First off, thanks to all of you who came to the SBNation Denver meet up last night at the Blake Street Tavern. Buff fans along with Rockies fans dominated the showing so thank you for supporting the site. We met many of you frequent readers of the site so it was good to put a face to a name.
Remember, Wednesday night new head coach Tad Boyle will be at the Blake Street Tavern to meet and talk to the fans. So if you missed your chance to take in the new Blake Street Tavern, Wednesday would be a good time to check it out.
The Ralphie Report Previews the upcoming Buffs' football season on BCS Evolution.
Seven starters are back on a defense that hasn’t been special and hasn’t been good against the more talented offenses, but overall has been decent considering the pinball machine numbers the Big 12 attacks have put up over the last few seasons. The Big 12 North isn’t going to be all that strong with the No. 3 spot there for the taking behind Nebraska and Missouri, and Colorado needs to rise up and grab it. Hawkins has the experience and the urgency, but there’s a question whether or not he has the talented team to overcome the brutal schedule. Yes, Dan Hawkins really is a good football coach, but that won’t matter if he doesn’t win this year.
Alec Burks and Cory Higgins, Colorado: These two Buffaloes are on the draft radar, but they've got to produce for Tad Boyle like they did for Jeff Bzdelik. Winning would help raise their profile. Keep an eye on these two sleepers.
According to Lindy’s 2010 College Football Preview magazine, a CU freshman to watch is defensive end Chidera Uzo-Diribe. In fact, Lindy’s picked the 6-foot-4, 225-pounder from Corona, Calif., as the Big 12’s "Top Sleeper" among the league’s newcomers. Uzo-Diribe had concentrated on basketball until going out for football as a junior in high school. Last fall he recorded 7 ½ sacks. "He’s still really raw on football technique," Lindy’s wrote, "but the Colorado signee is blessed with athletic tools that few players have."
But the response from media-rights consultants to Pac-10 expansion has ranged from lukewarm to chilly. "On a per-school basis, it's not a massive increase," said AJ Maestas, president of Navigate Sports and Entertainment Marketing, "but there's a net benefit to adding Utah and Colorado." Maestas projects the league's per-school revenue to jump from $8 million-$9 million to $13 million-$14 million based on the new TV deals and a football championship game. But a significant portion of that increase, he said, comes from "an inflation accelerator and catching up to their fair market price." (The league, which has a $43 million annual deal with Fox Sports Net, has been undervalued for years.) How much of the new revenue is a direct result of adding Colorado and Utah, which bring the Denver and Salt Lake City television markets, respectively? "Gaining Colorado is absolutely meaningless for TV purposes," said a consultant who has negotiated TV deals for college conferences. "And gaining Utah is close to meaningless." His reasoning: Because neither school has a large national following, ESPN and FSN won't have any reason to bid more than they would for the 10-team league.
"We're going to try and hang our hat on defense and rebounding," Boyle said, noting that statistics in both categories need to climb not only from last season but from those CU managed in the preceding years. Improvement, he added, "is not going to come from any one player . . . it's got to be a group effort, a commitment by the program.
Making the case for Solder: Don't let the shortcomings of Colorado's banged-up offensive line last season distract you from Solder's play. He's talented, experienced, and as you learned last Friday, works just as hard off the field as he does on it. Add that up, and you get the best offensive lineman in the Big 12 and perhaps the country's best at the offensive line's most valuable position, left tackle. The next time you see the Buffaloes play, take a series off and just watch Solder work. He'll deliver. A former tight end, his 6-foot-8, 305 pound frame is limber and quick yet powerful. He'll begin the season on more than a couple All-American lists, and look for him to stay on them in the postseason. That includes this list, too.
There's another option, one proposal (by yours truly) on the Mercury News' college sports blog: The "Zipper Plan." Instead of a North-South separation, you'd split the natural rivals: Cal and Stanford would be in different divisions, for instance — but with the assurance that all the ancient rivalries (The Big Game, Civil War, Apple Cup, etc.) would take place every year. Basically, we're talking about something like this:
# Washington State, Oregon, Stanford, USC, Arizona State and Colorado in one division.
# Washington, Oregon State, Cal, UCLA, Arizona and Utah in the other.
Every team would play its five division opponents, plus its natural rival and three of the remaining five teams from the other division (on a rotating basis). The Zipper Plan preserves two important California rivalries: the sister schools, UCLA and Cal, would be paired together, as would the private schools, Stanford and USC, which collided for the first time in 1905. The Zipper also allows Cal-USC and Stanford-UCLA to meet three years out of every five.
The seemingly everlasting battle between Cody Hawkins and Hansen for the starting quarterback job will rage on into fall camp as the Buffs prepare for a critical 2010 season. The program is desperate for some on-field success as CU prepares to make the move from the Big 12 to the Pac-10, perhaps as early as the 2011 season. "We`ve talked about maybe being the last Big 12 winners and being the first Pac-12 winners," Hansen said. "That would be kind of cool."
When Nate Solder came to Colorado, he could hang clean about 250 pounds. "My goal for freshman year was to get somewhere around 300," said the Buffaloes left tackle. Heading into his senior year, Solder can hang clean a ripe 470 pounds, 45 more than any of his teammates. His power clean -- lifting a bar from the floor versus snapping it from a dead lift in the hang clean -- also leads at 415 pounds. Both are sure to grow with another season between him and the NFL.
I expect that Colorado will add sports within a couple of years in the Pac-10, perhaps two women’s sports and one men’s sport. Presently, CU has the minimum number of sports (16) required of a Division I program, and six of those involve many of the same athletes.
7. RODNEY STEWART, COLORADO Stewart was one of the only brightspots for CU last year. Once touted back Darrell Scott quit the team, Stewart got the job for good. The 5-foot-6 scat back had five 100-yard games, but the Buffs don’t stand a chance if he has more games like he did against Missouri: 10 carries, three yards.
8. Dan Hawkins in Colorado. There is no doubt that Dan got a break last year because of the economic downturn in this country. But Colorado is a very liberal school and maybe doesn’t care as much about their football program as they let on. So the question is… …Should your university’s coach be fired if he doesn’t reach a certain number of wins this season?
12. Colorado Total commitments: 3 ESPNU150 members: None
Never was he better at that than at CU. He still holds school records for career sacks — 35 for 242 yards in losses — and career tackles for loss — 59 for 303. By the time his college career ended, Williams was a two-time Big Eight defensive player of the year, a two-time All-American and a Butkus Award winner.