Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Colorado State Football 2015 Season Preview (Series)

Note:  This is a first in a short series previewing the football seasons of CSU, CU and whomever else I may choose.  I start with CSU and will follow up with CU.

Colorado State Football looks to the 2015 season looking to build the momentum the program has gained in coming off two successful seasons ending in bowl games.  Since the majority of their fan base only care about one game, they can probably skip to where I mention what happens against in-state rival, Colorado Buffaloes, but for those that care to hear more check it all out.

The Colorado State Rams lost well, every important aspect you can think of.  They lost a star coach they begged and pleaded to stay and expected to stay at CSU because of his massive buyout.  A ridiculous buyout amount couldn't keep Jim McElwain in Fort Collins with Power 5 conference and SEC and national prominence going to the University of Florida Gators.  Honestly, his departure gave CSU the best recognition the program has had since national news was made when their fans decided to litter CU's football team with beer bottles and empty kegs clear back in 1999.  Otherwise, CSU has remained a blip on the radar and 90% of their fans and alumni are like zombies and only come out for that one special occasion, when they beat big brother.  But again more on big brother, CU, later and back to what the rams lost.  The Rams fans seem to believe a national championship assistant that had eyes on him from other Power 5 programs before he settled for CSU can be replaced with a guy that has never left the University of Georgia and was Mark Richt's whipping boy and yes man in Mike Bobo.  Only time will tell, but Bobo is NoNo McElwain.

The Rams also lost starting Quarterback Garrett Grayson and his southern style hair and Kyle Orton like game management will be missed with the growing pains brought on by starting a new quarterback with no college football experience.  To add to the pain, the Rams must replace a talented RB once again with Dee Hart departing most likely because he never attended a class at CSU.  The Rams also must replace NFL 2nd Rounder and over rated Left Tackle Ty Sambrailo.  They also lose Left Guard Mason Myers so a complete re-haul of the left side of the offensive line must be made.  The Rams return a solid group otherwise and McElwain always had the under talented group perform well by out scheming opposition.  Bobo has big shoes to fill.

At Wide Receiver the Rams do have Rashard "Hollywood" Higgins.  Higgins was phenomenal last year but was shut down by big brother last year, just as he will be this year.  He is on every possible watch list for his position and for many other pre-season offensive awards.  He has speed to burn, but will he be able to be as efficient with a new pup Nick Stevens.  The Rams losses of Charles Lovett stings a little, but is eased by returning 8th year senior Joe Hansley and a group of talented youngsters.

The Rams will most likely rely on filling their running back with a one-year wonder again with Purdue transfer, Dalyn Dawkins outshining seniors Treyous Jarrells and Jasen Oden.  Tight End should have plenty of familiar faces with Kivon Cartwright leading the way in his return after injury.

Overall, this team has an All American caliber Wide Receiver and should be solid since Richt, I mean Bobo is known for his quality offensive mind.

The Rams move from a 3-4 scheme to a 4-3 scheme.  The Rams should be solid up front with a group that has seen plenty of playing time.  They all do an excellent job of keeping the opposition off the linebackers and Joe Kawulok is a force at the point of attack.

Where the weakness may come is at Linebacker with the key graduation departures of the leading tacklers in Max Morgan and Aaron Davis.  Senior Cory James is a very talented weakside linebacker but goes from being a pass rushing stud to now having to do it all as a linebacker in the 4-3 scheme.  Of course Bobo calls this their defenses strength. 

The Rams secondary is similar to the DL returning four players that started at least eight games.  I would say this secondary is easily their most important group when it comes to when they play big brother.

The defense is a very solid group and should have success in the Mostly Women's Conference, damn, Mountain West Conference.  Their main tests come in Weeks 2 and 3 after squaring off against FCS Savannah State which the Buffs have seen can be scary for a new coach trying to find his way in new water while establishing his brand of football.

Special Teams
Hayden Hunt is a very good punter and should allow the Rams to play good field position battles in tight contests.  However the Rams lost the solid services of Jared Roberts to graduation and must start afresh.  The returning group is in good hands with Hansley still causing nightmares with his punt return for TDs 6 years ago.  How he still has eligibility after playing in 4 Rocky Mountain Showdowns baffles me.

