Friday, November 7, 2014

Colorado Buffaloes Football: Reasons to Not Give Up Hope...

There have been many ways I have been approaching my thoughts on the Colorado Buffaloes football team.  The season has been disappointing with regard to their record, their opening season loss to CSU and going winless in their first 6 conference games.  Many fans see little hope for the rest of the 2014 season and feel like the Buffaloes will most likely have their first winless conference season ever.

There are the typical rumblings you get when your team doesn't meet expectations of:
  • Firing the coach or coaches: "This isn't the right coach... A better coach needs to be brought in...", "Our (insert assistants name or position coached) needs to be fired if MacIntyre wants to keep his job."
  • Of being in the wrong conference: "We shoulda never left the Big XII...", "We should have joined Nebraska in the Big 1G, that's our style of football...", "Let's just move down to the Mountain West so at least we can be a big dog in a little conference..."
  • Of recruiting: "This guy just doesn't have it, he can't get the top guys...", "How are we supposed to win with a bunch of nobody's...", "He can't sell this program..."
  • The Quarterback; the coaches are playing favoritism to (name position); play more young guys; redshirt young guys
  • And etc., etc., etc.
Every single program that doesn't meet the expectations of their fans, themselves and/or the media hears these rumblings.  Even the top teams in the country have something that people bitch about.  The bitching is vast and is about nearly everything when you are a program whose history is rich in a tradition of winning, bowl games and success but have fallen on a stretch of losing and hard times.  This can be said for many programs, but I am going to put my focus along the lines of the Colorado Buffaloes Football program and the problems CU football faces and reasons for hope as well.  And thus I start with the problems the Buffs are facing and try to shed some light on those that talk bad about them but call themselves fans.

Problem 1: Greatest Expectations-Some "fans" will only focus on the fact you won a national championship.  The fail to see that it was in a much different college football landscape with much different bowl format and conference alignments.  Since the BCS format was adopted in 1998, there has only been one season that Colorado Football has challenged for a national championship, let alone a BCS level bowl (now College Football Playoff).  The Buffs have been ranked in the final AP/Coaches poll twice since the 1996 season.  The Buffs will have gone 12 years without being ranked at the end of the season and other than a short stint in the lower Top 25, the Buffs haven't been ranked since Gary Barnett's last years

Problem 2: Re-Writing History-Colorado finished first or second in a conference that was dominated by Nebraska the last seven years of the Big XIII Conference.  What fans fail to acknowledge is that other than Oklahoma, there was no challenge in 4 conference games.  After moving to the Big XII, the Buffs success quickly dipped and they have struggled to get the easy conference wins and instead have became the doormat of the conference.  Even when they were winning the North Divisions, they weren't amongst the Top 4 teams in the Big XII South.  The Pac 12 move has done nothing in regards to success or changing the bottom feeders CU had become.

Problem 3: Recruiting Landscape Has Changed-The Buffs were a big fish in a small pond in the late 80s and early 90s and could recruit California and Texas like they were an in-state school.  They have struggled since their best recruiting group left... shortly after 1994!  It's been 20 years since the Buffs could take who they wanted from those states.
There are a few reasons; the first being the more local teams like Texas and Oklahoma became dominate teams in the late 1990s through the late 2000s.  For California; until the last few seasons, the Buffs had been trying to pull kids into a program where their families wouldn't see them playing in their home state but once every four years in a non-conference game and teams like Oregon, Stanford, UCLA, USC and Arizona State have all had Top 25 programs and sustainable success since the Buffs were brought into the Pac 12.

Problem 4: Out-of-State and local youth-A 17/18 year-old senior was 4 or 5 years old when the Buffs played for a conference championship game.  The last time they played in a bowl game they were still in elementary school. So now, even though the Buffs play in California regularly, and where they should get most of higher end recruits, the battle is that kid chooses between staying closer to home and being part of a winning tradition they have grown-up rooting for or going out east where they are told it's cold and being part of a team that hasn't made a bowl game for 7 years and haven't had a winning season in 9.  Watching the youth grow up, they wear the hats and jerseys and tie themselves to teams with success that they have seen growing up.  The most influential years of fandom seems to be between 8-15 and by then you tie yourself to a program.  A reason I am a Kentucky basketball fan is watching them play Duke in 1992.  The reason I am a Buff fan is I was 8 when they went to Orange Bowl.   People tie themselves to what they grow up watching and rooting for.    So a ton of high schoolers are fans of SEC teams or teams like Oregon. Unless their parents love Colorado football, most kids these days didn't grow up watching and rooting for Buffs football but for the teams that were the games of the week or where Game Day frequents and I don't remember the last time it was here for Buffs football.

Problem 5: Ignoring the mountain to climb-It took Bill McCartney 3 years to take a team that had fallen on its face during the 3 year Fairbanks debacle.  The mountain for Mike MacIntyre and staff is far greater.
Looking at BCS level coaches alone, it took Art Briles and two 4-8 seasons before a 7-6 season and then Top 15 success in Year 4.  He also did this with a Heisman trophy winner.  David Cutcliffe plays in a lower tiered conference in the ACC, but still a Power 5 conference and he battled through 5 losing seasons before turning the Blue Devils into a Top 25 program.
Bill Snyder took a few years to turn an awful Kansas State program into a contender TWICE!
Stanford is the best comparison to CU and the mountain ahead.  Willingham's run was similar to the Rick Neuheisel/Barnett.  Stanford then had seven consecutive losing seasons with Jim Harbaugh first two years being the end of that cycle.  In Harbaugh's third year, they finished a solid but pedestrian 8-5 but in Year 4 of Harbaugh they won the Orange Bowl and finished 4th in the AP & Coaches Polls.

Success comes immediately for a new coach when he can work with phenomenal athletes and the best recruits.  Remember Rick Neuheisel?  Success takes time and changing things around when you are completely rebuilding.  Colorado Football has been set back years by a coach that tore down a foundation that was strong but needed building on in the joke of Dan Hawkins.  Then tried to replace that dumpster fire of the Hawkins Era with a group of under qualified coaches coming back to coach the school they love in Jon Embree and company.  I have a lot of respect for Embree and believe that had he taken over for Barnett he may have seen more success and seen a third year because he would have had better talent to work with and more to sell. 

Colorado football has been trying to sell being the group that turns the ship around.  We are like Columbus headed to India but instead of landing on the amazing continent of North America, we keep ending up on deserted island after deserted island with nothing to live off.

Why Should I Have Hope?

Great question.  If you are a true die-hard fan, you have hope every year.  It's part of being a fan.  But, the hope I speak of is what die-hard fans and the angry, question things from the beginning fan want, a winning program that goes to bowl games and challenges for conference titles.  Those are the expectations when you are amongst the 25 Winning Programs in NCAA Football History.  Those are the expectations when any fan over the age of 30 can remember watching the Buffs a national title and anyone over 25 can remember Colorado beating Nebraska 62-36 and then following it up with a Big XII Conference Championship.

Here are the reasons why I see hope for Colorado Football:
Hope Reason 1: Rick George and Getting Into the Arms Race-Rick George hasn't messed around since taking over in July 2013.  Rather than just talk up a stadium expansion that had been mumbled about, he immediately got the wheels rolling and by December 2013 had a concept and plan formulated.  He had already started collecting donations for the Sustainable Excellence Initiative but needed to raise a great deal of the 1/3 total required prior to start of construction by May 2014.  Rick George delivered and in around four months after ground was first broke, the seating was put in for the first major phase of the project.  Rick George doesn't mess around.  He has added Beer Gardens to the game day atmosphere, improved the stadium's food quality by switching to Levy Restaurants and after a debacle of being understaffed for the Hawaii game, food lines have been short and quick.   The facilities may not be on Oregon level, but they are very competitive and at least will be middle of the road in the Pac 12 rather than being amongst the bottom tier of the entire Power 5 conferences.

Hope Reason 2: Pac 12 conference is our best fit-While some old-school guys won't agree, the fact is CU is meant to play in the Pac 12.  Their largest alumni out-of-state alumni base is from California.  This is the area where Colorado has constantly pulled their best recruits.  Colorado is a tourist destination spot like many areas of the Pac 12 schools are.  Texas, Oklahoma, Nebraska and Iowa will not be mistaken for tourist hot spots for other than hunters and agriculture lovers.  The main reason is money.  The MWC doesn't have 25% of the cash the Pac 12 can offer and the Big XII is offering about 60% of the Pac 12 money to its schools outside of Texas and Oklahoma.  The Big 1G is too far away and the talent pull is not there.  The travel costs are a little higher for other programs outside of football, but the key is football needs to maximize its profit and can start doing that once they are successful.

Hope Reason 3: Local Youth Repping the Buffs-There are still a great deal of under 18 age kids that I see at Buffs games and that I see wearing Colorado apparel.  Every time I see someone under 18 wearing Colorado gear instead of some other college, I feel a little better and feel that there is still hope.  Unfortunately, I see a lot of Green and Gold coming out of the woodworks for the first time in many years due to their success and am sure some local youth will attach to that.  Also, I will add that there is an actual student section revival with Folsom Frenzy.  It is exciting to see some Buffs students take the time to get the fandom back like the students did with C-Unit and CU Buffs Basketball.

Hope Reason 4: CSU is good again-No matter how much I hate the Rams, the fact is when both CSU and CU are successful at the same time, college football matters and there is more of a buzz.  If Colorado State has a Top 25 season then next years Rocky Mountain Showdown with 2 games under both the Buffs and Rams belt, the game will have a buzz that was completely dormant.  The Rams winning 2 of the past 3 also means more buzz.

