Welcome to a notes and comment column in its eighth year penned by CU Associate Athletic Director David Plati, who is wrapping up his 23rd year as the Buffaloes director of sports information:
I just realized my 25th college reunion is this year. Yikes! NIKE may have succeeded in designing our new uniforms, but they have yet to come up with something to give my hairline an updated, 21st century look; c’mon fellas!... Rockies prediction update: I said 88 wins, so they need to go 61-44 the rest of the way—I still stand by it!
TRIVIA QUESTIONS... The monthly trio of brainteasers:
CU—Senior-to-be Jackie McFarland has 37 double-doubles to date in her outstanding women’s basketball career at CU; that’s tied for second on the school’s all-time list. Who is she tied with and who is ahead of her?
Who Am I?—I finished second in the 1968 Big Eight Golf Championships, with rounds of 67-71-74 for a 212 score, leading CU to the Big 8 title the year after Hale Irwin graduated. CU hosted the meet at Lake Valley Golf Club and won by four strokes, the last time the school won a conference golf title. Who Am I?
Seinfeld—Elaine gained employment by bumping into J. Peterman in the rain; when the two had coffee, he shared with her the garment item that got him into the fashion business. What item gave him his start?
QUICK HITS... We had some big news on June 2 when we debuted our new football uniforms. In all honesty, I wasn’t all that fired up at first as I only saw them on paper, but they grew on me rather quickly when I saw them in person on the players (right); for those of you in the same quandary, I think you’ll come around pretty quick, too. I didn’t dislike them, I really needed to see them (and to be certain the signature COLORADO was big enough on the front); so I’m satisfied (see poll results below)... Does anyone else think the New York Post went a little too far with its coverage Alex Rodriguez’s extracurricular activities? Certainly not to condone them, but as coverage of such things evolve more and more, and with some media members themselves fighting for a piece of the celebrity pie, the ol’ glass house axiom comes to mind. Heck, the list I could make of things I’ve seen media people do would drop your jaws (though I am of the belief that most is none of my business)... The Sporting News’ Tom Dienhart ranked CU’s 2007 football schedule as the best in the conference in his May 20 column; he is analyzing all the schedules from every major conference, and it’s an interesting read. You can find it on line at www.sportingnews.com... If you’re in Boulder on June 13, stop by the “Band on the Bricks” concert series that night with the legendary Nikators (in front of the courthouse on 13th & Pearl); Dan Hawkins will be making a special appearance that evening. The show starts at 7 p.m.
REMEMBERING HIS ROOTS... Opened a letter the other day from an address I didn’t immediately recognize in Arizona and out popped a check made to the CU Foundation. It was from Steve Jones (’81), as he donated a generous amount to be split evenly between the Dale Douglass and Les Fowler scholarship endowments for the men’s golf program. I rang him up to say thanks, and he mentioned that he and his wife Bonnie always set something aside to make a contribution of this sort, and he wanted to give back to the golf program at CU. Jonesy, of course, is best known for his 1996 U.S. Open playoff win, the second former Buff to win what many consider golf’s grand prize (Hale Irwin won in 1974, 1979 and 1990). The first recruit of late head coach Mark Simpson, Jones has always remained closed to his alma mater, giving both financially and emotionally: many should recall that when Mark was fighting cancer in early 2005, Steve switched to using a CU golf bag on Tour to show his support for his coach and friend. A huge thank you is in order and we chalk up another classy move by Steve and Bonnie.
Hale Irwin in 1965
40TH ANNIVERSARY... This coming June 24 will mark the 40th anniversary of CU’s Hale Irwin winning the NCAA Golf Championship. Irwin wrestled the lead away with a third round 65, the lowest round of the tournament, and then hung on for a two shot win over three guys chasing him. The championships took place in Shawnee-On-Delaware, Pa., and Irwin toppled all the other pre-tournament favorites, including Johnny Miller (BYU), Steve Melnyk (Florida), Hubert Green (Florida State), Jack Lewis, Jr. (Wake Forest) and Rick Massengale (Texas). The victory remains one of the greatest individual accomplishments in CU athletic history, and was commemorated last month when current CU coach Roy Edwards presented Hale with a special trophy with a sculpted buffalo acknowledging the anniversary. Irwin was in Boulder as he was the speaker at CU’s graduation, and the following Monday helped launch ticket sales for the 2008 U.S. Senior Open, which will be played at the Broadmoor in Colorado Springs
SPRINGS SPORTS CORP FOOTBALL KICKOFF LUNCHEON... CU coach Dan Hawkins will be joined by Air Force coach Troy Calhoun, CC’s Bob Bodor and Northern Colorado’s Scott Downing in the annual football preview sponsored by the Colorado Springs Sports Corporation. The event is set for June 26 at Noon, at the Penrose House Garden Pavilion; tickets are $30 and $25, with tables (10 seats) available. More information: 719/634-7333, ext.1009 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
2007 BLEED BLACK AND GOLD GOLF... The Bleed Black and Gold Celebrity Golf Tournament on July 2 (8:00 a.m.) is the ultimate event for the CU football enthusiast! Sign up now for a day at Heritage Eagle Bend Golf Course where CU greats such as Coach Bill McCartney, Alfred Williams, Daniel Graham, Joel Klatt, Matt Russell, Darian Hagan, Jon Embree, Chauncey Billups, Dave Logan, Mike Pritchard, Charles Johnson and many more come together with fans for fun and enjoyment. All foursomes will have an opportunity to play with a former CU athlete for the day and will have an opportunity to win incredible prizes and gifts! Proceeds benefit the BBG Foundation, a non-profit organization designed to help raise money for fallen and/or injured Buffs, amateur athletics and to help drive support for CU Football! This year’s proceeds will benefit former Buff QB, John Hessler, and every player receives a ticket to the Cool River Café Pairings Party, an exciting celebrity filled night on Saturday, June 30. The party kicks off the weekend event, and allows fans to mingle amongst CU Football legends and enjoy the “Mother of All” sports auctions led by Charles Johnson. Cocktails and hors d’ oeuvres will be provided.
