Around the Horn, Sept. 25, 2019

Around The Horn” is a resurrection of a column 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 Company, who is hosting “Riverfest” Saturday September 28. It will feature great food from the Salty Dog Food Truck with special German offerings, traditional Marzen Lager, German Pilsner Lager, and live music! Plus, buy a 32oz Riverfest Mug with either lager and keep the glass! Don’t miss this great event, held only one day per year! 

Spread Matters: Perhaps a silver lining in Saturday’s loss to Toledo is that Colorado State covered the point spread, which the Rams have struggled to do in the last couple years. They’re 2-2 this year against the spread (counting the cover over FCS opponent Western Illinois), and went just 5-7 in 2018 and 4-9 in 2017. If you had blindly bet $100/game on your beloved Rams during that time, you’d be down $900.  Ironically, the Rams got off to a good start against the point spread during the Mike Bobo era, going 6-6-1 in 2015 and then a wallet-filling 10-3 in 2016. So, thanks to that gambler’s dream team in 2016, you’d “only” be down $170 overall since Bobo arrived at CSU. 

By the way, the Rams have been underdogs in 27 of 55 games since the start of 2015. They’re likely to be underdogs in all but one or two remaining games this season. 

1034 and Counting. CSURamFan pointed out on the RamNation.com message boards prior to Saturday’s game vs. Toledo that it was a good chance for CSU to reset the counter on the number of days since last beating an FBS team with a winning record. Unfortunately, the Rams didn’t get that done, and it has now been 1034 days since that last happened. Since taking over the CSU program in 2015, Bobo has just four wins over winning FBS programs (teams with winning records at the end of the season) out of 24 chances. It’s likely that at least six of the remaining eight opponents on this year’s schedule will finish with a winning record this year, so we’ll see if the Rams can break the dubious streak sometime this season. 

By the way, Bobo is now squarely in the red on the list of CoachesHotSeat.com’s Hot Seat List at #29. 

What’s Wrong With this Picture?: CSU’s sieve-like defense didn’t do itself any favors on the third play from scrimmage to start the second half when it had just 10 men on the field and allowed Toledo running back Bryant Koback to run 37 yards untouched for a touchdown. Ram safety Jamal Hicks took himself out of the game on the previous play after forcing a receiver out of bounds and the Rams were unable to get a replacement on the field before the next play. Koback ran unscathed up the right side of the field where Hicks would have been. We’re guessing a safety probably would have helped on the play. But then again, maybe not. The Rams had 11 players on the field during the subsequent two Toledo possessions and still allowed Koback to rip off a 75-yard touchdown run (on a one-play drive) and a 45-yard touchdown run (on a five-play drive). 

What was also aggravating to this observer was the defense’s mass confusion on the crucial fourth-and-1 situation with just 2:22 remaining in the game. Players were running around trying to figure out where to line up as the snap was underway. That’s not necessarily an unheard of occurence in college football, but it was particularly concerning considering there was a two-minute instant replay review before the fourth down snap. The team had more than enough time to be coached up and lined up. Of course, Rockets running back Shakif Seymour gashed the CSU defense for 35 yards on the play, allowing Toledo to run the clock down to 31 seconds and kick a field goal to go up 41-35.  

Better Not Lose to CSU: While CSU and its 1-3 record didn’t show up on Dan Wolken’s “Misery Index” in the USA Today Sunday, the Rams were mentioned as a reason Arkansas head coach Chad Morris might be on the hotseat. The Razorbacks inexplicably lost to doormat San Jose State  at home Saturday, to which Wolken wrote, “You can’t dance around this. It’s unforgivable for Arkansas to lose that game, and it’s particularly bad for coach Chad Morris because his short tenure already includes losses to North Texas and Colorado State” (in 2018).

Gulp. 

Meanwhile, how in the world did CSU lose by three touchdowns in Fayetteville when lowly San Jose State went in there and won? Don’t answer that. 

Going Down. With the Rams dropping to 1-3 for the second straight season in a row, they have dropped to 11th out of 12 Mountain West Conference teams in the Fort Collins Coloradoan’s MW power ratings, just behind New Mexico (2-1) and only ahead of UNLV (1-2). San Jose State, which was previously ranked 12th, vaulted up to No. 8 following its win at Arkansas Saturday. 

Buyout Blather: FootballScoop.com published an article today analyzing Bobo’s contract and the circumstances surrounding his extension. It concludes: “If Colorado State’s season does not make a U-turn and the school elects to move on, perhaps the CSU camp and the Bobo camp get together after Thanksgiving weekend and negotiate a settlement between $3-$5.5 million that doesn’t put both sides in an incredibly awkward situation for the sake of a couple million dollars.” Worth a read here

White Bread and Extra Sauce: On a positive note for CSU football, CBS Sports Network color analyst Aaron Taylor shared this tweet with a clip of Ram left guard Nouredin Nouili absolutely flattening a Toledo defensive lineman. The offensive line has been a bright spot for this team so far in 2019. 

GJ3-Joey Porter Deja Vu: Former USC running back Reggie Bush is still getting the Trojans in trouble. During a home win over Utah last Friday night at the Los Angeles Coliseum, current Trojans running back Markese Stepp celebrated a touchdown by high-fiving Bush in the back of the endzone, drawing an unsportsmanlike conuct penalty. It was reminiscent of Gartrell Johnson’s chest bump with Joey Porter during a game against BYU in 2008, which also drew a penalty.

