February 19, 2001
A bi-weekly notes column penned by David Plati, who is in his 17th year as Colorado's Assistant Athletic Director for Media Relations.
From most accounts, you'd think CSU launched missiles at CU last week and blew Boulder up... but maybe they were "scuds." Read on:
TRIVIA QUESTIONS... CU-Name the two teams in football that CU has currently outgained the most consecutive times? Godfather-Name the original five New York "mafia families," none of which were used in any of the Godfather movies.
CU-CSU... A lot to "rebuff" here; incredible fallout, eh? The end result is that we agreed to move ONE home game to Denver, play two previous road games earmarked for Fort Collins at a neutral site where we'll make several times the money as opposed to the usual road guarantee, and not have to play at an intra-state rival's home stadium for eight years (2008), or until after the next 233,000,000 million people on this planet are born. And that one home game will happen to be the first real meaningful one in a brand new stadium (unless you call NFL preseason games on the whole, meaningful). Here's my take on some of the comments in the media following the announcement that CU-CSU will play the next three games in Denver before returning the game to the Boulder campus in 2004:
1) The belief that CSU bullied CU. Hardly. What the media didn't overly highlight was that the 2004 and 2005 games will be in Boulder, agreed on by both schools and referenced by CSU president Albert Yates. After much discussion with people representing many fronts that few could imagine, we agreed to play the 2001 game, originally set for Boulder, to help christen Invesco Field at Mile High in Denver. It's not a 50-50 split; CU has more season ticket holders (something like 30,000 to 9,500), so we will get a bigger share of the pie.
2) CU is intimidated to play CSU in Denver. Yeah, right. Let's examine the logic against this one. In 1998, when CSU arguable was being touted as having its best team ever, CU won 42-14 and outgained the Rams on offense, 404-202. In 1999, CSU won 41-14, but CU outgained CSU again, this time 373-336; CSU forced CU into six turnovers that night, so obviously the Buffs were capable of moving the ball but were stopped by turnovers, and yes, the Rams forced those. In 2000, CSU rallied from 10 down to win, 28-24, but CU again had the edge in offense (532-392), as the Rams gained over 40 percent of their offense on four scoring plays. I know those count, but since CSU penetrated the red zone all of one time and ran three total plays, it relied on big plays from outside the 20 to score, and that's not usual, and it's not saying CSU would not have scored on any of those possessions, either. But add all these facts together, and it means that CU isn't afraid or intimidated to play CSU, or anyone, on a neutral field. Those people forget that CU owns the nation's sixth best record on the road since 1988 (44-19-1), and the nation's longest current bowl game winning streak at six, and last time I checked, bowl games are on neutral fields usually against ranked teams. Get dominated in a stadium three straight times, and sure, intimidation could be a factor, but the above facts indicate quite the contrary.
3) "The sentiment of people around the state was growing for playing this game in Denver." Hmmm... only the first game sold out, attendance dipped the next two games (though it will be likely be rekindled because of the new digs), a good portion of our season ticket holders and fans have expressed their views of wanting the game on campus, and many of the 12,000-plus student season ticket holders on the CU campus would not agree with that statement. And we still hear from many people who were turned off after the postgame events of the 1999 game, which started when CSU students pelted our cheerleaders with bottles and debris, and then kept it up, throwing things at the CU team when it left the field, and then finally, the Denver police.
4) CSU Coach Sonny Lubick's comment in the Rocky Mountain News about CU: "If they were in our conference, they would not win the conference. They might be in the middle of the pack." Well, that's wonderful bulletin board material, and coaches always appreciate that. But some documented facts about schedules and conferences: CU played in the nation's toughest conference and played the fourth toughest schedule in all the land, as calculated by the NCAA. CSU ranked 104th in schedule strength and the Mountain West ranked last among the conferences. There were seven Big 12 schools with tougher schedules in 2000 before the first Mountain West school appeared (BYU at No. 41), so if CU finished in the middle of the pack in the Big 12 with a 3-5 record, playing in a statistically proven tougher conference, one probably shouldn't assume CU would finish in the middle of the pack in the Mountain West, a league that saw five of its (eight) teams finish 92nd or worse in schedule strength (Wyoming 92, UNLV 96, Utah 97, Air Force 102, CSU 104). And yes, I'm fully aware of some of the dessert cart opponents some schools in the Big 12 schedule to fatten up their records, but that also happens in the MWC. A quick glance showed that to be a wash.
5) Sites announced for 2008, 2009 and 2010. Hold your horses, here: the schools agreed to a five-year deal, nothing else. The paperwork that both presidents, our chancellor and the athletic directors have concerns nothing beyond 2005. The rotation may call for CSU to host in 2008 and 2010 and CU in 2009, but there is no contract, so any announcement from CSU's side is to be regarded as premature. And in the CSU release, it made mention that the games in 2008 and 2010 would be in Fort Collins, probably after its planned stadium expansion. (Funny, but CSU is on record for saying it wouldn't want to play a home game off campus if it had a bigger stadium, but when we at CU have said that, we're chastised.)
