Around the Horn, August 7, 2019

Around The Horn” is news feature resurrection from the early days of RamNation.com. We take readers around the college athletics world, as it relates to Colorado State and the Mountain West Conference. This one is brought to you by Mighty River Brewing Co., whose sponsorship allows us to add new features and original content to the site. They’re also offering $1 off beers if you show RamNation on your phone when you visit! Check them out!

Last Chance (CS)U. Season 4 of the hit Netflix series “Last Chance U” debuted a couple weeks ago, once again featuring Independence CC, its volatile coach Jason Brown, and roster of troubled players. CSU boasts a former Indy CC player in offensive lineman Keith Williams, who is in his second season with the Rams after appearing in two games for CSU in 2018 as a reserve. The controversial (former) Indy CC head coach Brown, known for his extremely brash style, ultimately resigned this year after texting “I am your new Hitler” to a German student-coach, according to ESPN. But Williams recently took up for his old coach via Twitter. 

Meanwhile, Williams is one of three “Last Chance U” alums from Indy CC currently playing on a Mountain West roster. One of the most high-profile players from the series — in any of the four seasons — is quarterback Malik Henry, who was once booted from Florida State. He has walked on at Nevada, and is considered to be a contender to win the starting job. The most successful “Last Chance U” alum from Indy CC now playing in the MW is defensive back DJ Williams, who plays a significant role in the Utah State secondary, earning Defensive MVP honors in last year’s New Mexico Bowl. A fourth player, QB Brandon Bea, walked on to Boise State’s team in the offseason, but has already left the program. 

Upset Alert. CFB Home lists CSU at Arkansas as one of the top 10 potential upsets for 2019. The Rams needed a wild comeback to beat the Razorbacks at Canvas Stadium last year, and make the return trip to Fayetteville Saturday September 14 (a 2 p.m. kickoff). Two other MW teams made the Top-10 list: Utah State at LSU and Fresno State at USC. 

 

Wooo Beer Sooie. Speaking of Arkansas, for those traveling to Fayetteville for the game, you will get to enjoy an adult beverage if you are of legal age.  The university just okayed adding beer and wine sales at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium, everywhere except for the student section.

Inside Michael Gallup. Former Ram wide receiver great Michael Gallup, now in his second season with the Dallas Cowboys, recently reflected on his rookie season, in which he became just the sixth rookie in Cowboys franchise history to eclipse the 500-yard mark, joining the likes of Pro Football Hall of Famers Michael Irvin and Bob Hayes. The season was marred by the tragic passing of his brother, Andrew, who took his own life halfway through the NFL season. While the loss was devastating for Michael, he thrived in the eight games following the tragedy, catching 26 passes for 359 yards and two scores, including the postseason game vs. the Los Angeles Rams in which he had six grabs for 119 yards. “It was a little bit different than most rookie seasons,” Gallup told DallasCowboys.com. “I’m never going to be able to think about it without thinking about the tragedy. On the field, it wasn’t bad. At first rocky, started picking up some stuff in the middle here and there, some games I showed what I can do, and toward the end it really started to click.” Click here for a great read

Future No. 1 WR? While on the topic of former Ram wide receiver greats, Preston Williams is having a nice camp in Miami. Fourth-year cornerback Xavien Howard, who has had to cover Williams in practice, told the Sun Sentinel newspaper, “That guy can be special. He’s still learning. He’s just a rookie. [There] is so much room for improvement with him, but he’s going to be a number one receiver one day.” On Saturday, Williams tallied over 100 yards in a scrimmage, including a 42-yarder from Josh Rosen on a go route. Click for more, including a video. (And a shout out to sanfranramfan for passing this story along!)  

Pokes Earn Notoriety. The University of Wyoming recently made a Top 10 ranking: According to 247Sports.com, Wyoming ranks 10th in the nation in fan ejections. 

