Covering University of Colorado sports, mostly basketball, since 2010

Monday, August 27, 2012

Monday Grab Bag: Game Week!

Game week: we are in you.

I hope everyone had a happy and productive offseason, because it's go time now.  From Saturday through March, CU sports will be in full swing (... and I'll be here to comment on them).  Let's kick this thing off!

In today's bag I'll be discussing Buffzone's Folsom renovation series, the recently released depth chart, and hot starts by both the soccer and volleyball teams.

Click below for the bag...

Stadium Renovation Series on Buffzone - 

Kyle Ringo over at Buffzone recently penned a three-part series of articles discussing the proposed athletics renovations.  Mostly centered around a major revamping of Folsom field, the various proposals include:
  • A permanent, multi-use indoor practice facility for both football and track and field. 
  • An overall expansion of Dal Ward.
  • Enclosing the north end of Folsom, adding thousands of seats, and shoring up the foundation of the 88-year old stadium
  • Tearing down Balch Fieldhouse and the west-side press-box to replace with a new block of suites, additional seating, a whole new press-box, new classrooms, and additional faculty space.
  • A club level addition to the Coors Events Center.
The future look of Folsom?  Notice the enclosed North End.  From: the BDC
These proposals are meant to serve not only football (although it's obviously the focus), but all CU sports and academics as well.  According to the articles, the total bill for the project could range anywhere from $175-$220 million.  The University has committed to using no public funds or general school money, so, to pay for the sparkly new facilities, the athletic department would not only have to finance part of the gold rush in payments from the Pac-12, but see a major increase in individual gifts as well.
Proposed upgrades to Folsom include assignable space for classrooms and campus faculty.  From: the BDC
An ongoing feasibility study, due in early September, is meant to answer questions as to viability, and what level of improvements are appropriate and affordable.  One completed, the AD's office will use that to prepare a finalized proposal for the Board of Regents in January, and move forward with lining up the finances.  Still:
"it's unlikely any project would be approved at that point. Unless a donor or group of donors comes forward in the near future with a major gift that would all but assure the project moves forward, it will be sometime next year before any project at Folsom Field is approved."
While the proposed designs are very exciting, CU is still a long ways off from securing the money to back them and begin breaking ground.  It had been rumored over the past few years that former Cordellia Energy Partners president George Solich would be the financial driving force behind any new athletics construction, but any action from Mr Solich remains just that - rumors.

All CU has right now is exactly what CSU has in their pursuit of a new football stadium: grand plans, but little answers as to how they'll be realized.  Compared to CSU, however, the funding options for CU, in light of the Pac-12 television contract and network, are more straight-forward.  Additionally, Mike Bohn and crew seem to be moving forward in a deliberate and professional manner.  That should mean an easier time getting some form of the proposal approved, and much less egg on their face should they come in under expectations.
An additional look at what the West Side could look like in a few years.  From: the BDC
It's an excruciatingly slow process, one that will take many years to see to completion.  When you're dealing with a large public university, with inherent variances in objectives from different areas of both campus and the public, that's to be expected.  Still, Bohn and crew need to land this whale.  CU finally put a little money into the basketball program, and it responded immediately with improvement and success.  If $11 million (and Tad Boyle) can turn Colorado basketball into a winner, imagine what $200 million can do for the football program...

Depth Chart Released - 

Coach Embree and staff released the season's first depth chart last Friday afternoon (a day usually reserved for releasing information that you don't want the public to know/care about).  In case you missed it, you can check it out here (The link has been fixed).  Here are a few quick points of emphasis:
  • Back on signing day, Coach Embree said that he expected that 75-80% of the 2012 recruiting class could "have an opportunity to come in and earn some playing time (as freshmen), special teams or regular."  24 freshmen made it to camp this fall, and 16 of them are listed on the depth chart.  That translates to 67%, so a little off of expected pace.  Still, this is the "Year of the Freshman," and those 16, including three starters/co-starters and nearly every sport on the return lines, have big roles to play immediately.
  • There was little movement on the specialists lines, with Will Oliver and Darragh O'Neill holding on to their starting roles from last season.  I had thought Zach Grossnickle would push O'Neill a little bit, but the incumbency effect held.  Word is, thankfully, that O'Neill will forgo repeated use of the "rugby" kick this season.  Having been used to little effect last season, it's best to shelve the rugby kick, and attack punting traditionally.
  • While the buzzword surrounding the program is "youth," there is some veteran strength to rely upon.  Most of it resides on defense (especially in the linebacking corps) where eight of the 11 positions are headed by a junior or senior.  The defense as a whole was atrocious last year, but that was mostly due to not having any healthy cornerbacks on the field.  Hopefully the backfield reinforcements combine with the established parts to make for a vastly improved unit.

Volleyball and Soccer roundup - 

It was a strong week for CU in lower-profile sports.

The soccer team stayed undefeated with their 2-1 win over Wright State.  They've now won both the Colorado Cup and the Omni Hotels Colorado Women's Soccer Classic to start the season, and possess a sterling 3-0-1 record through the first week of play.  Forward Anne Stuller already has six goals this season (she had only four in all of last year), and is starting to turn heads.  Not since the great Nikki Marshall has CU possessed such a talismanic goal scorer, hopefully she keeps pounding the net in future games.
The ladies celebrate another win.  From:
The volleyball team also managed to stay undefeated, as they won the SHSU Invitational with five-set win over Sam Houston State.  They had started the season with two 3-set sweeps before the SHSU game, and are enjoying an excellent start to the season.  Freshman Alexis Austin, a Texas native, had a big return to her home state, earning MVP honors in the tournament.
Alexis Austin had a great first week as a Buff.  From:
Both programs struggled a bit last season, so it's good to see them get off to fast starts.  The Pac-12 is a tough conference for both, so we'll just have to wait and see how this translates once conference plays starts.

Happy Gameweek Monday!

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