Season Breakdown
SAVANNAH STATE (W)-A home opener against a State city school should be an automatic win. 
MINNESOTA (L)-This is a 90% loss.  Minnesota is trending up and appears to be in the right mindset to potentially cause some ruckus in the Big 1G.  Licking wounds headed into the biggest game of every CSU fans season.
Colorado at SAFAMH (L)-CU is not losing two years in a row against a rookie coach and rookie starter.  The Buffs are pissed and hungry and the only thing in their way of starting Pac 12 play after a final tune-up against Nichols State is the rival little brother.  Big brother is tired of hearing about it and the Buffs stick a fork in them and deflate Cam's balls as much as the Pats do. 
at UTSA (W)-CSU ends non conference play out of state and gets a much needed win heading into conference play.
at Utah State (L)-Utah State loses their head coach and has a very solid 2014 season.  The Rams can't win on the road after getting a hard fought win at home last year.
BOISE STATE (L)-Boise State is a well oiled machine that fits better in the Big XII since they bring name recognition and a decade of success.  Not just a couple of years.  Big loss and with only 15k watching and they think a new stadium will help?!
AFA (Toss-Up)-AFA is tough and doesn't screw with CSU.  They will push them every chance they get.  No idea here.
SDSU (Toss-Up)-San Diego State and CSU didn't square off in 2014 but it would have been a good game.  SDSU is awful on the road though.  Slight lean to CSU.
at Wyoming (Toss-Up)-The Pokes at home against their bitter rival with a coach that needs a signature win.  This is a sticky situation
UNLV (W)-UNLV sucks
at New Mexico (W)-The Lobos bark is always worse than their bite.
at Fresno State (L)-You don't go to the valley and come back the same team.  Ask the 2012 Buffs about that.  This is not the way to end the season if the Rams are fighting for Win 6.

Record: 4-5-3 with my prediction at 5-7.  Rams win one of the toss-ups (SDSU) but can't beat AFA or get the road win to end the season.  The Rams are sitting at home while big brother wins the last week at Utah to make 7-6 and make the holiday season ba-hum-bug for the CSU faithful of 9,999 at CSUs home finale against UNLV.  The rest are just waiting until 2016s RMS and hoping they can find magic but it does not look good for the fickle fans that are the CSU Rams!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Mile High Sports Radio Returns to Dial on 1340AM on July 27th

Mile High Sports Radio has officially, unofficially announced that they will be re-launching on 1340 AM on Monday July 27th.  It will have been 10.5 weeks since they were last on the radio dial.  To get their hosts back in the swing of things and to get people to reconnect with the station, Mile High Sports has been doing 1-hour streaming on their website and phone app at 10 am and 2 pm.  We have got to see some changes in the line-up as the station has let their on-air talent take time at the mike since last Monday.  There is no official word of what exactly is going on, but this is what I believe listeners should expect:

7-9 AM: Morning Mayhem with Danny Williams and Cello Romano
9-11 AM: BSN Show with Josh Dover and Adam Kinney
11 AM-1 PM: Whiteley on Sports
1-2 PM: Irv and Joe
2-4 PM: The Big Show with Benny Bash, Benjamin Allbright and Kent Erickson
4-6 PM: Afternoon Drive with Eric Goodman and Zach Fogg w/ talented producer Dan Fellman
6-7 PM: Tom Helmer and Renaud Notaro
7-8 PM: CU on Sports with Don Brenner (maybe???)
Unknown but Yahoo syndication otherwise

The line-up is actually very strong with Allbright joining the Big Show and Helmer joining long-time Denver sports junkie Renaud Notaro.  I am a huge CU fan, but I would rather Notaro and Helmer get two hours and am rooting for that to happen.  The station does lose the talents of Joe Morgan and I am unsure if his spot will be filled but he is another talent that leaves Mile High Sports and gives a different take that I enjoyed during his short late night stint with Allbright.

I have listened to 1340 AM and done some research on it.  It was launched by Fred Meyer (yes, that King Soopers/Kroger/Fred Meyer grocery guy) in 1940 and is one of Colorado's oldest signals and is strong across the Front Range with the signal not having issues depending on location.  The coverage is solid, but AM radio is antiquated and after listening to satellite radio and the strong FM signals the other sports stations use in town, 105.5 and 104.3, Mile High Sports is going to be fighting just another battle to bring listeners back.  They do have visions of a FM signal but they had to ensure they could even get on-air.

