Covering University of Colorado sports, mostly basketball, since 2010

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Site News: Chrismachanukwanza Break

I'm out til after New Year's.  I wish everyone a happy and safe Holiday Season (I'm Boulder like that).  Safe travels to those who are venturing forth into the end-times weather the rest of the country is experiencing.

Look for my return around Jan 3rd, by which time, hopefully, the staff will be finalized.

Also, be sure to check out the basketball team in Vegas tonight and tomorrow.  The games will be on CBS College Sports if you get that random channel.

Peace be to journey, and Go Buffs!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Quick-Post: What does every Sox fan want for Christmas?

The answer is of course a naked, swearing Ozzie Guillen: 

Quick-Post: Looks like Leach may get a job afterall

Mike Leach is one of my favorite coaches around the nation; it certainly doesn't hurt that I can't stand Craig James.  That's why I'm pleased to see him leading the pack for a BCS-level gig

Good luck to ya, you drunken pirate.  May the skull and crossbones ever wave over psychotically efficient offenses everywhere

Monday Grab Bag: It's on to Vegas

For the last grab bag of the year (I'm taking next week off so I can fly home and eat like a king) I've got lots of Buffs news (as always), the snowballing Legend of Tim Tebow, and Mason Crosby looking foolish trying to tackle a fat man.  If you're looking for my thoughts on the (finally) announced new football staff, you'll have to wait a day as I feel it deserves it's own space; in the mean-time, however, it's on with the bag...

Off to Las Vegas - The basketball team heads to the Las Vegas Classic fresh off a 104-59 blitzing of the Longwood Lancers yesterday afternoon.  The win capped a 100% successful 5-game home-stand that included the OT thriller against CSU and the embarrassment of struggling future-conference foe Oregon St.  I could play the role of "Objective-newsman-#5" and complain about the continuing struggles inside, but that story is boring.  Anyone who has seen the team play over the past 3 years knows that interior defense and rebounding is an issue, and pouring that sour milk into the tasty cereal that is a 5-game winning streak isn't going to do anyone any good.
(Burks and the boys head to Las Vegas fresh off a very successful home-stand.  From: The BDC))

Look on the bright side: 5 wins, all of them well deserved, in the "dead-gym" time-period of December (when attendance is lousy and the kids are distracted by finals) are nothing to sneeze at.  Remember 2003-04 when a random loss at home during this time frame to a semi-difficult Richmond Spiders club eventually cost the Buffs a place in the Tourney?  You win the games on the schedule and move on.  I'll certainly take 90 points a game, out-rebounding 4 of 5 opponents, and causing 16 turn-overs per game over a 5 game stretch.    Should the team have a better record considering the paucity of truly strong teams on the schedule so far?  Sure, but I'm not going to jump off the 3rd Flatiron over it.  The home-stand was successful, despite any contention to the contrary, and the team can feel good about itself headed into Wednesday night's contest with New Mexico.

Levi! - Speaking of the 5-game stretch being a sign of good things, rather than a harbinger of doom-to-come, frickin' Levi Knutson shot 80% from the field (!!!!!!!!!) over the 5 games, and averaged 16 points a game.  Hell, yesterday he took 9 shots (2 from inside the arc, 3 from beyond the 3pt line, and 4 free throws) and made them all en route to a 17 points in 19 minutes effort that looked as fluid and perfect as it sounds.  It's really coming easy for the maligned senior from Littleton.  For a guy who never averaged more than 4.6 points per contest in the past (in a shooting offense, mind you), Levi must be sacrificing the good shit to the Basketball Gods now, because his season has an un-holy stench to it.  12 points a game on 61% shooting, 50% from 3, and 90% from the line.  His true-shooting percentage (combined shooting from all aspects) is an astronomical 76%.  Really, I'm sorry I ever said an unkind word about the kid.

Ben Mills - I've been kind of scratching my head all season about this kid.  Not his performance (his spattering of good efforts amongst stretches of abysmal play is on par for a young big-man), but the crowd's reaction to him.  Every time he gets up off the bench he gets a well-meaning round of applause from the Buff-faithful.  Huh?  Dude lands a hook shot against a team that had no one who could guard him and he gets his own headline in the DC?  Why is he the freshman who gets all the love?  Andre Roberson is the freshman who deserves the column inches.  Back-to-back double-doubles and leads the team in rebounding.  'Dre has been everything I could hope for this year, and is making me forget the whole failed Toby Veal experiment.
(Dre's the one who's been workin' in down low.  Where's his love?  From: the BDC)

Recruiting hullabaloo - Late last week Jon Embree landed the first recruit of his freshly minted head-coaching career as he got wide-out Nelson Spruce to say yes to being a Buffalo.  In the interest of keeping up with the times I've included his highlight video below:

In addition, we may or may not have lost/given-up on Valor Christian's QB Brock Berglund.  Typical message-board horseshit is circulating.  Odd considering how solid he was a week ago, but that's the soap opera of 18-year-old kids trying to make a life-altering decision for you.  Don't look to me to get my panties in a bunch over it.

"There was greatness here" - That was Mike Klis' lead to his article following the Broncos 39-23 loss to the Raiders on Sunday.   That load of schlock deserves a dismissive wank that I'm stealing from FilmDrunk.
Great lead Super-Hack!  Of course he was referring to the Jesus-back, Tim Tebow.  Dude couldn't move the team effectively on 3rd down, got lucky on a broken draw play that he confessed was designed for someone else, and the team took yet another loss, but we can start throwing "greatness" at him already?  LOL, OK.  Have fun being a doormat Bronco nation. 
(Your savior has arrived, anoint him with oils and 10+ loss seasons.  From: the post)

Sack-up Mase, you gotta tackle better than that - On the lighter side, check out former CU legend Mason Crosby try and tackle this fat dude:

Happy Monday!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Friday Beer Post: Striving to be a truely "native beer"

The Denver Post recently ran a story about the AC Golden Brewery asking fans of Colorado Native Lager to help them make the brew truly "native."  Since damn-near all of the hops grown in America are from the Pacific Northwest, it can be very difficult to find large Colorado suppliers of the tasty little buds.  Asking consumers of the product to help in its creation is an ingenious marketing solution to a frustrating problem. 

