Friday, January 27, 2017

Tumpkin's Time Ends at CU: Passion Fuels Violence

In October 2016, I interviewed Joe Tumpkin the day before the Oregon State game  and wrote a piece titled Coach Joe Tumpkin: Practicing What He Preaches.  During the interview he was a quiet spoken, cordial man very knowledgeable about the game of football and seemed like a very nice man from what I was told of him.  The ironic aspect to this interview happening was it  happened because I was introduced to Joe Tumpkin via social media from a simple acquaintance that I came to find out was the woman (let's call her "Paige) that was Tumpkin's lover/girlfriend and the woman that later would turn out to be the other side of Joe Tumpkin I had already seen pieces of on the football field.  

On the field, you saw something different where Tumpkin's fire and passion would come out and be worn on his sleeve.  There was the sideline confrontation with Coach MacIntyre during the 2015 Oregon game and the penchant to yell or scream during practice/games.  The quiet demeanor of a grounded man had a switch flicked when it came to the sport he was passionate about.

Unfortunately, that same switch flicked for the woman he was passionate about and it led to nearly two years of domestic violence.  The woman that loved Joe Tumpkin probably focused on the same things I saw in Joe in that short hour interview and ignored the fire that brewed within.  Paige saw the man that was God fearing and raised by a woman of the Lord in Dr. Mary Tumpkin and the man I saw that offered you a beverage and friendliness that you don't always show someone that is a stranger.  Most of all, Paige saw the man that she had fallen in love with over a year before he was hired by CU.  Someone that had never laid a hand on her or showed the violence and "passion" on the football field towards her.  

In February of 2015 Joe Tumpkin was hired by CU and Paige was there with him.  During his time at CU, she had met with the other football staff members, members of the athletic department and was well  received and part of the group of the coaches wives group.  But over the course of those twenty plus months, Paige endured violence from Joe she had never seen before when their relationship formed and grew in Michigan.  Violence came to Colorado with Tumpkin from a violent episode on her second visit to Colorado.  The excuses and the cover up began that day and continued for nearly two years.  While not every visit was violent, every episode of violence became more violent.  And Paige's cover-ups for any evidence became greater.

Paige had told no one of the ongoing abuse.  She lived with this burden for over twenty one months with the final episode occurring on November 20th, 2016.  It was the morning after a night going out to dinner to celebrate the Washington State victory with Tumpkin and friends, Paige suffered her last forms of physical violence from Joe Tumpkin when she was violently dragged out of his place and thrown into the hallway being told to "Get the f*** out of here!"  Paige rushed down to the lobby praying that was it.  Unlike in the past,  Paige didn't go back up when Joe reached out to her, she instead curled in a ball crying  waiting for an Uber ride to the airport and had to wait nearly 10 hours for a flight out of town.

Don't confuse Paige for a weak woman. Paige is a strong minded, hard headed woman that covered for the man she loved.  She comes from a background of helping people and trying to get the best from people.  Paige sought counseling sessions for Joe to help try to end the violence, stop the bad habits of drinking and driving, and get Joe Tumpkin back to the man she fell in love with.  In the end, the violence never ended and the passion for Paige snapped from Joe Tumpkin into another violent outburst with the counseling being of no assistance. 

Paige is not a victim.  In fact, she hates that word.  She finds it to demean the strong woman she is and others are victims, not someone who let herself continue to deal with this violence.  But the simple fact is Paige was blinded by her love of Joe just like many people are blinded by love of something/someone where we overlook the little things and even the biggest of things that shows that love is not a healthy and positive thing, but we find an excuse.  The abuse, covering and excuses for Joe ended on November 20th when Paige returned home and finally told family and select friends of the abuse she had endured from the man she still loved from February 2015 to just the day before.

Paige went to the Broomfield Police Department on December 19th and spoke about the things that had first been made public by Mitchell Byars article on January 6, 2017 (Joe Tumpkin, CU Buffs assistant coach, named in domestic violence complaint).  The Temporary Protection Order (TPO) had been set in place the following day on December 20th with the evidence from the report the Broomfield Detective took with hours of statements given and exact details and dates shared.  Paige had decided she could protect herself by disassociating herself from this man, but she had to protect other women and give justice for what he had done to her and she had covered up.  She couldn't keep quiet because she couldn't look her son in the eye and tell him the details of what she had endured without making sure he knew she wasn't going to make another excuse or cover up for Joe Tumpkin again.  

