Covering University of Colorado sports, mostly basketball, since 2010

Friday, September 28, 2012

Friday Beer Post: 2012 Gameday Beer-o-the-week - UCLA Edition

Each week throughout the football season I'm going to suggest a good beer for the ubiquitous pre-game tailgate. Let's be honest, with tailgates it's not always top quality that you're looking for. To steal a phrase from the heinous beer terrorists at Budweiser, you want "drinkability." (or what a real beer connoisseur calls "a session beer") So, be warned, these may not be "the best" beers around. But, in the words of Dave Chappelle as Samuel L. Jackson, "IT'LL GET YOU DRUNK!"

I'm missing yet another game.  This time, however, it's my own damn fault.  My 10-year high school reunion is this weekend, and I've decided to attend it for no particular reason.  That means a trip home to Chicago, and not to the UCLA game.  (For the record, this decision was made long before the season started.)

The untimely trip to Chicago does give a great idea for a tailgate beer.  I grew up in DuPage County, about 25 miles west of the Second City.  Happily, just down the road from my old stomping grounds is a great craft brewery.  Two Brothers Brewing, located in Warrenville, IL, makes a fantastic Red Rye Ale called Cane and Ebel, and I'm naming it as my gameday beer-o-the-week.

I talked about Two Brothers and Cane and Ebel early last year, but I think it's a beer worth re-visiting.  I love this brew.  While not typically a fan of rye ale offerings, I find this style does a great job balancing a combination of spicy/sweet malts with hoppy notes.  The bottle touts this as being "hopped up," but it's not as bitter/resiny as that advertising can often mean; more floral/sweet.  The creamy/sweet finish is especially pleasing.

I'm definitely going to grab some while I'm back home.  It may be a little bit of a stretch for those in Colorado to get some by kickoff Saturday, but if you can, it's well worth the effort.

Happy Friday!  Go Buffs, beat the Bruins!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

2012 UCLA Football Preview

The Parade of Buffs is tonight.  If you weren't planning on going, you may want to rethink your decision.  Not only is it free (from parking to entrance to hors d'Ĺ“uvres), but it sounds like a pretty cool event.  A bevy of Buff luminaries - including Coach McCartney, Coach Embree, Kordell Stewart, Michael Westbrook, Matt Russell, Coach Boyle, Emma Coburn (*swoon*), Cliff Meely, Cliff Branch, Bridget Turner, Alfred Williams, Tera Bjorklund (double *swoon*), Kami Carmann, Darian Hagan, Charles Johnson, Kelly Campbell, Billy Nelson, Emily Talley, Sean Tufts, Lisa VanGoor and Lucie Zikova - will be there along with many of the current athletes.

There's still time to register, and you can do so by clicking here.  It's not every day you get to see so many Buff greats in one room, so it's more than worth your time to head over to the First Bank Center this evening.


This is a pivot game.  The team can go one way or the other.  Play with the passion, effort, and will to win that they showed Saturday in Pullman, and Folsom Field will roar once more.  Come out flat, and only the band and a few close friends will see the game to its conclusion as the score gets out of hand.

I want the roar.  It's been far too long since the student section was able to rush the field, after all...

Kickoff from beautiful Folsom Field is set for 4pm MT.  The broadcast is set for Pac-12 Network, which you may, or may not, get.  If you can't get it, or if you just like the radio broadcast, tune your dial to 850 KOA.

Click below for the preview...

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Year of the Freshman: End of September Update

A third of the season has already passed us by, and I think it's high time to catch up with the progress of the massive freshman class

13 true freshman have seen the field this season, many of them making a large impact. There have been contributions from redshirt freshman (particularly Nelson Spruce), but I'm primarily focused on the true frosh; the ones who have only been in Boulder for two months at this point.  More could still play as the season progresses, and the roster continues to be shuffled due to performance and injury.  For now, however, these are the lucky 13 to have received playing time.  Below the fold, I'll go through each of the kids who have seen the field, emphasizing their statistical impact.

Click below...

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Quick Post: Can momentum be maintained?

I need more information.  That was my overall feeling once the euphoric wave from Saturday wore off. The upset pulled in Pullman was a fantastic win no matter how you look at it; from a morale perspective, to performance growth, to simply relieving the mounting pressure.  It's harder to understand, however, what the long term impact will be.

The questions, tinted with optimism, came fast enough.  Is this the turning point?  Is this the watershed moment?  For me, it's a question of whether the real Buffaloes are the team that played extremely well in the second half on Saturday, of if they're closer to the team that played heartless football in Fresno a week ago.  The answer is almost certainly somewhere in the middle, but I'm not yet ready to say exactly where.  As to longer-term contextuality, there are plenty of steps on the road to respectability, and Saturday certainly could be one of them, but the destination is not guaranteed.  This Saturday's matchup with UCLA will go a long way to telling us what kind of team the 2012 Buffs really are, and in what direction they are headed. 

