Covering University of Colorado sports, mostly basketball, since 2010

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Tuesday Grab Bag: It's May! (and other thoughts)

As of today, both the Chicago Cubs and the Chicago White Sox stand alone atop the heaps of their respective leagues.  A month into the season, this has become reason enough for many to start asking "what happens if they both make the World Series?"  This has happened before, of course, as the 1906 World Series was an entirely intra-city affair (for more information, check this really cool book).  But, 110-years on, could the 'City of Broad Shoulders' finally be in for a rematch?

Simply, no, this is a ridiculous notion.  My Sox, while certainly better than anticipated pre-season, still have a number of fatal flaws on their roster, and seem destined for a handful of rough patches between now and the end of the season.  As for the Cubs... well, they're the Cubs, and have the entirety of the sports' history against them even making it to the final weeks of October, let alone winning the damn thing.

But, just what would happen if the improbable happened?  Well, I think there's a 25% chance that the whole town burns to the ground (again).  I'm not kidding, between the celebratory riots of the victors, the remorseful riots of the vanquished, and the now-normal levels of violence already taxing an overmatched (and miss-applied) police force, I think an intra-city Series would be just enough to spark a second great fire.  The City isn't ready for what a Sox-Cubs World Series would mean, and the leadership isn't competent enough to put together a workable plan to mitigate the coming disaster.

So, for the sake of the city that I love, I hope to God one or both of the Cubs and Sox spike it over the summer.


Today in the bag, I'm talking the NFL Draft, the Fulmer Cup, and the unproven connection between twitter and the burgeoning college basketball transfer market.

Click below for the bag...

The Buffs and the NFL Draft - 

This past week, the NFL Draft came and went in Chicago, and nary a Buff heard their named called. Not a tremendous surprise, all things considered, but still a shame for hopefuls with obvious professional skill-sets, like Stephane Nembot and Nelson Spruce.  They deserved a selection, even if the various GMs around the league were too busy keeping their heads in the sand.

Of course, as is tradition, free agent calls went out the second the Draft ended, including a number to #ForeverBuffs.  All told, safety Jered Bell, corner Ken Crawley, lineman Stephane Nembot, tailback Christian Powell, and wideout Nelson Spruce received invites from at least one team, and will continue to play out their professional dreams this summer and fall in NFL Camps. Respectively, they will be joining the 49ers, Saints, Ravens, Steelers, and Rams.  Congrats to the five!

Nembot and Spruce, as the two considered to be the most draftable, are the two who are projected to get the strongest looks.  I'm particularly intrigued by Nelson and his new home in Lost Angeles.  The Rams drafted former Cal QB Jared Goff #1 overall, and will be looking to get him all the targets he can find.  A sure-catching safety blanket, like Spruce, seems to be in the best position possible to stick on a roster looking to build around a flashy star under center.  Nembot is probably more of a long-term project in Baltimore, but still has the physical gifts to stick around after initial looks.  I could also see Crawley see some extended time in the various camps between now and opening day, assuming, of course, that he takes to special teams.  Regardless, it'll be interesting to track everyone's progress as we get deep into training camp around the league.

Colorado solidifies place atop the Fulmer Cup standings - 

For those of you who don't know, the Fulmer Cup is a thing that exists in the lexicon of college football fandom.  A dishonorary award for offseason criminality, it tracks the arrests and criminal charges filed against student athletes running afoul of the law in the interstitial months between the end of bowl season and the start of the next campaign.  A topic of much chagrin and ironic merriment, in that most peculiar of internet fashions, the Cup is the brainchild of of Every Day Should Be Saturday, and is generally something you don't want your school associated with.

Unfortunately, while incapable of climbing the rankings in real world college football, our beloved Buffaloes are off and running away with the Fulmer Cup for 2016.  Most of the points are the result of the Nathaniel Robbins situation, which resulted in 15 criminal counts, but the Buffs have added on in recent weeks thanks to the arrests of NJ Falo and Dino Gordon on suspicion of burglary, drug possession, and trespassing.  All told, Colorado is now up to 68 points, and, barring something weird, will take home the 'trophy' when the competition halts in a few months.

Despite appearances, I don't bring this up to make light of the athletes and their various circumstances.  These are serious incidents, and an overall serious problem for Mike MacIntyre and staff.  Image has always been an issue for football in Boulder, and its certainly not a good pose to strike for a consistently losing program to continually find themselves in the newspapers for all the wrong reasons.  That's not to say that I believe that Mac is running a loose program, however.  He wasted no time in dismissing Robbins from the program, or in suspending Falo and Gordon indefinitely, and seems to be quick on the trigger for doling out disciplinary punishment for those willing to give the team a black eye in newsprint.  Still, the point remains, with little goodwill to lean on, these situations only further the implication that MacIntyre needs to do something, anything positive on the field if he wants to continue as head coach after this coming season.  With the Buffs struggling on the field and off, only a serious does of winning will keep the status quo into 2017.

Twitter and Transfers; cause and effect? - 

I'm happy to say I follow CBS's Jon Rothstein on twitter.  I know a lot of people find issue with the national college basketball writer, but he's a great source for quick updates from around the country, especially as it comes to scheduling and recruiting news.  So what if he occasionally comes in with a 'BREAKING NEWS' announcement two weeks after it actually broke, at least he's trying, right?

One pet topic of his that I do take issue with, however, is Jon's insistence that the proliferation of transfers around college basketball is a problem to be dealt with.  To my eyes, it's just the nature of the modern game, with a confluence of realities forming what essentially is a revolving free agent market of talent every spring.  I continue to have no problem with kids moving to a new program whenever they want, as, after all, it's their life.  Rothstein, on the other hand, who is close with a number of coaches who would rather not have to deal with the headache of malleable rosters, takes a dim view of the practice, and would rather everyone just stay put.

To that end, he went off the deep end a little bit this week, somehow coming up with a link between the ever growing list of transfers with the rise and growth of twitter and social media.  Offering no evidence, even anecdotal, that some transferred players have seen spikes in their online mentions, he draws a line between fans tossing around the names of transfer-eligible talent (thereby feeding their egos) and their eventual movement to another program (Nevermind the ravenous, ego-driven coaches, eager to gobble up whatever talent may present itself on the open market...).  This wasn't a hedged thought or proposed theory, either.  He presented it as a declarative statement of fact.  What's worse, he concludes by blaming the players for being attention-hogs, never once considering that some players may have very good reasons, indeed, for leaving.

Look, I don't mind new ideas, or new ways of looking at things.  Free speech is a gift, and Rothstein is in a fortunate position to use his in a very powerful way.  I just think he massively misses the mark here, eagerly siding with his friends in the coaching world who are just as greedy, just as wantonly ego-driven.  Transfers are not a zero-sum game, and there are never winners or losers.  I just wish those in a position to comment were more willing to think about things like a student athlete from time to time.

Happy Tuesday!

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