The news broke by BSN Buffs Jake Shapiro on January 26, 2017 that Tumpkin was out at CU (SOURCES: Assistant coach Joe Tumpkin out at CU ) stemmed from this, the Permanent Protection Order (PPO) had been signed by both parties and approved by the Boulder County Judge.  The signed PPO was what the University of Colorado Athletic Department found as just cause for asking for Joe Tumpkin's resignation.  His contract was set to expire, but the University was not going to sit idly and just cover for Joe Tumpkin like Paige had done and wanted him out for his action.  With the PPO, Paige had the protection for herself but the truth about Joe Tumpkin's violence towards her vindicated somewhat instead of being labeled some slighted ex.  Having a violent man around young men is something the University could not justify and was also a major concern for Paige.

With all that she had dealt with, Paige still has her concerns for Joe.  She worries about him finding another job, about his livelihood, his repuation, but most of all, she just worries about him.  Paige wants Joe to get the real help he needed to lose the violence and not hurt someone else while being the great man and coach she fell in love with and still fights feelings of caring so deeply for.  As someone that has met Joe Tumpkin and seeing the positives he has done as a coach and can do in life, I hope the same for him.  Joe Tumpkin deserves a second chance elsewhere in coaching and maybe at a level he can deal with men would be a good start but first he needs to prove he is a changed man and has received the help he truly needs.

While Paige's PPO may not be the end of this journey and there may be more that comes of all of this, the one thing her speaking up did was show other women that you can't sit quietly and think even as a strong woman that you can help him on your own.  The keeping each violent episode quiet over and over again isn't going to make things better but could lead to something really awful  happening.  So, speak up, because the repeated pattern of abuse will never end unless you speak up and separate yourself from that violence.  Laying your hands on a woman is not forgivable, especially one that isn't trying to hurt you, but help you.  While Paige may still love Joe and worry about his future, she also protected her own, the players Joe could have worked with and the potential victims in the future that may not have happened had she kept quiet. 

There is never a good ending to domestic violence, but there is always a chance for both parties to live a better life by getting the  help they need.  Paige and Joe deserve a better life going forward, I truly hope they do.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Chiaverini Takes CU into a New Era (Bonus: Other Happenings)

Colorado Football's RISE to national relevance took the work of nearly 4 years by Mike MacIntyre and the product he was selling, but that final piece to his puzzle lies in Darrin Chiaverini.  Chiaverini had visions beyond 2016 when he came back to roam the confines of Folsom Field more than15 years after his playing days in Boulder ended. "Recruiting is the lifeblood of  college football" is something Chiaverini shared in our interview in August of 2016.  Chiaverini proved that point instantly helping salvage a below average recruiting class for 2016 and turning it into a respectable one.  That 2016 recruiting finish was just a sign of greater things to come for the Colorado Buffaloes in 2016 and 2017 recruiting.

Chiaverini came to CU with MacIntyre being afforded more time, money and staff for recruiting than CU had ever had as the new recruiting coordinator.  Instead of coaches having to spend countless hours spilling over tape, recruiting staff did the leg work and brought talent to the staffs attention.  But ultimately it takes a coaches vision, his words and their passion/love for a program that can land a recruit.  Chiaverini can sell CU unlike any other member of this staff besides Darian Hagan because he invested his own blood, sweat and tears into Folsom at the turning point of manhood.  Chiaverini has sold that vision in tune to a Top 20 rated recruiting class helping land an unheard of 7 commitments (was 8 until this past weekend), 4 top in-state Colorado guys and 8 commits from his home state of California.  CU has focused on these 3 states that have been the pipeline to past CU recruiting success.  CUs 2017 class has the potential to become a legacy class, the difference between challenging for a division every few years and challenging for a potential New Years 6 Bowl or even College Football Playoffs.  And he hasn't stopped there, picking up 3 commits for the 2018 class as he holds off the dogs from the surrounding Power 5 schools for the 2017 commits.  Talking Power 5, the total scholarship offers from the other Power 5 schools for the current commit list is roughly equal to the offer list from Power 5 schools for the past decade of Colorado recruiting class commitments COMBINED.  Chiaverini truly is helping lead CU to a New Era off the field and on the field.

On the field, the Buffs offense saw heights it had missed last season with Chiaverini also wearing the tag of co-Offensive Coordinator to his Recruiting Coordinator and wide receiver position group.  CU averaged more than 6.5 points more per contest and roughly 50 yards more per contest.  Those numbers are actually slightly deflated, because they include both of CUs postseason contests where CU took a big hit in both categories with an offense running on fumes due to injuries and ineffective play across the board.  But CUs offense was truly improved.  CU had 5 guys with 30 or more catches and 400 or more yards receiving compared to just two in 2015.  CU had their first 1,000 yard running back since Rodney Stewart with Phillip Lindsay.  Lindsay was one of the previous group or receivers adding 53 catches and 493 yards receiving to 1,252 rushing yards with 17 total touchdowns.  The Buffs added a speed to their offense that caused defenses issues early on in the season.  Chiaverini along with co-Offensive Coordinator Brian Lindgren will need to adjust to a new quarterback and finding a way to get back and sustain the success they had the first half of the 2016 campaign.

