Covering University of Colorado sports, mostly basketball, since 2010

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Post-Memorial Day Grab Bag: I can see clearly now, the rain is gone

I spent the past 5 days holed up in my cave of a room, trying to recover as quickly as possible from eye surgery.  I had grown tired of my glasses, and decided that now, as an adult, I should take control of that shit.  Luckily, everything seems to be progressing fine, although a little haziness persists, and I'm seeing 20/15.   For the record, the first thing I did with my new eyes was run upstairs to check out the Flatirons in new razor-sharp RumblinVision; it was awesome.

Today in the bag, I'll be turning my newly improved sight towards the growing ugliness in Columbus, the disaster that was the Bulls final 4 games with the Heat, and baseball standings.

Click below for the bag.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Buffs and Book-larnin': Football and Basketball out of the APR hole

Exciting news in the realm of academic progress!  Both the football and mens basketball teams are out of the APR hole! It's been a long road back for both programs, but they've managed to escape the academic hounds, and will get to keep all of their scholarships for the coming year.  Not entirely unexpected (in fact it was pretty much expected for football), but still very welcome.

APR, or Academic Progress Report, is based on a 4 year period of academic achievement, and takes into account such things as GPA, graduation rates, and the eligibility of players that leave the program.

The juicy bits:

- Football finally cracked the 925 mark after having inched towards it over the past few years.  Last year the program had been slapped with a 5 scholarship reduction (worked into the '08 recruiting class through some planning by the Hawkins staff).  This year's score of 958 (out of 1000) put the program over the top, and it's a relief going into a big recruiting year not to have to lose another batch of much needed scholarships.

- The biggest news comes from basketball, where the program scored a perfect 1000 for '09-'10.  I knew Coach Bz had been cracking down on academics, but damn!  In the 7 years of the APR program, the mens basketball team had never gotten a 1000 (in fact, I can't remember it being anywhere close).  The overall score jumped to 926, barely escaping the 925 penalty line, which means no more scholarship reductions.  Hell, the team GPA is even damn close to 2.8.  Good work guys!

- The other 14 programs continue to operate in good standing, and womens tennis and mens golf posted perfect 4-year APR rates.

Good news all around.  Way to hit the books, Buffaloes!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Monday Grab Bag: Same bag taste, just with less filling

Happy pre-Memorial Day week, everyone!  Try not to be distracted by the start of grilling season as the hours tick by to the upcoming 3-day weekend.  The bag today will touch on recruiting news, a Bulls loss, the White Sox surging to mediocrity, and Boulder softball.  Such is life over the summer.

Click below for the bag...

Friday, May 20, 2011

Friday Beer Post: Trip to Stone Brewing

OK, so I'm an idiot.  I took all these awesome pictures of the brewery on my phone, but forgot which SD card they're stored on.  When I find them, I'll update the post.

I take it for granted that I'll never get to walk into the Buffs or Sox clubhouse on a gameday.  Not only would I never be granted access, but I'm not even sure I'd want to go in there if offered the opportunity; I feel it would be an intrusion.  I'm decidedly an outsider, and feel it should stay that way.  I humbly submit that, in the words of Wayne and Garth, I'm not worthy.

This is not the case with beer.

I have no problem stepping into the places where my favorite brews are created.   When offered an opportunity to get an intimate look at a brewery, I have yet to say 'no.'  I still maintain a naive, fanboy-ish view of the great brewers of the day, yet I have no qualms about busting into their space, grabbing some samples, and wandering around like some master of the domain.

This all leads me to my trip to Stone.  They are, without a doubt, my favorite brewery on the planet.  Everything they produce, even the Cali-Belgique IPA (which is apparently un-popular with the people who actually work there), is a hit with me.  The mere mention of Arrogant Bastard makes me weak in the knees.  Walking into there is, to me, the rough equivalent of strolling into the underbelly of Dal Ward on a Saturday in the Fall.  Yet there I was two weeks ago, running around the joint like a kid in a candy store.

As in all things, it's good to know somebody.  One of my best friends talked his way into a job at the estimable Escondido, CA brewery, and on my recent trip to California he was more than happy to give me the full tour (thanks again, dude!).

Stone has a very impressive set up.  Their current location is located on an old stone quarry (get it?), and combines their large and impressive brew space with a contemporary restaurant and immaculate beer garden.  Large and well stocked, the brewing floor provides an awe-inspiring back-drop for diners while still pumping out over 100,000 barrels of beer each year.  I tried the menu at the restaurant later in the week, and found it full of interestingly tasty items.  For the record, my favorite item was the fresh beer pretzels, which were essentially pretzel doughnuts.