(The beer in question)

They require 6,000 pounds of pelletized hops each year to brew Colorado Native, and current Colorado hop production is not quite up to producing even that relatively minor amount.  While the back-yard hops will only contribute a tiny percentage of the 6,000 pounds, it's a fun way for local consumers to take ownership of a product they enjoy.

I've always had my misgivings about AC Golden brewery.  Behemoth's like Coors trying to sneak in a steal some business from legitimate independent craft breweries give me the willies.  This guy, however gave them a tentative thumbs up, so I give them a pass.  Besides, as a typically-Boulder localvore, the mention of 100% local anything gets my heart-rate up.  This is a cool initiative, and one that will give me a greater interest in how the end product comes out; especially because conditions in random dude #1's back-yard will be different than random dude #2's.  How will the flavors of the hops come out?  Will the diversity of growing locales tweak the flavor in any meaningful way?  I doubt it, but it's a fun question to ponder.

While I'm on the subject of Colorado hop production, with total crop acreage greatly decreasing this year in Oregon, Washington, and Idaho, maybe it's time for growers on the Western Slope to up their yield. With a sag in the US market, and an ever growing demand for hops world-wide, it's an interesting area for agricultural expansion.  Not only would it be good for a beer crazy state like Colorado to have a larger supply of home-grown ingredients, but it would also help AC Coors from having to turn to back-yard hops to get 100% native.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Sox Offseason Moves; Reinsdorf opens the pocketbook again and again.

I was prepared for the worst for my White Sox this winter; greatly slashed payroll, youth movement beginning, the whole works.  I had written off Sox heroes like Paul Konerko and AJ Pierzynski.  Too old and too expensive.  Cast aside for the oncoming rebuilding project built around (cheap) youngsters like Gordon Beckham, Brett Morel, Chris Sale, and Dayan Viciedo.

Then a funny thing happened; Sox GM Kenny Williams convinced owner Jerry Reinsdorf to open the Scrooge McDuck money vault on the offseason.

Money has flowed like wine over the past 3 weeks.  $2.5 on Alexei Ramirez's club option, $8 million on AJ, $56 million on "Big Donkey" Adam Dunn, $37.5 million on Paul Konerko, and, just yesterday, a 3-year $12 million commitment to former Sox nemesis Jesse Crain (Fairview Product, as Tuba John would want me to point out).  This year alone the Sox will have close to $130 million in commitments; absolutely unheard of on the Southside.

Kenny Williams' enduring legacy has to be his ability to get a famously thrifty owner to open the pocketbooks again and again on a franchise that traditionally has been second tier.  If you would have told my younger self that I'd grow up to see Jerry Reinsdorf willingly increase payroll like this, without a guarantee of success or, more importantly, increased attendance, I'd have called you nuts.

After all, it was Reinsdorf who was famously the most steadfast of the owners during the '94 players strike that crippled his own franchise.  It was Reinsdorf who threw in the "White Towel" in 1997.  In my childhood, despite 6 Bulls championships, despite the early Frank Thomas years, he was always wearing the black hat; especially in the press.
(For a man who's brought 7 titles to the Windy City, he's gotten a lot of grief over the years)

Now he's boosting payroll to try and sustain a decade-long run of general excellence.  Maybe the elderly Reinsdorf is legacy-shopping.  Maybe he's still high with post-2005 giddiness. Maybe his love for Kenny Williams and Ozzie Guillen keeps him from holding back.  Whatever the reason, I'll take it, and the Sox are in a better position for it.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Buffalo Chips

Damn, the slowness of this week is painful when compared to the frantic Buff-news pace of the past month.  In reaction, I'm doing to old lazy trick of commenting directly on what Ringo and the BDC posted today.  Yes, I feel ashamed.

Tyler says he'll be ready for spring ball - Well he better be... just kidding.  I just automatically assume that any athlete injured and forced out for the remainder of a season will be perfectly fine come next year; obviously that is not always the case, and its childish to assume so.  It sounds like Tyler's doing the work to get himself ready, and is on schedule to return at his 100% for spring ball.  As the only incumbent QB with any playing time under his belt, we desperately need Tyler back.  I may not be completely satisfied with him as the CU starting QB, but, at this point, he's much better than any alternatives.

Wyoming is back on the basketball schedule - A few years back, a few friends and I made the trek up to Laramie to see the men take on the Pokes.  We drove through a damn blizzard that later shut down the interstate to get up there.  When we arrived, on the day of Wyo's commencement no less, the bar patrons we ran into prior to the game were shocked to see CU fans there.  "We don't even travel from Laramie to see Wyoming/Colorado in basketball." Uh-huh.

I actually enjoyed my brief time in Laramie, which is why I note the restarting of a century-old Front Range basketball rivalry with much applause.  I was disappointed when former CU coach Bzdelik dropped all the Mountain Time Zone opponents after his first season.  We had been playing DU, Wyoming, and New Mexico before those series got scrubbed (It was really the only thing I ever disagreed with over Bz's tenure; other than the frequency of losses, of course).  Happy to see the pokes back on the schedule, and when it comes time for the road trip to Laramie I'll be more than happy to make the trip north again.

Nate Solder is awesome -  Named a consensus First-Team All-American on Tuesday, Nate earned his place up on the Press Box Wall. Kudos, Nate.  There was a ton of pre-season hype surrounding the gigantic tackle from Buena Vista, and, impressively, he lived up to it.  I was really hoping he'd become CU's first Outland Trophy winner, but becoming the latest in the long line of Buff's celebrated as All American football stars is a hell of an achievement.  Now all that's left in his college career is earning an early 1st-round draft selection (While they will end up picking late, the Bears could use a lot of O-line help *cough* *cough*). 

Cal game still potentially on 2011 schedule - I highly doubt it, but Ringo went and ruminated about the game.  We desperately need a 5th home game on the schedule (not only for money reasons, but the 8 games away from Folsom will really hurt the team next year), and I think keeping the Cal game has to be plan 43(f).  Any 1-AA team, really any at all, will do here.  Keeping Cal on the schedule sets us up for a extremly rough schedule, as opposed to just a damn tough one.