If you are interested in one of the several sponsorship packages for this worthy event or would like to play, please contact Joe McCreary at 719/593-7770 or email@example.com (you can also to register to play at this e-mail address).
CHALLENGE... Kudos to CU fan Jonathan Bell and a friend, who despite living out of state (California and Connecticut, respectively), purchased season tickets for the upcoming football season, as well as to Tony Dial, who is doing the same for the ’07-08 men’s basketball season. They plan to attend one or two games and then donate the tickets to the Buff Club for use in our community outreach and marketing efforts. As Jonathan said to me in wanting me to get the word out: “There really aren’t any excuses for not supporting this team, even if one lives a couple thousand miles away from Boulder. More people need to step up for this program if they want to see it succeed.” And he put his money where his mouth, and more importantly, his heart, is. Thank you Jonathan and we’ll see how many people meet your challenge and what you, your friend and Tony have done!
HESSLER HORSIN’ AROUND... The latest therapy on former CU quarterback John Hessler’s road to recovery has been... horseback riding. Really... the program at the Colorado Therapeutic Riding Center in Longmont has been praised for its work with people with disabilities or those needing extensive physical rehabilitation. John has participated in the program since early spring and thoroughly enjoys it. John’s regular horse is named “Sweet Lou.” The therapeutic teams consist of a horse, an instructor and volunteers. The center does take donations, which can be made in John’s name; if interested in contributing, send to the CTRC, 11968 Mineral Road, Longmont, CO 80504; the phone number is 303-652-9131 and the website is www.ctrcinc.org.
HISTORY LESSON... The largest walk-up crowd (meaning tickets sold on game day) in CU history is the 7,611 who purchased tickets on Saturday, September 21, 1985, to see the Buffaloes play Ohio State. CU opened 2-0 that year after going 1-10 the previous season, and the Buckeyes came in ranked No. 7. The reason for this note? On Memorial Day, the Rockies had a walk-up crowd of 6,800 as the St. Louis Cardinals rolled into town with Colorado returning back home with a five-game winning streak, its longest in three seasons. It got me thinking about our largest walk-up, and where is might rank in state history. Safe to say that basketball and hockey have never approached the number, since they didn’t have the capacity to sell that many tickets until recently, and the season ticket numbers are high enough in relation to the capacity where the number couldn’t be attained anyway. The Broncos have sold out forever, so if they toppled the 7,611 mark, it would have taken place at some point in the late 1960s. Clippings at the time suggested we sold the most tickets on game day in the state for any college event, be it at CU, CSU, Air Force, etc., so that really leaves baseball.
Former CU ticket manager Kevin Fenton, in a similar position at the Rockies, said that the single-day high for the Rockies is in the 8,500 range, but when the team was at Mile High Stadium, he said there were a couple of weekend days where close to 15,000 walk-up sales took place. And that reminded me of the old Denver Bear Fireworks Night of July 3, 1982, when the “announced” crowd of 65,666 was a then-minor league record. That figure was the highest we could list as official without getting in trouble with the fire marshal; there were actually 73,227 in the house (I was the team PR director at the time). We went into the day expecting a crowd in the 63-65,000 range, and sold in the neighborhood of 10,000 tickets that day as well. So the Buff number of 7,611 that sunny September afternoon in ’85 is likely the ninth or 10th highest in state history. By the way, we lost, 36-13, falling behind 17-0 early due to turnovers and some butterflies...
Coach Bill McCartney
Q & A WITH A BUFF... It was this week 25 years ago that the future of Colorado football made its move to return to national prominence, and then some, with the hiring of Bill McCartney as head football coach. Chuck Fairbanks resigned on June 1, 1982 to take the head coach job with the New Jersey franchise in the fledgling USFL. Eight days later, on Wednesday, June 9, Bill McCartney was named the 20th head coach in the program’s history. I caught up with “Mac” this week and we covered all kind of subjects since that eventful week in 1982:
Q: It’s been exactly 25 years since you interviewed for and accepted the head coaching job at CU. What made you decide to pursue it?
A: “Colorado was one of the premier jobs in the country. It was in a prestigious conference, the location, the history, and there was something about raising your family in a college town. All the opportunities you can ask for in a dynamic collegiate environment. Boulder is just the right size, not too big, not too small and has access to a major city in Denver. The populace and all that goes with that, the professional teams, the arts, a major airport providing access to wherever you’d want to go. The aesthetic beauty of Boulder, Colorado is that it has no parallel, and offers what I call the ‘maximum experience.’
“You look at its extraordinary beauty, when every day you wake and say, ‘All right, let’s get up and get it on.’ When you look at the academic experience, there’s none better. But when you look around at everything, raising your family, tell me there’s a safer place than Boulder, Colorado. There’s a murder once every 10 years. We have more winter sunshine than Phoenix, Miami or L.A. You look at the whole experience and not just focus on football and say, ‘What do you want out of life?’ When you add all those things up, Boulder and CU can’t be matched. I’ve been looking around all these years, and nobody else can match what Colorado can offer—the premier college experience in America. And I say that not trying to recruit anybody—I’m done!
“I’m not neutral or indifferent, I live here. But if you believe what you say, you do it. And I have chosen to live here. When I started the Ministry of the Promise Keepers, I could have picked any major city and based it there. But I chose to stay in Colorado—it’s the maximum experience.”
Q: Was CU the first head coaching job you were interested in or interviewed for?
A: “I went in to talk to Coach (Bo) Schembachler, and I told him that if the right opportunity came along, I’d be interested. He said, ‘Okay, when the right job comes along, come see me.’ The Michigan State job opened shortly after that, and I went in to see him and he said, ‘You do not want to go there and I am not considering helping you get there. Get that out of your mind.’ And I did. So that was the first one that came along I was interested in and I didn’t pursue it. When the Colorado job opened, it was the perfect time for me. Chuck Fairbanks resigned on June 1, and there was really no head coach in America who could have applied for the job, because if you didn’t get it, you would have been run out of town because you were willing to abandon your team. Chuck Shelton interviewed from Drake, which had just beat CU twice, but I didn’t have to fight several head coaches who would have been interested had the job opened at a more opportune time. When I saw that Chuck resigned, I was immediately interested, I went in and saw Bo. At the appropriate time, Bo called Eddie Crowder. He was instrumental in my getting strong consideration.