Before the tour started, it was off to a secret fridge to grab a special 'walking around beer' that isn't even available in their tap-bar yet.  Later this year Stone will be releasing an "odd-year" version of their Imperial Russian Stout.  It's spiked with Belgian yeast and anise.  The anise flavor was more subtle than I expected, but the rest of the beer was totally in your face.  It'll definitely fall in line with the rest of the Stone canon when it hits the market.  It certainly set me in the proper mood for strolling through a brewery.

The tour hit all the usual spots.  The coolest stops included the laser engraved mash tuns, the large hop storage area (pelletized hops; Odell's still has the market cornered on whole-leaf hops), the large filtration cenerfuge, and, of course, bottling.  An additional interesting stop on the tour was the test area, where small batches of trial beers are made.  Employees can even utilize the set-up to make uber-home brew; for example, my buddy had one currently in the dry-hop stage.

The high-point of the tour, however, was the stop at the barrel-aged area and its giant fermenters.  There I was able to experience the pure joy that is truely-fresh beer.  Your average brewery, constrained by distribution laws and logistics, usually can't get you beer much younger than a week or two even if you take a trip to their tap room.  The best way to get around this is to grab some before it gets bottled.  This particular tasting was of Arrogant Bastard (which just happens to be my all-time favorite beer). It may sound like a cliche, but I could almost hear the angelic choirs light up when the taste hit my tongue.  The natural carbonation alone made this a unique experience (beers in fermenters, of course, have yet to be hit with bottling CO2), but the flavor profile was on a whole different level.  It was slightly sweeter than typical AB, and the floral hop flavors were more intense.  A fantastic way to cap of an unforgettable experience.

Stone not only lived up to my expectations, it surpassed them in every way.  They have an excellent set up, with just enough room for experimentation.  Big thumbs up to the team over there!  If you get a chance, please stop by.  And try the pretzels.

Happy Friday!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Monday Grab Bag: It's Tuesday, and I'm back edition

I'm back from California, and rearing to go!  I'm sure there's plenty of Buff news to dissect...what's that?  You say that since it's the middle of May essentially nothing is happening?  Hrmmm... I guess I'll have to talk recruiting news and pointless coaching rumors.  Additionally, I'll touch on the Bulls being awesome.

On with the bag...

Friday, May 6, 2011

Site News: Vacation

Starting tomorrow I'm on vacation for 9 days.  It's much needed, I assure you. 
On the road again...
There won't be any new posts in this space til the 17th, but you can keep up with me on Twitter (@Rumblinbuffalo).  If anything cool happens, be sure to check there for my rumblings.  Hope you all have an excellent middle of May!

Friday Beer Post: Coors Brewery Tour

It's a right of passage for any Colorado beer geek to walk the haunted halls of the Coors Brewery in Golden.  Yes, Coors may clog the aisles and airwaves with over-indulgent advertising for less than inspiring product, but they are a Colorado institution.  It's a simple fact that any serious discussion of beer in Colorado must include the Golden behemoth.  Sure I've been there a few times before, but when presented with an opportunity last weekend to get a VIP level tour of the joint, I couldn't say no.  It's still beer, afterall.

The thing that differentiates Coors from the smaller breweries I visited a few weeks ago is pure scale.  Just approaching the brewery gives you a sense of awe.  At first sight it's slightly frightening as the series of ugly gray buildings harken back to bygone years of industrial "splendor," when aesthetics were hardly ever considered during construction.  It's huge and expansive from every perspective, and easily dominates the skyline of the tiny city of Golden.
That's what's called sticking out like a sore thumb.

Once inside, just past the opportunistic photo booth, you can immediately get down to brass tacks with a "short tour" or take the normal tour. One of the ugly secrets of the current brewery tour at Coors is that it's a pathetic down-scaling of what was once an excellent tour. The old "normal" tour of the facility (a expansive, personally-led excursion through the entire brewing process) has been reduced to a pathetic self-guided sham.  Instead of knowledgeable tour guides, the every day visitor now gets a pre-recorded radio thingy, and a shortened route.  The Wonka-esque trip through nearly every level of the main complex, replete with looks at every level of the brewing process, is gone, and the whole thing seems to be designed to get you out of there as soon as possible.  Luckily, I know people.

Having a friend who works at the brewery, and who used to be a tour guide, allowed me to see what used to be the full tour.  We kept going in and out of the "regular" tour areas, routinely jumping through doors that now say "Employees Only."  Hey, it's fun to poke around a brewery, and I want to see as much of it as I can.  Maybe some people just want to get to the tasting room, but I wouldn't drive down to Golden just for the beer.
One of the many areas that we normally wouldn't have access to was the areas associated with the creation of malt.