If you desperately want to avoid the 1-AA route, there are D-1 solutions.  What are the MAC schools doing?  Miami Ohio owes us from trading us for a stupid neutral-site game with Kentucky (and sticking us with a shit-tacular road-trip to Toledo).  What about Idaho?  They suck.  Might they be needing a game?  How about BYU?  They're down on their on-field luck and needing to plug 7 holes in next year's schedule.  How bout a Big East school.  They all suck, but would make for an interesting opponent.  Let's make this happen, South Florida (Would un-officially be the Darrell Scott Bowl)

Quick Post: CSU is embarassing us all

I like to poke fun at the Rammies from time to time, often with good reason, but now it's time to get serious (sort of...).  For a while now I've been hearing the pimp-tacular efforts of CSU's entre into the high-flautin world of internet education.  Besides becoming the safety school to the people who can't get into University of Phoenix OnLine, and it being a blatant cash grab, I've mostly ignored it, only pausing to mock the commercials when I stumble upon them.  Hey, it's not their main campus, afterall, and is just messing with the systems overall standing;  guffaws all around.

However, now they are lowering their admission to let in people with "exceptional talent," be they athletes or, of all things, musicians. 

Besides the shocking discovery that their admission standards could get any lower (to be fair, K(Juco)-State's were worse), I love the presumption to include band members on the list.  Oh, yes, this lowered standard is going to help a lot of musicians attend CSU; as long as they run a 4.4 40 and plan on switching from the clarinet to the football team.  Florida kids just aint as smart as they used to be, so in order to get that SEC country talent into FoCo they've had the temerity to impugn the band kids to try and cover their tracks.  For shame.

"There are lot of things a student can bring to a university that can't be measured on a numerical scale;" yep, like touchdowns.  "They (students not meeting placement criteria, yet physically gifted) add something to the overall milieu of the campus community;" he said while trying to hold a straight face.  Florida State welcomes you, CSU, to the world of compromised standards in the pursuit of football victories.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

What the what; Cliff Lee signs with...... the Phillies!?!!??

Apparently spitting on a prospective big free agent's wife isn't a good enticement plan for Yankee fans.  Cliff Lee is supposedly spurning both the Texas Rangers and the aforementioned spitting-crazed Yankee fanbase to sign with the Philadelphia Phillies for $30 million and 2 years less than he probably could've gotten ($120 million over 5 years).  The players association won't be happy about this (they never like to see players signing for less).

Talk about hometown discount; that 2009 stretch run with the Phillies must have made one hell of an impression.  But this is the same Phillies franchise who, not a year ago, decided they couldn't afford to re-sign the superlative lefty and unceremoniously traded him to Seattle.  Lee had been talking career-long deal with the Phillies before that trade; instead of being angry over the situation, he must have decided to make it right this time.
(Lee is shockingly headed back to Philadelphia.  At least my Phillies-loving roommate will be happy. 
From: ESPN)

To say that this move simply came out of nowhere would be an understatement.  For months now it was simply a matter of Texas or New York for Lee.  It was a foregone conclusion that he'd be in one of those two locations, and only one of those two locations.  Then, like a bolt of lightning the Phillies landed Lee to go with Roy Halladay (who they got to replace him), Roy Oswalt and 2008 World Series hero Cole Hammels.  I talked last year about the potential of last year's White Sox rotation, but holy-schlamoley this is a staff to be reckoned with.

How can the Phillies not be the front runners to win not only the National League, but the World Series as well?  If pitching truly does win championships, then we might as well crown the Phillies ass today.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Quick Post: Buffaloes like Booze

I post without comment:

Monday Grab Bag: Lulz all around; it's Tebow time!

Basketball is on finals week hiatus, the hyper-storm of press over Jon Embree's signing has died down, and baseball's Winter Meetings have concluded; i.e. not much to talk about.  Oh, Wait!  The Broncos suck!  Thank the heavens!  On to the bag...

Tim Tebow is coming to town, so be good for goodness sake - The Broncos got humiliated (were you expecting anything different?) 43-13 yesterday; therefore Tim Tebow will solve the franchise's problems.  What stage of grief is Broncos Nation currently experiencing?  Is insanity an option?  I've seen them hack through Denial back when fans couldn't believe that the team was this bad, and Anger during the whole "Fire J-Mac NOW" thing, so that must mean they're on to Bargaining.  Sit back and watch the fun as Broncos fans actually clamor for Tim Tebow to lead their team onto the field.  Accordingly, I fully expect Broncos brass and interim head coach Studesville to cave to fan pressure and start the Jesus-back sometime over the next few weeks.  What's amazing is that grown-ass men in the front office and in the media, who should know better, are listening to religious-ly induced crazed hordes wanting a glorified 3rd string washout to run some form of the option in a meaningless NFL game next Sunday.  Holy Hell this can only end up being hilarious.
(Should they really turn to this random woman and her ilk for football advice?  She looks totally knowledgeable in the ways of building a championship football team.  Much like free candy vans, this seems legit.  From: the post)

What's even more perfect is that the Broncos have a built in excuse when he fails.  Not only was Josh McDaniels the one who drafted him (He, and only he, was the problem!), but the fans backed the 'Cos brain trust into starting Tebow before he was ready (We gave you what you wanted!).  Pat Bowlen and the rest of his John Elway coat-tail riding wannabe's will get off scott-free in this whole fiasco (He's coming back, this will solve all of our problems!).  Please remember, it wasn't just J-Mac that lead to the impending Tebow disaster (where-in not only will he fail to impress, but he will also cause the Donkey's to spend yet another draft pick on a QB next year).

BTW (and completely sarcastic), where are the hordes screaming for Brady Quinn?  At least he's taken some meaningful snaps in the NFL.  If Bronco nation is going to bray and kick for a young QB to play the final few games this year, why not scream like a jackass for the other J-Mac QB flop.
(He's the one of the right)

Just how similar is the Broncos Situation to the Buffs? - Think about it.  Team hires young up and coming "offensive mind" to lead team.  He shows up with a lot of promise, completely remaking the team in his own image; even bringing in a QB who may not exactly have the talent to succeed at the current level.  Nepotism is involved.  While there is a little success early, and the accompanying fan-base hype, the whole thing eventually comes crashing down to the point where the fans desperately want to see the young coach get fired.  When he does, the fanbase turns fervently to legends of days gone by to "bring the program back to glory."  Hype machine builds up again...