So how come it has taken so long to get back on-air?  Well, after the sale of 94.1 FM/1550 AM was streamlined and pushed to May 21st, Mile High Sports Radio was forced to go off-air but with the belief they would be on-air by June 1st.  Things stalled completion of a deal and ramblings could be found online from some believing the station was going to acquire and replace 104.3 FM The Fan to the station was gone altogether.  There was a lot going on from FCC approval to completion of a traded FM radio signal in Fort Collins to 1340 AM's Colorado Public Radio.  Either way, whatever was going on behind closed doors, not necessarily MHSR alone but all parties involved, trying to work out the  deal and from the FCC it was a mess that really hurt the guys lower on the totem pole, the on-air guys and the listeners.  I am sure it hurt the financials of Mile High Sports Radio for the time they were off-air and unable to collect the rent money from the hosts that fill the airwaves and having to work deals with sponsors and other businesses until the could get on-air.  Ultimately, MHSR can operate as long as they have people willing to pay to be on-air and sponsors supporting it.  It is a formula that allows a smaller company without deep pocket books behind it (ESPN behind 1550 AM and most likely Kroenke soon behind 104.3 The Fan) to operate and still make enough money to keep the business going.  The model is quite interesting and allows guys to get their foot in the door/cut their chops and get real on-air radio time instead of some stupid podcast someone does from their basement.  (Note: Podcasts are something that has no credibility since you can cuss and act like a jacks ass and have no real material and yes that was a pot shot at certain Denver Sports Podcasts).  The problem is even the most talented guys that are on-air at Mile High Sports Radio don't have all day to do show prep and are often spending their time trying to get (or keep, like the last two months have caused) advertisers/sponsors of their show and not being able to prep enough for their show.  The good thing is a guy that sells the crap out of their show/brand can make more than a guy that is on-air at one of the bigger stations since they can keep the money their advertisers spill into the show.  So, keep in mind when you listen to guys like Scott Hastings and Big Al making $300,000 a year and presenting no facts and incorrect information and just winging it, he doesn't have to sell anything and has all day to prepare for his show.  The guys at Mile High Sports have limited show prep, are selling their brand all day and most of them are better than at least 60% of what you are getting on the other stations.

Ultimately, Mile High Sports Radio still operates and can come back on-air because sponsors and on-air talent are not just good salesmen, but good at talking sports, getting listeners involved and not toeing the company line.  Denver Sports Radio and TV are constantly having to watch what it says about the local teams because they don't want press credentials removed, but I often find the best criticism comes from Mile High Sports Radio because they aren't in bed with the teams.  Heck, MHSR President openly criticizes all teams in town and most of the shows follow suit.  It's refreshing to not have to hear a scripted show and let things roll with the day and whatever is going on.  Mile High Sports Radio is not just sports but entertainment driven.

105.5 FM ESPN is corporate crap and Lou from Littleton sold the local sports radio vision brilliantly until he sold out and then cut his staff to bare bones minimum. The funny thing is they have some of the most talented guys in the business with NFL fantasy/talent evaluation guru Cecil Lammey and the guy that belongs national like his old co-host Joel Klatt is in Nate Kreckman.  Drew Spevak, Raj Sharan and others along with the two aforementioned hosts are the only reason I tune into 105.5 FM.

On the other side, the old 104.3 FM The Fan has stuck behind old blowhards in Mike Evans, Sandy Clough, Scott Hasting and Big Al.  The problem is Evans should only be an update guy and sidekick to Clough on a 9-12 show instead of being one of the focal points like he is on their morning show.  For whatever reason, Nate Lundy remains in studio and takes quality air time away from others from Vic Lombardi or others he could put in it's place.  I see Oren Lomena, Brandon Krisztal, some guys at MHSR as better options.  Scott Hastings and Big Al are former athletes that rest solely on that.  They have gone downhill not just in age but in the quality of the show they are part of.  The only reason I will ever turn on The Fan on my drive home is to hear Chad Brown when he has his spots or is filling in.  Former Alien actor of Mac and Me star, D-Mac is as bad.  I haven't even turned on after 6 PM to see if they still think it is a good idea to replay 2 hours of that shitty 3 hour show.  Let me clarify, I try to catch The Fan Late Night after 8 pm with Shawn Drotar, Ryan Edwards and James Gomez what I can.  But I am married with a kid so I only get so much time to listen to their show.  These guys have started from the bottom and worked their way up.  They could definitely fill that Dan Patrick time from 9 AM-Noon.