One of the key parts that got cut away when they changed the tour program was a full view of the malting process.  The ability to germinate and roast their own grains is one of the things that sets the big-3 apart from smaller breweries.  It's an impressive and interesting process that speaks to the scale of the business, and one they should show off.  When you take that aspect of it away, it's just like every other brewery in the world, just with more mash-tuns and an internal plastics plant.
I want to see the roasting rooms, I really do.

At the end of the tour came the ubiquitous stop at the tasting room.  Along with the standard tastings of Blue Moon and Colorado Native (still not sure what I feel about Native) they have an interesting brew called Batch-19.  It's based on a pre-Prohibition recipe unearthed after a flood of the records room, and the only place it's served in Colorado is the tasting room at the brewery.  Not as simplistic as, say, Coors Original, Batch-19 definitely has a taste of old-world German to it.  It's very grainy with a little kick of hops.  It was certainly the most adventurous thing I tried while I was there, and can pass for good. 
If you can find Batch-19, give it a taste.

I'm glad I went, simply from the perspective that every trip to Coors allows me to contemplate the place of macro-brews in a beer culture that is constantly moving towards craft brewing.  However, this visit revolved around the ability to re-connect with a good friend, and to try a beer outside of my comfort zone. That's worth a trip down Hwy 93 in a way that "ice-cold" samples of Coors Light can never be.

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Quick Post: Bring Baseball Back to CU!

Let me paint the picture: It's a beautiful May afternoon, sunny and in the low 70s.  You take the afternoon off from work, meander into Boulder, and grab some seats just beyond the 3rd base bag.  The stadium perfectly frames the flatirons in right-center field, and, with a beer in your hand (oh, there will be beer sales), baseball begins to unfold in front of you.  All is right with the world.  

Baseball needs to come back to Boulder.

Now that CU Athletics will be flush with cash in the forthcoming years, I think it's time to seriously start talking about bringing varsity baseball (and softball) back to CU.  Pac-12 commish, and all around badass, Larry Scott stated today that the 3 billion in TV dollars will allow for adding back of sports that have been cut.  If the Pac-12 wants to have an emphasis on it's total athletic package, not just on football and men's basketball, then I'm sure Mr. Scott will look to have the member institutions actually follow through on this concept.

There's been half-hearted efforts pushed in years past, but now's the time to seriously push for varsity baseball.  I'm not looking for it to happen next year, and I realize fund-raising for a new stadium may take years (can we use capital constructions funds?), but if Cal can find enough offsets to equal the $1 million/season operating budget (and save their team from the financial axe), then the creative team at Dal Ward should be able to as well.  Let's make it happen!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Quick-Post: The results are in: Larry Scott is $2.7bil worth of awesome UPDATED

Word is starting to leak out about the Pac-12 broadcast right deal.  Everyone in the conference is about to get paiiiiiid to the tune of $2.7 billion over 12 years.  The broadcast partners will be Fox and ESPN, and the Pac-12 is withholding some rights to further their pursuit of their own network.   In real dollar terms to CU that's over $18 million per year right off the bat.  CU had been getting between $9 and $10 million in the Big XII.

We can all argue back and forth about whether or not the additions of Colorado and Utah made the Pac-12 territory more marketable, but I have to think the excitement of expansion and re-branding had something to do with the Pac-12 getting triple their current deal.  Also, Larry Scott is a badass.

(UPDATE: 5-3-11) Jon Wilner of the SJMNis saying that initial reports may have lowballed, and that the deal is actually worth upwards of $250 million with possibly more announcements slated for the future.  That would be close to $21 million per school.  Suck it UT!

(UPDATE: 5-3-11) New York Times confirms Wilner's update.  It's $3 billion over 12 years, with $250 million per year and near $21 million per school, per year.  That's quadruple the current deals.  Additionally, Pac-12 retains rights to own Pac-12 network.  WOOT!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Monday Grab Bag: Best Buffs Draft in 14 years

The biggest news today is obviously the end of Osama bin Laden's 10 year run from justice.  That it took nearly a full decade to silence the mass murder is not the point: we eventually got him, and he can no longer plot against our collective safety.  As in all times, I turn to the words of Trey Parker and Matt Stone: America, Fuck Yeah!

In a jolting shift of gears to get back on topic, in the bag today I'll wrap up the best NFL draft for CU in years, touch on the stateside reappearance of a CU basketball great, and mention an item from the NBA playoffs.  Oh, and my White Sox are worse than ever.

Click below for the bag...