Border War Motivation. Some interesting comments surfaced in a Casper Star Tribune story on the Border War last week. During Mountain West Media Days, the author asked players from both sides about the importance of the rivalry and this year’s game as Wyoming goes for a four-game winning streak in the series (which would match the longest winning streak for either side since Wyoming won seven straight from 1967-1973). CSU starting QB and captain Collin Hill said, “That’s the worst feeling man. It really is. That’s the goal all week. Thinking about going and getting the boot and then right after the game, watching everybody run over there and take it, it stings.”

Contrast that to Wyoming senior kicker Cooper Rothe, who said, “That’s definitely the goal (to record a Border War sweep for the senior class). That’s a game we circle and highlight before the season starts.”

It’s long past time for CSU to put a premium on winning this rivalry game. Circle it NOW. 

Appropriately Named. Allegiant Air has officially purchased the naming rights for the new stadium in Las Vegas (in the range of $20-$25 million/year for 20 years). So, the airline known for poor air service (ranked 8th out of 10 U.S. airlines by the PointsGuy.com) will appropriately adorn UNLV’s new football stadium — home of one of the worst teams through the air (the Rebels ranked 110th out of 130 FBS teams last year).

Denver Deal. For the second straight year, CSU is offering a great deal to entice fans from Denver to make the drive to Canvas Stadium for the home opener. For just $39, you get a game ticket, pre-game barbeque at the Coors Light Ram Walk tailgate, a drink ticket at the tailgate, an option for a campus tour, and parking. Or, if you’ve already got game tickets, you get the food/drink, parking, and tour for $19. Click here for more information on Denver Day and use the promo code DENDAY when ordering. 

Rocky Mountain Highlights. Former Loveland Reporter Herald Ram beat writer Mike Brohard recently crossed over to the other side, when CSU athletics hired him to become an Assistant Communications Director for Content Development. While his independent, unbiased news coverage will be missed, his storytelling ability is already on display at CSU. In the relatively new “RamWire” section of csurams.com, he recently penned the second of a five-part series recounting some of the best Mile High moments for Colorado State in the rivalry. In the latest edition, he talks the 2000 28-24 win with former Ram QB Matt Newton and WR Frank Rice, who were part of back-to-back wins vs. the Buffs. Newton said that when CU took a 24-14 lead in the third quarter that game, the Rams didn’t wilt, and instead imposed their will. “We were mature enough and had enough playmakers to take the momentum back. I think that’s something that’s been missing since the early 2000s.” Read more about the 2000 game, as well as Brohard’s first installment in the series — an in-depth look with Caleb Hanie at the 2006 14-10 win

With three stories yet to come, it’s a fair bet that the 1999, 2002, and 2014 Rocky Mountain Showdown wins will all be on the docket.  

Byrd Watching. While we’re plugging a CSU news source, do yourself a favor and subscribe to the Colorado State Insider podcast, hosted by Voice of the Rams, Brian Roth. In the latest edition, you’ll hear interviews with former Ram/current Denver Bronco LB Josh Watson, head men’s basketball coach Niko Medved and hoops senior big man Nico Carvacho. Particularly of interest was Medved’s response to a question about the new additions to the roster. He singled out VCU transfer P.J. Byrd, who recently received a waiver by the NCAA to become immediately eligible in 2019-20, as a player to watch.

“It’s crazy, he’s only been here two to three weeks and it feels like he’s been here for a while. I love his mentality and his toughness and he’s fit in really well.” The coaching staff was recruiting Byrd out of Houston a year ago and had a good relationship with him, so when he wanted to transfer from VCU, Colorado State was a natural fit. Medved added: “One thing I think you’ll see when you come and watch us, he’s got an infectious spirit about him, and really competes at a high level. He’s a talkative, a chatty kid, he’s kind of got natural leadership instincts. Even just a year of playing at a high level like that at VCU I think is a kid that’s going to add some real leadership to what we’re doing. We’re excited to have him. He’s already brought another little edge in practice, which I love.”

Roth will be airing podcasts every two weeks throughout the football season, with the next one scheduled for August 14. 

