Monday, December 12, 2011

CSU's Homerun Hire Raises Questions About McElwain

Just a few years ago, Jim McElwain was one of the hottest coaching candidates in the country. Makes you question, why Colorado State?
By G The Producer (Mile High Sports)

I have to give credit where credit is due. Jim McElwain is a great hire for the Colorado State Rams and their Booster/Athletic Director Guy.

However, it raises some questions, doesn't it? Just a few years ago McElwain was one of the hottest candidates in the country, and today agrees to become the Rams Head Coach. There is a lot to question about the attractiveness of the job, a bad team in a difficult place to recruit, far away from his current position in Alabama, and to a conference that has simply fallen apart at the seems.

Just over a year ago McElwain was reported to have been a finalist for the Colorado Head Coaching Position, and at one time, even a favorite. Eventually losing out to Jon Embree, McElwain returned to Alabama where his team is headed to the National Championship.

McElwain was hired at 'Bama, after a stint as the Offensive Coordinator at Fresno State, and as early as this morning, many thought he would be hired to take over the Bulldogs. He was hired from Fresno after a one year trial as the QB's coach with the Oakland Raiders.

What went under reported was that McElwain reportedly accepted and then turned down the Head Coaching position at Memphis last week.

Three years ago McElwain was associated with many Head Coach openings around the country.

Even this season there was mutual interest between Texas A&M and even UCLA. And with no ties to the area, the conference, or the University, Colorado State lands the Offensive Coordinator at perhaps the best Football School over the past 3-4 year span.

His challenges: Where is he going to recruit? No offense, but the top SEC Region Prep Stars are not interested in Ft. Collins, Colorado. They've probably never even heard of it.

So will his focus be recruiting the West Coast? He only spent one year with the Raiders, and one with Fresno State. Before that McElwain spent years at Michigan State, Louisville, Montana State, and Eastern Washington.

Memphis would have made sense, Fresno would have made sense. But Colorado State?

Where he will succeed: Give credit to Mr. Booster Director Man. The fact that he can associate himself with the Alabama Crimson Tide will alone make him a recruiting threat in Colorado's region.

The answer: Money?

The question: Where did this money come from Colorado State?

The truth: With no ties to the conference, city, state, school, etc... It is interesting to ponder. He has never stayed in a place for longer than 4 years, does he have the ability and experience to rebuild a program that's ceiling isn't that high to begin with?

Will he use Colorado State as a leap frog to a better job?

Can he coach? Short of a Hesiman Trophy Running Back's season, Alabama's offense hasn't exactly been known for lighting up scoreboards.

So the sum up this conundrum, how does a coach, in three years, go from one of the top candidates in the country... to Ft. Collins, Colorado?

Well I guess we know who all of CSU's 14,000 fans will be rooting for in this years BCS National Title Game.

Roll 'Rams?

Thursday, December 8, 2011

If Things Go Wright This Weekend

A signature recruit can be just as big, if not bigger, than a signature win.
By G The Producer (Mile High Sports/Buff Chips)

This weekend is big for Coach Embo and Company. In all honesty, his staff has done what you expected they might do following a 3-10 season. Perhaps for some, they have exceeded expectations.

During the season the Buffs hosted less than one dozen recruits. The reason for that is up for debate. What makes it interesting is that they exceeded that number of official visitors in one weekend, as Embo and his staff hosted 13 prep-stars in Boulder.

Some excitement has grown around some of the names, most of all, the number of stars associated with their recruitment.

The Buffs received their first 4-star commitment back in May from El Cajon, CA gunslinger Shane Dillon. While many conspiracy theorists have wrapped their heads in tinfoil in an attempt to prove why, Dillon lost his 4th star following a #7 finish at Nike’s Elite-11 Quarterback camp.

As I sit and type this on the eve of December 8th, Colorado sits with no commitments having stars next to their name higher than 3. However, perhaps the first one to creep onto CU’s commitment list is tucked away in bed (as it’s almost 1:00am on the east coast), preparing to take his official visit to Colorado.

If things go right, things will go Wright.

As I said before, a signature commitment is just as big as a signature win. Some say a coach needs that elusive signature win to become a real contender in recruiting. That’s just a load of CSU-RAMS if I’ve ever heard it.

The way recruiting has gone nationally, these kids (particularly the top players in the country) grow very close during the camping and then recruiting periods.

Jon Embree doesn’t need a signature win to turn heads in recruiting on the football field. He needs a signature win in December.

Let’s put it this way… It’s like the old middle school dances. Everyone is looking around at each, in fear of being the first pimple-faced dork to light up the dance floor. And isn’t it always the popular kid who goes first. Then everyone follows. (okay, you caught me, I’m an excellent dancer)

If Embree can get that first kid onto the dance floor, some of these other big names are sure make their way to the beat.