Hope Reason 5: Recruiting in Pac-12 Country-First, I want to point out that Colorado got 4 of the Top 10 kids in-state in 2014, a fifth that was Top 15 and then another Top 15 guy that walked-on for Colorado.  So, Colorado got six of  the Top 15 recruits locally.  The Buffs have 3 commits from the Top 7 and have addressed their biggest weakness by taking the great talent this state produces along the offensive line, even adding a transfer from a national runner-up Auburn in Shane Callahan.

The Buffs have 13 commits for the 2015 recruiting class, even with a 2-7 record.  They are at least offering guys that may be out of their reach and still battling.  They are recruiting California well and then hitting up other hot beds in Utah and Arizona.  They are making every effort to get the best recruits, but they have to get guys that want to buy-in to THIS team, to THIS program and the work it takes.  The Colorado NFL pipeline is an old well that saw great returns in the late 80s and 90s, had some solid returns in the early 2000s but has had very limited production since then.  There is work to be done, but the most success you have in recruiting is when your team improves in Win-Loss.

Hope Reason 6: Improvements Shown-This is the main reason to hold hope for the Buffs.  While the Win-Loss is not better than last year, the improvement in games.  Yes, there are holes and miscues and a WTF just happened play or series of plays like seems all too common in the Buffs 3rd quarter meltdowns, but the Buffs are putting up yards and they are putting up points.  They have improved slightly on defense, but their weakness is in pass rush so often their corners are put on an island and their secondary has been pretty solid this season.  The large gash runs and short screen passes, rather than the deep ball, have been the culprit of the majority of the big plays given up.  The average margin of defeat in-conference has improved from 23.9 points to 9.4 points this year and improved their output from 20.3 points to 33.2 in the Pac 12.  The Buffs offense is outgaining its conference opponent 500 to 490 yards a game after being outgained by nearly 200 yards last year 332 to 532.  That is a huge stride offensively.  There is actual hope in the 4th quarter and unlike the past three years when there was no hope in games, CU is closer to 5-4 or even 6-3 than their 2-7 record indicates.

Hope Reason 7: Mike MacIntyre has been here before-As I pointed out with great coaches like Harbaugh, McCartney, Cutcliffe and Art Briles; Rome wasn't built in a day and neither is a complete rebuilding of a down program.  It can be done.  A near extinct San Jose State Football Program was brought back to life by Mike MacIntyre and was the springboard to his hiring at CU.  MacIntyre needs the time it takes.  There will be heat turned on if improvement doesn't lead to a few more wins.  I don't know what that number is, I am not Rick George but it has to be in the range to 5-7 wins I would assume with more improvements shown. 

Hope Reason 8: Talent is better-Even though the recruiting numbers are similar to years past, there is speed and playmakers at many positions.  Most notably WR.  In a pass heavy conference and system, the amount of depth at WR is impressive.  Couple that with a large recruiting number of lineman in the last two years and as long as the Buffs improve in QB play, the offense is going to keep putting up points.  With development on defense and some size at LB, hopefully that spells wins.

So yes, there are plenty of problems and items that need resolved before the Buffs return to a Top 25 program, but there is reason for hope that the Buffs faithful may not have to wait another decade. What does it all mean for 2015?  I don't know!  I can't predict how much better the Buffs will be in 2015 because I am biased and believe 8 wins is within reach.  But there are things we see that can't be ignored.  Even though the record doesn't indicate it, I would take the 2014 Buffs over the 2013 Buffs.  The conference has improved since 2013 and the Buffs are more competitive in it.  I will take that and I will be patient for at least another 12 months.  Shoulder to Shoulder...

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Denver's Sports Radio: Bring in the Young Guns/Needed Shake-Ups...

If you have gone through my previous rants blogs about Denver Sports Radio, you will see one thing, I guess I don't respect my elders any longer.  Many of these men have had years and years of great Denver Sports talk, but many of them are years and years beyond their time.  Their hours on-air are because they still have long-time sponsors to help keep them out of where they should be, enjoying retirement.  I point to Gil Whiteley, Irv Brown and Joe Williams whom consume 3 hours of Denver Sports Radio on Mile High Sports Radio from the 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. timeframe.  These men should help a young guy that deserves to host a show and brings more to the table by telling their long-time sponsors that they should stick around with a guy that takes over their time slot. But who are the guys that could settle in to take over for these legends of Denver Sports Radio?

Mile High Sports has done an excellent job of developing young talent.  One of the best young guns in Denver, Nate Kreckman, cut his teeth producing for The Press Box show before Mark Kiszla ruined it and it was manned by Jim Armstrong and Tim Neverett.  He then teamed up to make radio magic with Joel Klatt and since then went to ESPN and once Joel left Denver, Nate has become the best in Denver sports radio.  There are other guys that deserve their shot like Kreckman got and they are:

1. Chad Brown-Brown is amongst the best guys in Denver for sports talk and is only a segment filler.  He deserves a show and deserves hours on radio, not just minutes.  His knowledge on pro football is unmatched in this market.  While he is not a Young Gun, he has not been doing radio much and needs more air time!!!

2. Joshua Dover-Dover started as a producer and honestly, I knew from the second he started to interact on-air with the likes of Danny Williams and Cello Romano, he was more than just the glue that held a show together but was a quarter-inch fillet weld that was stronger than the metal he worked with.  Or you could call him the nails that held wood together but that sounds a little homo-erotic and this blog doesn't need to go there.  Dover makes every show he produces better.  He makes every show he has hosted or filled-in take that next step.  Dover took the third spot in the booth for Denver Sports Nation and helped take that show from a weekend show to a nightly 8-10 p.m. show.  Unfortunately due to sponsorship dollars, Denver Sports Nation hasn't been on-air for the past month and a half.  Dover brings a strong work ethic from attending practices, pressers and other events and doing the leg work necessary to get it done in this business.  Dover brings a basketball knowledge that really is missing in today's Denver market that is filled with talking heads without a lot of sports IQ.

3. Benjamin Allbright-Allbright is co-hosts with Mario Vetanze on Level Up.  Vetanze is near the level Allbright is on this list but Allbright brings a lot of football knowledge to the table from studying tape.  His QBR Rankings are very impressive and while my initial interaction with him was an argument over the legitimacy of Tim Tebow not being in the NFL (I believe he is as good as many back-ups), I have a great affinity for his work.  He has a smooth voice that is perfect as a guest, but would be great as a nightly co-host or even host.  In a football crazy town he is someone you want on the dial.  Allbright is fairly new to the sports radio scene but has become someone you have to notice with his work ethic.

4. Matt McChesney-McChesney has a very effective training/teaching method that has helped make his business, Six Zero Strength, a great training center for the young high school to professional athlete.  McChesney brings a no bullshit approach to the table and while it may rub some people the wrong way, it is honesty I enjoy.  Matt brings a long-time local football knowledge with NFL background.  He can talk anything from prep football to NFL football.  Like Allbright, that matters in Denver.

4b. Tom Nalen-Like Brown, Nalen is older than the rest of this group but he counts as a guy that deserves a shot again.  He had finally started making that transition into a VERY good radio guy when ESPN didn't step up to the plate and keep him with Kreckman on the Locker Room.  Nalen brings humor and football knowledge.

4c. Mario Vettanze-Mario hosts Level Up already on the weekends.  He got his start by buying a segment with Danny & Cello on Morning Mayhem.  He is entertaining.  He can talk about any subject and talks a lot of football and basketball.  He has helped Allbright take that next step from just a guest to a host.  Mario is entertaining and a cut from the same cloth as Danny Williams, but better looking.

Honorable Mentions
Benjamin Hochman-Hochman has been cutting his teeth for years and had his own show a couple times.  It's time to give him more radio time by putting him full-time on either The Press Box or with Nate Kreckman.

Reed Marks and Zack Fogg-Bring back the damn Honey Bear and Reed Marks.  They were late night gold together and were not meant for the mornings.

James Gomez-He was quality on his own on weekends.  Interacted well with producer when he needed some filler.  He should be prominently featured as why The Fan Late Night is good!

Andrew Fogoros-He was great morning radio with his longtime best friend, McChesney when he was the Morning Edge.  Unfortunately, things just didn't work out in the afternoon when they took their voice to Colorado Springs.  Fogoros is all over the map and that's what you want in the mornings.  The Edge was about a million times better than what I get in the morning from 6-7 a.m. on Mile High Sports.  His show is meant for the morning and needs to come back.

Adam Kinney-He finds his way in most media pictures during interviews because he doesn't rest.  He is a great host with Joshua Dover on Denver Sports Nation.  He has good takes and knowledge from the ground work he does.  He lacks a hip hop knowledge which ruins his Hinkley alum and basketball cred though.

Will Petersen-I enjoy him when he is on with boss, James Merilatt, and Josh Pennock.  They should all have more radio time and take away from some of the less talented groups.

Chris Dempsey-Football, basketball, college.  He has covered these all for the Denver Post in some fashion. I enjoy him when he fills in and does the weekend shows

There is a long list of guys that should be brought on during their respective sports seasons for more than just a segment, but given a show that changes based off the barometer of that team.  Guys that don't get enough air time but would be great to hear more during the teams they cover seasons:
David Martin ( - Martin is not paid by the Rockies or the Post so he doesn't have to kiss their ass like so many of the other media guys.  His voice is honest and knowledgeable.  I have enjoyed every segment with him because I learn a lot about a team I hate to love.  While the Rockies rank far below my long beloved Broncos, Buffs and Nuggets, the Rockies are the guilty pleasure that I like to learn about and Martin helps me get some insight I miss on my own.

