Nebraska Week - CUBuffs.com
Oh Bill McCartney, how we miss you dearly. I think this is the first time these players have been told to hit someone in the mouth:
Sophomore quarterback Tyler Hansen said McCartney, CU's winningest football coach (93-55-5, 1982-94), received a standing ovation from the team and staff at the conclusion of his talk. "He was awesome," Hansen said. "(Sunday) was the first time I'd ever heard him talk or met him . . . he really got us fired up." Since he retired, McCartney has not been a stranger to addressing CU teams; he's done it for every coach that followed him -- Rick Neuheisel, Gary Barnett and now Dan Hawkins. The thrust of McCartney's message on Sunday, said Hansen, was that physical play is a must if CU is to defeat Nebraska on Friday afternoon at Folsom Field (1:30 p.m., ABC). "His underlying message was, 'Go out and hit them in the mouth,'" Hansen said. "He told us, 'Those guys are good . . . but don't be afraid to go hit them in the mouth.'"
Hawkins mentor Bob Foster said he normally doesn’t read newspaper coverage, but that his wife was in town over the weekend, and she wanted to get a paper and a cup of coffee. He read coverage of CU’s 31-28 loss Thursday at Oklahoma State. It prompted Foster to share some opinions. "A lot of people think everything’s based on ... whether you win or lose," Foster said. "See, I don’t buy that. A lot of the press feels that way, but I don’t buy that. "I think it’s a process. This team reminds me of my first year when I was in college. And we won one game that year, and we had a lot of freshman and sophomores, and we were young — but we were good guys. We were guys that worked hard. It reminds me of this team. We never gave up. We played hard every game, no matter what was going on. And then, two years later, we were playing for a championship. "That’s what this team is like. I see a lot of similarities. Anybody can be (of) good character and be good players and be positive when we’re winning. The real test of character is when things are tough, like they were this year. "These guys have never stopped trying and working and playing and giving their best, and that’s going to pay off in the future."
Everyone strives. But can everyone grab the ring — even if it's a Champs Sports Bowl ring — every season without falling into a four-year abyss? Many Buffs fans say they should. Their voices are getting louder. "We've never done that (gone to a bowl game every year) in our history," said Bohn, a graduate of Boulder High School who then played at Kansas. "However, certainly our goal is to be consistently in the top half of the Big 12 Conference and periodically challenge for not only, obviously, the Northern Division championship but a conference championship from time to time. "But look at our history." From 1967-76, Colorado played in seven bowl games in 10 years and finished in the top 20 six times. From 1988-2005, the Buffs made a bowl all but three times in 18 years and finished in the top 20 10 times.
"I'll be honest with you, one of the reasons Colorado is here is because of him. He has a great reputation and so much respect around the country," Maui Invitational tournament chairman Dave Odom said during an interview with the Camera. "When the field was being aligned, one of the things when the University of Colorado's name came up was that they have a great coach there now, one who is reputable and does it the right way. He's highly respected from a tactical standpoint, and it's a good time to get them in here." Ironically, Bzdelik's young team must prove that it belongs in the field -- which also includes Arizona, Cincinnati, Maryland, Vanderbilt and Wisconsin -- without him on the bench.
Jeff Bzdelik was one of the first college coaches in the country to discover Matt Bouldin. "I knew of him when I was at Air Force because he lives right by my house," Bzdelik said Sunday before leaving the tournament later that day to see to his ill mother in Chicago. But after being named Colorado's high school player of the year as a junior and senior at ThunderRidge, Bouldin decided to leave the state and play for Gonzaga. "He knew he'd have to get a haircut if he came to Air Force, so he wasn't going to come there. I say that laughingly," Bzdelik said. "I think he's a terrific player and I just wish him well. He's a cagey, smart player who just finds a way to win."
Having been requested for a post-practice interview, Colorado sophomore guard Ryan Miller smiled Sunday as a reporter approached. "Suh, right?" Miller said. Miller figures to face the biggest challenge of his college career Friday when he lines up against Nebraska senior defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh (pronounced En-dom-ah-ken Soo), a 6-foot-4, 300-pounder who is a candidate for the Lombardi, Nagurski and Outland awards and undoubtedly will be a high first-round pick in the NFL draft next spring. "The guy is a complete football player," Miller said. "He's a big, strong guy that uses his hands extremely well. If you use good technique against him, he's still a heck of an athlete and will give you a challenge. But if you don't have good technique, you're going to have a long, long day."
Job approval ratings change in a matter of days or weeks for coaches in major college and professional sports. This week`s Colorado and Nebraska football game provides a look at how much sentiment can change around programs in two years. At the end of the Buffs` 65-51 triumph over the Cornhuskers at Folsom Field two years ago, Colorado coach Dan Hawkins trotted to midfield to shake hands with former Nebraska coach Bill Callahan, who was under heavy fire from Nebraska fans for running a foundering program. The Cornhuskers had just missed a bowl game for the second time in four seasons under Callahan. The coach who came to Lincoln, Neb., after taking the Oakland Raiders to the Super Bowl had produced a winning record, but it was just 27-22 over four seasons and some of those losses included lopsided embarrassments.
In 2006, as time ran out on Nebraska's Big 12 North-clinching victory over Texas A&M, fireworks lit the sky over Memorial Stadium as if winning the division were a monumental accomplishment. The hoopla was a reflection of how far Nebraska's program had slipped. After all, Nebraska fans once measured success in conference championships, not division titles. Bob Devaney, Tom Osborne and Frank Solich won championships. Bill Callahan did not, though he was rewarded for a 2006 division title with a new contract, only to be fired after the 2007 season. Pelini told his players after Saturday's game that they had not reached their ceiling.
STATISTICALLY SPEAKING They say you can throw out the statistics when the Huskers and Buffs clash in their annual post-Thanksgiving duel. CU might prefer to just erase the stats and never see them again. It ranks 108th or lower in six of 17 major categories tracked by the NCAA — rushing offense (113), total offense (108), net punting (113), punt returns (117), passing efficiency (111) and sacks allowed (117). Colorado's average ranking in the 17 categories is 82.6. Nebraska, with no triple-digit rankings, averages 42.3.
MORE HIGGINS & BURKS: Cory Higgins' 70 points through three games is the highest by any CU player through the first three since the formation of the Big 12. The previous high was David Harrison with 67 in 2002-03. Alec Burks' 54 points is the highest by a CU freshman in the Big 12 era and the most since Chauncey Billups opened his career with 64 points through his first three games in 1995-96 #Big 8#. The previous high in the Big 12 era was 53 for Richard Roby in 2004-05.