There is much debate on New Jersey Cornerback Yuri Wright, who was a member of the New Jersey State Title Team this season, and much-debated National Runner-Up. The debate? has Wright at a 4-star rating, as the 3rd best corner in the country, and 57th overall recruit. has him as a 4-star and #5 corner in the country. 247 sports has him as a 5-star and the best cornerback in the nation.

Where there is no argument. This kid is a player, as he was recently named the U.S. Army All-American game.

Arguably the best Cornerback in the nation is headed to Boulder, Colorado tomorrow, where he visited unofficially last spring, and reportedly fell in love.

Will things go Wright?

If you ask a Michigan fan, no. He’s in the bag. As he is also apparently in the bag at Notre Dame. The only true ties this young man has, is to players and coaches at The University of Colorado. Landing a commitment from Yuri Wright is the signature win that Embo needs.

Look for Yuri out on the dance floor, and watch what happens. You’ll see some more heavy-starred prep stars make their way to the dance floor.

And who knows… Maybe they’ll “dougie.” And we’ll all join in.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Tonight on Buffalo Chips Radio: 12-7

Join Host Reed Marks along with CU Buffs Hoops Insiders Scooter Mack and Jimmy Wood for Buffalo Chips Radio, presented by

Tonight's guest is Senior Forward Austin Dufault.
Dufault is from Killdeer, N.D.

Career: Seventh in starts (95) • 20th in minutes played (2,464) • Tied for 34th in games played (100) • 46th in rebounding (370) • Tied for 63rd in scoring (678 pts.).

Tune in at 10pm MST on Mile High Sports, AM150/FM93.7 or streaming live on

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Does CSU Have The Pride To Make The Right Hire?

By G The Producer (Mile High Sports Radio)
Does CSU have enough pride in themselves to make the right hire? Initial indications say no.

As discussed last Wednesday on Buffalo Chips, is now being "first" reported by Chris Dempsey for the Denver Post reported that former Colorado, Northwestern, Colorado again, then Black-Listed Coach Gary Barnett is interested in the Colorado State job.

It would be a step in the right direction for the Rams, a Coach with a proven track record on the field, taking less than top talent and turning it into something presentable (see Northwestern to the Rose Bowl).

But does CSU have the pride to make the hire? Indications say, "not a shot in hell!"

Why do I say it like that?

A booster walked into an Athletics Department... sounds like the beginning to a really bad joke. But when it ends, "walked out with the job as Athletics Director," it turns out it's not a bad joke at all. It's actually a HILARIOUS one!

CSU and The DP can spin it anyway they want, Jack Graham did not get the job as CSU's AD by being a former CSU Quarterback... he got it by being a booster.

Pride? None. Not even Phil Knight was given the keys like Graham was, and we've heard of Phil Knight and he can also crush Jack Graham with his wallet.

Don't kill the messenger, but you can't tell me there was any pride from the administration when you hear, "a booster walks into the AD's office... and walks out with his job."

A short list brings up the idea of reaching back out to Louis "Sonny" Lubick. Pride again folks... There was a reason he was fired in the first place. The rest of the reported "short list" for the Rams is less than exciting. Tony Alford is reportedly on the list...

"What's that?"

"Who is Tony Alford?!

Come on!..

You know, Tony... he's a... uhh...

Hold on, let me check..."

My research indicates he is a former CSU assistant coach, currently the Wide Receivers Coach at Notre Dame. Yes! Man, that was difficult. I searched for him on Wikipedia and the search that came back said, "Who the f*** is Tony Alford?"

Hasn't CSU taken this road before (bringing back a former Assistant Coach)? At least they had the fortitude to hire a former assistant who was failing in the NFL with Steve Fairchild... Now one failing as a Position Coach in the Independent sector of the NCAA?

Get real Rams, you're not an attractive destination for anything remotely close to PROVEN.

But when it's reported that Gary Barnett is interested in living in your Cow Town, and coaching your monstrosity in which you call a football team... You remove your hands from that udder, sprint out of that stable, find a phone and hire him before Buff Chips... err, Chris Dempsey has time to spill it on to the airwaves... err, internet.

Does he come with baggage? Yes.

Is there going to be backlash from the media (as one of my confidants and CSU alums recently told me). No.

Don't believe me, take a look at Washington State. Not even Craig James was given the chance to spill his diarrhea-mouth concoction of media spin on ESPN. Why? Washington State is irrelevant for one, and no one cares number two.

The media, ie-ESPN, requires that you be relevant for them to report about it. The truth of the matter is, Gary Barnett will make you relevant. He has done it before. He will do it again.

Let me put into these terms... There is one game per year, played in an NFL stadium (most of the time) that shapes the entire year, does it not? Wouldn't you like a Coach with the proven track record, who is motivated to get another shot (most likely his last shot) at Coaching, and especially one who has an axe to grind in that game?