Nate Timmons, Andrew Feinstein and Jeff Morton-All of these guys are an interesting read and voice when they speak Nuggets.  I have followed the Nuggets as long as I have the Broncos and these guys help me catch up on what I missed during the football season with the Nuggets.  I will turn them on early in the season so I don't have to watch 82 games and bore myself to death.  These guys, along with Dover and Adam Kinney

I am not sure.  Denver radio has not given the Avalanche much talk.  Mark Moser was a phenomenal host before he took over the radio play by play/color/everything role for the Avalanche.  I guess I will go with him since I am still awaiting a blogger to demand some air time and my reading/listening time.  Challenge laid out.

So how do these guys get more time?  First, as I illustrated to begin with, the guys over retirement age need to go.  Then, there needs to be some shake-ups to make this happen.  Here are my suggestions:

Mile High Sports (94.1 FM/1550 AM 96.9 FM Boulder)
5:30-7:00 A.M.: Bring back The Morning Edge with Fogoros and McChesney
7:00-9:00 A.M.: The Apprentice and The Mentor with Joshua Dover and Eric Goodman
9:00-11:00 A.M.: The Press Box w/o Mark Kiszla but with Benjamin Hochman and/or Chris Dempsey along with Brandon Krisztal and Oren Lomena
11:00 A.M.-2:00 P.M.: Spano, Petersen and Pennock-Spano is a bad impersonation of Sandy Clough on his own but I enjoy him with these guys
2:00 P.M.-4:00 P.M.: Denver Sports Nation- Pay Dover to do double duty
4-6 P.M.: Danny and Cello
6-8 P.M.: Renaud Notaro: He has good guest hosts and deserves a longer running show.  Have him team up with the revolving sports guys mentioned above
8-10 P.M.: Level Up w/ Mario and Allbright
10-Midnight: Honey Bear and Reed Marks w/ Krissi Bex

The Fan (104.3 FM)
6:00-9:00 A.M.: Vic and Gary w/ Nate Lundy (I won't quit asking for it
9 A.M.-Noon: Evans and Sandy Clough.  Bring back good radio!  Clough is an ass on his own and needs one guy to fill dead air.  He is crowded in the booth being a 3rd wheel.
12-3:00 P.M.-Scott Hastings w/ Big Al and D-Mac: This is not a drive time show.  Drive time radio is supposed to have knowledge and pizzazz.  There is only pizzazz with these clowns.  Big Al has became lazy as a radio guy and needs Hastings to kick his ass in gear.
3-6 P.M.: Chad Brown and Nate Kreckman
6-8 P.M.: Cecil Lammey w/ Tom Nalen
8-10 P.M.: Fan Late Night w/ Gomez and Drotar

ESPN (102.3 FM)
Quit questioning our intelligence.  You pay two radio guys full-time for a Denver Sports station.  Let them go to stations that matter and just go national.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Calling out Mile High Sports! Where are you?!

Mile High Sports has been on the 94.1 FM frequency for the better part of seven months.  The initial signal was so bad you couldn't drive anywhere without static.  As a long-time listener and caller, I (and many others) have given Mile High Sports the benefit of the doubt.  Well, that honeymoon period has come to a close.  It's time to pick apart this issue and get something to happen.

While the signal is better than its inception, the fact is, it's still shit.  Here are some of the main issues:
  • 94.1 Mile High Sports often becomes 95.7 The Party on 94.1.  While I appreciate getting caught up with the modern hip-hop/pop music once in a while, I prefer to make that choice myself.
  • Signal is spotty: I may get the signal for a few blocks and then can't hear over the static just down the street.  There are patches like this ALL over the Denver metro and suburb area with this station.
  • Denver based station should be heard in Denver: I have "TRIED" to listen to the station from Lincoln Avenue to Highway 7 and from Wheat Ridge to DIA (and many places past these areas).  It doesn't matter whether I am in Reunion/Commerce City, going down Monaco, driving through Broomfield, I deal with static and having to switch the station.  For many other Denver Sports Radio listeners I know this is an issue for them as well.  This is not an issue with any other station I listen to. 
  • It's Broke, Actually Fix It!!!: I have heard sporadically that they are trying to improve the frequency.  Other than the first month when it went from horrendous to crap, I haven't noticed much improvements.
  • Have Issues? Let us know: Mile High Sports on-air staff is very friendly with the Twitter-verse and giving their listeners a voice. Unfortunately, anytime anyone brings up this issue, the President of Mile High Sports, James Merilatt completely ignores it and doesn't comment on it.  I have seen some of his own on-air people get chastised for even discussing the signal's issues.  Man-up and say we have a problem and when it is completely out or not working, put the information on your website and twitter page. 
I am an avid Mile High Sports radio listener.  However, with these issues and with their giving more talented hosts the boot (see Joshua Dover, Adam Kinney, Matt McChesney, Andrew Fogoros and Reed Marks as for instance), I have been looking around to frequencies that are dependable.  Hell, I get a Fort Collins based 105.5 FM clearly everywhere in Denver.  Additionally, there are some hosts that don't do their homework  and rather than give informative opinion, they just talk non-sense.  Do some research, like two of the best in keeping with modern thing in Dover and Kinney, or I can just turn on two idiots like D-Mac and Big Al to go brain dead with bad opinions.

But I digress, this is about fixing the biggest issue, 94.1 Mile High Sports station's signal and  Denver's best live and local sports station.  A station that brought people like me to MHS and away from ESPN Radio single man crews and 104.3 The Fans hours of crowded booths and repeat radio.  Truly listen to your listeners Mr. Merilatt and fix the signal.  Otherwise, sports podcasters and other stations will take away mine and many others listening time.

(Note: Mile High Sports is offered on the AM dial of 1550 and when I really enjoy a topic, I will just flip over to that, but why should we have to in Denver?!  Additionally, this signal has issues of its own in areas around town.)

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Time to Stand Shoulder to Shoulder BUFFS FANS and say Thanks!!!

2014 came with the typical hope for our Colorado Buffaloes football team.  It started out with a nightmare when CSU decided to take the ball the last quarter and a half and run the ball down the Buffs throat.  Hope was lost for many.  After a disastrous start to the UMass game and eeking out a victory, many believed the Buffs would get rolled by Arizona State and Hawaii may be our loan chance at 2 wins.

Funny thing is, after a disastrous start against Arizona State in a losing effort, some belief, hope and faithfulness was brought back in the CORE of the Buffs fan base.  Buff fans saw a team that played a Top 25 program head to head the rest of that game.  The effort put a scare in a Sun Devil team that would have beat the Buffs of the past into the ground and hung 45+ points and beat the Buffs by 30+ points.
After a ho-hum second half against Hawaii, again doubt crept in again.  But, after a game the Buffs completely outplayed CAL in a heartbreaking 2 OT Loss and then the multiple officiating bullshit non-calls that cost the Buffs a victory against Oregon State, the Buffs faithful seem to finally be standing SHOULDER to SHOULDER again.

In consecutive weeks, we have seen heart breaking narrow defeat.  The last time the Buffs had not lost by more than a score in consecutive weeks in conference play was 2010.  In the Pac 12, we hadn’t seen such effort and opportunities in games.  While Oregon State and Cal are the lower end of the conference, the simple fact is, even those teams often whooped up on the Buffs as evident by a 7-6 Oregon State team in 2013 and a non-qualifying Utah team controlling most of the game last year.n

Ufortunately 2014s second half gauntlet is upon the Buffs after this mid-season Bye Week.  But instead of running away from it, the Buffs seem disappointed they have to wait a week to take on who’s next.  This isn’t your decimated, down trodden 1-11 2012 Buffaloes that other than a last hurrah seemed like they just wanted the season over.  To read what these guys are saying, no wonder MacIntyre is pissed and chased down the refs.  They are fed up with getting disrespected, doubted and treated like shit by some of the “fan base”, the local media and at the university.  This is a team that’s close to that next step.

I am not old enough to see the years it took Bill McCartney to turn around the program (born in 1981) but I saw the success and have heard and read plenty.  Recalling history, I look at McCartney’s 3rd season in 1984 where they Buff went 1-10 to the 2014 team led by Mike MacIntyre.  They took a step back record wise, but they started to come together as a group and get the guys and the mentality in that McCartney needed to compete.

That group believed they were going to be great.  This group believes it.  You can see the frustration, hear the frustration and feel the frustration when your coach has taken enough of the disrespect and getting so close he goes to bat for his guys and EARNS a $10,000 fine that I am sure the more wealthy FANS/boosters were happy to pay.  This is a team that isn’t lying down.  They have 6 games, they have HOPE and FAITH that they are going to be the TEAM that turns things around.

While the 2014 Buffs odds are stacked greatly against them making a bowl game, you can believe that they are going to fight the rest of the season to take that leap in 2015 to a bowl team that strikes fear into opponents.  I have hope and belief they will get another win or two or maybe more, but even if they don’t I will stand shoulder to shoulder with this program like I have seen many of you finally start to do again, because we believe in this team.  We love this team, we love this program and we love the fire that our coach and team are showing in 2014.