“It was my good fortune, the timing was such that I was in position to be a candidate because of the success Michigan had had and the fact that I worked for Bo. To reinforce the fact that I believe what I am saying, I still live here. I am pretty sure that is some validation of the overall experience.”
Q: I’ve heard this story many times, but share with my readers and go over once again how you believe your chances improved as the interview process proceeded.
A: “What happened was that Eddie Crowder called me on a Sunday night (June 6) and asked if would I be interested; I said absolutely. He said ‘When can you be here?’ And I said the next morning. So I took the first flight out of Detroit and got to Colorado pretty early in the day, but I got here so fast that they weren’t ready to interview me. It took him until Tuesday morning to put together an interview panel. That gave me a day here where nothing was happening and I was able to get acquainted. I had been here before as an assistant with Michigan and as a player with Missouri, so I had a little familiarity with the place. Eddie assigned me to Fred Casotti; when the interview took place Tuesday morning, there were about 15 people representing all kind of factions on campus and the alumni. About 15 minutes before I was going to go before them for the interview, I said to Fred, ‘What do you think my chances are?’ He said, ‘Coach, it’s third and long. You’d better make a big play.’
“That was the best thing he could have told me, otherwise I might have tip-toed into the interview. But after Fred told me that, I threw caution to the wind, decided to get aggressive and put my best foot forward. The format was for them to ask me questions, or that’s what they had in mind. But I stood up, and I said before I take any questions, I want to make a statement. I spoke for about 15, 20 minutes and told them who I was, my background, what I had done at the University of Michigan, my philosophies and values, and what I would bring to the University of Colorado if I was to get the job. I was the only one talking, and after I was done speaking, nobody asked me a question. I went from there to meet the president, Arnold Weber, and he had already gotten a phone call following the first interview. He was energized and anxious to see me, and was warm and welcoming. Later that night, they took me to meet the Board of Regents, as by chance they were having their monthly meeting in Denver. I was waiting with Casotti in the car, waiting for a break in their meeting to be introduced, and I asked Fred again, ‘What do you think my chances are?’ And Fred said, ‘Coach, fourth and short. You just need to make a first down.’ So I just needed to move the chains. That Tuesday night, Eddie offered me the job. Really it all happened so fast, we didn’t have a lot of time because of the unusual circumstances.”
A pair of Hall of Famers, Coach McCartney
and Fred Casotti
Q: Your first practice you had 77 players in camp, 73 on scholarship, which at the time was 22 fewer than permitted. What do you recall about your first camp?
A: “We were a program that was in disarray. We had to really start over in all fairness, we had to build from the bottom up. What I remember is that the first recruiting class, we were not coming off a very good season (2-8-1). In Fairbanks’ three years they won seven games, in my first three years, we won seven games. Those six years, we had 14 wins, the worst record in football. We were not attractive to the out-of-state kid, so we really focused on the in-state kids. We took a gamble, took a big risk, and asked them all if they would save one weekend for us and make that visit the last week before signing day. So they agreed, even if they were leaning various other ways, to come in. These were some of the top players in the state, guys like Eric McCarty, Curt Koch, Ed Reinhardt, Barry Helton, David Tate, Jon Embree, Mike Marquez, Rick Wheeler, Sam Smith, Troy Wolf, Dave DeLine. Embree and McCarty were the most prized catches according to the experts, but really, many of them were.
“We had an extraordinary weekend with them. We just appealed to them—told them if you come in, you can turn us around. They were great kids, classy kids, good students. This is where Boulder helped; it appealed to them. I always told recruits if all you want to do is play football, don’t come to Boulder. If you’re interested in all aspects of college life, then come. And this with facilities that were suspect at the time. They started calling each other after the weekend, talking to each other. And all those guys came. McCarty didn’t make up his mind on signing day and was waiting. But he saw what the others were doing, got excited, and then signed with us as well. And here’s what happened—you get that quality of kid on campus, sharp guys, good students, guys who want to win in football. You recruit them for the team, and they turn into some of your best recruiters. They were fun loving, and kids could tell that if they made a visit to our place. All those things contributed how we built it—from the inside out, by in-state kids convincing out-of-state guys to come. It all mushroomed from there and it all started that first year.”
Q: What were the keys to your success?
A: “We had great coaches, who went on and distinguished themselves by going to become head coaches themselves. They were just tremendous. Several guys went on to become head coaches, and that’s a mark. We became a place where a good, outstanding assistant coach could go, and they could go on to become a head coach. DiNardo, Tepper, Barnett, Vanderlinden, Simmons, Neuheisel, Dickerson, Miles, Logan, Dorrell. We sent guys into the pros. Steckel, Greg Brown, Jim Caldwell, Mike Barry. The deeper the foundation, the higher the structure can go. That starts with good assistants. Then what we did is we got the right kind of kids in here, the heart and soul being Colorado kids. And they helped us recruit the great athletes from around the United States. The foundation is always going to be there because Boulder is such an extraordinary place. When you look at the top 20 teams in all-time victories, Colorado has the smallest stadium but we have the biggest appeal.
“The day came when we could go and look right into the eye of the great teams in the country, and we were just as big and fast as strong as they were, and that was fun. We had as many guys drafted as anyone if not more so. We could go play with anyone not only at home, but on the road. That’s what came from building that foundation.”
Q: What are your memories of your first game (against California) and your first win a week later (at Washington State)?
A: “The game against Cal in the opener, it was simply two bad teams. They were just a little better than us. But the next week, to go on the road and win like we did, it was a special thing to get the first victory like that. We beat a decent team, not a great team. I don’t reflect as much on that as I remember lining up against Nebraska.”
Q: Good segue, let’s talk about you declaring Nebraska as Colorado’s rival.