It was just last season that the Buffs manhandled Arizona at home, leading many in the program to loosely "guarantee" an end to the infamous road losing streak the following weekend in Los Angeles.  The result of all that momentum and positive feeling?  A mostly humiliating 45-6 loss to UCLA.  While the Buffs followed up on that stutter step with a cherry-busting win in Utah the subsequent Friday, that UCLA loss shows the danger of leaping to conclusions.

The saying in baseball has always been, "momentum is only as good as tomorrow's starting pitcher."  In football, I'd change that to "next Saturday's opponent."  The Buffs proved that by stealing a win from a fellow Pac-12 cellar dweller just seven days after reaching a nadir.  UCLA will be a different story this weekend.

Washington State, much like Arizona last season, is a horrific football team right now.
  • The Cougars are the only Pac-12 team with a worse defense than CU (they give up an extra half yard per contest).
  • Their pass defense is particularly atrocious, as it's 3rd worst in the country with 346 yards allowed per game.
  • They can't run the football to save their lives.  In addition to only gaining 16 rushing yards in Saturday's second half, they sit next to last in national rush yards per game with less than 60 yards per contest.  Even Texas Tech at their Air Raid worst was rarely that bad.  You'll cough up a lot of leads playing like that...
  • Washington St has a modern culture of losing.  While CU has struggled in recent years, the Cougars haven't been to a bowl game since 2003.  Additionally, they've only won four conference games since the start of the 2008 season (CU has nine).
Comparatively, UCLA is a quality opponent, capable of causing trouble in the Pac-12 South, and desperate for a win after stumbling against Oregon State.  If CU can continue the upward trend of growth, despite a big jump in competition, I'll be in a happy place regardless of the final numbers on the scoreboard.

This rebuilding project is bringing new meaning to the word "comprehensive," so BuffNation needs to find joy in the little things.  I was already pretty happy with the overall performance Saturday before the 21-point 4th quarter comeback.  A similar effort, even in a losing cause, will suffice for another week.  The team can't afford any regression now.

They have to keep the ball rolling.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Monday Grab Bag: "Let's come back and sing that song"

What a difference a week makes.  The Buffs returned to Boulder Saturday night winners in their first conference game, leaving them tied atop the Pac-12 South standings.  It took an incredible fourth quarter comeback, but the win eased blood pressures across the state, and obviously lifted a huge weight from the shoulders of the coaching staff.  The Fresno St game isn't entirely forgotten, but it's at least a secondary memory now.

Today in the bag, I'll be looking back on the win, noting improvement across the board, and taking a run around the nation of football.

Click below for the bag...

Friday, September 21, 2012

Friday Beer Post: 2012 Gameday Beer-o-the-week: Washington St. Edition

Each week throughout the football season I'm going to suggest a good beer for the ubiquitous pre-game tailgate. Let's be honest, with tailgates it's not always top quality that you're looking for. To steal a phrase from the heinous beer terrorists at Budweiser, you want "drinkability." (or what a real beer connoisseur calls "a session beer") So, be warned, these may not be "the best" beers around. But, in the words of Dave Chappelle as Samuel L. Jackson, "IT'LL GET YOU DRUNK!"

Washington brewing takes a backseat to regional powerhouses like Oregon, Colorado, and California.  Flagship local craft breweries like Widmer and Redhook have gone the merger/corporate route, leaving much of the state's exported product distinctless, especially when compared to other West Coast offerings.  That tale is similar for Seattle's Pyramid Brewing, who have been absorbed by the group which owns Genesee Brewing (Mike's Hard Lemonade, among others) and Magic Hat. Corporatized as they may be, their collection isn't entirely without note, however.

Founded nearly 30 years ago, and originally known as Hart Brewing, Pyramid Breweries gained quick notoriety for jump-starting the fruit beer craze.  They won a gold medal at the Great American Beer Festival in 1994 for brewing a habit-forming unfiltered wheat ale, tweaked with plenty of an often forgotten Southern European fruit.  That beer, Pyramid's Apricot Ale, is my gameday beer-o-the-week.

Honestly, I'd rather have this, or something of its ilk, then a tired wheat like AveryNew Belgium's Sunshine Wheat.  It's a nice, light wheat ale, with strong notes of dried apricots in both the taste and smell.  Spicy, bready malts on the front end, with very little hops in support.  It's not intensely sweet, like some fruit beers can be, but it's definitely not a bitter pale ale.  I doubt they use real fruit any more, more likely extract, and I can't help but wonder what a home-brewed clone made with real fruit would taste like...

The beer is available in just about every liquor store, so you should have no trouble finding some before the game.  It's a nice change-of-pace, something both my palate and the football team could use.

Happy Friday!  Go Buffs, beat the Cougars!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

2012 Washington St Football Preview:

This is some bad dream.  It has to be.  There's no way that my beloved Buffs were made to look like a pee-wee team last week.  Oh shit... I'm having a flashback!:

*sigh* It was all real, wasn't it?  Every minute of slap-stick, Keystone Cops-esque bumbling of basic assignments and pursuit.  It looked like what happens when I turn back the slider on NCAA 13 to "Freshmen," and shed some hapless digital defense.  No mercy, with the computer forcing out my starters in the 2nd quarter.  Now, I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds...

