor is not big enough without major renovation, and the ice arena at the Rec Center accommodates a minimal number of fans so it would be impossible to net substantial ticket revenue. I’d love to drive a Zamboni! A good friend of mine actually cut a CD once entitled, “Zamboni Man,” featuring a song that was tribute to those who smooth the ice.
Q: Who was the funniest athlete that you worked with at CU? After 22 years you have to have some great stories.
A: I would still say that Kyle Rappold (football, mid-1980’s) takes the all-time cake there. Diminutive for a nose tackle (like 5-10 at best) but strong as an Ox, he played here during the era of “The Fridge” for the Chicago Bears, so we nicknamed him “The Trash Compactor.” He was a comedian, and he gets the slight edge over John Guydon. Only the team and a few others saw this, but John, who has done stand-up comedy, starred as the player rep on stage at the Champs Sports Bowl team banquet that featured entertainment by The Blues Brothers (who were nearly as good as Akroyd and Belushi). He made mince meat out of his counterpart from Clemson. Matt Russell was pretty funny, and believe it or not, so was Jonathan Kaye on the golf team (two kings of practical jokes). Barry Helton and the late Kent Groshong (color commentator on KOA) used to get in hotel wars; at one bowl game, Helton got into Groshong’s room and moved everything possible into the bathroom (chairs, mattress, TV, etc.).
Q: I’d like an update on the Plan 2010. Is it still in effect, and if so, where do we stand?
A: The question refers to Athletics 2010, an aggressive and comprehensive 10-year plan enacted under former athletic director Dick Tharp. While many components of the plan were enacted and are in place, essentially it is dormant at this time. Mike Bohn and the staff have been working on a 5-year business plan at the request of the Board of Regents, and when that is finished, that will largely represent a similar document to the 2010 plan; but it is in the drafting stages at present.
Q: Did you ever see a basketball game in Balch Fieldhouse?
A: Actually, my freshman year (1978-79) was the last year of Balch. That reminded me of two stories—one, my first exposure to Missouri head coach Norm Stewart. I was on the stat crew and sitting on press row. The timer screwed up twice, so after the second time, Stewart asked to “borrow” my coke and then took the popcorn from the guy next to me. He walked over to the timer and said, "Here... since you're not watching the game, why don't you enjoy a nice snack!" To this day, one of the funniest spur-of-the-moment things I have ever seen. Then later that year (November 8), we played the Russia National Team in the official first game of the CU Events Center (a little over a month before Russia marched into Afghanistan). In one of the all-time practical jokes, then-SID Tim Simmons sent me to the store to buy caviar for the Russian media (Pravda, etc.), except they weren’t here. So I dropped like $50 of my own dough on fish eggs...
Q: Has a Division I college football team been so badly beaten in two consecutive games as CU was at the end of last year (100-6 combined to Nebraska and Texas, not including the bowl game)?
A: Ouch, tough crowd. Rest assured, losing back-to-back games by a combined 94 points probably isn’t even in the top 50; it’s not even close to our worst in modern times: in 1962, we dropped consecutive games to Oklahoma (62-0) and Missouri (57-0). I did two quick checks and within literally seconds I found two higher: Tulsa lost back-to-back to Air Force (28-8) and Houston (100-6) in 1968, and Kansas State lost three straight to Oklahoma (59-10), Nebraska (56-7) and Oklahoma State (56-7) in 1987; so that’s 114 by Tulsa and 102 on either end by KSU right there checking just two schools I had an inkling about. Houston might hold some kind of mark for back-to-back wins: the week before it pummeled Tulsa, it beat Idaho, 77-3. So that’s two wins by 177-9... yowzer!
Q: What will be strength of the football team next year, the experienced defense or the 'new and improved' offense?
A: That’s hard to say without watching spring ball, but traditionally a team’s strength lies where they return the most experienced players, and on defense, we return eight starters from a pretty good group. Hawk is on record saying he wants to see what he has to work with before he starts tinkering with new schemes. He’s not viewing this as a throwaway season just because we’re in transition; as he told the team, that’s not fair to the seniors and he wants to win and will try to figure a way to do it with the players we have.
Q: How long will it take for the women’s basketball team to be competitive and go dancing again?
A: They’re fairly competitive now; remember, we’re missing one of our star players (Kara Richards), and we’ve basically only struggled against highly ranked teams. We could have/should have posted wins over Kansas State and Texas at home, but we lost the depth battle. Kathy McConnell-Miller and her staff have recruited well, so I don’t think it will be too long before you don’t have read that far down in the Big 12 standings to see “Colorado” listed.