So instead of a "thankless job", some hack journalist like Mark "He Who Shall Not Be Named" says has affected him, I say and many of us say Thank You Mike MacIntyre for taking on this job and doing the things to show that all of OUR Buffs football team is improving.  Thanks to Tad Boyle for going out of his way to show support and effort to the program after taking over the "thankless job" that was Colorado Basketball.  Thank you to Rick George for having the vision and balls to do what it took to build an expansion to Folsom that will put the Buffs on a level playing field with MOST of the Pac 12 in football and other athletics by getting the support in such a short time.  Thank you for listening to our complaints and rectifying them.  The amount of things that get resolved within a week or two (concessions, beer gardens, etc.) have been worth a hand shake, man hug and clap at the least.  Thank you to the young men that we cheer for and are proud to see join the fraternity of Buffs players.  The effort it takes to play in a power conference college football program is unmatched by any sport or level.  The effort to do so on a program that has had a losing culture and needed a complete reconstruct is even greater, but you persevere and fight to see the Buffs roam again.

I am proud to be a Buff fan and instead of being curious if we will see MacIntyre to the end of this contract before he is fired, I am more worried that in a couple seasons we will have to fight his hometown SEC boys from trying to pry him away from us after bowl games in 2015 and 2016.  Great work, keep it going.  Many of us hope, believe and have faith that the Buffs will return to the success of years past much sooner with the efforts you have all put in.  Shoulder to Shoulder we will fight for the Buffs like you have for this program.  THANK YOU ALL AND GO BUFFS!!!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Why the Rockies Faith Is Misdirected...

As any Rockies fan or observer already knows, Dick and Charlie Monfort are Christians. They clearly displayed this in a USA Today-Rockies article in late May 2006 and have displayed this with many other articles and opinion pieces (just Google Colorado Rockies Faith), discussions and biggest of all Faith Day.  The way they evaluate talent isn't based solely on a players ability to contribute on the field but with a big emphasis on character that is high in integrity and strong moral values.  In addition the Monforts have not made any real changes (making Bill Geivett the assistant general manager is not a change) for fear of negatively impacting the culture of the Rockies as big mouth, little knowledge Dick Monfort relays in every interview he has done.  The Rockies do things their way and believe that this path is best.

Unfortunately, the Monforts actions have countered their religious background and culture stance and the "fans" they "steal" money from display some of the same conflicts in their faith and organization's culture.  Charlie Monfort has had multiple run-ins with driving under the influence and battling alcoholism that has destroyed many aspects of his life from his first wife's passing that has been linked to alcoholism and a stint in the hospital from a drunken fall.  Charlie has exhibited an inability to keep from making a jack ass of himself including getting into a heated argument near the end of the 2013 season with Denver Sports columnist (and fellow ass hat), Mark Kiszla. 

Unfortunately, Charlie and Dick's idea to build a lavish double decker party deck only enhances this culture amongst the "fan" base of the Rockies.  Instead of attending games to enjoy the baseball game, the Rockies have taken advantage of the culture they've helped to create by making Coors Field a hook-up zone or pre/post LoDo bar/club meet-up spot.  Instead of focusing on improving the game experience by making changes to have better talent and baseball structure for the true baseball fan, they've focused on the fans they need to meet their bottom line of making a profit; the ones that will buy multiple drinks, food and look forward to the bobble head or T-Shirt giveaways (even when they mis-spell their own players names in Tulowi(t)zki and Aren(a)do.  The party deck has stayed busy and got the Monforts what they want and need, profit.  I have spoken and read many accounts of people getting lost in the enjoyment of the party deck and missing 90% of the game.  Intoxication is prevalent at any sporting event for whatever reason, the Rockies game sees more complete intoxication and lack of care of the product on the field. 

The Rockies Monforts have benefited from one great run in late 2007 and Denver and local businesses improving the atmosphere around Coors Field.  The attendance figures in the Rockies from 2008 to current have been over 32,000 per game and 2.63 million yearly attendance which has ranked amongst the Top 13 or higher every year.  These figures are with an average record of 76.7 Wins and 85.3 Losses which rank amongst the lowest 10 teams in MLB during the past six years.  This doesn't include the Rockies most likely reaching the two million fan mark tonight and no later than tomorrow evening and during a weekend they recognize the greatest Rockie of all time in Todd Helton.  Their attendance figure will most likely be 2.1 million and change after Sunday.

Yet, even after this 4-game homestand and if they have the lowest figures and quickest decline in Coors Field history, with 20 games left, the Rockies will eclipse the 2.5 million mark and over 30,000 fans for the seventh consecutive year.  That low of a figure won't happen, because the Rockies still have many give-away days and Faith Day on August 24th where they have contemporary Christian artist Jerry Camp and guest speaker Tony Dungy part of the festivities.  (Side note: Talk about controversy in Denver with a couple owners and devout Christian questioning the employment in the NFL of an open homosexual in Michael Sam.)  That day is usually close to a sell-out like Sunday's Helton honoring will most likely be, so attendance will not waiver unless it's a Broncos Sunday. 

I get the Monforts stance.  Why change the culture if a bunch of "fans" are going to continue to pony up for a poor product?  I will give the Rockies this, they have a payroll of $95+ million dollar which is the highest in the teams history, but unfortunately ownership will most likely continue the trend of cutting salary once it is proven spending more doesn't equal wins.  It is a continued path and cycle the Rockies ownership blindly follow without opening their eyes, the biggest problem is them and their inability to make a change. 

The Monforts are finally feeling the heat and any time that happens, they become more defiant.  The Rockies biggest issue is a lack of talent and any depth behind the thin talent line they have at the big league level.  The Rockies have dealt with injuries every year.  They seem to be lack true starting big league talent at Catcher and 2nd Base yearly and have had a pitching staff that is an endless cycle of mediocrity to complete shit minus half of a season of brilliance by Ubaldo Jimenez.  The culture of the Rockies is CRAP.  If I owned a Rockies hat, I'd tie A and P together to show my disdain.  It's time to move on from Dan O' Dowd, Bill Geivett and a training staff, headed by Keith Dugger, that has done nothing to keep these players healthy throughout the years.  The Rockies have lost Troy Tulowitzki to season ending injuries 3 of the past six seasons after he was announced to be out with a labrum injury requiring surgery yesterday.

The intoxication friendly, losing and injury-plagued culture that has been created has prevented the Rockies from becoming an upper echelon franchise.  They have made numerous misses that in the MLB Draft and refused to address key areas of weakness including playing two catchers in 2014 with neither having strong behind the plate command.  The 2014 90+ win season that Dick Monfort boasted about has instead turned into the Kelly Leak-less Bad News Bears with drunken management sleeping on the job.  The Rockies ownership hiding behind faith can no longer be accepted with the blunders they allow from themselves all the way from baseball management to the players and even marketing.  It's time for a cultural change at 20th and Blake and to the only way to do that is to go off the path they have been blindly followed.  Baseball and sports are not about religion, they are about  creating a winning culture that a fanbase can be proud of and see the changes necessary to make it successful.  The fans of the Rockies have proven they will support baseball, so why not give them a product they can fully get behind?

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Tebow Should Join Manziel in Cleveland

Tim Tebow has been out of the league for nearly a full calendar year after his release from Patriots camp in 2013.  Still, he remains a topic of discussion from those that completely discount him as a quarterback in the NFL to those that believe he could be a Super Bowl winning quarterback.  There is not much middle ground with Tim Tebow, you either love him or hate him... as a quarterback.  Most people that hate him as a quarterback back-up that disdain by adding that one can not question he is a great young man, Christian and role model.  Well, the atheist and agnostic may hate him, but that's for another day.  This article is about football.  And where better to take it than to the hottest sports town in America.  None other than Cleveland.  Yes, Cleveland!

The re-addition of Lebron James to Cleveland took the circus of Johnny Manziel and escalated it into the most talked about sports city for these couple months.  The fact the Browns are on ESPN regularly is all due to Johnny Football.  Manziel has invigorated, and infuriated with his antics, a fan base that has been great for many years but their barks have been kept quiet by a poorly ran football franchise that has lacked talent since the team was brought back into the NFL in 1999.  Since the re-inception of the Browns, there has been only one playoff appearance and two winning seasons in 14 seasons.  Only the Buffalo Bills can claim a longer playoff drought than Cleveland but at least the Bills have been competitive on a year-in and year-out basis since the turn of the century.  But hope and excitement has sprung eternal with the addition of Manziel in Cleveland.

Manziel brings a very flashy, look-at-me bravado to a city that is old and run down.  Cleveland may rock to Drew Carey and the handful of people that really love the city, but most people claim to be from a suburb of Cleveland rather than the city.  Manziel put Cleveland on the map again and Lebron made it a destination spot.  Yes, you'll probably see Drake hanging out in Cleveland since he clings to the coat tails of the most popular thing out there but still Cleveland is a run down city that is only trumped by Detroit for large cities with highest percent of low income residents.  But it's a city that supports their Browns and ticket prices (on the secondary marker) and ticket sales have increased since Manziel was drafted.

While Manziel is not yet the starter and there is an open competition, there is no doubt Johnny Manziel will be given a chance at some point.  While Brian Hoyer may be the hometown good ol' boy and it's a great story, you don't draft a quarterback without the plan for him to eventually be your starter.  Hoyer is limited athletically and makes bad decisions with the ball, i.e. interceptions, that plagued him while at Michigan State and have in his light NFL work.  While Hoyer may start the season unless the Browns take advantage of one of the NFL's easiest schedules, the pining for Manziel will soon follow in Cleveland like it did for Tim Tebow in Denver in 2011. 