There are nine games left on the schedule.  Nine opportunities for the Buffs to decide if they care that they as a collective group have been reduced to some mix of national laughing stock and regional embarrassment.  I'm not even talking about winning, I'm talking about competing at the basest level imaginable.  Gotta walk before you can crawl (wait a second...).

The team got by with poor execution and substandard effort against weak-ass opponents in the first two weeks, even coming close to two wins, which now seems impossible.  All that Fresno St did was expose the danger of taking that attitude into games with physical, motivated opponents.  With conference play now a reality, you can bet opponents will be both physical and motivated from here on out.

May God have mercy on our souls if that statement remains unheeded.


Kickoff is set for 2pm MT Saturday.  If you're a masochist, you can watch the action on FX.  850 KOA has the call for those who can't stand to watch the horror, but still want to follow proceedings.

Click below for the preview...

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Quick Post: Mac weighs in

Legendary coach, leader of men, and all-time great Buff Bill McCartney jumped back into the boiling cauldron of disquiet yesterday afternoon.  It's the second time in a week that he's spoken up in an attempt to quell the anxious masses.  The message both times has been two fold: 1) Coach Embree is the man for the job, and will eventually get this thing turned around. 2) BuffNation needs to remain loyal, and give him the time he needs to right the ship.

"When you get disappointed, when you get frustrated, you want to bitch and moan, and whine and complain, and want to see how many you can attract.  Well, I want to take the opposite perspective, and talk a little bit about loyalty."

Mac hit all the high points.  He talked about his early career struggles with his win-loss record, he talked about the damn sign in the meeting room, he even went through Coach Embree's resume and qualifications (as if the man's character was ever in question).

I've always had trouble with Coach Mac.  His faux-preacher pomposity grates on me, but, then again, I'm not a religious man, and that very pomposity is part of the reason why.  I guess I'm just not his target audience.  Give me a speaker willing to talk to me as a man, rather than a soul to be saved.  Nonetheless, every time he's dragged onto a podium to tell me how I'm going to Buff Hell for this or that, my brain automatically shuts off. ("Be a good Buff, or spend eternity listening to Plati talk politics."  NOOOOOOOOOO, I'll be good from here on out!)

I was reminded halfway through the speech of Matt McChesney's quote from Monday: "Pride swallowing is the best way to approach this. [...] Pride is really hurting the Colorado Buffaloes."  Coach McCartney's speech Tuesday was all about pride, specifically pride in the institution that he helped build, and is currently helping to sustain.  Coach Mac, and a large chunk of his legacy, is tied to the success or failure of Coach Embree and his staff.  He pushed for Embree, made the deal happen.  Without Coach Mac's boosterism in the late fall of 2010, Coach Embree is still coaching tight ends in Washington, D.C.  I can't help but wonder if that pride of self could blind him to larger issues...

I'm not yet ready to write off the Jon Embree era.  I certainly am not stupid enough to ask for his head 16 games into his tenure.  But to bombastically run around as if character alone will turn the program around strikes me as absurd.  You don't lose 69-14 in Fresno simply because of rebuilding.  The team, with some notable exceptions, quit, and that is a structural problem that needs immediate addressing.  The problem is on the field, not in the stands (although, if any Buff fan wears powder blue at the UCLA game, I'm going to flip).

Coach Embree did make one concession to the masses Tuesday.  He announced plans to move offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy from the box to the sideline in the hope that his fire and intensity can effect change on gameday.   
"I don't know if it helps, but, I do know this: I've always been a hands-on type of individual. I've always fed off of energy. My job is to make sure our guys are holding themselves accountable in detail and in work, so I want to make sure I can get a feel for what's going on and grab a guy here and there and talk through it."   
Fair enough, hopefully it works.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Have you put a deposit down on basketball season tickets?

Look up at the right side of this page, we're well under two months to go until basketball season starts.  That means we're just that much closer to watching the defending Pac-12 champions take the court.  But, will you be there to watch them?  You damn well better be, especially if I know where you live *shakes fist*.

All kidding aside, there's been plenty of excitement in the CEC over the past few years, and there's no reason you shouldn't be a part of it.  Of all the available sporting events in the Denver/Boulder Metro Area, CU Basketball offers the most bang for your buck.  Last season, a GA season package was available for $60, meaning each of the 16 home games cost less than $4.  Throw in free parking, reasonable concession prices, access to the club room, and guaranteed seats to watch a program that has gone 32-4 in Boulder over the last two seasons, and you can't find a better deal in the 303.

Tickets are becoming more and more scarce as word gets out that the CEC is the place to be in the winter.  Last year alone, CU averaged 10,054 in home conference games after winter break, just about 1k under capacity.  Add to that the nine sellouts over the past two seasons, and the days of being able to find plenty of good seats to games at the last minute are dwindling fast.

To ice the cake, buying season tickets this year also allows BuffNation to enact some payback by screwing over Kansas Jayhawk fans.  There has been no one more frustrated over the high percentage of Kansas fans attending the KU/CU games over the years than I.  With the Circus Chickens returning to Boulder next winter, it presents BuffNaiton with an interesting opportunity to do something about it.