Q: Looks like you do stuff for the CU ski team... just curious, what do you think about Bode Miller’s antics?
A: Yes, I have been the ski SID since 1984... when Bill Marolt was named athletic director, he told me I would treat skiing like football. I had never covered it before, and I honestly fell it love with it. Knowing Bill as well as I do, I can tell you Marolt isn’t happy with Miller. He’s not the only one who was an embarrassment on that team, and the USOC will rectify that, but I will say that Miller is the latest textbook example of whom we can point to out own athletes as an someone not to emulate, along with the likes of Terrell Owens and other surly or selfish people.
Q: How many former Buffs are currently playing in the NFL and where does that rank among Big 12 teams?
A: Including off-season transactions, there are 27 former Buffaloes currently on NFL rosters. I don’t track what other schools have had happen since the end of last season, but the 24 who played in the league last year were the third most, behind Nebraska and Texas A&M, both of which had 27, and just ahead of Oklahoma’s 23. Since the end of the year, Gabe Nyenhuis, Craig Ochs and Jashon Sykes all signed with teams to up the count by three.
Q: It appears John Torp may be chosen in the first couple of rounds of this year’s draft. Who was the last CU punter to be drafted and in what round?
A: I don’t know if a punter will go in the top two rounds, that’s rare; but the last CU punter to be drafted was Mitch Berger by the Philadelphia Eagles in the 1994 draft (6th round, 193rd overall pick). He’s still in the NFL, as is Tom Rouen, who signed as a free agent and went the NFL Europe route before landing with the Broncos in 1993. Barry Helton was a fourth round pick by San Francisco in 1988, the highest a CU punter has ever been drafted.
Q: How much input do coaches at the University of Colorado have in determining their non-conference opponents and schedule? Why?
A: That has varied by sport; the football schedule is coordinated by myself (the bird-dogger), senior associate AD Jon Burianek (a co-bird-dogger and the financier) and athletic director Mike Bohn. We feel out the football coach on his preferences and all work together in formulating future schedules. It’s tougher than anyone thinks, especially since college football is the only sport where a school could have their 2013 schedule done and still be looking for an opponent in 2006. The head coaches are in charge of their schedules for all other sports, some times an assistant coach serving as the point-person (like Paul Graham in men’s basketball). However, Bohn is taking a more active role in scheduling in many sports.
Q: Will the University of Colorado ease its entry requirements so that the athletic teams will have a broader pool or range of student/athletes?
A: That’s a question for people way further up the ladder than myself, but I personally don’t see the school easing its entry requirements for any particular group or segment of the population without making it across the board. The answer likely is through the permitted window for someone with exceptional talent or skill, be it in athletics, music, journalism, etc., as long as the underlying theme is that whoever might be admitted without meeting all the requirements is someone who we all believe can realistically earn a degree.
Q: Where is Shaun Vandiver these days?
A: Shaun, who starred on the men’s basketball team between 1988-91 and still holds many records, is a full-time assistant coach at the University of Wyoming. After a nine-year career in Europe, he entered the coaching profession as a graduate assistant at Wyoming and then worked full-time at Bowling Green and the University of Northern Colorado.
Q: Any good anecdotes on the new football staff yet?
A: Well, I am still getting to know them myself. I like the makeup of the group, and they are an organized group, that’s for sure. I think they’ll take that from their head coach. Dan and his wife Misti named their four kids in alphabetical order: Ashley, Brittany, Cody and Drew. When I asked both what the “E” name would have been, in perfect unison, they replied: “Error!” Hawk is a big Jerry Jeff Walker and Firefall fan, by the way.
Q: Will Coach Hawkins finally put an end to the horrible all white road uniforms? Most people support using white jerseys over black or gold pants on the road. I don't recall talking to anyone who likes the all white.
A: Don’t like our “marshmallow” look? Not many do, but many of the players liked it. I agree; we switched around so much (mainly by player request), that we lost some of our tradition in that department. Now I don’t think coach Hawkins has had the opportunity to think too much about it, but I have a feeling that we’ll be returning to a more consistent look, the standard black-and-gold home uniforms and white jerseys and black or gold pants on the road. At least I personally hope so (and I’ve never cared for all black, either, and now that we are 1-5 against Nebraska in that look, it’ll disappear as well).
Q: I know you’ve addressed before, but it really, really bugs me. Is there any thought to allowing local TV stations broadcast Buff football games when they aren't picked up? I understand the TV contract won't allow it, but I can't understand the rationale. I live in Big 10 country, and every game for every team every week is on some station somehow. Why can't the Big 12 do the same?