Transfer Tracker. Wondering where all the former Ram hoop transfers ended up? Here’s a list: 

  • Deion James, graduate transfer, Washington State
  • Lorenzo Jenkins, graduate transfer, Grand Canyon
  • Anthony Masinton Bonner, graduate transfer, Missouri State
  • Logan Ryan, sophomore, Ferris State
  • Jack Schoemann, freshman, Cal-State Bakersfield
  • Zo Tyson, grad transfer, IUPUI

On Notice? Does the Mountain West have expansion plans in its future? Commissioner Craig Thompson recently told the Athletic that a more likely scenario is contraction. In a surprisingly candid interview, Thompson stated, “We’ve been through it. We’ve had 15 football-playing institutions. The market will dictate, in the west, there’s BYU and New Mexico State that are independent. I don’t want to speak in hypotheticals, but more probable would be contraction.” The comments can’t be reassuring to San Jose State and Hawaii.

The Art of Scheduling. Central Florida A.D. Danny White has been waging a war of words with media members who have questioned his refusal to play 2-for-1 games vs. Power 5 opponents, while willing to schedule home-and-homes against other Group of 5 teams (like they recently did with FIU). White responded to the criticism: “I think we’re at the top level. I’m not going to waste any time trying to schedule for a four-team playoff, because it’s not a playoff. It’s an invitational. It’s not an adequate postseason. I think our schedule works great for an eight-team playoff, and I think that’s where it needs to go. And I think our schedule, as proven over the last couple of years, works great for building a football program and us playing a meaningful game hopefully on New Year’s Day. Hopefully we get more opportunities to do that. Obviously we’ve done that the last two years in a row.

“So we’re not interested in listening to people’s ideas on how we get to a four-team playoff. There are a lot of people that had ideas after our first undefeated season, and said that if we just did it again, we’d be in the playoff. Well we weren’t even considered after going a second straight year undefeated. So I don’t think it matters. We could play the San Francisco 49ers, the Miami Dolphins and the Chicago Bears. They’re still not going to put us in a four-team playoff. We’re realists about that. That’s why we’ve been pushing for an adequate postseason with an eight-team playoff. And we need to schedule what’s right for us building our program.”

UCF will play two Power 5 opponents this season: Stanford and Pitt. Count me as pulling for UCF to continue beating up on the P5, as they’ve carried the banner for G5 for the past couple of years. A rising tide raises all boats, as Sonny Lubick used to say.

Meanwhile, on CSU’s scheduling front, A.D. Joe Parker has done a fantastic job with adding quality games to the Rams’ schedule, including at least two games vs. P5 opponents each season. Upcoming opponents include:

  • Arkansas home-and-home, 2018, 2019
  • Oregon State home-and home, 2017, 2020
  • Vanderbilt home-and-homes, 2020, 2021, and 2025, 2026
  • Iowa, one-time road game 2021
  • Michigan, one-time road game, 2022
  • Washington State home-and-home, 2022, 2023
  • Colorado home-and-home, 2023, 2024
  • Texas, one-time road game 2024
  • Texas Tech, home-and-home, 2025, 2026
  • Arizona, home-and-home, 2027, 2028

Compare that to the putrid CSU scheduling stretch between 2008-2012 when the Rams played CU five times as their only Power 5 opponent each of those years during that span.

Post of the Week. Buffsin2019 has been a RamNation poster since basically the beginning, and is one of the good guys. For the last dozen years or so, he has created 100-day countdowns to the Rocky Mountain Showdown. His rankings have involved jersey numbers, several different movie lists, music, and history over the years. This year he compiled a list of the best multi-sport athletes of all time. His list has included five former Rams so far, including his most recent selection, former Colorado Agricultural College Aggie athlete Glen Morris, who won the decathalon at the 1936 Olympics, and ranked No. 34 on Buffsin2019’s list. Check out this post for more background on the legendary Morris, who was also the subject of a former Denver Post writer Terry Frei book, called “Olympic Affair“. (Which, by the way, it is a great read, and highly recommended.) The other former Rams (or Aggies) on Buffsin2019’s list so far have been Bubba Baker, Lonnie Wright, Fum McGraw, and Kay McFarland. 

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All Around the Horn columns can be found in the Features tab here. 

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