There used to be this father and son who had season tickets a few rows in front of me.  They'd show up to a few games in the fall, dressed in non-Buffs wear, and sit silently, whispering back and forth as the season progressed.  Then, come January, they'd show up to the KU game in five layers of Jayhawk gear.  After the game, their seats would go empty for the rest of the season, and after the switch to the Pac-12 they were gone permanently.  You see, for these die-hard Kansas fans, it was cheaper for them to buy season tickets to CU then to travel and scalp for one game in Allen Fieldhouse.  The worst part? They didn't even have the common courtesy to pretend to like CU during a non-KU game. 

The point is, if you have never gotten season tickets before, you have an opportunity to do two things:
  • 1) Get some great (and cheap) seats to one of the most exciting up-and-coming programs in the nation.
  • 2) Deny those carpet-bagging Jayhawk fans the opportunity to move in on our party next year when the KU comes back to Boulder.
Those fans will undoubtedly try to be back in 2013. However, having given up their carpet-bagger seats last year due to conference re-alignment, they'll have to try and find new, available ones.  If we in BuffNation eat up all available season tickets through a massive increase in sales this season, KU fans will have no place to turn to next fall, and the descending horde of Jayhawk fans will be greatly reduced in number.  The Buffs will have claimed a small victory before the ball is even tipped off.

If you haven't yet become a season-ticket holder for men's basketball, now's the time to jump on board.  While general ticketing isn't yet available as the AD office sorts through the large number of renewals, you can put your name down on the ordering wait list here

Monday, September 17, 2012

Quick Post: Matt McChesney breaks out the bazooka.

Former CU D-lineman Matt McChesney went for the jugular this morning on Lewis & Floorwax. You can check out part one here, and part two here.  When I say he pulled no punches, I mean he pulled no punches.  You should probably take a moment to listen.
Matt front and center after beating CSU in '03
On his fellow Buffs4Life members pressuring the CU administration to hire from within the family, and essentially getting Embree hired: "We were wrong.  We were dead wrong.  [...] Coach Embree is in over his head. [...] It was probably wrong for Mike Bohn to listen to us."  He goes on to further lambast the current coaching staff, saying of defensive coordinator Greg Brown: "I don't know how [he] still has a job.  If I were him, I'd just resign..."

The dude wants wholesale change, outside the realm of the old guard. "Pride swallowing is the best way to approach this. [...] Pride is really hurting the Colorado Buffaloes." His point is that the B4L crew couldn't see past their own hubris during the last coaching search, and it may have permanently damaged the program.  I certainly can't argue. 

McChesney didn't just call out the coaching staff, however.  Everyone calls out coaches, and this wouldn't be that big of a deal if he had just stopped with Embree and crew.  He also went after the players themselves.  "I'm very tired of hearing everyone blaming Dan Hawkins for all of this. [...] [The seniors] don't deserve the opportunity to keep playing. [...] Obviously [they] don't care, and aren't going to be leaders anyway. [...] [Coach Embree] inherited the softest bunch of just cowards I think I've ever seen in my life at the University of Colorado.  These kids don't care about their university... Why should anyone else at this point?"

God. Damn.

Matt loves CU.  In 2004, his senior year, and the first year post "scandal," he emotionally conducted the marching band during the alma mater after a road win at KU.  He fought through injuries and heart-wrenching off season bullshit to see the program through his senior year.  This guy bleeds Black and Gold in a way that I can only reference; this means something to him beyond the ditzy gameday stuff us civilians partake in on Saturdays.  That's why the interview carries so much weight with me.  This is a Buff, calling out other Buffs for failing to live up the program's standards.

I have a problem blaming college athletes, mostly because I wasn't one myself; I try to avoid it at all costs.  Matt doesn't have that problem.  While it's always a little unsavory to publicly call out 22-year-olds for failing, it's actually a little refreshing in this instance to hear someone place some blame below the top line.  The problems which lead to the team completely quitting before the opening kickoff of the season's third game are inherent in every level, from coaching to the scout team.  Everyone's to blame, and Matt's just echoing what's plainly evident from a former player's perspective.

This is just the tip of the iceberg.  There's going to be a lot of these cathartic diatribes in both print and media over the next few months.  It's going to get worse - a lot worse if the team continues to get blown out every Saturday - I just hope that at some point it begins to get better.

Monday Grab Bag: *fart noise*

I spent my Saturday doing everything except paying close attention to the Buffs game.  What I discovered was that the world outside of Boulder still finds this whole college football thing fun.  Watching Florida/Tennessee and USC/Stanford was a damn treat, and the Holy War in Salt Lake City was a more than entertaining way to cap the day.  It's just a shame that Boulder can't join in on the fun.

Well, it's not just Boulder.  The entire State of Colorado just seems disinterested with the sport, and with good reason.  Of the four D-1 schools in the state (Air Force, CU, CSU, and UNC), the combined record is 3-8, with the wins coming over CU (by CSU), Idaho St (by AF), and something called Colorado Mesa (by UNC).