The situations are eerily similar.  Obviously the Denver sports base has pissed the Football Gods off somehow... I blame Betsy Hoffman (somehow she's behind all of this).

Embree lands his first recruit - I don't like to talk recruiting news before signing day, but I would like to mention Jon Embree's first "get" as Buffs head coach.  Sticking it to future conference rival UCLA, Embo nabbed Arvada West's OL Marc Mustoe who had previously committed to the Bruins.  Mustoe is the 5th ranked prep from Colorado and 2nd best lineman in the state.  Mustoe's a big dude; 6-7, 270.  The Buffs now have 3 of the top 10 recruits from the state of Colorado on their commit list.

Bears stink - Are the Bears leading their division with a 9-4 record?  Yes, but that doesn't mean that they don't secretly suck.  This team has "first-round playoff loss" written all over them.  Playing at home in adverse conditions, the Monsters of the Midway managed to have the worst first-half in franchise history en route to a 36-7 loss to the Patriots yesterday.  Sigh.  The worst part is the Bears will be just good enough for Lovie Smith to keep his job.  The good-ish news was that the Lions knocked Packers QB Aaron Rogers out early enough Sunday afternoon to escape with a 7-3 win, thereby keeping the Bears in first place (for now).

(That's a very sad Urlacher; he must have just come to the realization that '06 was his only shot at a ring.  From: the Trib)

Metrodome Collapse - Speaking of the Bears, the location of next week's Monday Night Football tilt with the ViQueens is up in the air after the Metrodome roof sprung a leak.  Seriously, take a look at this:

Good God, that coulda killed someone!  Domes are a threat to humanity and should be banned! 

Happy Monday, and stay out of domes!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Friday Beer Post: Winter Seasonals

I don't usually like winter seasonal efforts.  Apparently called "Winter Warmers" these beers are usually my least favorite offerings from my favorite breweries (Case in point, Avery's Old Jubilation is, by far, my least favorite Avery effort).  Besides being heavy on the malt, these beers often get railroaded with "special ingredients" which make me believe the brewmaster forgot the whole beer part of the beer.  In addition, they can often come out overly sweet.  I get the point; the winter months are supposed to be a time for convenient use of holiday themed ingredients and sweet-to-the-tooth flavors to drive up sales, but do we have to go overboard with them?  Mostly, the genre just isn't for me.  That said, I have found 2 versions over the years that I've actually enjoyed. 

Years ago (when I may or may not have been of legal drinking age......... *cough* *cough*) I was head-over-heels for Sam Adams.  While I've cooled down in that respect (to the point that I can't honestly remember my last Boston Lager) their Old Fezziwig Ale made a lasting impression on me.  Only available in their Winter Mix Pack, and named after the jovial character from Scrooge's past, the beer is brewed with cinnamon, ginger, and orange peel.  I remember it having a pleasant chocolate/caramel aftertaste.  I used to buy the seasonal pack just for this beer, and it was one of the first beers to really open my eyes to the use of "non-traditional" brewing ingredients.  

A more recent selection is Alaskan Brewing Company's Winter Ale.  I tried this for the first time this year and fell in love with it.  As I said at the top, I don't typically like "Winter Warmers" because of their over-emphasis on malts.  Alaskan's Winter Warmer doesn't necessarily have that problem.  I get strong hoppy overtones which balance this beer out.  The "special" ingredient in the Winter Ale is Sitka Spruce Tops, whatever the fuck that means.  All I know is that I get a creamy, fruity flavor when I drink it; hard to describe, it's like a bitter-less cranberry.  Surprisingly, I don't mind the sweet fruity flavors in this one; in fact I rather enjoy them.  It's a decent session beer, and one that I think does better when it's closer to room temperature than "straight-out-of-the-fridge" cold.

Hey, I may not necessarily like the style, but tis the season, and all of that.

Happy Friday!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Quick-Post: Cash-Money from Embree Hire

Just read in the post that in the wake of the Jon Embree signing that the Athletic Department has already received 400 new orders for football tickets.  Taking a conservative average of $300 per seat (assuming only 1 seat per order, which is ridiculous, and $300 per seat being what I pay per year), the AD has gotten $120,000 from ticket orders alone.  That's all without lifting a finger to sell the team. Add in the assumed increase in donations from all those people who said they'd never give a dime to the university until Hawk got shit-canned, and the bonanza Mac was talking about may have already started to arrive.

CSU wrapup

I went to sleep last night ready to wake up and blast the Buffs performance against the in-state rival Rams.  The Buffs allowed CSU to shoot 59% in regulation, erase a 5 point deficit with 49 seconds to play, and continually knife the Buffs with drives to the basket and easy layups; the defense was at times lousy, and at other times just good enough to get out-executed.  It made for a fitful night of sleep.

But then an interesting thing happened; I woke with a start around 3 AM to a hallucination of a mouse that was never there to begin with (more gravy than of grave, and all of that).  While trying to get back to sleep I began to have second thoughts about the game.

Sure, the defense needs work (a lot of work), and we were out-rebounded at home by a middling Mountain West team, but the game was really exciting to watch.  Driving home last night I heard the play-by-play guys mention that there were 10 lead changes and 14 ties.  Both teams brought it last night, and when your team comes away from a scrap like that with a 'W', you can never take a win for granted.  If I can't for one day, at least, forget about future matchup issues and relish a hard fought victory by my favorite basketball team, then what's the point of being a fan?
(Had to fight for that win last night, and the Buffs answered the bell at the end.  From the BDC)

There was plenty about the Buffs performance last night to savor; four players with double-digit points (and two more with 8), the Buffs gained a 15-7 advantage on turnovers, Dufault had a great defensive performance (8-4-3 with no turnovers), Levi rebounded from a slow start to bring 12 desperately needed points late in the second half, CU showed the ability to adjust offensively when things weren't going well early, and closed the game out strong by going on a 8-1 run in the final minute of overtime.  In addition, while Ringo may not think so, I thought Alec Burks had a great game (it certainly wasn't his fault that Corey kept missing free throws in the final minute which allowed CSU into overtime).  He touched the ball on nearly every possession late and took over in overtime; 25-5 is a pretty good line in any game, but he was decently efficient with the ball in his hands, got to the line often, and added 5 big rebounds.