So the question is why do Johnny Manziel and Tim Tebow fit in Cleveland?  First, Manziel's style of play is completely different than Brian Hoyer, it's more geared towards being able to use his athleticism to keep defenses on their toes and allow for the secondary to cheat forward to help contain the scrambling ability of Johnny Football.  It is a style that is very familiar to Tebow fans.  The Browns additionally have Tyler Thigpen and Connor Shaw at quarterback.  Tyler Thigpen is a veteran that fits the bill of what Manziel and Tebow do as quarterbacks by opening up their passing game with the dangers of their running ability.  So, other than Hoyer, the Browns have a roster set up to run a more "athletic" offense than what Hoyer is used to.

Next, the Browns are built to run and have a coaching staff that is set up in the same way.  First year head coach Mike Pettine is a defensive minded coach that led the Bills in 2013 and Jets prior to that as defensive coordinators to Top 10 defensive rankings in each of his five seasons as a defensive coordinator.  It is common knowledge a defensive minded coach likes an offense that controls the ball a ton and/or puts up big number so the defense plays with a lead and can pin their ears back.  Additionally, Pettine brought in Kyle Shanahan as Offensive Coordinator and Dowell Loggains as his quarterbacks coach.  Shanahan showed the ability to think outside of the box with his handling of Robert Griffin III in Washington.  Dowell Loggains allowed Jake Locker to run the ball when the field didn't open up for a passing lane and prior to his injury, Locker had led the Titans to a 3-1 start.  The only issue with both quarterbacks that these two men led and the question mark with Manziel and any system that is a read-option geared offense is: Can a player in that system sustain that sort of abuse at the NFL level?  Right now, it's still inconclusive but with depth at a position, you can run the read-option system Manziel would thrive in without worrying what happens if he gets hurt.  The 49ers sustained an injury to their athletic quarterback in Alex Smith and it allowed a Super Bowl run with Colin Kaepernick who was a more athletic playmaker.   Tebow and Griffin III both made playoff appearances using running offenses that thrived on eating clock and not turning over the ball by using the quarterbacks rushing/scrambling ability to do so.  The Browns will eventually go all-in on that type of offense and do the same.

So why do the Browns need to add the Jesus circus Tim Tebow brings with him?  After all as many will point out, Tebow:
  • Doesn't have good footwork
  • Throwing mechanics are flawed
  • Can't read a defense
  • Favorite receiver is the ground
  • Completion percentage is awful
The fact is, Tim Tebow showed an ability to do well in an offense geared to his strengths and at least do what was needed to keep his game in contention and with a lot of excitement and wins.  An offense similar to what Shanahan drew up in Washington is that sort of offense Tebow would make a great back-up in.  A guy that can help eat clock, fill-in when an injury happens and not make bad mistakes that eventually could lead to a victory.

No matter what I read and hear experts saying Manziel is not Tebow, they are wishing because Manziel is a slighter version of Tim Tebow with the same propensity to scramble and make plays first.  He's not going to be a pocket passer.  He's not going to be molded to be a Hoyer type.  He's not going to put the team on his arm like Tom Brady or Peyton Manning but put them on his legs and back.  It's what made Tebow dangerous when his lack of being able to "look like an NFL quarterback" got ignored and he was just allowed to lead his team. 

So again, why should you pair Manziel and Tebow?  The playing style of Johnny Manziel and Tim Tebow is going to take double the punishment they did in college.  There are at least four more games a season in the pros and the speed and violence is a whole other level than college where a gifted athlete can take almost take a break against the slower, less talented teams that the SEC schedules three times a year.  So by having clones of quarterbacks, you allow your starter to take those hits and replace him for a series, quarter or game if they get injured.  In this situation, your offense isn't devastated when your starting quarterback goes down as it is when you run one system and don't have a similar quarterback that can run it.  Bringing in Tebow allows you to have three quarterbacks, with Tyler Thigpen, that can run the same offense without the need to switch offenses mid-season.  Having Tebow would do two huge things, create an even bigger circus in Cleveland and garner more attendance and attention and it would allow Tebow to develop his game while being a back-up to Manziel.  Tebow is what you want in a back-up quarterback as a coach, someone you can just say "go make plays and try to get us a win."

As you'll note, nothing has been pointed into bringing in Tebow to help calm Johnny Manziel's partying down or for Tebow to be his mentor.  Tebow is not meant to be a babysitter and trying to calm Johnny will just make him act out more, as is proven with someone that pushes rules already.  Tebow will force Johnny Football to focus on football and keep him from supplanting him during a game because Manziel is more focused on what he is doing that night.  Manziel is the rich boy that has too much fun and is on the Todd Maronivich path with just expecting to have things his way.  A hard working, good Christian boy that takes some of the attention off Manziel will either make Manziel focus harder or have no effect.  One thing it will do is bring a good work ethic and love of football that Manziel shares.  Tebow is filled with humbleness and maybe some of his humble pie can be fed to Manziel.  No matter what comes of Manziel, Tebow makes for a good fit as a back-up to help if Manziel goes down and to bring in a player the league has only kept away due to two major reasons; his circus being larger than their own starting quarterback and a team's unwillingness to run an offense that differs from the status quo of the league.  Cleveland appears geared to run an offense that is catered to Manziel with the staff they have and having another person to fit it can only help the Browns.  Plus, Tebow's cult following can only continue to raise the popularity meter of Cleveland sports.  It's time for Johnny Football and Touchdown Timmy to combine forces to take Cleveland to the promise land they have missed so often this century, the playoffs!

Friday, July 25, 2014

When Sports Comedy Isn't Funny... (aka Drew Soicher, Colin Daniels, etc...)

I have spent few days reading a lot about three stories that have been the talk in Denver sports radio:
  • Michael Sam's sexuality/Tony Dungy comments
  • Pat Bowlen's Alzheimer's
  • Ray Rice Suspension
I am guilty of trying to make light of situations with comedy and have learned many times that it isn't always appropriate to add comedy to something.  Typically it's my wife reminding me I take things too far and at times, she is very right.  I have learned a lot from her (and others) telling me this more than once in my life.  I can tell you after reading people's thoughts on all three of these items, I completely get when something has been taken too far.  Unfortunately people like Colin Daniels and Drew Soicher have taken it too far. 

Local Denver sports blogger and wannabe expert Colin Daniels, co-founder of South Stands Denver, made light of the Broncos Super Bowl loss by stating "Hopefully Pat can't remember that Super Bowl".  He also correlated Tony Dungy's takes on Michael Sam being a distraction he wouldn't have wanted as a coach to Dungy's son's suicide years ago and "Maybe Tony Dungy's son was gay".  Daniel's website and twitter page has regularly called out local sports media for the things they have said that are insensitive but his play at humor and bad jokes needs to be questioned as well.  He regularly has been on 94.1 FM Mile High Sports and even had a fantasy football show during last season and is a fill-in and regular on Thursday's on the very talented Renaud Notaro's 6-7 p.m. show, but he should be held to the same standards he holds his "colleagues" of the Denver radio/print/TV sports media.

This all ties into the main culprit that has drawn Denver football fan and people who have dealt with Alzheimers, Drew Soicher.  Soicher has spent 14 years having to record his sports segments and bits.  His awful Drew's Clues, Bobbleheads and pre-recorded stories show his lack of sports knowledge and the circus 9News has allowed him to make Denver Sports.  Well , that and the joke it has made of it as evident by his 9 News Bio and "sports" segments.  His comments during last nights newscast may be the last straw for Denver Broncos Country when he said "So much talk about Alzheimers at Broncos training camp that I keep checking mye roster to see if that's a new player on the team." Video Courtesy of Shawn Drotar  Denver's 9 News is the Home of the Broncos and it's started to raise a ton of ire from this comment.

Ray Rice's suspension brought up the regular fire it had previously but it was then tied into and compared to marijuana/alcohol/drug suspensions that Justin Blackmon and Josh Gordon face.  These are two totally different issues with the NFL.  I believe anything that harms or could potentially harm another/other people over ones self should be penalized far greater.  Unfortunately the NFL's law, aka Roger Goodell's reasoning, is clear as mud for domestic abuse, violence, weapons charges, etc. while having a set action against drugs.  It also doesn't separate a recreational drug/alcohol from sports enhancing drugs.  Goodell and the players association need to modify this in the collective bargaining agreements.  Instead of shunning a player and banishing them from their team, get them treatment for drugs.  In the case of violence and other issues not in the CBA, spell it out so players know there is more emphasis put on criminal activities, even ones that don't go through the court of law.  If there is evidence and facts, spell it out.  But I digress and read media members and others take this suspension and make humor of it saying, "thank goodness Rice didn't kill her, he would have got 3 games." or  "Beat up your woman-2 games, smoke pot-indefinite suspension guess it's better to beat your wife than it is to smoke pot or drink."  I also hear Stephen A. Smith tell women Don't Do Anything to Provoke wrong actions.  This sounds like a bad Dr. Dre song to me.  We all have heated arguments/discussion or been "provoked" in life and instead of taking it to physical abuse; we walk/drive away, calm ourselves down, back up a bit and keep arguing but calm things down.  We don't snap and assault someone because we've been provoked as Rice and his girlfriend tried to play it off as. 