CU must focus on getting more defensive front seven players and secondary players to fill the holes left from a large senior heavy defensive group instead of having to rely on the JUCO well they hit quite well to get 4 top end JUCO players as early enrollments.  They may have the "Shake and Bake" Cal Naughton Jr. and Ricky Bobby duo with "Cal" Klayton Adams and "If you ain't first, your last" Chiaverini.

 CUs Rise is Real getting to 10 Wins with the architect Mike MacIntyre but to take the New Era to a new level, the Buffs will lean on Chiaverini's direction as a talent evaluator and seller of the program.  Colorado Buffaloes football is headed into the right direction but it does not come without changes.

Defensive Overhaul
While CU saw unprecedented success on defense that they had not seen since their national prominence of the late 80s to mid 90s ranking in the Top Dozen in all major team defense stats, the defense fell apart to end the season.  And with it, so goes the defensive staff and players.  CU will lose 8 starters from this year's squad to graduation and lost corners coach, Charles Clark, and mad man defensive coordinator, Jim Leavitt, to Nike University, aka Oregon.  Oregon ranked among the bottom of the pile in all of college football so the challenge will be great for those two coaches.  Still there is a challenge to find a defensive coordinator and assistant to help make up for these losses.

Additionally, the Buffs are facing a serious issue in Safeties coach, Joe Tumpkin's, domestic violence allegations stemming from the temporary restraining order mad public by news that broke January 6, 2016.  The details and descriptions noted by Mitchell Byars of the Boulder Daily Camera (Tumpkin DV Complaint) are so vivid that it is hard to believe that there isn't some fire to the smoke noted.  Every person deserves their day in court, but from everything gathered, it appears it will likely be best for CU to put Tumpkin on administrative leave and potentially move on from the issues stemming from the repeated incidents noted.  It is a difficult decision, but right now, thinking as a parent of two girls and having a wife, that would be my first issue/flag if Coach Tumpkin called or visited.  Either way, it is a sad story having spent an hour talking with Tumpkin and seeing his love for the sport of football.  Whatever happens, I hope he gets help for whatever issues that caused this ongoing ordeal to occur and to land on his feet a better man.  And I hope the woman involved  is shown the respect by people that weren't there and can't attest to exactly what happened.  Unfortunately, unless there is a video involved, we tend to cover for our athletes/coaches instead of taking the human element of compassion into account first.

But back to the GOOD NEWS: The overhaul in staff sounds like CU fans may know at least the defensive coordinator hire within days.  There is one thing CU needs in a hire and that is a coach that can recruit.  CU had a very solid defense but lacked ideal size, speed and talent across the board, especially at the Linebacker position.  While they have landed some very solid commits for 2017, they need some IMPACT defensive players at Inside Linebacker, Safety and a young interior defensive lineman to close out the class.  For all the great Leavitt and Clark brought, selling top level prep recruits to join CU was just not a specialty for either.  CU needs a coach that can do that and from the many people I have talked to, I believe they will get a guy that has shown the ability to do that.  Hopefully, the other assistant(s) brought on board will continue to strengthen the Colorado Football program as they head into a New Era.

MacIntyre Gets Extended
This is not an early morning Enzyte commercial despite the early writing of this blog.  No, this is in reference to Head Coach Mike MacIntyre getting a nice pay raise and extension to his contract to keep him with CU contractually through 2021.  His deal will average $3.25 million over the five years.  My guess are incentives and buyouts will be an interesting aspect to read when the contract is made public.

Talking MacIntyre, he joined a group of other college football head coaches in the ESPN Coaches Film Room for the National Championship game and his knowledge and insight was quite a joy to watch throughout the game.  It showed that despite so many others believing they know more better on the direction CU football should take, MacIntyre has it covered.

Additionally, the off-season overhaul by MacIntyre for National Coach of the Year honors was well deserved.  MacIntyre has now taken two programs at the bottom of their conferences and turned them into a top program.  Now he gets the chance to show he can sustain it.  CU is bound to take some bumps and bruises losing the players and coaches noted, but MacIntyre had previously pointed to 2017 being a season to turn around the program.  He got his wish early.  Eight wins would be another good season.  Anything above that will show CU truly can keep the momentum they have shown since January 2016 into 2017.