Hey, you can't always play a perfect game, and sometimes you have to take wins as they come; the good with the bad, yadda yadda.  After mulling it over I'm happy with the victory and proud of my Buffs.  I only wish someone had gotten a shot of Boyle interacting with the student section after the game...


One thing I would like to add: I'm very disappointed with the CSU student body.  Last year me and 500+ of my Buff brethren braved freezing temperatures and icy roads (on a weeknight no less) to drive up to Ft. Shit-hole, only to see the team lose by 15 points.  This year, on a much more hospitable evening, and even with a women's game to add to the evening, the CSU student body could barely muster 20 or so students in the crowd.  For shame Rams, for shame.  Say what you will about Ram-fans (and I've said plenty), but at least we care about our University.  Maybe that's what you get for attending a safety school: a lack of pride in your own institution because you're still miffed about not getting in somewhere else.  See you in the fall :-)

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Cathching up with the CU Basketball Program

With all the goings on in Buff football land (end of season crap, new coach, etc) I've neglected to write about my beloved CU basketball team with the frequency that I'd like.  (It doesn't help that the team has stumbled significantly out of the gate)  In anticipation of tonight's clash with the hated Rams from CSU, this is my attempt to catch up with all that's happened in Buffs basketball over the past 4 weeks...

To be sure, this is not the start most CU fans hoped for when the Buffs took the court Nov 12th.  A middling 4-3 record (with all 3 painful losses coming on the road) and an RPI of 285 (essentially saying we're the 285th best team in the nation) is not the way this season of a return to relevance was supposed to go. Individually there have been some high-points; Levi Knutson has really impressed, Freshman Andre Roberson has really earned some playing time, and Al Burks is averaging near 20 points/game.  However, as a team the Buffs have stumbled out of the gate.  The first 3 games of the season (home win over Idaho State, road losses at USF and Georgia) were shoddy performances of piss-poor defense, individual as opposed to team play, and poor coaching.  Even the opening night win against Idaho State was worrisome as we allowed a middling Big Sky team (who has yet to beat a D-1 opponent) to push us all night, and allowed some random point guard to damn-near drop 40 on us when he can only manage 4 against the great basketball powerhouse of Montana Tech.  Boyle was disgusted enough with the season's start to call himself out, saying "I`m the first one to look at myself and I know in my heart I can do a better job coaching them and I told my team that," after the San Francisco debacle. 
(While Alec has had some highlight moments this season, the team as a whole has struggled.  
From: The BDC)

Things have gotten little better after that opening road trip.  Coach Boyle tried to make a point about defense and rebounding keying the team this year by benching star guards Cory Higgins and Alec Burks to start the Alcorn St game.  While the effort that night was much better (the team grabbed 50 rebounds and held the Braves to under 30% shooting), Alcorn St is not a good basketball team and was just here to collect a paycheck; it wasn't a test, and really proved nothing about the teams desire to defend or rebound. Accordingly, 4 days later in Boston, the Buffs got pounded by the Harvard Crimson.  While Harvard is a decent team (they were even favored in that game) the Buffs shouldn't be losing by 16 to an Ivy League team.
(Harvard had too many open looks, and shot over 50% against the scrambling CU defense)

The recent home wins over Texas-Pan American and Oregon State (who suck, and will probably get their coach fired) have been encouraging, but it's no small note that the 4 wins on the season have come against the 4 teams with the lowest RPI's on the schedule.  

So why have the Buffs struggled so much early in the season?  To be sure, a lot of it is the transition from a paced, Pricenton-style offensive scheme (with the accompanying zone defensive sets) to Boyle's favored fast paced offensive style (with his favored man-to-man defensive sets).  The styles are almost polar opposites, and it's probably not that easy to change gears so quickly.  However, that's not the whole story.  Assists are wayyyyyyy down, and team has been out-rebounded (always a concern with this bunch) in the 3 road losses; the opposite is true in the home victories. Simply put, when this team shares the ball and grabs some rebounds the team wins, when they don't, they lose.  While rebounding has long been an issue for the undersized Buffaloes, sharing the basketball should be second nature to this team, and it's damn near inexcusable for them to struggle in that area. 

Sure, road vs home can contribute to those issues, which is why it'll be interesting to watch the CU/CSU game at Coors tonight.  Neither team is that good (CSU's RPI is only 272), but CSU cares enough about this match-up to make them a harder test than the stats would indicate.  They certainly showed last year up at Mobey Arena that they care enough to whup us on the boards if we're not paying attention.  If we get out-rebounded at home by this group, which is a very strong possibility, then we know where we're at for the season.  If we can hold our own, share the basketball and rebound a little bit, then we might be able to write off some of those rebounding and assist issues as road/early-season related.

So far, I'd rate the season as a D+.  Sure we've beaten the teams at home that we need to beat, but the road struggles have been painful.  I'm really afraid of what will happen when good competition shows up on the schedule, and the team has only a few weeks to go before we face New Mexico in the Las Vegas Classic.  Tonight is key.  I expect a large contingent from up north, and the atmosphere should help the boys get fired up.  Unlike last year, this team knows what to expect from Tim Miles' CSU team, and will hopefully not get caught off guard by their opponents giving a shit.  I expect the very best from CSU tonight; not only is there the whole butt-hurt rivalry thing, but they play Kansas on Saturday and would probably like a win going into to that anal violation.  We need to hit the floor running, share the ball, box out, and get in the Rams face.

Go Buffs!  Beat the Lambs!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Broncos Turd in the Buffs Punchbowl

The only man in Colorado not happy with the firing of Josh McDaniels has to be Mike Bohn.  On a day of ceremony and celebration in Buff-land, with Jon Embree running around Denver-Boulder talking luster and smash-mouth football (btw, when has a newly hired coach ever not talked smash-mouth football on the day he's hired?  Not that I don't believe Coach Embo when he says it...), Broncos owner Pat Bowlen unceremoniously cut ties with Coach J-Mac.

I heard from Vic and Gary on 87.7 this morning that the Broncos later called and apologized to Buffs AD Bohn; that it wasn't their intention to step on CU's parade.  Bullshit.  They could've waited another day.  No player altercation, no film study and practice sessions lost, no revenue projections show he needs to be fired on a Monday afternoon; nope Pat Bowlen wanted to cut into Monday Night Football, hell-or-high-water, and he didn't give a damn who he had to step on to do it.