Sure, we have the mountains, and the valleys, and all the other wonders of God's creation, but it was like there was this awesome party going on, and the State of Colorado was not invited.  I wish we were invited...


Today in the bag, I'll do a drive-by on the rotting corpse of the CU football program, turn to non-traditional sports for inspiration, and discuss some notes from the happier side of the nation of football.

Click below for the bag...

Friday, September 14, 2012

Friday Beer Post: 2012 Gameday Beer-o-the-week: Fresno State Edition

Each week throughout the football season I'm going to suggest a good beer for the ubiquitous pre-game tailgate. Let's be honest, with tailgates it's not always top quality that you're looking for. To steal a phrase from the heinous beer terrorists at Budweiser, you want "drinkability." (or what a real beer connoisseur calls "a session beer") So, be warned, these may not be "the best" beers around. But, in the words of Dave Chappelle as Samuel L. Jackson, "IT'LL GET YOU DRUNK!"

Fresno St.... hrmmm... this is a tough one.  No major breweries to speak of in Fresno, and I already did the British Bulldog angle two years ago... gotta reach deep in the bag this week...

In a recent interview with a local interest magazine, Bulldog head coach Tim DeRuyter was asked about his familial roots in Holland, and if he favors any traditional Dutch dish.  "Dutch food is not real good to be honest with you. I tend more toward their beer than their food."  Fair enough, coach.  In honor for Coach DeRuyter, and indeed all of the freaky-deaky Dutch-Americans out there, I'm naming Holland's #1 exporter of beer, Heineken, as my gameday beer-o-the-week.

Brewed since 1873, Heineken has helped Heineken International (also brewers of Amstel) become the #3 mass-brewer in the world, only behind A-B InBev and SABMiller.  Pale, pilsner, and lager... this brew hits all the mass-produced check-boxes.  It ubiquitously prevalent across the globe, and plenty of people they're getting something special by drinking this import.  At the end of the day, however, it's just the Miller or Budweiser of Europe.

Many people complain about the "skunky" smell/taste of Heineken and many other imported beers.  That's actually an intentional side effect of both the brewing process and the green bottles.  It's known that they actually run the beer through a bank of UV lights prior to palletization, forcing skunk into the brew.  While improvements in storage and transportation have made it possible for Heineken to knock out the skunk flavor, they do this because marketers found that many Americans associate that flavor with imported beer; prefer it even (people are weird).  If you're ever in Europe, give "real" Heineken a try, you'll be shocked at the difference a little UV can make.

I personally enjoy their mini-kegs; I think it's a neat way to both market and deliver their product.  You get about 14 12oz pours out of one, and a few will more than set your tailgate right.

Happy Friday!  Go Buffs, beat the Bulldogs!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Quick Post: #BuffsMadness is on!

#BuffsMaddness, #CUMidnightMadness, #MidnightTadness... whatever you want to call it, BuffNation got what it wanted.  A few months ago this wasn't even a possibility, but thanks to a relentless campaign from key CU fans, including @CUGoose, @TZiskBuff, @JGisland, @BupsJones, and @CUnitBuffs, we got it done.  If you aren't planning on being at the CEC on Friday, October 12th, we just can't be friends any more.  Check out the pop video below:

Quick Post: Parade of Buffs

Coming up later this month is an interesting event that popped up on my radar.  Playfully titled "Parade of Buffs," the program will include appearances from a whole score of Buff football greats.  It's free, including light d'ouevres and parking, for anyone who pre-registers for the event.   You can register by heading here.

The timing, and the lack of content information, has lead many to speculate that the event is meant to announce some level of Folsom expansion plans.  Since the feasibility study is due sometime this month, a late September pep rally would make for a convenient kick-off event... Guess we'll all just have to go and find out!

2012 Fresno St Football Preview: Eating your vegetables

Only two weeks into the season, and Buffs football has already hit the "eat your vegetables" stage.  I don't want to watch Buffs football, but I "have" to.  I just couldn't live with myself skipping a game, so there I'll be Saturday evening, reluctantly watching whatever Coach Embree and crew can throw together.

It's not the losing. Teams lose all the time, afterall. It's the utter futility that's getting to me.  Despite protestations to the contrary, the program isn't even close to respectability right now.  Don't get me wrong, I'm still a die-hard, and will ride off the cliff hand-in-hand with whoever is donning the Black-and-Gold, but it's so damn frustrating to go through seven consecutive years of losing football.  (...57 days...)


Kickoff for Buffs v Bulldogs is set for 6pm MT.  Televised coverage can be seen on CBS Sports Network.  Since you've probably never had reason to tune to that channel before, I'll help you out by noting that it can be found on channels 412/846 (Comcast), 158 (Dish), and 613 (DirecTV).