A: “When I got here, I had asked who was our rival. I had come from Michigan where we had Michigan State, but Ohio State was our real rival. I wanted to know who was Colorado’s. The truth was there really didn’t appear to be one, or anyone consistent. But the reason I chose Nebraska instead of Oklahoma is that Nebraska was more of a neighboring state, and in asking around town who was the team that people really wanted us to beat, they almost all said Nebraska. We built that into the fabric of our program, whether or not we can compete with Nebraska. They represented everything we were reaching for, including their coaching staff and Tom Osborne, who was a real gentleman and a first class guy. When we recruited, we tried to beat them. That first year, we played really hard against them.
(Editor’s Note: the recap of that first game has the following passage: Coach McCartney, prior to the game, declared Nebraska the team he would most like to beat. ‘Colorado really doesn’t have a natural rivalry with anybody in the Big Eight. So we’re picking Nebraska. From now on, they’re our rival,” he said. CU, losers in Lincoln 59-0 in 1981, was within 20-14 of the No. 7 Cornhuskers entering the fourth quarter before succumbing, 40-14.)
“All 13 times we played Nebraska when I was there we flat out went after them. It was more than just a game, we were measuring ourselves. That’s how you determine where you are, you measure yourself against the best. We wanted to run the football with the same authority as they did or better, we wanted to defend the run the way they did. They had gaudy statistics, we wanted to have those. It turned out to be a good barometer, a good bar to reach for. We told coaches if you’re coming here, we expect to have the same level of success that Nebraska had. In fairness to us, there was a six year stretch where we went 3-2-1 with them (1986-1991). Since then, they‘ve recently declined and Colorado hasn’t had the same success, but we had that stretch where we pulled it off. You achieve what you emphasize. It costs, but you can get it if you really want it.”
Q: In 1984, you pulled out the black jerseys for the Oklahoma and Nebraska games. What was the reasoning?
A: “A lot of the alums had told me they hated the powder blue, and felt the fact that we went to it had no good reason behind it. They wanted the black jerseys back. We timed it up so we could get the maximum impact from it. So that really came from guys who had played there who had worn the black and gold. We had warmed up in blue, and then came out in black, and the players were ecstatic. It jacked them up.”
Q: The program evolved with various “turning” points. Changing to the wishbone in 1985, the 20-10 win over Nebraska in 1986, a 24-21 win at Iowa in 1988. Talk about these and other points you feel belong?
A: “I would agree that the Iowa game was key. They were picked by some as No. 1 in the preseason, and they had an outstanding team, so for us to go there and beat them, it was one of those milestone games. It put us in another category, it identified us as a team that could go on the road and beat a great team. So I look back on that with great fondness. The 20-10 win over Nebraska, if you see how many yards they rushed for that day, that was the key (43 rushes, 123 yards, 2.9 per carry). We were able to get the ball back because it was our ability to defense them is what won that game. But the wishbone toughened up our defense. Guys were pounding off the line of scrimmage because it’s an attack offense that creates a new line of scrimmage. Your defense learns to take a punch, because you play against your own team so much. More than anything, the wishbone made us tough up front on defense. The achievement that day was not how prolific on offense we were, but how we controlled the game on defense. The wishbone also bleeds the clock, shortens the game, and allows a team to compete in games against teams with superior personnel. If you can shorten the game and don’t turn the ball over, and handle special teams well, you’re going to be in the game. And that particular day, we were not only in it, but we controlled it.
“A milestone victory was in Norman, the 20-3 win in 1989. That was a big, big thing to do, to go to Norman and win. And then the win in Lincoln the following year. Look at where we won in that small window, at Iowa, at Oklahoma, at Washington, at Texas, at Nebraska. Those established us as a national power, because those were hard things to do. From there, we were able to sustain things for a while. Oklahoma wasn’t able to beat CU for 11 years; they had put 82 points on the board when Fairbanks was here. So for them not to beat us between 1989 and 1999 was a phenomenal achievement. And it all comes back to what that has to do with Boulder and the maximum experience that can be obtained here.
“The turnaround obviously started with the wishbone, but here’s the thinking that went into it. Bo taught me the importance of the fundamentals in the game. It’s controlling the line of scrimmage, being able to run the football and to defend the run, and have a sound kicking game. Being a small part of what Bo accomplished taught me a lot. Fame can come quickly, but greatness comes with longevity. He had more victories over a 20 year period than anyone else. That doesn’t happen by chance.
“When we were able to finally do those things, the wishbone was huge factor in that. We didn’t stay in the wishbone when we were able to have more skill. We went to the I-bone for a while which gave us a little more ability to throw the football. They had to give the receiver single coverage to out-number us in the running game, then they couldn’t match up with our receivers, like Mike Pritchard, Michael Westbrook, Charles Johnson and others.
“Defensively, I was the defensive coordinate for five years at Michigan, and I understood the importance. Remember you play against your own team far more than any other. Spring practice, fall camp, weekly practices. At Michigan, I had learned to go toe-to-toe with some of the great offensive lines Michigan had. When I came here that was the same emphasis. We were going to stop the run first and then rush the passer. When you look at our kicking game, we had a five year stretch where we had a phenomenal statistic. We averaged more than two yards per net punt than anyone else in the country, and some wanted to attribute that to the altitude, but I doubt you ever had anyone before or since lead the nation by over two yards in net punting over that long a stretch. Learning under Bo’s tutelage played a major role, but it didn’t show up for awhile until we got bigger, stronger and faster. When you look at some of the rushing statistics we had, it was right up there with some of the great running teams.”
Q: Talk about the 1989 season, Sal, the Nebraska win.
Coach McCartney after CU's 1989 win over Nebraska
A: “That was a magical year. When we discovered Sal was terminally ill, that brought our team together in a way that nobody could orchestrate or facilitate. It just happened in a way that all of us who were a part of that who just saw a team that put the team before being an individual. The memory I have is at Washington. The team is kneeling after the win and pointing to the sky. The record will show that we beat a Don James team in Washington as bad as anyone ever had. That was a team that was together, motivated. That whole experience was a team that was bonded together, driven, hitting on all cylinders most of the time. It was just unfortunate we couldn’t bookend with a win over Notre Dame in the Orange Bowl.