So what do we take from all this?!  Well, think about something before you say it, tweet it or send it out to the world and realize that sometimes bringing something so negative in life to humor isn't necessary.  Maybe it's time to show some respect for people by just shutting up and focusing on the story rather than focusing on adding to the comment section that shows how judgmental and our lack of compassion that is seen in society.  I have been saying this to myself at times, maybe others should-Don't cross the line, don't take it too far and show your fellow mankind some respect instead of using their situation to try to get a laugh. Not everything has to be so damn funny!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

ESPN Denver Blows Up Format...

In the same year that it was billed top radio show by The Westword (and myself  Denver Sports Talk-For Better or Worse) ESPN Denver's The Locker Room's threesome has been destroyed by your Cousin Lou from Littleton.  Gary Miller magically disappeared without much notice or talk in early May.  Miller was well respected due to his work on CBS with Vic Lombardi and then his morning show with Vic before Lou cut the best sports radio show in Denver.

ESPN Denver's brass were back up there evil plotting like the Diabolical Mr Sinister when after two weeks of Tom Nalen's "vacationing", Nalen has joined Miller in looking through the sports classifieds for a new microphone.  The Locker Room had challenged The Drive (arguably the least fact driven show with two idiots laughing and making loud noises) and brought the listener friendly programming of Danny and Cello on Mile High Sports 94.1 into a old WWF (it's not WWE to me, sorry) Royal Rumble situation.  It appears Kreckman lost two solid sidekicks and will have to battle things out on his own or will be joining forces with a new ally.  Kreckman will succeed on his own, but the constant shake-up of his show has become tiresome.  He was radio platinum with arrogant Joel Klatt, since he was able to put a fire on his personality, and is good flying solo (The Working Man) or in a group setting but afternoon drive radio can't be sustained with a man flying solo.  This isn't KBCO or some classical music station, this is sports talk so I believe this is a TBD (to be determined) situation.  We will wait to see what format his show takes but I believe we saw a good format and tandem with Nalen's so called fill-ins.  If it were to happen it would instantly become the best tagteam a Royal Rumble has ever witnessed if "fill-in" Ron Zappolo became his constant equal instead of Kreckman's sidekick like Nalen and Miller were.  Instead of Batman and Robin it would be like two Batmans of Michael Keaton and Christian Bale fame teaming up.  Another viable option and in keeping the former NFLer angle, but with a little more mean streak and a lot more Denver sports and radio background by adding Matt McChesney.  The former Niwot Cougar, CU Buff and Denver Bronco has a strong tie-in with the local prep group with his business Six Zero Strength, radio past and sports past it makes a great twosome heading into Broncos training camp.  When McChesney and Kreckman paired it was more on subject than the show was with Nalen but still had the banter that makes a show in the afternoon work.  The Denver sports radio listeners are waiting to see what the 3-7 p.m. timeslot will look like on ESPN Denver.

That's not the only thing ESPN Denver has left Denver Sports listeners in limbo on.  The duo of CJ and Les no longer appear on the company's website and there is a noticeable time slot hole from 12-3 after national shows end at noon and Kreckman starts at 3 p.m.  CJ and Les were not good radio.  I talked to many people that just would not tune in and chose the Geriatric Power Hours over it.  It is a welcome departure and the most obvious of replacement options with football season days away is to take the caller friendly and football nut in Cecil Lammey and let him talk all things from college talent to NFL talent and the NFL.  Currently, it looks like that may be the case with Cecil on 12-3 p.m. recently.  Cecil is easily the best fantasy football guy in the Denver market and amongst the best in the country.  He has a great amount of knowledge and studies football and knows talent.  The guess is we will be Riding Shotgun with Cecil Lammey more than just on weekends and during his fill-in and spot appearances any more but seven days a week like it was for a very short while before Lou desmolished the proud local start-up of The Ticket two and a half years ago and sold (his soul) to ESPN.

One thing is for certain with these latest changes, nothing stays the same in Denver Sports Radio and the question is what's next?  Again, I believe Lou would just be best selling the last half of his soul and make ESPN Denver only be nationally syndicated to allow for a national view for all those transients and non-local sports fans to get a national take.  It would also strengthen 104.3 The Fan and 94.1 Mile High Sports and allow those two sister companies to keep battling it out with each other.  Three local takes talking over each other from noon to 6 p.m. has become crowded, mind numbing radio and watered down for many of the shows.

But to end back on point, ESPN Denver made the right move by ridding themselves of CJ and Les and featuring their strength in Cecil Lammey and Nate Kreckman.  Their next step is to add something that brings listeners back from 12-3 p.m. or keeps listeners with Kreckman.  Raj Sharan should be more featured during the winter with his good basketball background, but in the meantime it is football season and we will be listening to see what's next.
Edited: Cecil appears to be the 12-3 p.m. guy and it's a very good move for ESPN Denver and Lou from Littleton. 

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Ranking Denver's Sports Radio Talent...

Due to popular demand by none other than Mr. Power Rankings himself, Danny Williams, I follow up my article on Denver Sports Radio show line-up discussion with ranking Denver's Sports Radio Hosts. This is simply my opinion but I have been listening to Denver Sports since my teen years when there was only one local sports station, so I have some knowledge and history of the past 15-20 years of the landscape. There are many factors that go into this with the main areas being sports knowledge (we are talking sports after all), voice, interaction with listeners and entertainment value (humor, good takes, long awful pauses are all factors to consider), so strap on that chin strap, adjust your jock and get ready to have your mind blown and your brain fall out of your skull. This isn't Bleacher Report or some other website that makes you cycle through the B.S. to find out who's tops so we'll start at the top:

1. Vic Lombardi-Yes, Vic is a pretty face. Yes, Vic is kind of pompous and brash at times. But, Vic connects with the Denver listeners because we have seen him grow up from a talented young journalist to the mid-40s Denver Sports icon he has became. He is a young version of Ron Zappolo. Vic is entertaining, able to interact with anyone and is honest and a local guy. His show with Gary Miller early mornings built an insane fanbase that would chat while the two destroyed people's eardrums with their banter and sports discussions and before getting a regular stint on 104.3 The Fan, his segments with Joel Klatt and Mike Evans were can't miss discussions. He carries his show with Lundy and Mike Evans after the two drive you insane for an hour while Vic preps with a couple more ZZZZZs. Over 15 years in the Denver broadcasting market and hopefully at least 15 more to come, Vic is in his prime and we are lucky to have him on the radio and television locally. Vic can be heard 7-9 A.M. on The Fan Morning Show on 104.4 The Fan

2. Nate Kreckman-The Working Man was great radio when he did a show solo but his legend was built when he did a show with Joel Klatt. The two were the best under 30s radio pairing I have ever heard in Denver and may have been one of the top pairings ever only to be outranked by my favorites Vic and Gary and Jim Armstrong and Tim Neverett. Nate often gets off topic, but his entertainment value mixed with his sports discussions and his laugh all make for one very talented radio personality. While I am not a fan of his pro-MWC and anti-CU rhetoric, I can't fault him for being a homer to the conference that has paid him some extra dough and filled his head with inaccurate facts about the better university and conference in CU and the Pac 12. Back to the lecture at hand, he has helped develop Tom Nalen into a very solid radio personality after Nalen started fumbled his way through his first 6 months on the job. Kreckman is such a strong personality, the presence of Gary Miller was more of a third wheel on Nalen and Kreckman's Locker Room and Miller was no longer on the show starting early May. The Locker Room 3-6 P.M. on 102.3 ESPN Radio.

3. Eric Goodman-Goodman has bounced around at Mile High Sports from mornings to afternoon and back to mornings with different co-hosts at each stop. He is a strong personality that brings a very good discussion to the show. He is not the entertainer the two above are, but he has a very good sports IQ and welcomes discussions and differing opinions. Goodman is undervalued and now faces off against a juggernaut in Vic Lombardi every morning. He is trying to help bring along Mike Pritchard and while Pritchard is solid, a stronger co-host with experience could really make the show stronger and Goodman's abilities shine. While I despise his old co-host in Mark Kiszla, Kiszla at least was able to help show Goodman's shine. Jim Armstrong, Terry Frei or Gary Miller would be good co-hosts to pair with Goodman. Check The Morning Drive with Goodman and Pritchard 7-9 A.M. on 94.1 Mile High Sports.

4. Joshua Dover-How is an 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. host that is mainly a producer ranked so high? Well, he works his butt off and hits every part of the factors that go on the list. He is entertaining and in my opinion the best in Denver in interacting with listeners on and off the air, plus he has great knowledge and is brash and honest. He works hard in going to practices and doing the little things to the big things that others wouldn't. His working hours have been insane being asked to fill-in for others, producing a TV/radio show in The Press Box. He just keeps "producing" great radio whether behind the boards or behind the mic. A young talent that will hopefully keep making waves in Denver radio for years to come. Check out Denver Sports Nation from 8 to 10 P.M. on 94.1 Mile High Sports.