As for radio coverage, each of the first two games has seen 850 KOA's feed preempted during critical 4th quarter drives by bullshit Rockies coverage.  Last I checked, the Rockies are over 20 games out of 1st, and I'm thinking we can sacrifice a little Rox pregame to cover THE LAST GODDAMN DRIVES OF THE GAME.  Get your shit together, KOA.  Just to spite 850 for that, and other things, I'm boycotting them this week.  Don't listen to their coverage, they don't deserve BuffNation's patronage.

 Click below for the preview...

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The game that killed the football program

How did we get here?  How did the once proud University of Colorado football program fall to the point that a mid-level FCS program can completely out-play the Buffs in Folsom Field?  It's a simple question to ask.  The complete answer is much less simple.  As in many things, it is far too nebulous and complex to succinctly describe in less than a book.

What I can pinpoint, emphatically, is the first moment the train began jumping the tracks.  There is one game, above all others, that I keep recalling as the beginning of the end.  Before kickoff, CU was still a national power.  While not perfect, the program was still capable of competing with the best in the land.  After its 60 minutes, it lay broken and vulnerable.

No, not 70-3.  The real answer is CU's 30-16 loss at Iowa State on November 12th, 2005.  And I was there.

Let me take you back seven years to the scene of the crime...

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Quick Post: #CUMidnightMadness update

There were some rumblings last night that #CUMidnightMadness was a go.  Twitter started to light up after a since deleted tweet from star forward Andre Roberson all but confirmed that the event was on.  The gun seems to have been jumped, however, as the athletic department has since started looking for more outward signs of support before committing to host a pep rally to mark the start of fall practice.

The call went out as follows:
Well that's pretty damn simple. You mean all we have to do is go here and here, click "like," and BuffNation gets its Midnight Madness?  We got this. 

For the minimum amount of effort possible, we can show the athletic department that we're serious about being a basketball school.  Currently, CU football (you know, that one team that stumbles about like a drunken bum every Saturday) has over 30k "likes."  30-thousand!  For sure, we can get at least 4% of those likes to also approve of both the men's and women's basketball teams.

The players want this, the students want this, and the fan base wants this - it's a no-brainer.  Get your ass to Facebook, and bring along your friends, your spouses, your kids, your mere acquaintances... get everyone you can!  There's no reason to fall short of the goal now.

Go Buffs!

Quick Post: Dustin Thomas commits to being a Buff

Another football loss, another dose of salve from our patron saint of victory, Coach Tad Boyle.

Reaching deep into the heart of Texas, Coach Boyle and staff pulled out another under-the-radar gem, as PF Dustin Thomas announced yesterday that he intends to be a Buff.  Despite increasing interest from local powers, evidenced by Thomas canceling a future trip to Oklahoma, his visit last weekend to Boulder was apparently enough to convince the young man about the virtues of the Black and Gold.  The result reminded many observers of the time when the new head coach stole Andre Roberson from the Lone Star state in 2010. 

At 6-8, and with great outside shooting skills (48% from deep last season), Thomas continues the "tweener" style of Coach Boyle, as the roster continues to fill with tall, versatile, athletic swing men who can cause matchup problems and play multiple positions.

You may be thinking, "isn't there only one available scholarship, and wasn't that already given to Jaron Hopkins?"  While it's true that CU has only one scholarship senior on the roster, it's all but assured more than one spot will open up for the 2013 roster, either via a player jumping to the NBA early ('Dre) or further transfer attrition (Ben Mills?).  Should 'Dre jump to the Association, it's more than fitting to replace him with  another lanky Texan.

Thomas not only announced his intention yesterday, but also what number he intends to wear in Boulder.
That looks pretty solid to me.  From AllBuffs and Twitter.
The story behind his picking of the number 13 is very personal.  From Rivals via Allbuffs, he's quoted as saying:
"Today is the day in 2006 my sister passed away. That is why I wear No. 13, that is how old she was when she passed away from a rare blood disease.  I just felt like it was a way to honor her. She is the reason I play the game. So to make my commitment to Colorado today was something I wanted to do."
Of all the reasons to pick a number, that's probably the most moving I've ever heard.  I hope he gets many moments in Boulder to honor his sister's life with his play.

Welcome to BuffNation, Dustin!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Monday Grab Bag: Swing low, sweet chariot...

Another football Saturday wedding, another bride walking down the aisle to the chorus of a Buff collapse.  That's now two marriages I will forever associate with losing.  Ladies of BuffNation, let this be a lesson to you: don't schedule a wedding on a game day.


This is about as low as it can get.  We're living it right now.

If there's any doubt, let me assure you that this is worse than '06.  At least in that year, BuffNation could comfort itself with the knowledge that it was the first year of a new regime, and that improvement, microscopic as it came to be, was assured.  Nope, this is the Buffs4Life crew's second year at the helm.  Disasters of this proportion shouldn't be possible.

I'm almost afraid to ask, but how much deeper can this rabbit hole go?

Today in the bag, I'll get through this as quickly as possible so I can get back to daydreaming about basketball season.  I'll also talk about some football notes from teams/programs who know what they're doing.  60 days...

Click below for the bag...