A: We probably get this more than any other question. I spoke with Tim Allen, associate commissioner of the Big 12, and he thoroughly addressed the issue. Here’s what he had to say:
“First, let's examine the Big 10 Conference. The Big 10 telecasts games on four different tiers — national network (ABC), national cable (ESPN/ESPN2), regional syndication (ESPN Regional) and then on local packages. The local packages are telecast primarily in the home state of the competing teams on over-the-air stations. Because ESPN owns ALL of these rights, they implement what is sometimes referred to as the 'total eye balls' theory. ESPN sells advertising based upon the combined ratings it will receive on all four platforms. In other words, they believe they will get better ratings by showing (for example) Minnesota vs. Michigan State in the same window at Michigan vs. Purdue. This is in part due to the population density in the upper Midwest.
“Keep in mind that only their games on ESPN/ESPN2 are truly national games. The rest are more local or regional in nature.
“Candidly, the Big 12 doesn't have the population base of the Big 10. We have games on two platforms — national network (ABC) and national cable (FSN/TBS). The majority of our games on FSN are carried to at least 70 percent of the cable homes in the country. FSN does not believe that the ratings increase that could be achieved by televising multiple games in the same window would offset the added production costs. Every game that is telecast costs between $75,000 and $125,000 to produce, so the advertising revenue would have to offset the extra production costs.”
That’s a pretty good explanation; I didn’t fully understand it myself until Tim had previously shared that with me, and he can explain it the best. He also indicated that in the next round of negotiations, the Big 12 is working on ways to address this as its current television contract comes to a close following the 2008 season.
Q: Assuming that the NCAA powers that be have not rescinded the arbitrary rule on length of media guides, would it be possible to take a page or two each season to rotate through updates on the career leaders (e.g., put in the updated all-time rushers and receivers in '06; the all-time passers and scores in '07, etc.)? Otherwise, my '04 Guide, which is already looking a little worse for the wear, will become very overused.
A: Well, anything is possible. Everyone knows I think that legislation is as flawed as the Bay of Pigs invasion, driven by a few people with an anti-football agenda (big surprise there). Missouri has proposed some legislation where we can do supplements for the media that have no limits on distribution since it doesn’t go to prospects. We’re all getting a handle on it, and I hope to be able to produce a supplement record book that rivals the ’04 media guide. I doubt I’ll rotate things in and out, but we didn’t trash any of the 2004 guides and anyone really in need of one, shoot me an Email and I’ll send you a fresh copy!
Q: It seems like several of the other Big 12 schools have announced big expansion projects with the athletic programs. Any big plans in CU's horizon concerning major upgrades in the facilities? Or are we just to look forward to practice field bubble?
A: The practice bubble is the major one on the books right now, along with a basketball operations center to better serve the hoops programs (offices would be relocated to the Coors Events Center, along with a strength and conditioning area).
Q: We are all excited by the energy and enthusiasm that Mike Bohn has brought to the athletic department. What has been the biggest change you've seen in the department since Mike arrived? And the same goes for Dan Hawkins.
A: I think morale is much better than it has been in a long time, and the YOUR TEAM campaign Mike instituted has only worked outside the department because those of us on the inside bought into it. Simple, grassroots stuff — get out, meet and get to know your fans. It wasn’t as widespread before Mike got here, but everyone got the message quick. As for Hawk, he is one energetic guy, but that’s not to say Gary Barnett wasn’t. He is the sixth football coach that I will work with here at Colorado, and all six are very much different. Barnett was the first to embrace Email; it was still relatively new when McCartney and Neuheisel were here, but Hawkins is big into text messaging and has an I-Pod with his favorites tunes. In short, he’s a techie. Plus, there’s always a change in the aura when a new staff is on board.
Q: I was at the CU-NU game and was disappointed to see the actions of some in the student section that resulted the emptying of the student section, as well as the black eye that it gave all Buff fans in general. What steps have been identified to help deter this type of behavior from occurring in the future, while still encouraging the students to be the positive force that they always have been?
A: Good question and we’re working to address the subject in concert with the vice chancellor for student affairs. We’re aware of similar issues that have occurred elsewhere and all of us share information. I’ve learned that a single offense at Alabama can get a student expelled and at other places, season tickets are revoked. But I am glad you pointed out that only “some” caused the problems. There were likely 50-75 troublemakers throwing things on the field, and the other 7,900-plus students in attendance that day were just fine but were all framed by the actions of a few idiots.