Anyone who accuses me of being a Broncos fan obviously doesn't know me (honestly, I couldn't care any less about that franchise), so please take this with a grain of salt, but fuck Pat Bowlen.  Oh, to be sure, J-Mac needed to go, but did he need to go yesterday?  Instead of a days worth of genuinely positive CU coverage (the first in a while) the papers are filled with Broncos bullshit.  Everyone in the world knows J-Mac was a gonner, so this news shouldn't shock anyone, but if Mike Bohn were to put a lump of coal in Pat Bowlen's Christmas Stocking, I'd totally understand.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Monday Grab Bag: We've got our guys, now it's time to go to work.

Better late than never, right?  Besides the new coach there's a mea culpa, some White Sox news, and the Bears saving my ass in my suicide pool in the bag.  Let's get to it...

The good ship CU Football has a captain at the helm once again - Jon Embree arrived last night, along with his good buddy and Offensive Coordinator Eric Bieniemy, to officially accept the job as CU head football coach.  Among other things, he promised at his press conference this morning to "restore the luster" that had faded from the program.  I'll say this, after hearing him talk this morning I can say that he certainly does love his university.  Now we get to the meat of the matter; can he actually do the job?
(We'll, we've all gotten our wish; a Buff is leading the team.  From: the BDC)

Recruiting - Hawk's career uncertainty had put a damper on recruiting over the last few years, and Embree's first job has to be shoring up the weak 2011 recruiting class.  I was pleased to read him immediately talking recruiting last night.  Fresh off the plane he referred to:
"[...] a certain kid in-state that I want to go see at his house.  I'm anxious. I've heard he is a very good player and had a very good season. I'd like to go see him and other in-state kids who are committed and the ones aren't. I want to go see them and see if they want to be a Buffalo." -link
I'm betting he's talking about Mullen standout RB Adonis Ameen-Moore who had been holding off on a decision on college until after his senior season concluded.  It's good to see that Embree recognizes that love of university alone won't bring wins to Folsom, and that he needs to work quickly to salvage this years recruiting class to shore up the cupboard for future years.  Grabbing Ameen-Moore would be a great first step...

Bieniemy is along for the ride - After nabbing over $500,000 and a signing bonus, Bieniemy is along for the ride.  I knew we'd have to pay him big bucks, but daaaaaaaaammmn that's a big financial step for a university used to short changing their assistants.  It's also a 5-year deal (same as Embree's) which hopes to guarantee some stability in the coaching staff.  This sort of move is unprecedented in CU's athletic history and is an example of Bohn putting the cash where his mouth is.  Earlier this year he promised to actually spend on assistant coaches, and he came through in a big way.
(Bieniemy got paid, and is ready to help get this thing back on track.  From: the BDC)

My apologies to Austin Dufault and Levi Knutson - I've hammered Dufault and Knutson quite a bit over the last few years, but they're having pretty good season so far.  Knutson is grabbing 11.5 points per game, shooting near 55%, and is providing some greatly needed on-ball defending for a team that has struggled with its defense at times.  Coming off his disastrous sophomore campaign, Dufault is both scoring more, and rebounding more than in previous years; adding a much needed post-threat.
(Levi provided 22 big points Saturday night, and is looking better than ever this season.  From: the BDC)

Knutson, who I would swear missed every shot in conference his sophomore year, dropped 22 points (6-8 from 3!) in Saturday night's blowout win against future Pac-12 foe Oregon St, and has earned my biggest mea culpa.  I'm sorry Levi, I was wrong.  I didn't think you could hack it at this level, but you've consistently been an offensive threat this year.  CU needs you to knock down open looks off of kick-passes, and you've been there to answer the call this season.  I wrote you off too soon, my bad.

Kenny Williams gets his man... again - White Sox GM Kenny Williams always gets his man.  No matter how long it takes, if he wants you on the White Sox roster, he'll get you.  You may be old a decrepit by the time you arrive (see Alomar, Roberto and Griffey, Ken Jr.), but he'll eventually find a way to land you.  Luckily this time, the player Kenny grabbed isn't nearing the end of his playing days.  Late last week, the White Sox signed their first big name free agent in years as they inked slugger Adam Dunn to a  4-year, $56 million deal (great write-up by the excellent Jim Margalus here). Kenny has been after Dunn for quite a while.  Specifically, this past summer Dunn had been part of a rumored 3-team deal which would eventually send him to the southside.  The Nationals GM ended up playing hardball (read: went back on a deal) and kept Dunn, so the Sox got "stuck" with flame-throwing Edwin Jackson.  Now we get Dunn and Jackson, and the Nationals GM get's a couple of lame draft picks instead of field-ready talent (i.e. he's about to lose his job).  The Sox now head into the season with a coveted left-handed power bat.  Regardless of what Sox legend Paul Konerko decides to do, my Sox are looking like they're headed in the right direction.
(Big Adam Dunn should love the cozy dimensions of the Cell.  Welcome aboard, Donkey!)

Bears save my bacon - We're getting down to the end in my NFL suicide pool, and I'm forced to start taking some risks; like taking the Bears on the road.  Some might say playing the Detroit Lions, when they haven't won a divisional game in 3 seasons, would be a lock, but I know my Bears.  Hell, they even trailed 20-14 in the 3rd quarter.  With my season on the line, the Bears scraped and clawed their way to a 24-20 victory, and thereby keeping me alive for another week.  There is only 51 people still alive in my group which started with thousands on the board.  This one's gonna be close....

Happy Monday!

Friday, December 3, 2010

My Quick (ish) Thoughts on Jon Embree

I was initially disappointed with this hire. Even had EB been the one tagged to lead the program, I would've expected Embree to join the staff, so I'm not totally unprepared to see Jon Embree on the East sideline of Folsom next year.  However, Eric Bieniemy was my 1st choice from the outset (with the caveat that I thought we couldn't get Les Miles), and the fact that he isn't the apparent choice to take over the program is a little confusing.