“What I remember about the Nebraska game is the play Dave McCloughan made at the end of the game. He had continued to work on playing the deep pass, and he was an outstanding secondary player, but if he had a weakness, it was playing the deep ball thrown high. And that game came down to him making that very play. Nebraska scored quickly, on the game’s first play from scrimmage, but after that, I thought we played really good football. But we won that game because we had a kid who was just working to get better, something that was not easy for him, and he accomplished it.
“The next year we came back and beat them in Lincoln to complete the back-to-back thing, and we were ranked ninth and they were second. Because we beat them put us back in the hunt for the national championship. But I’ll tell you this, to beat Nebraska and Oklahoma in back-to-back weeks, both home and away in consecutive years, established us. That had never happened before. Looking back on it, those were really highlights of the last 25 years.”
Q: Fast-forward to 1990. What was the turning point of the year after the 1-1-1 start?
A: “We were in Austin and we were trailing Texas late in the third quarter (19-14) and they were marching with the ball and about to score another touchdown, which would have put us behind by two scores. Eric Bieniemy had huddled the offense together on the sidelines, which was sight to see because here he is, 5-foot-6 and 190 pounds at the time, and he has these huge lineman around him he’s trying to fire up; Bieniemy, this fireball, challenging the offense. Then we got a break and the quarter ended. Texas took off running to the other end of the field, and the crowd rose to their feet, especially on the other end because they thought they were going to see them score a touchdown. And then something happened that I had never seen before and never since. Our defensive guys starting walking slowly to the other end, but our offense walked on to the field and intercepted them at our own 20. So there were 22 guys on the field, and the offense, at Bieniemy’s urging, was challenging the defense to hold them. Well, then the defense charged down to the other end of the field and then held them to a field goal. The offense got the ball back, marched down and scored right away. Then we held them on defense to three plays and out for the first time in the game, got the ball back, and then drove for the go-ahead and winning score. The significance of this story is that one guy can make a difference. The morale is to the physical as is four is to one. One guy like that can change things, and our entire season turned around because of this one kid being ignited and sparking and inspiring the others.”
(Editor’s Note: Prior to the challenge laid down by the offense at the end of the third quarter, Texas ran 27 plays in the quarter to CU’s 5 and outgained the Buffs, 119-11. After the challenge, CU outscored the Longhorns 15-3 in winning 29-22, with edges of 23-14 in plays and 109-26 in yards confirming one of the most incredible turnarounds on the road in CU and perhaps college football history.)
Q: What about the two second downs against Missouri (okay, the 5th Down game)?
A: “That’s been talked out.”
Q: One play many recall came during the 1991 season, the fake field goal at Oklahoma State. Can you reminisce about that?
A: “What happened was that we called a timeout, and we had sent in the field goal team. OSU then called timeout to ice the kicker (Jim Harper). During the timeout, I was explaining to the kicking team, and David Gibbs (then a student coach), a coach’s kid who is now in the NFL, is standing behind me and says, loud enough for me to hear, ‘This is a great time for a fake!’ We were going to kick on third down in case we had a bad snap, but as soon as he said that, I knew he was right. So we sent in the fake. I told Robbie James (the holder) to not eat the ball, and if there was nobody open, to throw the ball away. I got all the credit afterwards in the postgame press conference, with people saying things like it was the greatest call they’ve ever seen, but it was David Gibb’s idea, not mine. There was still risk involved, but the truth of the matter, this Gibbs kid was smart. As smart as they come, probably the smartest player I had in my time there. He wasn’t big, he wasn’t tall, he wasn’t fast, but he was smart. He sniffed out the fake punt at Nebraska in 1990 and saw something we had cautioned our players about, and called out ‘It’s a fake’ and we stopped the play. He was smart, and is smart. I think he’s got a chance to be a head coach in the NFL someday.”
Q: We could never do this and not talk about “The Catch.”
A: “This is another game I point to, because I personally knew how hard I was to go in there and win. That is easily among the great victories in the history of Colorado. There are many things that went into that. If people recall, the last play of the first half, we ran that same exact play. So we had a chance to have had rehearsed it, not knowing we would need it later on. Kordell (Stewart) was special. Not that many guys can throw the ball that high or that far, plus you have to have the trajectory on it to buy the receivers time to get under the ball. Rick Neuheisel deserves a lot of credit for that play because he had the wherewithal and understanding of the play to make it have a chance. It really came from him more than anybody else. That was another thing about Rick that I liked so much. He coached that game all the way, because he really believed we could win it. He communicated that. Even though the clock was against us, he never gave up. I credit his attitude and perspective as much as anything in keeping us going right to the buzzer.”
Q: A week later, Rashaan Salaam has a game that puts him on the map at Texas. Talk about that.
A: “The thing I most remember is that we just went on the road to Ann Arbor and won, and then we have to turn right around and go on the road to Austin. It was an exciting game. It was anybody’s game the whole four quarters (CU won 34-31 on last second field goal). So that’s the kind of game where every yard counted; Rashaan didn’t run for 317 yards in an easy victory, he ran for 317 when we needed every single one of them, and he did it in the heat and humidity in the middle of the day. It really catapulted him into the national spotlight. It really showed people how good he could be.”
Q: Looking back at the events of November 19, 1994, it was one crazy day. Salaam goes over 2,000 yards, Kordell Stewart becomes the all-time total offense leader in the Big Eight, and you shock the world by announcing your retirement from coaching. Is that day vivid to you or is it a fog?