Denver Sports Radio has became lazy and that's why I and others went to Mile High Sports when it came on-air. Corporate radio is a wheel that spins and doesn't care what it produces too often, not always, while the guys at Mile High Sports have visions of turning their on-air time into something bigger whether that is more financial backing or a shot at a bigger show that more people listen to just because where it is at on the dial.  Unfortunately, Mile High Sports Radio has a lot of making up to do to make up for just leaving us waiting for word of what is going on.  In fact, as I have complained about numerous times, their radio page still has the same message from that May 21st date.  That is the number one problem that I have heard, they have kept us in the dark.  So, I write this blog to provide my opinion and to keep people enlightened of what is going on out there and there are options besides what you get from The Fan).  Either way, I look forward to the re-launch.  It comes just in time for Broncos training camp and I urge you to give Mile High Sports Radio another chance when they come back.  In fact, both 104.3 and 105.5 dropped the ball by not ridding themselves of tape delayed national syndicated shows and filling the 3 hours there was no local sports radio on-air these past 10 weeks.  I am hoping this gives one of the most talented young sports guys in Denver his full break and people tune into BSN Show with Joshua Dover.  He has made shows become great by being a phenomenal producer but has shown great talent as a host as well.  Give him and Mile High Sports Radio your ears starting next Monday, July 27th!

Preview: The group of Under 40 talent in Denver Sports Radio is huge and my next Radio related article will most likely center around that.  Here is a quick preview:
1. Nate Kreckman (He's on Top)
Others to be ranked: Benjamin Allbright, Danny Williams, Joshua Dover, Cecil Lammey, Benny Bash, Zach Fogg, Cello Romano, Dan Fellman, Adam Kinney, Drew Spevak, Raj Sharan, etc.

Friday, July 10, 2015

50 Days of Gray for Mile High Sports Radio

Today marks the 50th day that Mile High Sports Radio has been off-air.  It has left an Eeyore like gray cloud over the head of everyone involved whether it be from the top of Mile High Sports Radio to the once in awhile listener.  Things have not gone as planned but the station has remained quiet to keep from stirring the pot.  I understand their reasoning, they do not want to mislead their listeners and do damage control by not hitting the date they publicly air.   The only reason we have got any dates are because of Dusty Saunders Denver Post pieces, on-air talent sharing information via social media and my little blog but no hard on-air date has been set by the station publicly.

Everyone at the station is feeling the pinch as well.  Some people on the outside assume they can't afford to run the station and that's far from the truth.  The station has some great, long running sponsors as do the hosts.  Mile High Sports Radio just doesn't have a station to officially call home until paperwork gets finalized.  The delays are not their doing, they are set up and ready to go but they also can't go on-air or openly talk about what is holding things up and honestly, most people don't care.  They want their product or they complain as I often have.  Still, there is one thing we can correlate between sports radio and Denver, you have to have Broncos coverage.

Let's be honest, the Broncos and NFL in general rule this town and right now there is just a lot of spinning the wheels on the local sports radio until football season starts.  A main discussion in town is getting Troy Tulowitzki voted into the All-Star game and what is going on with teams outside of town that actually getting involved in the NBA Free Agency market and some BS list of Top 100 NFL players that.  The Texans proved that you can lose without a QB.  I am sure they would rather have Aaron Rodgers over JJ Watt, so how does the list hold any merit?  Otherwise, the biggest news we have next week is the MLB all-star game in a town that "doesn't deserve a team" as Dick Monfort said famously a year ago and a public appearance by Bru-Caitlyn Jenner on the ESPYs for an award that is more controversial than if it's okay to have a Confederate flag or same sex marriage.   Mile High Sports Radio isn't missing much, but their sponsors, on-air talent and everyone are trying to get things sorted out and in line.