Friday, September 7, 2012

Friday Beer Post: 2012 Gameday Beer-o-the-week: Sacramento State Edition

Each week throughout the football season I'm going to suggest a good beer for the ubiquitous pre-game tailgate. Let's be honest, with tailgates it's not always top quality that you're looking for. To steal a phrase from the heinous beer terrorists at Budweiser, you want "drinkability." (or what a real beer connoisseur calls "a session beer") So, be warned, these may not be "the best" beers around. But, in the words of Dave Chappelle as Samuel L. Jackson, "IT'LL GET YOU DRUNK!"

OK, BuffNation, time to get up off the mat.  Tomorrow is Saturday, damnit!  No more wallowing in self-pity, WE'VE GOT PARTYING TO DO!

I have yet another wedding Saturday (my friends suck), but, unlike last week, the ceremony starts late enough that I feel comfortable trying to go to at least the first half.  What that means is that, for the first time this season, I get to experience a normal tailgate.  Bring on the Beer!

This week the Buffs are playing the FCS Sacramento State Hornets.  Many people incorrectly associate hornets with bees (stinger, hive structure, yellow and black coloring, etc), but hornets (and wasps) are actually in a separate family from bees.  In fact, you have to climb to the sub-order Aprocita to find a common classification.  But, screw that scientific shit, for my purposes today hornets are essentially honey bees, and spend their days making sweet, delicious honey (completely not true).

There's actually a pretty decent wheat ale brewed with a touch of honey from Colorado Springs.  I'm naming that beer, Bristol Brewing's Beehive Honey Wheat, as my tailgate beer-o-the-week.

Commensurate with the talent level of the opponent, this beer is on the lighter side, with soft flavor notes, and a low alcohol content (only 4%).  There's a nice golden haze to the beer, as is associated with the style. Expect bready hints on the nose and palate, offset with a hint of sweetness from the honey.  It's also not as "spicy" as some wheat's can be.  When I first tried it last year, I found it a bit thin, but further tastings have yielded slightly more complex results.  I feel it's a good way to ease back into tailgate season.

Happy Friday!  Go Buffs, beat the Hornets!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

On #CUMidnightMadness

As if I need an excuse to talk CU hoops...

Midnight madness is a time-honored tradition for college basketball powers.  It's easy to think of the events featuring schools like Kentucky and Kansas, for which the first second the team can practice is a cause for celebration.

Some take the name to heart, having a practice shortly after midnight on the first allowed day of practice; others simply wait for the following evening, making for appointment viewing on ESPNU.  At the giants, the events are storehouses of antics and showmanship, designed more as pep rallies to get fans pumped up for the season.  Smaller schools participate as well, showing that the start of basketball is a nation-wide holiday.  Of course, some programs, like UCLA under Ben Howland, stay away from the practice, but most see it as a chance to fire up the fanbase, and announce that hoops is back in session.
Places like Kentucky do this right.
CU has had Madness-like events in the past.  Even last year, there was a "Meet the Buffs" program about a week after the start of practice. But attendance has usually been as poor as the promotion, and recent attempts seem disproportionate when considering the new heights of the program.  It's just never been a true Midnight Madness, either in atmosphere or execution.

But it's a new mindset in Boulder.  There's a passionate fanbase desperate to see CU basketball anoint the coming of a new season the same way other programs around the nation do. Over the past few months there has been a concerted effort by the fans, particularly on twitter (lead by friends of the blog @CUGoose, @jgisland, and @TZiskBuff), to get a more high profile kickstart to fall practices.  Even the players have been eager to talk about it.  It's fun for them too, afterall.
They also make for convenient times to raise banners... hint, hint.
The visions of a true Midnight Madness event at the CEC are powerful, and I'd be eager to see what sort of antics the team can get up to when pumping up the C-Unit.  The plan as I've heard it would be to hold the event the evening of Friday, October 12th (not actually at midnight).  It would coincide nicely with a home football weekend, as the Buffs host ASU the previous evening (the Great American Beer Festival also takes place that weekend), hopefully making it easier for a larger portion of Buff Nation to fit it into their schedule. 

It's not a slam-dunk decision to get the ball rolling, however.  Coach Boyle has been asked repeatedly about the concept, and always has the same answer.  He loves the idea, and wants to see it happen at Colorado, but just wants to make sure the event is well attended.  The caution is understandable, no one wants to spend countless hours and thousands of dollars creating the event just for the team to run out of the tunnel in front of 2,500 people.  While the support for the event has, so far, been extensive, it's not yet to the level that Coach Boyle would be comfortable giving it his go-ahead.
Coach Boyle just wants to make sure this thing lives up to the high standard he's setting on the court.
That's where we, the fans, come in.  The movement behind #CUMidnightMadness needs more from BuffNation.  As Goose pointed out on AllBuffs, you've got to be proactive in letting the athletic department know that there's a solid foundation of supporters willing to make this event happen properly.  Call or email Mike Bohn, vote in this poll, and tweet with the hashtag #CUMidnightMadness.  Make it known that you're dedicated to making the BasketBuffs a legitimate basketball power, and understand that holding a Midnight Madness event is an important step in that process.