Q: Who do you think has the best and worst fans of the schools CU regularly plays?
A: I’d have to be a moron to put who I think the worst or most obnoxious are writing, so let’s not go there, other than ALL schools and teams have some that go over the edge. And that includes Nebraska—while our fans came under scrutiny for what happened at the NU game last fall, there are pictures that ran in the Boulder Camera that clearly show a few Husker fans yelling at Joel Klatt as he walked off the field after his home finale (classless stuff, as confirmed by Joel). And I saw some Bronco fans treat some Pittsburgh Steelers fans pretty shabby on their way into Mile High. From what I hear, the only place you actually can fear for your safety wearing opponent colors is at an Oakland Raiders game (one team even tells it staff members not to dress in their sportswear).
Now that being said, and some won’t like this, but the best fans as far as treating an opponent that I’ve seen would be a toss-up between Nebraska and Texas A&M. You’re kidding yourself if you don’t think attending a game in Lincoln or College Station is college football at its finest, as by en large, most of the people are as hospitable and friendly as can be. But in reality, most places are fine. As far as tailgating, and I haven’t been to any SEC campuses yet, but Iowa State and Kansas State seem to do that as well as anyone. With spacious areas around their stadiums, it’s a sea of team colors with music playing and barbecue in the air. KSU, by the way, gets my vote in how to display past accomplishments: take a walk on the concourse some time at Bramlage Coliseum. Extremely well done, as is the display at Texas.
Q: What different strategies will the new CU Football staff use to close the borders on in-state recruits?
A: Hawk says it comes down to doing a good job of meeting coaches, being available to them, being in touch on a consistent basis and developing relationships. Now is that anything different than what previous staffs have desired to do? Of course not, but there are different levels that those relationships can reach and he wants to bring those to the best they can be. That, and he has emphasized that you can never expect to close the borders entirely; some kids are always going to want to leave home just to try living somewhere else or return to where they may have came from in the first place.
Q: What changes has Coach Hawkins instituted in the off-season strength and conditioning program?
A: There aren’t nearly as many early, early workouts (6 a.m. is tough for most people, much less college kids). They replaced it with late night workouts (9 p.m.) instead. Some different drills, favorites of Hawk and his staff, have been rotated in, and there is a little more emphasis on power lifting.
Q: In the recently concluded Turin Olympic Games (my apologies for not stooping to down to NBC's Torino pronunciation), were there any medal winners with affiliation to CU?
A: None that I know of, including those who participated for other countries (we had a skier represent India). And I’ve been wondering where Torino came from!
Q: What do you think of the Wonderlic test?
A: Probably overemphasized... I took it once at the Hula Bowl (a scout had a copy) and I scored a 42... you kind of feel like a dork for the ones you miss, as I recall, because they’re mostly common sense (or real easy math). But if you don’t take it seriously and zoom through it, they’re the kind of questions you can mix up on the fly. And it obviously doesn't gauge heart... or athletic skill. My 42 Wonderlic score wouldn’t be an issue, my 42.0 (second) time in the 40 would be.
Q: Does Mike Bohn have a contract? Kathy McConnell Miller? Dan Hawkins? If not, why not?
A: Yes, all three have contracts; they are in the process of all being finalized with University legal counsel. The state allows the University to have six people on contract at any given time.
Q: Does not having a varsity baseball team hurt (football) recruiting?
A: Honestly, once in a blue moon. We had a placekicker recruit once imply that’s the reason he chose another school over CU, and I don’t believe he ever played an inning of baseball at that school. The fact is, unless you’re stellar at both, the football coaches want them to participate in spring practices, and vice-versa I would imagine. It seems like fewer football players are playing baseball these days, but most seem to participate in basketball and/or track. I can’t recall the last time it really came up.
Q. In the media guides, we all know the legend & lore of Ralphie I, II (Moonshine), III (Tequila) & IV (Rowdy). In Fred Casotti's book, The Golden Buffaloes, he refers to a male buffalo replacement named Spirit in 1979 that replaced the retired Ralphie I in 1978. Was Fred pulling our leg or do we just omit Spirit n our mascot lore, because he wasn't?
A: Hmmm... don’t really recall that one, and I was Fred’s sidekick in helping him gather some info for that one. Moonshine, also dubbed Moon, was the replacement for the original Ralphie, there’s no doubt about that. If memory serves, they had her in place well before Ralphie I made her last dashes on Folsom Field against Iowa State in November 1978.