6) The CU-CSU game won't be the marquee attraction that day. That came out after it was announced that Oklahoma and Air Force have agreed to a home-and-home series. It remains to be seen what the marquee attraction is, but to say that because the defending national champions will be here was nothing more than a potshot at both CU and CSU. Several defending national champions have been through these parts before-Nebraska and Oklahoma on numerous occasions, not to mention Colorado in 1991 with six home games. When we're hosting a national caliber opponent, no one goes out of his or her way to say that Nevada at CSU isn't the marquee attraction. At least some have stated what it really will be: a great day of college football in the state on Sept. 1.
What surprised me was that we released our future non-conference schedules for the next decade, simultaneous with the CU-CSU announcement, yet they only appeared in the Boulder Camera. The Denver papers missed an opportunity to run one heckuva list, and were very lucky in the fact that both didn't (due to space I was informed); what if they made one paper and not the other?
I am amazed sometimes at the venom directed our way when it comes to CSU. The Post's Mark Kiszla wrote, "Nobody in this state is more insistent than (CSU President Al) Yates that CSU must refuse to stop playing second fiddle to Colorado." He's right -- nobody should want to play second fiddle to anyone. But what the heck did CU ever do to make CSU appear as a "little brother" that the media often refer to them as? Are people still mad that back in 1947, CU split from the Mountain States Conference and joined the Big Seven, leaving Colorado A&M behind? Quinn Sypniewski, our freshman tight end who also works as a student assistant in my office, notes that Iowa State's not often bashed at Iowa's expense, or vice-versa; we know that's not going on in Florida, Alabama, Arizona, California, Oregon, Washington, etc.
It seems we have some members of the media that will always choose to dwell on the negative, which is a shame, but unfortunately expected nowadays. But, Denver Post sportswriter John Henderson once told me that he could never do a story that was 100 percent positive because no story can ever be 100 percent positive. I guess it's just the age and this particular environment we live in.
A final point: Kiszla made reference that we, "soft-peddled the news while CSU had a celebratory press conference," followed by, "Winners talk. Losers walk." Initially, we were looking at today or tomorrow (Feb. 19-20) for release, but word started to leak out. Dick Tharp, our athletic director, was scheduled to be out of town late Wednesday through Saturday, or he would have been in town for comment. CSU happened to be hosting a basketball game that night any way, and made their people available, as would have we if we were hosting a game; we never would have called a press conference and I doubt CSU would have, either. Both schools agreed on a 1 p.m. press release last Thursday, but Kiszla had the scoop; with (CSU AD) Tim Weiser quotes and no CU comment at all (we weren't contacted), on the Post's web site by Noon, a full-hour earlier. I think people can figure things out from there.
And what is, may I ask, so utterly wrong about wanting to play your home games in your home stadium? Isn't that what we're only guilty of in receiving all the criticism?
MEDFORD MOORER... dropped by while I was penning this column and wants everyone to know, "I'm baaa-ack." While he hasn't been cleared for spring practice, CU's sophomore-to-be strong safety is expected to be 100 percent in August as he completes rehab from a torn ACL suffered in 2000.
SAD NEWS ON TWO COUNTS... One of the all-time great CU fans succumbed to complications from an aneurysm last Thursday, as Jackie McCarty left us. Jackie, who was 59, and her husband, long-time Boulder dentist Cleve, put all six of their children through Boulder High School and then CU. That was fitting, as the family residence on Hillside Road in Boulder was a short walk from both. Buffs fans are certainly familiar with two of the children, and sons Eric and Tennyson both lettered four times in football at CU. Memorial services were pending as of Monday morning, but the family was looking at this Saturday, Feb. 24. Jackie was one of the people that had a smile on her face 24/7, always positive, looking at the brighter side, and no doubt cherished each waking day she had while she was with us; "Isn't it a beautiful day," was something she always not only observed, but always believed. A regular at Buffalo Belles, CU banquets and Gary Barnett's radio show, she will be missed.
We also lost Jerry Frei over the weekend, as the long-time Bronco scout and one-time college head coach passed away at the age of the 76 due to natural causes. He was alive to hear that his son, Denver Post sportswriter Terry Frei, had been named sportswriter of the year in the state. The last time we spoke was at the last Bronco game, when I was compiling the list of most games worked/seen at Mile High; he didn't make the top 10 because he missed so many games doing what he did best--out of town scouting colleges. But he didn't seem to mind, I think he thought he had the best of both worlds, and he was right.
THIS WEEK'S NUMBER... 4. That is the number of CU programs currently ranked in various nation's top 25s: skiing (#2), women's indoor track (#8), women's basketball (#16) and men's indoor track (#19). The men's golf team is next on the list, entering the spring ranked No. 51.
TRIVIA ANSWERS... CU-Oklahoma State, 10 times, and Colorado State, eight times. Godfather-The original five: Bonanno, Colombo, Gambino, Genovese, Luchese. The ones in Godfather I: Barzini, Corleone, Cunio, Strachi and Tataglia.
"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.