We know there is one thing and one day that will make or break a re-launch, Broncos training camp! They will have to be on-air by the last week of July when Broncos rookies report on July 27th followed by the vets on July 30th and camp on July 31st.  I actually prefer the format by Mile High Sports Radio over the other stations in town.  The other stations send all their guys to the practices and talk about Dove Valley, the crowds, what guy caught a pass with no pads on in practice and we get the training camp practice darling.  I remember the question marks on if Bradley Roby was a good draft pick based off training camp last year, instead of waiting to see how he performed in games.  It's maddening and ridiculous and the ass kissing and awful player interviews where each guy says the same thing I have read and heard the past 20 years ("Just get better every day." "We have one goal." "Coach does a great job getting us ready." Cliché Cliché Cliché).  Maybe it's because I come from both a sports radio love and a love for entertaining radio like Howard Stern, but I want something different.  I want something unscripted and non-corporate. 

This is why MHSR has became top dog on my dial and on many other longtime sports radio fans.  They are unscripted and the hosts can go in the direction the day brings them. There is no, you must talk this about the Broncos and other sports.  No set, this is coming up next tease where each segment is already spelled out.  There is a don't know what they will say next aspect to Mile High Sports Radio and a duo that is most famous for it is the third longest running duo in Denver Sports Radio.  The list being:
  1. Irv Brown and Joe Williams - The two go together or not at all and have been doing it since before I started tuning in.  They were my drive home from college every day for years.
  2. Big Al & D-Mac - In September 2009 we were introduced to this bumbling stumbling duo of misinformation and weak comedy schtick. To steal the words of my least favorite flogger, I mean blogger, Colin Daniels, this is for the less cerebral audience.  Of course he used that to reference one of my favorite duos...
  3. Danny Williams and Cello Romano -  These two have grown together from the old 9-11 am slot I found them on back in the Tim Tebow days to today.  At times they were like Bert and Ernie and others like Beavis and Butthead but of late it has became more Ren and Stimpy with Cello having to say "Danny, you idiot!"  However their day is going as a duo it has been a constant that is nice to see with so many shows changing locations, line-ups changing and hosts going solo or getting moved around or out. 
To steal a line from Snoop Doggy Dog and Dr. Dre "But uh, back to the lecture at hand"... there is only one thing for Mile High Sports Radio to do now, get on air by Broncos training camp and don't get to August and fourth calendar month off-air.  Coming out refreshed and with something to prove that week would give them a fighting chance to give listeners another option over the don't care about local in the morning corporate machines that 104.3 FM The Fan and 105.5 FM ESPN Radio run on.  Things don't go as planned as evident by all the things going on at Mile High Sports but the only plan they must execute is getting on-air prior to Broncos training camp.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Mile High Sports Radio Still Off-Air & Frustration Mounts

PREFACE: Some wonder why I spend so much time discussing Denver Radio and Mile High Sports Radio in particular I am sure.  Well, I grew up watching the Denver Broncos and Denver Nuggets before there were any reference to the state in team names like the Colorado Rockies and Colorado Avalanche and only the Colorado Buffaloes had won a national title in the state.  Sports has been a  part of my life for as long as I can remember, which dates back to the age of 4 or 5 in 1985.  At that time, I used to catch passes with a small NERF ball in my trailer in Federal Heights (yes, I was raised lower lower middle class or upper lower class) from my dad as we watched the Broncos play.  I remember screaming out 'Nute as Manute Bol noodle legged down the McNichols floor.  There wasn't a Coors Field until I was a freshman in High School or a Pepsi Center until after I graduated High School.  I drove 45 minutes to Golden and back home to East Thornton/SW Brighton daily to attend the Colorado School of Mines and listened to none other than 950 AM The Fan to and from school.  It lead me to write a column called Sports News That Counts for two years since I felt like Division II athletics is crap compared to Division I and needed something to let my sports opinion breathe.  It was much like articles that the very talented and black balled Jim Armstrong wrote.  My love (and at times hatred) of sports on the radio started with me listening to Jerry Schimmel doing Nuggets games on the radio as I went to bed... in junior high. So I may only be 34, or may be old to you under 22 group, but my heart has always had a love for local sports and local sports talk.  Thus, I listened to The Fan in it's infancy and did the same with Mile High Sports Radio when it was just born in July 2007.  So, while I may poke fun at them I ultimately have enjoyed Mile High Sports Radio and wanted to see them succeed.