Bill McCartney, Rashaan Salaam, Lyndi McCartney
at the 1994 Heisman Trophy Award Ceremony
A: “I didn’t do that without a lot of forethought, without a lot of prayer without a lot of counsel. The basketball coach at Florida just changed his mind, that’s not where I was. I knew what I was doing. I did not want to steal Rashaan’s or Kordell’s thunder or take away from the significance of the victory or the season. But I had to do it then due to recruiting, because if I had waited, it really would have compromised the integrity of the recruiting season, of which the whole process was still in front of us. That’s why I did it then; had I waited even two weeks, it really would have disrupted recruiting. Because I did it like I did, they moved swiftly and hired Rick, and were able to have a good recruiting class. If I had waited until after the bowl game and then announced, what would that have done to recruiting, and I couldn’t wait until after recruiting, because then I would have been a liar. So I never regretted the timing, even thought it did steal some of the thunder from other accomplishments. I did it for the program.”
Q: You seemed like you had as much fun just preparing to coach in your final game without having to worry about recruiting. What comes to mind those six weeks between the season finale against Iowa State and the dismantling of Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl?
A: “When you take away the weight of all that goes with being a Division I coach, and you can just coach for the love of the game, it was a fun time. Not that it wasn’t without a couple of challenges, because when you announce you’re no longer going to be somewhere, naturally some view you differently. We actually went into that game and changed our offense and our defense. We ran a more wide open attack on offense and defensively played a more aggressive front. The reason we were so far ahead at halftime is because they were not anywhere near ready for what we were going to do. We had struggled in many of our bowl games, but in this one, we had them totally off balance. I can remember walking into the lockerroom at halftime and Bob Davie, who was the defensive coordinator at the time for Notre Dame, ran along side me and said, ‘I cant believe this is your last game and you would make so many changes.’ I wanted to change things up and do something different, but they were Neuheisel’s ideas we used. For example, we had not used a lot of trips that year (three wideouts on the same side), and came out in the bowl and really confused them. We had all of December to work on it.”
Q: If you had to rank your top five CU teams, what order would you place them? Who would win a round-robin tournament between the 1989, 1990 and 1994 teams?
A: “I don’t know, let’s play it. The last thing I’d ever do is rank teams. Let others debate it, because it would do a disservice. The only team that I’ll cite for individual attention is that first recruiting class with all those Colorado kids that put us back on the map. They turned it around, so they deserve special mention.”
Q: Have you enjoyed your retirement? Will you ever coach again?
Coach McCartney (right) with former Coach Eddie
Crowder and current head coach Dan Hawkins in 2006
A: “I’m toast. Over-the-hill Bill. The first couple of years, I really missed coaching. I found myself with so much idle time, because of the rigors of coaching and the demands on your time. So it took me a while to really unwind. I am grateful for the experiences and I look back with a lot of gratitude for the people I worked with. I want to thank Bill Marolt and Gordon Gee for standing by me after those first three years. It would have been easy to go in a different direction since we had just seven wins during that time, but they stuck with me. I realize it was the integrity and character of Marolt and Gee who fought off the naysayers and gave me a new contract. That gave us the credibility to recruit, because everyone knew we were going to be there. Opponents in recruiting couldn’t say anything about us being on rocky ground because we weren’t going anywhere and it enabled us to continue to work for what we had planned for in the long-term.”
Q: If you had to list the top five games in your CU career, which first come to mind?
A: “The game that stands out is the Michigan game (27-26 in 1994) because I had coached there for eight-and-a-half years, and I grew up in Michigan. It was a dream to go back there and to beat them, and to beat them the way we did. That one just doesn’t wear off and still hasn’t. The rest of them all rank in there somewhere, but that one stands out for many reasons. We had 500 and some yards that day (511), and nobody does that to Michigan in Ann Arbor. We played well and it was exciting. You can’t duplicate it, you can’t write that script, you can’t even dream that stuff up. It was fantasy. My Mom was there, my wife, my children, people that I had grown up with, plus a nationwide audience. All those things figured into it, it wasn’t just the catch. It was I coached there, I grew up there. I had a lot invested in that. For me personally, all those worked in making it the highlight.”
Q: Have you stayed involved with the school?
A: “I love CU. I’ve never said no there to anyone who’s ever asked me to do anything. Rick, Gary, and now Hawk. I’ll do anything they ask, and right now I am a big Hawk fan. I was a big Neuheisel supporter, and I believe he has extraordinary capability. Barnett is sharp and I was always in his corner. I’ve just tried to stay out of the way, keep a low profile, but always do anything they asked of me. So all three guys who have been in there since me, I have believed in them. It s not easy to be at a place for 13 years as a head coach and then step back and walk that fine line. You want to stay out of the way, you don’t want to be a distraction, but you want to be loyal and supportive. When I look back on the 25 years, that’s the kind of profile I want to have.”
(Click on this link to view a documentary by Graduate Assistant Sports Information Director Erich Schubert on CU football from Coach McCartney's hiring through the 1986 season.)
# # # #
Interested in a past Q&A with a Buff? If so, click on the links below for those previous interviews:
Volume 8, Issue 3 (May 9, 2007) Dave Logan
Volume 5, Issue 4 (Dec. 9, 2004) Rashaan Salaam
Volume 5, Issue 1 (March 16, 2004) Mark Simpson
Volume 4, Issue 6 (Oct. 23, 2003) Steve Jones
Volume 4, Issue 1 (Jan. 11, 2003) Russell “Sox” Walseth
Volume 2, Issue 7 (March 12, 2001) Eddie Crowder
Volume 1, Issue 8 (May 9, 2000) Chris Fowler
P-‘TUDES SURVEY... This month, the survey group was queried on if they like CU’s new football uniforms for the upcoming 2007 season. I also included the Alumni C-Club I have e-mail addresses for, as they would not be shy one way or another in their feelings on the subject. The results indicate that most (79 percent) either like or love them now, or soon will; the numbers (331 respondents):
What do you think of CU’s uniform change?