I admit I am a little pre-disposed to favor a candidate like Bieniemy over a candidate like Embree.  EB has a  national profile, has a higher profile current position (running backs are "sexier" than tight ends), and is a known excellent recruiter.  I even have a photo of him up on my wall at work. I am comfortable with the mention of the Eric Bieniemy name because I hear it often, and it means something in the greater sporting world. 

Conversely, I knew next to nothing about Jon Embree.  While I've been a CU fan since the mid-90's, growing up 1000 miles away kept me relatively distant from the goings on of the program until I showed up on campus in the fall of '02, and even then I didn't get comfortable with the pros/cons of the coaching staff until well after Coach Embree moved on to bigger and better things.  Sure it's ignorance on my part, but I think it's an ignorance that is pervasive amongst the CU community.  If people revert to what they know, then it's no wonder that I and many other people would prefer Bieniemy over Embree.  Simply put, you hire Bieniemy and ESPN puts his name up and his highlight reel on SportsCenter; you hire Embree, and everyone goes "who" and the headline disappears quickly.  It's a shitty way to qualify candidate, but it's the way of the world, and it's why I've consistently over-looked Jon Embree during the coaching search.

Now that I'm getting a good look at him through articles, and listening to his heartfelt supporters (especially Mac), I'm starting really warm to him as the new head coach.  In this article, written by the Daily Camera's Kyle Ringo (who gets a gold star for not going out of his way to talk about who we didn't get unlike John Henderson of the Denver Post), Embree is presented to me as a family man who has built his entire career around positioning himself for this job.  The man once volunteered his time to coach CU football!  This man love CU and loves the program.  In addition, his work with the Buffs 4 Life program is not only impressive, I assume it's a large reason for his hiring.

(Embree from the good ole days.  From: ESPN)

While I still think Bieniemy is a perfect fit for the job, I'm starting to realize that Embree is just a good of a fit. This is what I wrote about Bieniemy a few weeks ago when I named him #1 on my wish list:
Eric Bienemy - Vikings RB and Assistant Head Offensive Coach - He's got it all: the CU pedigree, the recruiting background, Pac-12 footprint experience from his UCLA days, coaching experience at all levels, NFL gravitas from playing and coaching in the league, the Mac-father's blessing, the donor backing, and, most of all, a cheap-ish price.  Bienemy wouldn't come in here looking for an exit after 2-5 years, he'd be here for the long haul.  Some may question his problems with the community during his playing days, but that was in the past.  He's a proven recruiter, and he can lead the program with the passion of a "True Buff." - link
What about that can't you say about Embree?  Maybe not the emphasis on recruiting, but everything thing else in my EB justification stands true for JE as well, and I feel moved to acknowledge that.  Embree is just a good of a candidate as EB is on paper, and if JE "hit a grand slam" during the interview process, as has been reported, then it makes since that he would get the job.

Now all that remains is to get EB on board as the Offensive Coordinator and we're set.  Since EB really wanted the job,  I'm expecting it to be more difficult than supposed to get him into the OC chair.  When word leaked that Embree had the job, there was a deafening silence from people connected to EB about whether or not he would still be coming.  A few days earlier, Ringo had dangled the possibility that EB wouldn't just fall in line behind Embree like most assumed.  In fact, In a Ringo article that I'll refer to later, Ringo again brings up EB's status, dropping "It is believed that Embree will still take the job even if Bieniemy can't be convinced to return to his alma mater as an assistant coach to his friend, but Bohn and the search committee would like to know who would be the second choice as offensive coordinator if Bieniemy turns down the job." If EB is considered so vital to CU's continuing interests, why wasn't he the one getting his name leaked out yesterday by the Mac-father?  I know that's what I'd be asking myself if I was Eric Bieniemy right now; it's his dream job too you know.  What I'm saying is that EB is going to have to get paaaiiiiiiiid to come here and continue to sit in an assistants chair.

Regardless, I'm on board with this hire.  I'm not going to get caught up in the fact that I didn't get who I want, and I'll stand behind my fellow alums as they take over the reins of the program. Time to really tap into that "Bonanza" that Mac's always referring to...

Friday Beer Post: Banjo Billy's Boulder Brewing Tour

Hey, look!  A regular-style beer post!  Haven't done one of these in a while...

A few weeks back the Daily Camera ran an article about Banjo Billy's Boulder Brew Bus.  A collaboration between BB's and the West End Tavern, the Brew Bus is a great example of why I love Boulder's brewing culture so much.  Not only do we have a copious amount of breweries scattered around the area, but the business community embraces brewing culture, and helps incorporate it into Boulder's overall cultural offerings.

The tour, at $30 bucks a ride, offers the unique Banjo Billy touring experience with beer; in retrospect, it's amazing no one came up with this idea sooner.  The Bus stops at staple craft breweries Avery and Twisted Pine before swinging by my favorite Boulder Brewery: Upslope.  I consider Upslope a hidden gem, so to see them get included on something like this (the concept alone invites heavy over-commercialization if you're not careful) is very encouraging, both for the brewery, and the prospects of an authentic experience offered by the tour.

Checking the schedule, the tours run 2-3 Sunday nights a month, even throughout the winter (that could get a bit cold...).  The article makes mention of Northern and Southern Boulder routes.  The Northern route, when it becomes available next year will include Left Hand, Boulder Beer, and what I can only assume is the Longmont version of Oskar Blues.  The tour includes a free app at West End, a beer at each location, and a guided brewery tour at every stop.  Not too bad for $30.

I've taken one of Banjo Billy's main tours before, and I must say they are a fun way to kill off a summer evening.  With beer involved now, I may have to take a second dip.


Thursday, December 2, 2010

Quick Post: Mac says it's Embree


Really, kind of surprised that it's not Bieniemy.  When Les Miles pulled his phantom candidacy out of the running last night, I was sure it'd be Bieniemy, especially since Ringo dangled the prospect of him staying in the NFL if he didn't get the top spot.

As with all news, we'll see, but if the Buff-father says he knows something, I'm betting it's true.

On NetBuffs and AllBuffs

With the coaching search winding down (*cough* Bieniemy *cough*) I thought I'd take a look at that most interesting sect of Buff Nation: the message board posters.

This is a small, adapted sampling of the shit-gruel flowing from these two bastions of Buff conversation over the past month. They've become the wild west of internet discussion (which is saying something), where lawless bands of ruffians run around crazily spewing whatever pops into their heads after explaining that it comes from "inside sources."  They may not understand that the voices in their heads aren't inside sources, but that doesn't mean it hasn't been fun to watch.