The Rocky Mountain Showdown is emotional enough for the Rams (I would know, I'm the youngest of 4 boys in my family. I know what it feels like to be the little brother. The difference is, I now own the BCS around the Thanksgiving Tables if you know what I mean... where was I?).. but to add a Coach who will work 365 days a year on figuring out how to beat his former employer?

If you have any gull, any pride at all... You will jump on hiring Gary Barnett, a coach notorious for taking less and making more... Well, that and EPIC parties! A coach who has been to the pinnacle as an Assistant Coach, and to the cusp as a Head Coach.

Want to take a shot at CU-Boulder, Mr. Booster-AD Guy?

Hire Gary Barnett.

Gary Barnett... A tender touch

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Embree, Buffs Must Take Advantage of Narrow Window

Buffs have a unique opportunity to gain ground in the Pac-12, but must act fast to avoid same fate as the previous regime.
By G The Producer (Mile High Sports); 11:04:42am: October 1, 2011

The same landscape is forming... the one similar to the kind that allowed Coach Mac to bring CU to College Football Glory.

Many attribute the Buffs turnaround in the 80-90's to Texas and Oklahoma (and the rest of the Big 8) experiencing down years due to turnover.

The stars are aligning as Coach Embree et al are going to have the chance to take advantage of a "rebuilding" Pac-12 Conference. The difference? The window to capitalize is small. Embree and the Buffs must find a way to win, and win now. Win in the classroom, win in the weightroom, win in recruiting, and win on the field.
Rich-Rod is coming to town. His name and reputation precedes itself. However, you can't question his unique scheme and record won't speak for itself in recruiting. Rodriguez is known for his efficiency with a unique variation of the spread offense. Did he fail at Michigan? Sure... As a head coach. As an offensive coordinator? No. Rodriguez never had a chance at Michigan, he was an unpopular hire form the start, and in the end it was his failings to hire an adequate defensive coordinator and his lack of being a "Michigan Man," that did him in.

It's only a matter of time before Rich-Rod has the guys in place to light up the scoreboard on the West Coast. But for now, their recruiting class is in turmoil, with the prospects they have still committed looking elsewhere. Arizona is left with only one "solid verbal" from a 4-star recruit. His failures at Michigan will have some turnover, but in the end it will give him credibility.

Turn-over Prediction: 2 years
Arizona State
No one yet knows who leads the campaign to pick up the pieces from this season's shipwreck led by Dennis Erickson. But whoever it is, shouldn't have a problem keeping the ship afloat in Tempe. Recruiting pitch? (See picture).

The new head coach in Tempe has undoubtedly just inherited the best available job in the Pac-12. Recruiting will become important, but the coach will be poised to win immediately. How come? The Sun Devils were on the fast track to the Pac-12 Title Game, and an epic rematch with Oregon. But James Cameron could not have depicted a ship sinking like this... (What? No Titanic references? Too Soon? My apologies)

The difference? All 6'8" of QB Brock Osweiler. Is there any question that this kid is destined to play on Sundays? He's only a Sophomore. The new staff will have one, maybe two more years. And a QB alone is worth 4-5 extra wins at the College Level.

Turn-Over Prediction: Win next year, then 2 years of rebuilding.

Have you ever seen a team with such talent, year in and year out, and deliver such mediocre results? It begs the question to how much time Jeff Tedford has left in Berkeley. They currently sit with only 8 verbal commitments as of today.

Whether it's Tedford or a new coach, they are sure to get a new infusion of prestige. Their academic standing speaks for itself, but couple it with a brand new bazillion-dollar facility and reconstruction of their stadium, they will take a giant leap in the arms race.

While Cal isn't in need of rebuilding, they will stay on course as an above average program for a few years, Tedford hasn't shown the ability to do anything different.

Turnover Prediction: 2 years with Tedford, 3-4 with a new coach.
Oregon Ducks
Enough said.

TurnoverDownfall Prediction: Don't hold your breath

Oregon State

The problem for the Beavers is that they are too enamored by competing with their in-state rival Oregon. The truth is, that for now, that's a lost cause.

But it looks like Mike Riley might actually survive this horrible season. Which is good news for the Buffs and the rest of the "Pac." In my opinion this is a place that has a lot to offer, but for whatever reason has not had the success to build the excitement around the program to become a contender. CU Football of the Northwest?

Turnover Prediction: 4 years
Stanford Cardinals

The architect of this turnaround has taken his talents to San Fran (my apologies to Lebron). The next step? A once in a life-time QB Talent will be playing on Sunday's next year. A combination of those two factors, plus a total lack of support for athletics by the local community, Stanford should start looking more like Stanford any time now.

Prediction: Stanford is good at reading and math and stuff. Football, ehh?

More soon...