A. (196; 59.2%) I like/love them!
B. ( 66; 19.9%) It’ll will take some getting used to, but I’ll eventually like/love them.
C. ( 25; 7.6%) Why did we have to change?
D. ( 14; 4.2%) Makes no difference to me.
E. ( 28; 8.5%) If we had to change, why couldn’t we have gone back to 1990 style?
F. ( 2; 0.1%) I hate them.
The most common point brought up was that many wanted the COLORADO bigger across the front. Some comments from the crowd:
“A. Thumbs up.” — Former Buff Rashaan Salaam (’94)
“My response would be A – like/love them. In my opinion, the change isn’t too radical... kind of took last year’s design and just spruced it up a bit to give it more of a “contemporary” look.” — Marc Sorensen
“It seems like a small change aesthetically. I am impressed with the technical aspects and I think those features will help the players but the look is fine.” — Rodney Lie
“They look pretty good to me. The first time I saw the Buffs play they were in the old Dal Ward gold uniforms. My first impression is that the COLORADO on the front should be more prominent, but I do like the idea of silver being back in the color scheme.” — Apologies, forgot to list name
“A. Leave last year behind. Nothing helps to refocus like change. Great idea!!!!” — Former Buff Gary Howe (’90)
“My answer is B. Change is often difficult, especially for something so near and dear to our hearts. Right now I'm mostly relieved that we didn't get 'Oregoned'!” — Brian Lollar
“I like them, though I’m really not all that big a fan of change. My favorite combinations are black top-gold pants at home and white top-gold pant on the road; never really liked all black or all white, so I guess I am just an "old" golden buffalo. Go Buffs!” — Former Athletic Director Bill Marolt (’67)
“I’ll go with B; however, I still like the silver & black—the less gold and blue (!), the better. One of the regents pushed blue because it was the color of the Colorado sky. I tried to point out to him that so is black... the night sky.” Former Buff Joe Romig (‘61)
“As long as we go to a bowl game they could play naked. Seriously, I like the idea of the silver and gold and think it is consistent with the theme of tradition which they seem to be trying to establish.” — Former Buff Jim Kelleher (’76)
“A. I think they look great. Glad to see silver back.” Former Buff Jeff Lee (’78)
“I like them. It shows progressing with times, staying hip. It will be good for merchandise sales and generating revenue. And it’s not as drastic as the Oregon Ducks.” Former Buff Bruce Alison (’81)
“I particularly like the home jersey. I think the revised black on black combo will be really sharp!” — Scott Husband
“It's great they are bringing our real school colors back into the uniform.” — Candy Nesheim
“I do love them. I think the piping is great. The lines are clean, and they look progressive and modern without completely taking away the ties to the great tradition. I also love the reintroduction of silver to the color scheme. I think it's the next natural progression in terms of signaling a complete change within the athletic department in terms of attitude and regimes, so to speak.” — Mike Greer
“(I like the) 1990 style. The best uniforms ever donned by a college football team!” — Erik Rebich
“E. We have some fine traditions in our program. I would like to see our uniforms become a part of our tradition. The uniforms at many traditional powers like Texas, Michigan, Ohio State, Alabama, USC, etc., are the same from year-to-year. Those uniforms are an important part of the identities of those programs. I would like to see our uniforms become an indelible part of our program and our traditions. The 1990 style invokes memories of our National Championship. It would be a lasting tribute to that team and to one of the perennial goals of our program.” — Steve Rawlings
BOLDER BOULDER... Most people realize that the BolderBoulder, one of the top five road races in the world, and the University of Colorado are joined at the hip to make the race a success. The finish in Folsom Field, the nation’s largest Memorial Day celebration, the game day atmosphere outside the stadium all make it a unique experience that likely no other college in the nation can claim. And it’s also led to some great PR for CU’s athletic programs. KCNC (CBS-4) in Denver interviewed CU football coach Dan Hawkins live upon his finishing of the race, and they also produced a great segment on supporting the CU track programs; if you missed the latter, here’s the link: http://firstname.lastname@example.org.
THE P-‘TUDES MAILBAG... The usual grab-bag of questions fired my way by P-‘Tudes readers and others that I thought others would be interested in:
Q: What do you think of the talk about moving up the signing date for football?
A: I think it makes some sense, but the bigger question is where. There won’t be many SID’s that will like it in December if they’re preparing for a bowl (and some might already be at the bowl site); I can’t imagine coaches of those teams in the postseason would like it any better, and the publicity will get buried not only for that team’s prep for a bowl but in NFL coverage that time of year, at least if you’re in an NFL market. If it falls during a school’s final week, it would get its due in the media, but I don’t know if the spring before their senior makes sense either. Maybe the best time would be after all the schools have their summer camps, and signing day could be July 1 or so.
Q: I was on Wikipedia and happened upon some of the pages on CU athletics. Just wondering whether you all ever maintain any of the information on such sites, checking for accuracy and bias, etc.? If not, have you ever considered doing so?
A: This was actually asked by a former student assistant of ours, Eric Young. Good question; I had not seen our entry on Wikipedia until Eric asked if we had anything to do with it (we don’t). It seemed pretty accurate, sans a couple of minor mistakes, but I am not sure who took the time to enter in all that info. It seems like they have similar pages for most colleges, so that must have been quite the chore to organize. As far as checking for accuracy and bias, we haven’t done it, but if things get pointed out to us or if we randomly discover, then we would do what we can to correct it.
Q: I have a baseball scoring question. How come some times there are unearned runs in the pitching linescores when there were no errors in the game?
A: Or if the errors don’t match up with the inning the unearned run(s) scored. It’s actually simple—there had to have been a passed ball. While not an error, it is treated as such in regards to the pitcher’s earned run average. Errors can be scored only on fielding plays (throws, catches, and occasionally mental). However—wild pitches do not affect a pitcher’s ERA, though errors by the pitcher would. I scored a game once where the pitcher threw the ball wildly to first with two out; runners were then on second and third, and the next batter homered. All three runs were unearned.
THE CONGRATULATIONS LIST... Seems like in most editions of P-‘Tudes, I shout out “congrats” to several who have had stellar accomplishments or honors bestowed on them, so I’m gonna group them together with one header. So, here’s to the June group:
Larry Horine: Larry played safety for the Buffaloes between 1950-52, at one time playing every minute for 26 consecutive games, a rarity in the platoon days. He was recently selected to the Watauga County Hall of Fame, reports Steve Behr, the sports editor at the Watauga Democrat (Boone, N.C.). Horine lettered three times in football (freshmen could not play back then), and also earned letters in track and baseball. He was also a graduate assistant football coach in 1956-57. Behr reports he was inducted into the Hall because of a long list of accomplishments at CU, as a high school coach in the Panama Canal Zone where he was born, and for track and field events he participated in during his tenure as a professor at Appalachian State University and after his retirement. As for Behr, while not a Buff, he graduated from Northern Colorado in 1988 and attended several CU football and men's basketball games in the late 70s and early 80s as he grew up in Boulder. Congrats Larry and thanks Steve!