5. Peter Burns-Burns is entertainment and looks that are just not appreciated enough. There is a reason there is a TV show for the Press Box, it's Burns. Burns provides that "but if" element that makes radio entertaining since everything seems to be a conspiracy theory when it comes with Burns discussions. Burns ability to interact with Mark Kiszla for so long deserves a round of applause but Burns does his best radio when it is just him and Oren Lomena and/or Brandon Krisztal. Burns would succeed in any market and bigger and better things are sure to come his way. Though his time slot has no competition locally on the radio, it is not a good time slot for a program that often produces very entertaining discussions when Burns is directing traffic. Burns can be heard on 94.1 FM Mile High Sports 9-11 A.M. and then watched online on

6. Danny Williams-Williams is personable like no other in Denver radio. He is entertainment value like Nate Kreckman is. He sometimes is that friend of yours that you're like, that's too far but many of us that listen to sports so often and love sports, including myself, are that type. Danny works magic with listeners with his radio life partner in Cello Romano and there is little surprise they have a cult following. Some people in Denver sports and blogger-ship *cough Colin Daniels cough* can't stand the shows format but it's entertaining and a young version of Irv and Joe where the callers help make the show the entertaining factor it has become. Danny and Cello can be heard 4-6 P.M. on 94.1 FM Mile High Sports.

7. Cecil Lammey-How does a segment filler and weekend radio guy that mainly focuses on fantasy football and the NFL Draft make a Top 10? It's the year 2014 and fantasy football and the NFL and the talent level is a constant hot topic that Lammey is the best Denver has ever seen in the area. Degenerates like myself have been calling into his show for over three years to get advice. Lammey is personable, knowledgeable about the #1 sport in Denver, NFL football, and he has a large gathering of followers that appreciate the work he does. Denver is lucky to have him since people around the country take his fantasy advice on and call-in to get his advice during fantasy football season. Lammey in the off-season and prior to the fantasy football drafts is most entertaining if you want to really understand about a specific players abilities. Ride Shotgun with him weekends on 102.3 FM ESPN.

8. Scott Hastings-Hastings has the advantage of actually playing the game of basketball professionally and then being paired with a legend in Dave Logan for years, a local legend in Alfred Williams for years and then working with a seam head in Drew Goodman (who for years called the games Hastings played in on PSN). Hastings is funny and works well with others. He is knowledgeable about all sports and is a solid host in every phase. He's been doing early afternoons for years and helped make the lunch or drive around town from 12-3 an entertaining one. Check Scott out 12-3 P.M. with Sandy Clough and Drew Goodman

9. Oren Lomena-Lomena has been on Denver airwaves for years. He is hard working, intelligent and can talk any sport with a great amount of knowledge and then also throw some hip hop knowledge at you no one in Denver can compete with. Lomena had been buried for years as a fill-in guy and it's great to see him as one of the big guys on The Press Box, but I enjoy hearing Lomena when it's only him and one other guy in the studio the most. I enjoyed him He is a great guy when interacting with him, entertaining and off the FOODCHAIN!!! Lomena can be heard on 94.1 FM Mile High Sports 9-11 A.M. and then watched online on

10.-3 Way Tie I am going to cop out and make a tie between a few guys I have a lot of respect for and interest in their sports talk game for differing reasons. The group at 10 are Cello Romano, James Gomez and Gary Miller.
  • Cello is Robin to Danny Williams Batman, not the icons of Christan Bale and Michael Keaton, butthe George Clooney Batman so like the lowest rated Batman and then Cello is like the bad ass Joseph Gordon Levitt that doesn't want to be Robin to Batman. He is a good counter to Danny and helps reign that crazy horse in quite a bit.
  • James Gomez's weekend shows are really, really good and you get a great wrap of the week that just happened and a lot of knowledge. I try to run errands to catch as much of his show as possible.
  • Gary Miller is a legend in Denver Sports. He really was good on The Locker Room and provided more knowledge than either Kreckman or Nalen can pretend to have and was very funny, but was a third wheel. He is best suited for a 2-man show and while I wish it were with Vic, it would be great to find a way to get him on the air again. His subtraction from Denver Sports Radio took away one of the best.

Honorable Mentions (in no particular order):
  • Renaud Notaro-From 6 to 7 P.M. on 94.1 FM you get what is going on in sports, Netflix and solid co-hosts that change from day to day.
  • Sandy Clough-Clough is very intelligent and knowledgeable. His greatest asset is that and working with other hosts, but his downfall is callers. He is an ass hole to most of his callers and believes he is more intelligent than every one of them. If he didn't rub people the wrong way and his one-man show dead air didn't turn off so many people, he really is a good guy to have in Denver Sports talk.
  • Dave Logan-He's on 850 KOA and knows sports, especially since he played all of them and played the game in the NFL and does play by play for the Broncos but his show is not really sports driven.
  • Brandon Krisztal-A great producer and glad he has found his way on to the airwaves more with his Press Box gig. I honestly believe his best work would be a separate show with just Oren Lomena or just Peter Burns.
  • Lance Britton-A face for TV but was stuck on radio. To be honest, he was the perfect co-host to Eric Goodman but the name and background of Mike Pritchard made him expendable in the eyes of Mile High Sports. Britton is good radio and a disappointment was met when he wasn't on the airwaves.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Denver Sports Radio-For Better or Worse!!!

Denver Sports Radio has been my nasty mistress long before it was considered that.  While the landscape has expanded greatly from my days of listening to 950 The Fan as the only real sports station in Denver in the late 1990s and early 2000s, the crowded field isn't necessarily a positive right now.

The constant line-up shake-ups of the past two years have resulted in less quality sports programming and a lot of shows that just aren't a good fit for the spot they are in.  Let's take a look at what we have in Denver Sports Radio between the 3 major players in the long running 104.3 The Fan, it's sister-brother-cousin partner (?) in 94.1 Mile High Sports and 102.3 ESPN Denver and touch base on the odds and ends elsewhere in Denver Sports Radio.  We'll dive into what are some possible solutions and discuss those who have left, in particular where the hell did Gary Miller go?!  So let's dive in

First we'll start at the bottom of the dial in 94.1 with Mile High Sports Line-Up.  Mile High Sports (MHS) has changed their line-up and done many things with their line-up and while some are good, some still have me scratching my head.  The biggest head scratcher was their sudden change in radio frequency.  Their lease went up with 93.7 FM/1510 AM earlier in the year and it created a nightmare when they had no station to switch to.  For nearly three days, there was no Mile High Sports Radio that could be found on Denver airwaves and the change has not been well received.  The signal is very glitch with a very weak signal through much of the Denver suburbs and a scratchy signal due to the high traffic of that frequency.  It has not been a good fit like but let's talk MHS line-up:

6-7 AM: All 22 with Kent Erickson - I have tried to give Kent a try but it is not a good show at all.  There is no quality insight brought into the show and it is difficult to listen to.

7-9 AM: Morning Drive Time with Goodman and Pritchard - Okay now that we got through that long winded show, let's put it this way, Goodman is a quality radio guy in Denver that doesn't get much attention.  He carries his co-hosts that have been Mark Kiszla, Mark MacIntosh and now Mike Pritchard.  Pritchard is learning on the fly (no pun intended to any plays he ran as a player) and is getting better daily, but Goodman should get credit for the work he has done, very quality.

9-11 AM: The Press Box with Burns, Kiz and Oren (and Brandon Krisztal) - This show is beyond crowded when there are all four of the guys in Peter Burns, Mark Kiszla, Oren Lomena and Kriszstal in-studio and then add in producer extraordinaire (and quality sports talk host as noted later on) Josh Dover.  It is like going to a game and listening to a group of friends talking sports.  Nothing stays on task and it is confusing.  I don't like Kiszla.  This has been well documented in the past.  His "but, but, but..." stuttering to emphasize a point and to take control of the mike is maddening and his self-righteous holier than thou approach is not enjoyable to listen to.  Peter Burns is a young, quality host that provides good insight but most of all quality entertainment.  Oren Lomena was an underappreciated commodity for years in Denver and to hear him on a consistent basis is a treat for Denver Sports Radio listeners.  He is knowledgeable, well received and always pleasant.  Krisztal left to go do bigger and better things but came back quickly.  He is a phenomenal producer and solid on-air guy.  However, combining these four together is a nightmare.  When Kiszla is gone the show is great with the 3 guys and to be honest when Burns and Kiszla (the main characters from years past) are gone Krisztal and Lomena are a treat to listen talk sports.

11 AM-Noon: Whiteley on Sports - Gil Whiteley has a face for radio and a voice for the mute box.  He had an old automobile repair ad that he would say "That's a horrible sound." after the sound effects of a car accident.  I used to always reply in my car, "Yeah, your voice!"  Gil doesn't talk sports so why is he on.

12-2 PM: The Irv and Joe Show - These guys were still pretty good in the early 2000s, but they are well past their prime.  They can't remember way too many things and the fact their main caller is Bronco Billy that they give 10 minutes a day to ramble insanity is bad enough.  I believe I would have been all-state  Let's Red Dog them and Down Goes Frazier!!! 

2-4 PM: The Brandon Spano Show - I hate to admit it, but Spano was a guilty pleasure when I would go out at night and grab food late or was driving around or going for a run late.  He was the perfect 8-10 PM sort of guy.  His show is not meant for 2-4.  He talks boxing, fantasy and it just doesn't fit right with the afternoon.  I would prefer to hear him back at night and weekends of big fights.

4-6 PM: Danny and Cello - I got hooked on these guys from their days of Morning Mayhem.  Their rapid rise is not surprising.  Danny is the goof ball, brash personality you need and Cello is the jockey with the reins that tries to control him.  Let's be honest, their show is about the fans and about the discussions they create.  That is what helped lead to their rise. 

6-7 PM: The Reknowitall - Renaud Notaro loves his Bonnie Brae flowers and Carmine Lonardo's Meat and he is a very good evening listen with whoever co-hosts with him.  He mixes music, entertainment and sports into his show and it goes much too quickly.