To provide a brief recap of what was previously highlighted, Mile High Sports Radio went off-air on May 21, 2015.  Since that date, they have had only one message on their company website with no updates or status of what is going on.  Social media outlets of Mile High Sports Radio are similar.  The only way to know what is going on is to dig.  The date was set to be June 1st, that got changed to June 29th after the initial 10 day hiatus had no chance at getting met and since the June 29th target re-launch date, there have been no additional news other than any day, any day, FCC approval, this and that but nothing concrete.  We do know based off their website (and before that Hedwig supplying me official MHSR e-mails) that they are supposed to re-launch on 1340 AM.

I understand it is complicated.  I understand that station President, James Merilatt is awaiting paperwork and final approval and can't give any concrete news but as I have stated repeatedly, a simple message update weekly would suffice for many listeners.  Something in the lines of this:

July 7, 2015: Mile High Sports Radio was hoping to be back on-air by June 29th.  We unfortunately were unable to meet that date, since we are waiting on everything to be approved and finalized.  We understand and feel the same frustration our listeners and sponsors have with this long delay.  As soon as we know or can share more, we will make sure you are the first to know.  Thanks for your support and loyalty to Mile High Sports in this transition. 

Simple, no misinformation provided to the public and above else it lets listeners and sponsors know you are still there and chewing at the bit to get back on-air.  Instead, the silence has led my interactions to be the sort where I find fellow listeners giving up on the station going forward, believing there is more to it than awaiting paperwork and FCC approval, for example they have no money or just not coming back at all.  The on-air talent is scrambling to keep sponsors that keep them on-air and keep money in their pocket.  They are also dealing with trying to keep listeners in tune and interested rather than going elsewhere.  I feel greatly for these guys, since they use radio to expand their brand and to generate income and they have been kept silent for nearly 50 days!  I wouldn't be surprised to see some of the better talent end up at 104.3 The Fan or 105.5 FM ESPN Denver or in a different market with football season starting and the need to make their station more appealing.  I know if guys like Danny Williams and Cello Romano, Benjamin Allbright, Benny Bash, Joe Morgan, Brandon Spano and Eric Goodman went elsewhere I would be listening to them elsewhere.  All have shown the chops to prove they are better than some of the less talented guys in Denver (aka anything the fan puts on-air live 6-9 am and 3-6 pm other than Vic Lombardi.

It is frustrating since I decided to make Mile High Sports Radio my main station when Tim Neverett helped start the station in 2007.  And I ultimately saw that some talented guys get their chops and skills honed there.  Denver's best sports radio guy, Nate Kreckman, was absolutely amazing radio from the second he went from producing for Neverett and Armstrong on the old 560/1600 AM to being able to have a show of his own.  We have seen Joel Klatt become a big force in Fox Sports nationally and have seen Peter Burns change Denver radio by adding internet radio (though the guys they have do it are old and winded and don't belong) and moving to the mighty national ESPN and SEC Network.  So I blog because I see what Mile High Sports has done to Denver radio making it the most local and live shows with great talent and want to see Mile High Sports succeed because I chose to stick with it and make it the main station I listened to over the overrated 104.3 The Fan and sell-out 105.5 ESPN Denver.  By the way, I love ESPN Denver's local guys but tape delayed national shows that can be listened to on a radio app is worthless on my local sports radio and I am still disappointed the way it is set up.

I blog to give other listeners information and something to think about and discuss because other than the Broncos centered fan, I like having a  college football show to listen to. I like having guys that have an eclectic background of sports knowledge and some are more entertaining and some are more expert centered but it is local, it is live and it gives me something to think about and talk about in regards to the local sport scene.  Newspaper is near death and that's why sports radio has a voice in Denver.  Mile High Sports Radio doesn't share space with the classified section.  MHSR hasn't laid off half of its staff and kept morons that rest on their name and being controversial rather than informative (finger pointed at you Woody Paige and Mark Kiszla though Irv) and only employing one outstanding writer (Benjamin Hochman) and a pretty damn good journalist (Chris Dempsey). So it is frustrating as a listener that has been around for nearly eight years, and since the inception, of MHSR that has a lifelong love for the local sports to be completely left in the dark by that station he gives his attention and their sponsors business to when he could choose to join the zombie masses that go to the old familiar The Fan without realizing it doesn't have much pop to it.  So all we want to know is what the heck is going on Mile High Sports Radio?  Can you at least answer that?