From CU Student Jerry White (1977-81): "I did want to try to help clarify the whole Ralphie line of succession thing. I do recall the last game against Iowa State in ‘78 when they retired Ralphie (I) and introduced the new mascot. I sort of remember them announcing that the new mascot's name was in fact Spirit (we assumed because it was born in ‘76). I also remember them guiding this new mascot around with just one trainer much like a horse. We in the student section were not impressed. By the next season though, "Ralphie" had reappeared. And while like all of the Ralphie’s after Ralphie 1, she wasn't as wild, she did lead the team on to the field guided by the requisite number of handlers accompanied by all the excitement we see today."
Q: The football program has the "Victory Club" for players’ performance during games; do the other sports have a "Victory Club" measuring performance in games?
A: Victory Club is special to football only, and they also present the most team awards at season’s end.
Q: Why does it seem there are never enough Porta-Potties in and around the tailgating fields before a football game?
A: I spoke with our facilities and grounds guru, John Krueger, and they believed they have had most areas covered. But if you know of an area that really needs a few more, shoot him an Email (firstname.lastname@example.org) and let him know; that’s rather easy to adjust!
Q: Based on combined win-loss records of our opponents, what was the toughest schedule played by the buffs football team?
A: The 1997 team played the toughest in school history, as that squad lined up against teams that were 81-40 (.669), including both co-national champions in Michigan and Nebraska. The team, incidentally, was pretty split on who was the better team; many of the offensive guys thought it was Michigan (better defense), and most of the defensive guys would tell you the Huskers (better offense). Not surprisingly, it was the also the toughest schedule in the nation that year. Opponents of the 1971 team were 79-44-1 (.641), and that team finished 10-2 (LSU, Ohio State, Nebraska and Oklahoma were all on the slate, and that year still marks the only time one conference produced the top three teams in a final poll: #1 NU, #2 OU and #3 CU in the Associated Press ballot). The 1990 national champion team remains one of just two to win the title while playing the toughest sked (72-43-3, .623; Penn State was the other in 1982). It ranks fifth in school annals, with 1962 (59-34-2, .632) and 2001 (83-49, .629) ahead of it. What is most impressive is in that three of those five years, CU won at least 10 games, two conference titles and national championship.
Q: Your shoot from the hip prediction for the 2006 football season?
A: Sure. We will play 12 regular season games. I usually don’t predict a record, I just size up our team and our opponents and always say something like the following: if we can stay reasonably healthy and get as many breaks our way as the opponent, I think in 2006 we can win at least eight games, if not nine. I just can’t tell you which ones we might not come out ahead in, but if we can go 3-1 in non-league play, winning five or six in league play isn’t far-fetched despite the losses on offense.
QUOTE OF THE MONTH... Occasionally, an argument surfaces about the role of athletics at an institution of higher learning. At the University of Texas recently, a professor criticized the school on that very subject and the stereotypical — and false — argument that dollars that go to athletics should be spent on academics, when in fact, those dollars are generated by athletics in the first place (and otherwise would not exist). Senior vice president Bill Livingston had a great line on the matter: “The two worlds of athletics and academics are separate. Support for athletics is neither criminal or irrelevant.”
QUOTE OF THE MONTH II... From an NBC reporter that hit the nail on the head in summing up what happened to Jeremy Bloom: “Bloom was forced to quit football because the NCAA wouldn’t allow him to earn money to fund his skiing career.”
WEBSITE OF THE ‘TUDE... Into astronomy like me (and yes, I think the Planetarium makes for a good date!), the Astronomy Picture of the Day Archive is the place to visit. Check it out: http://antwrp.gsfc.nasa.gov/apod/archivepix.html.
THIS WEEK’S NUMBER... 7. The number of wins by the women’s tennis team through the end of February, as Nicole Kenneally’s Buffaloes are off to a 7-3 start and ranked No. 42 in the nation. That’s the most wins by the team by the end of February since a 10-0 start in 1997. Congrats, ladies!
TRIVIA ANSWERS: CU—Stanford (1942) and San Francisco (1955); Bill Russell led the Dons over the Buffs in the latter year. CU beat Iowa to finish third outright in ’55; as with today, there is no third place game (you know, I’d like to see that return—let the kids play with zero pressure on Sunday and most match-ups would likely be a TV ratings hit). Seinfeld—The “blond in the blue sweatpants.” (Warning: I have recently become a devotee of Curb Your Enthusiasm! So, perhaps CYE trivia is a future P-‘Tude pastime!).
“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.