7-8 PM: CU on Mile High Sports with Don Brenner - I love Colorado Buffaloes football and like having a show to hear about it, but Brenner's interviews are hit and miss.  He often gets off topic and his advertising splices are awful.  His interviews with strong media savvy types, i.e. Rick George, have been great radio but this show is best suited for podcasts and a couple hours of the best of put together for weekend listening.

8-10 PM: Denver Sports Nation - A star has been born.  Well it was born long ago on the weekends with Adam Kinney, Dario Correa and Josh Dover.  Dover is a young star.  He has a great radio voice and is that good looking, young, I'm Cool, I'm Hip!!! type that Mile High Sports needs to build around.

Other shows: Mile High Sports has a large array of shows during the weekend.  Many are for the more specific of types from Race Central to MMA but there is some other fillers that are decent but the best is The James Gomez Show.  Gomez has added a more regular nightly show added on 104.3 The Fan and it is well deserved.  He usually has a co-host but Gomez can ride solo.  His discussions are some of the best in sports.  Mile High Sports would be smart to add a college football show (again) and NFL/Fantasy Football show on the weekends. 

As far as what further tinkering could be done to make 94.1 better, you'll have to wait until the end and read next about The Fan.

The Fan, 104.3 FM, has been the long time local sports talk juggernaut that Mile High Sports and ESPN Denver aspire to climb to.  They had gone from a pure local show to a national heavy station in the mornings and back to a pure local standpoint when they gave up the rights to ESPN two years back and then gave in and put Dan Patrick on tape-delay earlier this month.  They can't keep from tinkering either it seems, but here's what they give you:

5:30-9 AM: Fan Morning Show - Mike Evans has been a long-time voice in Denver Sports talk, his co-host Nate Lundy runs The Fan but also likes to add his insight so why not put yourself on the show.  The show added Vic Lombardi to the mix and it brought hope for greatness, but Vic feels like  a third wheel.  Part of this may be Vic doesn't seem to be in studio ever and he doesn't roll out of bed and lend his voice until 7 a.m.  By then the plan for the day seems to have been laid out and Vic seems awkwardly fit.  Hmmm, sounds familiar to his buddy that recently got the axe at ESPN Denver, Gary Miller.

Noon-3 PM: Drew, Sandy and Scott - This is local talk so I skip the national tape delayed stuff.  Sandy Clough has always drove me nuts solo.  He is very intelligent and knows his sports, but his constant dead air and angry rants when going solo turned me off to listening to him alone.  I enjoy him with others and he does his best work then.  Scott Hastings and Drew Goodman do TV for the local sports and both are very good at what they do. They have always been a solid pair, but nothing is flashy about this show.

3-6 PM (8 PM if you count the replay): The Drive - Big Al and D-Mac.  I have too often bitched about this show and it's baffling popularity.  I love Big Al as a Buff and Bronco, but he is suffering from post-concussion CTE because none of his facts are facts.  He spouts a lot of nonsense.  The banter between him and DMac is good but this is like listening to a couple of fans with a bad understanding of the game talk sports.  And then they make your ears bleed and cut the 3 hour show into two more hours of it's highlights.  No thanks!!!!

8???-11 PM: The Fan Late Night - James Gomez was highlighted earlier.  He knows his stuff and is another one of those quality producers turned on-air talent.  He has help from others like Shawn Drotar that are solid co-hosts, but James belongs on the mic and not on the boards.

Other shows: The Fan puts different things on during the weekend occasionally with their different talent.  Mainly they add Terry Frei with Clough or Gomez or someone.  Frei is good, but pimps his books out big time.  Frei sometimes feels like listening to an angry grandpa.  He seems to be less positive as the years go by, especially against his alma mater, CU, for some reason.

ESPN Denver 102.3 started January 2012 after being The Ticket.  Lou from Littleton quickly sold out after building the station on local talent and talk.  In the process he got rid of one of the greatest shows Denver Sports Radio has been privy to listen to in Vic and Gary.  It is now tape delayed radio until noon and honestly it could stay that way until 3 p.m.

12-3 PM: Les and CJ - Les Shapiro is an angry elf!  He will provide whatever is the most negative, anti whatever the majority is going for opinions.  CJ is a solid co-host to anybody and a good fit to any show but Les has ruined many quality co-hosts.  Les is the problem!

3-6 PM: The Locker Room - It is pretty much a locker room atmosphere with Nate Kreckman involved and then adding Tom Nalen doesn't help, but it is a damn quality show with humor, good sports knowledge and entertainment.  Something 3-6 p.m. faked with Big Al and D-Mac and accomplished here.  Unfortunately Gary Miller left The Locker Room (right after the show was praised by local free weekly magazine Westword) at the beginning of May and it didn't seem much different.  Miller is one of the most knowledgeable sports guys in the Denver biz and I hope he gets back on air with only a single co-host *cough cough Vic cough cough*.

Others: Cecil Lammey is the main other local talent and he is damn good when it comes to talking what drives the Denver market, football.  His draft insight is awesome and his Riding Shotgun show during fantasy football season is great radio for one of the biggest games out there for the masses.  He really had a great show when he was doing his own gig before the switch to the national show.  He is an asset to ESPN Denver and local sports talk.

So there's the breakdown for the local sports talk scene but what are the problems and solutions?:

Mile High Sports still gives the most live and local sports talk in the Denver sports landscape.  Unfortunately MHS need to get a better signal in order to bring back some people and to attract more casual listeners.  Their line-up has lost the strength it had a little over a year ago.  The Fan is perfect for an immature, less knowledagable sports fan between 25-50 (other than 12-3) but it needs a real shake up.  ESPN Denver should do us all a favor and go full national syndication and let their talent find better homes elsewhere and make a more powerful two live and local radio stations.

6-9 a.m. MHS-Goodman & Pritchard: Make Goodman and Pritchard take on an additional hour and add back a third guy.  They had Lance Britton and he is a very strong local sports guy with an insane amount of Broncos history in his brain.  He is a good fit.
5:30-7 a.m. The Fan-Mike Evans and Lundy:  Let these two start the day and warm up the crowd for the real talent...
7-9 a.m. The Fan-Vic and Gary from Vic's basement:  Bring back a pairing that is meant to be together.  They provided great radio and Gary's knowledge and Vic's swagger is what Denver needs.
9-12 p.m. MHS-Morning Mayhem: Danny and Cello fit best here and it gives them the extra hour they really deserve and are best suited for this timeframe with their format.
9-12 p.m. The Fan-CJ, Evans and Sandy: Sandy is a version of Les but instead of being controversial he gives a fairly accurate point of view.  CJ lightens up Sandy and the two provide a solid 1-2 punch.
12-3 p.m. MHS-Denver Sports Nation: These guys should take over for the geezers.  They already do when the two are away and make these 3 hours very entertaining.
12-3 p.m. The Fan-Big Al, Scott and Drew: Drew is gone or Scott is away and when they are instead of  having them call-in for the whole show, just give them a segment or two.  Big Al and Scott were a dynamic force together and Scott kept Al on his toes.
3-6 p.m. MHS-The Press Box with Burns, Oren and Krisztal: There is only enough room for one guy with a k, i, sz, a and l in their last name so boot Mark Kiszla and make these 3 available at the best time and where their show really belongs.
3-6 p.m. The Fan-Kreckman and Nalen: These two are great together and would be a good battle with The Press Box.
6-8 p.m. MHS- Blitz Denver: Andrew Fogoros and Matt McChesney are perfect early evening or early morning radio.  They can lose focus on topics at hand but it is the good hearted stuff you want early in your day or early in your evening.  They should have never been allowed to leave MHS and Colorado Springs was not a good fit.
6-8 p.m. The Fan-James Gomez: James can choose who he wants to co-host.
8-10 p.m. MHS- Reknowitall 3 days a week and different CU Sports show 2 days a week: You get more time with Renaud and you get more direct CU centered show the other two days.  These are more fitting times for these shows anyway.  Race Central can go away to the weekends where it belongs as a filler.
8-11 p.m. The Fan-Wrapping it up with Raj: Raj Sharan is another talent local producer that has very good insight.  Pair him up with a strong producer and make it
10-12 p.m. MHS-Mile High Sports Patrol-Bring back the Honey Bear and Reed Marks.  These guys were golden late at night and they got me through a difficult mile late at night on my runs.  Their 9-11 a.m. show was just a bad idea since Reed needed to be let loose.

On weekends both stations can pull from the excess talent and those that want to put in some extra time in Terry Frei, D-Mac (better suited for the weekend gig than a daily gig) and others.  Give Cecil 3 hours on Saturday and Sunday and let him do a segment every weekday before the draft and during fantasy football season (pre-season through Week 17).  Let Brandon Spano have a 3 hour chunk and maybe fit him in for an hour or two on one of those stations, but he is a night guy.  Additionally talent like Mario Vetanze and Benjamin Allbright are young talent that would be great to build their following on the weekend.  **And for Pete's sakes, I must bring up the previous unmentioned Dan Fellman and only in nickname Zach "The Honey Bear" Fogg.  Maybe you make a weekend show called The Producers with Fellman, Fogg and Dover and let each one take an hour on the board since all bring a different style but all are high quality.**

Denver Sports Radio has a lot of talent, but it has some issues to iron out and some dead weight filling the airwaves that have stayed past their prime or been given too much air time for what they bring.  These mix-ups are obviously dream scenarios but it is obvious the 3 station idea just isn't fitting well with some bad line-up decisions.