Sione Tau: The CU football recruit won the Hawai’i state high school discus championship with a throw of 163-3. The vice president of his senior class, he was also fifth in the shot put (49-6½); then in typical Hawaiian tradition, as a graduate, he got buried in leis (left). Nicely done, Sione!
Kevin McNicholas: Kevin was inducted into the Colorado Foodservice Hall of Fame on May 14. The founder and CEO of K-M Concessions, I first met Kevin when I worked with the Denver Bears in 1982. Two years later, when I was named SID in July 2004, in getting ready for my first season overseeing everything football, the previous press box caterer, dropped out THREE days prior to the opening game of the season. Not that greasy fried chicken was going to be missed, but I needed something fast; I spoke with KM, we arranged a trade-out for food and services for tickets, and he rescued me. Over the course of the next 20 seasons, he donated an estimated 50,000 press box meals (conservatively at $9.95 per), or at least a half-million dollars worth to athletics. And that doesn’t including sending his son Brendan my way, who worked for me for five years before sprouting wings, going to first the Colorado Rockies and now the Colorado Avalanche. What Kevin did for us is just the tip of the iceberg with what he has done in the Denver community and his own employees (financially helping several in attending college). His motto has been, “To Whom Much has been given, much is expected.” And tries to live that belief every day. Congrats KM!
Andrew Green: Our own assistant sports information director and the men’s basketball guru ran his first marathon last weekend, completing the Rock-N-Roll Marathon in San Diego in 5 hours and 38 minutes. Or just a shade longer than it takes to play a standard Yankees-Red Sox game.
UPDATED DIRECTOR’S CUP STANDINGS... A few NCAA championships remain, but as of the May 31 U.S. Sports Academy Directors’ Cup Standings, Colorado ranked No. 25. The Buffaloes have 453.5 points, with points to come in men’s golf and men’s and women’s outdoor track. Stanford (1245.5) is well ahead of the pack, as UCLA (952) and California (942.5) are duking it out for second at this point. The Buffs are fifth in the Big 12, behind the Texas (15th, 737 points), Texas A & M (22nd, with 576 points), Oklahoma (24th, 534.25) and Nebraska (25th, 521). The remainder of the Big 12 looks like this: Oklahoma State (40th, 379.75), Baylor (47th, 332.75), Texas Tech (56th, 302.25), Missouri (57th, 286.33), Iowa State (69th, 249.33), Kansas (80th, 201), and Kansas State (143rd, 86). Regionally, Denver is 65th (262.25 points), with Colorado State 141st (88 points), Air Force 169th (67) and Wyoming tied for 264th (5 points).
THINGS THAT MAKE YOU GO HMMM... This has nothing to do with sports, but a recent trip to an ATM now offered me four languages to choose from (obviously trying to diffuse the English-Spanish thing, at least on a real minor level). The other two languages? French and Dutch. Not German, but Dutch. I just can’t recall someone from Holland ever asking me for help in translating the language at an ATM so they could make a cash transaction... Shoot, why not pig latin? ithwrawal-way rom-fay hecking-cay, please!
GOOD LUCK... It was a bit shocking to see 17 long-time staffers at the Rocky Mountain News take basically what amounted to early retirement packages, as many newspapers across the nation are struggling to survive and it’s becoming too commonplace. I worked closely with four of the 17 in my time here and truly wish Mike Madigan, Fred Pietila, Dusty Saunders and Denny Dressman good luck. Mike covered the Buff beat back when I was in school and then my first couple of years as SID (and was best buds with former SID Tim Simmons). Freddy was the RMN’s beat guy when I worked at the Denver Bears and then in later years worked the desk—and did everything he could to give our non-revenue sports the play they deserved, especially skiing and tennis. Dusty and I talked time to time about college sports, CU and TV and radio, and Denny hired me at the News back in 1982 to do the statewide stats for high school football and basketball (that was a pain in the pre-Internet era, I can tell you that!). So good luck to all in their post-newspaper career endeavors!
WEBSITE(S) OF THE ‘TUDE... This one didn’t cross my computer until just recently, and it’s a couple of months old, but those creative folks at JibJab.com have done it again, going after the national news networks. Love them or hate them, it’s pretty funny (and I saw this on the same day when the tuberculosis patient arrived in Denver to media fanfare of practically a Super Bowl). So, if you haven’t seen it (or any other of JibJab’s creations), here you go: http://www.jibjab.com/originals/what_we_call_the_news. My brother found this one; unless you grew up in the 1970s, you won’t remember it, but Wait ‘Til Your Father Gets Home was one of the original “controversial” network cartoons: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MfyErgbY0oA.
THIS WEEK’S NUMBER... 4. With the U.S. Open this month and some golf flavor to this P-‘Tudes, a reminder that Colorado and Ohio State are tied for the most alumni who have won U.S. Opens. Hale Irwin won three and Steve Jones one for the Buffs, while Jack Nicklaus won all four for the Buckeyes.
CU—McFarland trails Lisa Van Goor, who had 60 double-doubles between 1981-85, and she is tied with Erin Scholz, who also had 37 between 1993-97. Van Goor holds the season record of 20, so if McFarland is to catch her, she would set a season mark along the way in doing so.
Who Am I?—Bill Musselman. Grier Jones, now the head coach at Wichita State, was the medalist; he had tied Irwin the previous year for medalist honors in a rain-shortened championship. Musselman was never on a team with Irwin, as he transferred in for the ’68-69 season and would letter two years for the Buffs.
Seinfeld—The Pygmi Pullover.
“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.