Covering University of Colorado sports, mostly basketball, since 2010

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Tuesday Grab Bag: The State of the CU Athletic Department

The news broke last night: the great Pat Summitt had passed.  A titan of the college basketball world, Summitt owned the women's game for nearly four full decades, heading the Lady Vols of Tennessee through 8 national titles, 16 conference crowns, and well over 1,000 wins (at an 84% clip).  Really, the only head coach who can hold a candle to her success is UCLA's John Wooden, but Summitt coached longer, endured against more persistent competition, and ultimately won more (though Wooden did leave a bunch of years on the table). In that vein, there is a very credible argument to be made that Summitt, not Wooden, is the sport's greatest coach.  Oh, and did I mention that she graduated everyone and ran a clean program?

It's with all that in mind that the entire basketball world mourns the loss of a legend; RIP.


Today in the bag, I'm talking the Rick George roundtable, some recruiting news that has BuffNation all abuzz, and soccer notes from both the Copa and the Euros.

Click below for the bag...

Rick George lays out future plans - 

Shortly after the annual Casotti Classic up in Greeley, Athletic Director Rick George sat with reporters to discuss the State of the Athletic Department.  Name-checking a number of topics, the highlights include:

  • The average GPA for all Buffs is at its highest level ever; APR remains a non-issue.
  • The 'Drive for 105' is nearly complete, with all but $10 million of the goal already collected; facility naming rights still out there to be leveraged.
  • The department's budget remains balanced.
  • Talks with CSU about renewing the Rocky Mountain Showdown past 2020 are, apparently, still a thing, with a home-and home around 2023-24 possibly being targeted.  If something is scheduled, it won't include games in Denver.
  • His goal for football is simply to make a bowl game - something the department desperately needs to help generate revenue.
  • Folsom and Coors will be getting some rails along the aisles to ease traffic flow, and Coors may be getting a center video scoreboard in 12 to 24 months.
  • Folsom will get a sound system upgrade next year.
  • CU re-upped with Nike for $30 million over 10 years.

Of course, the thing that got the most press was the teaser on the series with CSU.  Since I feel that the dead horse of that 'rivalry' has already been beaten enough, I will only say that I'm at least happy that Denver is being cut out of these negotiations.  College football belongs on campus, and not in soul-less, corporatized aluminum monstrosities (I will never again pay money to go to a RMS at Mile High).  I would still rather be done with the series, but it is what it is.

This is, undoubtedly, the result of a change in tone from up north.  With Jack Graham banished to the world of politics, relations with little brother have magically warmed. Combine that with their need to fill that new stadium of theirs, and it makes sense that they'd come back to chasing us for some welfare/scheduling assistance.  Why Rick George would comply.... my guess is as good as yours (possibly pressure from the Colorado legislature... it's happened before), but I digress.
At least Denver is out of the picture...
From a 'I only really care about basketball' perspective, the idea of a center scoreboard at the Keg is a dream come true.  What with the sound system upgrades already in place on the south side of campus, if they can get that scoreboard up over the next few years, Coors will finally be a complete facility worthy of the program it houses.  Staying with Nike also helps here, as recruiting is often tied to such things, and prospective switches to either Adidas or Under Armor would've helped in a few notable cases, but hurt overall.  Also, CU's uniforms will continue to not suck/look like a homeless man's acid trip, which is a plus.

Overall, nothing too relevatory from Rick (we need a slick nickname for the man -- hit me up with suggestions), but welcome notes, nonetheless.  I could've done without more CSU talk, but I got Nebraska twice over the coming decade, so I can't really complain.  Rick was open to the idea, however, of moving other games (possibly even that NU series) to Denver, which worries me.  Future games against former BigXII rivals belong in Folsom, which should be the message from the fan base.

Buffs continuing to simmer on recruiting trail - 

OK, so maybe The Rise is real.  What started in April with the commitments of big-time wide receiver recruits Jaylon Jackson and Laviska Shenault has only continued into summer.  Over the past few weeks, Colorado Football has continued to make splash after splash on the recruiting trail, landing respectable recruits on a seemingly daily basis to the point that even I, the great recruiting denier, have been forced to notice.

Since June 14th, the program has earned the commitments of seven players - all from the traditional recruiting pipeline states of California, Colorado, and Texas - with more reportedly on the way. These aren't scrubs, either.  Five of the seven are rated as three-star recruits on Rivals, and six claimed at least one other Power 5 offer.  The #Rumblings have been nearly constant from the tireless recruiting staff, with Darrin Chiaverini leading a dramatic charge.  As a result of the run, Colorado has found their way to the top-40 of the Rivals rankings, sitting fourth in the Pac-12.  While there are certainly plenty of months to go before signing day, and I will be the first to caution against any sweeping statements about the whims of 17-year olds, that's impact recruiting.
Big time recruits, like Lytle, are changing the recruiting narrative in Boulder.  From: AllBuffs.
Of the seven most recent commits, the 'biggest names' are RB Alex Fontenot (TX), QB Tyler Lytle (CA), DB Chris Miller (TX), and WR Maurice Bell (CA).  All have pledged to CU over heavy interest from football luminaries, and their profiles are worth perusal, especially those for Lytle and Bell. Those are some serious offer lists, and it's clear that the Buffs are starting to win some battles against teams they hope to one day beat on the field.  With Bell, in addition to Jackson and Shenault, Colorado now boasts one of the best wide-out classes in all of college football.  Lytle better warm up that throwing arm, 'cause he's going to need it at the Foot of the Flatirons...

My only question at this point: with all the recruiting wins going down this month, what the hell went wrong with the pitch to Davis Webb?

US tumbles out of Copa; Messi takes his ball home; England nose-dives out of Euros - 

A quick trip around the world of international footy...

Your worries were justified, the US just didn't have enough in the tank to hang with Argentina.  In their Copa America Centenario semifinal against the South American giant last week, the Americans looked meek, lost, and streets behind against some of the world's best.  It didn't help maters that they ran out a starting lineup that included clearly sub-par talents like Chris Wondolowski, rather than young guns like Darlington Nagbe or Christian Pulisic, but Argentina pushed them around throughout a 4-0 romp, with superstar Lionel Messi looking superhuman.  His curling freekick goal, scored midway through the opening half, not only ended the competitive portion of the game, but served notice that the USMNT was playing in a higher league they simply weren't ready for. Overall, the team shouldn't hang its head after a respectable push for fourth place in a major tournament, but it's clear that a wide talent and execution gap remains between America and the world's elite.
I mean... what can you do against that?

For Messi's sake, however, his run for a final, triumphant stand as a tournament winner was cut short against Chile in the resulting championship game.  For the second time in as many years, the Chilean team clipped the Argentines in penalty kicks, with Messi himself missing a key kick with the weight of the world on his shoulders.  Sure, the game was marred by suspect refereeing, but it's yet another example of the great Messi, backed by a respectable cadre of lieutenants, coming up short at the highest levels of the international game.  In response, the dynamic soccer wonder, just 29 years old and still at the top of his game, quit the Argentina National Team all together, stunning much of the world along the way.

Across the pond, the Euros hit the knockout stages, which meant England quickly started looking for the Brexits.  In typical English fashion, the country that berthed the sport succumbed to nerves and self-loathing in a 2-1 loss to the tiny nation of Iceland, leading the local Iceland announcer to lose his shit on live television.  This wasn't a fluke, either.  Iceland deserved to win that game, with England looking cowed and generally out of ideas for the full 90 minutes.  As a result, Iceland (which is very nice, not covered in ice) moves on to face the hosts, France, who remain a heavy favorite to win the whole thing.

Happy Tuesday!

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