2012 Sacramento State Preview: Hitting the restart button

At least once a year the football world is treated to a FCS/1-AA school surprising one of the BCS giants on their own field.  We saw only one last week (Youngstown St over Pitt by 14 points), and almost witnessed a few more (Maryland barely squeaked by William and Mary 7-6, and Northern Iowa almost shocked Wisconsin, for example).  It's happened to almost every FBS school over the years, with CU famously being party to it on a couple of occasions.

Sacramento State pulled their own David vs Goliath parable last season when they sneaked past Oregon State in the Beaver's 2011 season opener 29-28.  The final overtime possession looked like this:

It's up to the BCS heavy-weights to take these games seriously.  Some FCS teams are more than happy to collect their check and move on, but others live for the opportunity to grab the upset and see their highlights on SportsCenter.  There's no reason a FBS school with a full compliment of 85 scholarships should ever lose to a FCS school, but it does happen.  Hopefully the CSU loss provides more than enough motivation for the Buffs to prepare to beat the team in front of them, rather than look ahead to the road trip to Fresno St.


On Saturday, the Buffs return to beautiful Folsom Field for the first time in 2012.  I can wait to see the old girl in her sun-splashed gameday best once again.
No stadium finer in all the land.
Kickoff with Sacramento State is set for 1pm.  Television coverage can be found on the Pac-12 Network (if you get it).  Radio coverage, with the dulcet tones of Mark Johnson, can be found on 850 KOA.

Click below for the preview...

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Further vivisection in the wake of the RMS

CU is always supposed to beat CSU in football.  Year-in-year-out, no exceptions.  That is just a baseline program expectation.  So, when the odd year rolls by that little brother does turn the tables on the State's flagship (thankfully, only three times in the past decade), the fanbase gets a little shaken.  Case-in-point: the ridiculous post on AllBuffs highlighted by SBNation (using the word "takeover" is hardly ever appropriate).

But, yes, in the wake of the loss, plenty of blame is bound to be thrown around.  Offensive Coordinator Eric Bieniemy and O-Line coach Steve Marshall tried to take much of it in light of the poor showing from the run game.  That showing Saturday, which saw only 58 running yards created on 29 carries (a paltry 2 yards per attempt) is the kind that gets coaches fired, especially when the staff has repeatedly communicated a desire to play a ground-heavy style of offense.  I highly doubt the axe is coming in early September (although ask the Houston OC how that thinking goes), but it's obvious that the run game needs to turn around in a hurry.
Tony Jones found scant running room Saturday.  Complete failure by everyone involved.  From: the BDC
Beyond the run game, however, there are a few additional nits on my radar that seem worthy of picking.

QB Jordan Webb apparently suffered a hip pointer late in the first half, leaving him with pain and a visible limp after the game.  Over the final 30 minutes, the transfer starter from Kansas only completed 7 of his 18 pass attempts, getting sacked twice, and throwing an interception that was only overturned because of a roughing the passer penalty.  The injury (as well as the O-Line's inability to give him time) seemed to have an effect on his play, a fact Coach Embree admitted as much during his weekly presser.  Still, Wood stayed in the game up to the final whistle.
Webb was visibly slowed in the second half Saturday.  Where were the backups?  From: The BDC
The backup tandem of Connor Wood and Nick Hirschman (with Wood the anointed backup) must be completely off the radar if an injured QB, completely under siege behind a bumbling offensive line, is still the best option with the game on the line.  Would the final drives of the season opener against a rabid opponent be a difficult time to go to the backup?  Sure, but sometimes a situation dictates an uncomfortable choice.

Additionally, Saturday saw the introduction of a no-huddle offense.  Communication and read/recognition was, by the team's own admission, a major problem as a result of the new style.  Hey it's the first real game with the new system, but it's eye-raising to hear that the team was struggling with basic concepts like identifying the "Mike" linebacker, considering that the style had been installed since spring ball.  If it's not better, faster this Saturday against Sacramento State, I'll be really concerned.
No one was happy with the results, least of all Coach Embree.
Speaking of the Sac St game, it can't come fast enough.  The bad taste of the CSU loss needs to be expunged, and that can only come through another 60 minutes of play.  The keyword will be improvement, and there had better be lots of it.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Tuesday Grab Bag: 66 days until basketball season

While the Buffs were repeatedly shooting themselves in the collective foot Saturday afternoon, I was at a wedding, desperately trying to listen to streamed coverage through a discretely placed earpiece. The bride was literally walking down the aisle as the the crux of the 4th quarter was underway.  Vows, prayers, pronouncements, first kisses were all accompanied by a soundtrack of Buff failure.

Needless to say, once the reception started, I began to hit to booze... hard.  It took me the better part of the weekend to recover.  After recovery, both from the pain of the loss, and the pain in my head from the hangover, one fact continues to dominate my thoughts: basketball season starts in 66 days.


Today in the post-holiday bag I'll be discussing the loss, where Buff Nation goes from here, some positive notes to help back everyone off the ledge, and stories from the rest of the football-playing world.

Click below for the bag...