Word of advice to the guys over there: put the crack pipe down, and chillax.  The process has been pretty straight forward and public if you just pay attention.  I know in this era of 24 hour news and intertubes giving us instant gratification that waiting a few days seems like an eternity, but if you can just sit patiently and quietly for a few minutes you'll get your answer.

On to the fun....

The Cam Newton Thing

We all know that the SEC is a slimepit; coming from an area where the "national" sport of NASCAR espouses a tradition of "if you aint cheatin, you aint tryin," I'm never surprised when I hear of SEC recruiting malfeasance.  However, it's usually not as high profile or as epically ugly as the Cam Newton incident has become.

A quick recap of what is widely "known" or alleged:  that a man claiming to represent the Newton family (Kenny Rogers) approached former MSU players Bill Bell and John Bond, who remain involved with the program, and asked for upwards of $200,000 to secure Cam Newton's commitment to play at MSU.  While it's been said that Cecil Newton (Cam's father) never himself asked for cash from Bell or MSU, he was quoted as having said 'Dan Mullen is going to have to put a smile on my face if he thinks he's going to get my son," "it's going to take more than a scholarship" (to get my son to commit to MSU), and, after Cam's eventual commitment to Auburn, referred to the possibility of Cam playing at MSU as him becoming a "rented mule."  Beyond that, there is Cam Newton's alleged statement that "Cecil, had chosen Auburn for him because 'the money was too much.'"

Despite the mounting evidence that Cecil Newton tried to pimp his son out to a school desperate for talent to gain a foothold in the SEC, the NCAA yesterday reinstated Cam Newton's eligibility.  While it doesn't mean that the investigation is over, or that Cecil Newton won't eventually get butt-plugged by the legal system, it does mean that, unlike the Reggie Bush situation, the sins of the parents are not becoming the sins of the son.

 (Cam's eligibility has been reinstated, but should it have been?)

I'm still not entirely clear how Cam was reinstated (he was declared ineligable for a period of 24 hours before the NCAA "reinstated him") if the investigation continues, but the NCAA seems to believe Cam's story that he had no knowledge of Cecil's plot.  I find that hard to believe.  Cecil obviously had some influence over his son's decision coming out of junior college, and that influence alone should make Cam ineligible.  It's unfortunate for Cam, if he did nothing wrong, but it needs to happen.   If not, than players across the country could be pimped out by parents without their "knowledge," and slowly but surely a system of athletic prostitution will take hold in America.

I generally have no problem with the notion that collegiate athletes should see some increased financial benefits as a result of their increasing financial impact at their respective institutions.  The difference is that the players need to see that benefit, not the parents, and it should be irrespective of the recruiting process.  The above scenario, where a kid decides or is pushed towards a school because he will make more money there as opposed to some other institution, is the nightmare scenario that the NCAA is always trying to prevent.

In the end, I think Cecil Newton should be locked up, Cam Newton declared ineligible, and further inquiries made into the recruiting culture in the SEC (if not the entirety of BCS level football).  If we're going to take these sorts of violations seriously, then let's take them seriously damnit.  The good news, if there is any to be found here, is that MSU didn't play Cecil Newton's game, and that they did what they were supposed to do and alert the authorities.  Maybe the NCAA is banking on that honest streak continuing, but I wouldn't.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Updated: Who I think the next coach will be

Let's get to the point.  With Calhoun out of the way, Mac getting thrown under the anti-God bus, and Coach Cabral "speaking like a man moving on," there are really only two scenarios going forward; Eric Bieniemy or Les Miles.

None of the developments of the past few days have been surprising.  While I think Mike Bohn really wanted to include Air Force coach Troy Calhoun, I don't think Calhoun every really wanted to be included.  Most people had agreed the the longer the search went on, the less likely Mac would get the call.  And Cabral was a looooong-shot at best even had he beat Nebraska.  While the post threw out a few extra names today (Kevin Summlin at Houston which would be a stretch as he's holding out for a better spot, and McElwain at Alabama who would, I think, be a tough sell) I think our list has been cut to two, and it really is a list of one with a caveat.

If we can pony-up the cash, Les Miles is our guy; and here's the thing, Mike Bohn has never not gotten his man.  In '05 he wanted Hawk, so he got Hawk; when the Ricardo Patton situation exploded he wanted Jeff Bzdelik, so he went out and got Jeff Bzdelik; and when Bzdelik bolted for Wake Forest and the ACC, Bohn wanted his college buddy Tad Boyle, so he got Tad Boyle.  Money, enticements, situation; regardless of these, Mike has always gotten his #1 choice, and by all account, LSU coach Les Miles is his guy.

(Pay that man his money)

Let's say, for instance, that Miles and CU have talked numbers (which I believe they have).  Let's say they were even far apart ($1-1.5 million a year).  I have no doubt that Mike wouldn't let an issue so petty as money stand in his way of getting the guy he wants/needs.  This is the hire that will define/potentially end his career at CU; you think he's going to let a little money stand in his way?  If that's the only thing keeping Les Miles from putting on a white CU cap, it aint no thang.  He'll get the money, somehow, and get the guy he wants.  Based on this, I'm going to take a bite at the apple, and say we get Les.  Call me crazy, but I think Mike can land the White-hatted Whale.

If, however, the Les Miles thing falls through, then we're getting Scooter back, who was my first choice all along, so I think we're in a pretty good situation.  Anyone other than Bieniemy or Miles, and I'll be shocked.

Either way, I expect an announcement soon-ish, but definitely by next Tuesday.


(Update 11:26 AM) - So, I kind of forgot to mention Jon Embree.  However, I have a hard time believing that he would get the gig over Bieniemy.  More than likely Embree is part of the rumored All-Time CU Greats coaching staff that Bieniemy is pitching; probably the OC.  The internet is throwing around names like Greg Brown, Kanavis McGhee, Greg Biekert and Jashon Sykes for the defensive coaching staff, along with Embree for OC.  I've also seen some teases for a headlining TE coach... maybe Dan Graham has some retirement plans???... It's completely bullshit, but it's always fun to throw around potential assistant coaches...