No Thank You: Last year, Bobo declined a $100,000 annual raise that was due to him per his contract, citing the program not being where he wanted it to be and him wanting to show accountability. It was an admirable gesture. But imagine doing that after winning a national title, like 11th-year University of Virginia men’s basketball coach Tony Bennett just did. He accepted a contract extension, but turned down an offer for a hefty pay raise — just five months after winning the NCAA National Championship for the first time in program history.

Bennett told UVA Today, “I have more than I need. I’m blessed beyond what I deserve. (Wife) Laurel and I are in a great spot, and in the past I’ve had increases in my contract. We just feel a great peace about where we’re at, all that’s taken place, and how we feel about this athletic department and this community and this school. I love being at UVA. President (Jim) Ryan and (athletic director) Carla (Williams) were very gracious in what they offered to me as a potential contract, but I have a very good contract. I have more than enough, and if there are ways that this can help out the athletic department, the other programs and coaches, by not tying up so much [in men’s basketball], that’s my desire.”

Bennett asked Williams to focus instead on additional compensation for his staff and improvements that would benefit his program. He extended his contract another year and now has seven years remaining on his deal. He owns a 254-89, with seven NCAA tournament appearances and one trip to the NIT. 

Meanwhile, the Bennetts have pledged $500,000 toward a career-development program that’s been launched for current and former UVA men’s basketball players.

There’s not enough of these kinds of stories in sports these days. 

“Unbelievable” Rams: Netflix’s recently released series “Unbelievable” is a critically acclaimed, eight-episode show centering on sexual assault, based on a true story. In one episode, lead detective Grace Rasmussen (played by Toni Collette) is sitting at a bar watching a basketball game on TV. It just so happens to be a CSU game. As she’s talking to a fellow cop at the bar, she tells him she “used to play point at Colorado State”. Only other movie I can think of a similar CSU reference is Samuel L. Jackson’s character Danny Roman saying he played for Colorado State in the 1998 movie “The Negotiator”.

New Year’s 6 Leaders: As you may know, the top-rated team from a Group of Five conference gets an invite to one of the New Year’s Six Bowl games each year. With UCF losing at Pitt Saturday, Boise State is the current front runner for the spot (4-0 with wins at Florida State, vs. Marshall, vs. Portland State, and vs. Air Force). UCF will remain in the mix should they go undefeated the rest of the way, but other current undefeated G5 contenders so far are:

  • SMU (4-0): wins at Arkansas State, vs. North Texas, vs. Texas State, at TCU
  • Appalachian State (3-0): wins vs. East Tennessee State, vs. UNC Charlotte, at North Carolina (still has South Carolina on the schedule)
  • Memphis (3-0): wins vs. Ole Miss, vs. Southern, vs. South Alabama
  • UAB (3-0): wins vs. Alabama State, at Akron, vs. South Alabama (still has Tennessee on the schedule)
  • Navy (2-0): wins vs. Holy Cross, vs. East Carolina (still has Notre Dame on the schedule)

SMU, Memphis, and Navy all play each other during the season, so at least one will be eliminated from that group.  UAB and Appalachian State hail from weaker conferences (Conference USA and Sun Belt, respectively), so they would likely need a MW or American Athletic Conference team to have a couple losses, as Boise State and the AAC teams will benefit from stronger strength of schedules.

G5 participants are 3-2 in these NY6 games since the arrangement began in 2014:

  • 2018: No. 8 UCF lost to No. 11 LSU 40-32 in the Fiesta Bowl
  • 2017: No. 12 UCF beat No. 7 Auburn 34-27 in the Peach Bowl
  • 2016: No. 15 Western Michigan lost to No. 8 Wisconsin 24-16 in the Cotton Bowl
  • 2015: No. 18 Houston beat No. 9 Florida State 38-24 in the Peach Bowl
  • 2014: No. 20 Boise State beat No. 10 Arizona 38-30 in the Fiesta Bowl

Clash of the (G5) Titans: In the next few seasons, we’ll get to see who is the better program between Boise State and UCF, as the two G5 powerhouses have recently inked a home-and-home series. Boise State will play at UCF in the 2021 season opener at Spectrum Stadium in Orlando (date TBD), while UCF will play in Boise, ID on Sept. 9, 2023. 

Crooked: Ole Miss found out what it’s like to be slighted by a Pac-12 officiating crew when Rebels wide receiver Elijah Moore caught a ball at the goal line, but was ruled short of the endzone in the final seconds of a 28-20 loss vs. Cal. Moore’s feet were in the endzone, but officials ruled the ball not crossed the plane. Ole Miss fans have shared countless images on social media showing what appears to be a touchdown for Moore. Meanwhile, in perfect Pac-12 officiating form, the crew chose not to to review the play and Cal won the game. In this day and age when every little play is reviewed, how can a potential scoring play in the final seconds of a game not be? Of course, the Pac-12 conference released a statement supporting the crew’s decision, citing a particular camera angle and saying: “Even though the receiver’s feet are in the end zone, the ball has not penetrated the plane of the goal line as is required by rule.” The statement also admitted that “Instant Replay should have used better judgement to stop play for a formal review of the third down play”. 

Ole Miss’s Interim AD Keith Carter said after the game: “We are extremely disappointed with the officiating at the end of the game and are expecting a full explanation from the Pac-12 regarding the call and subsequent non-review of the third down play. We feel strongly the call should have been reviewed by the Pac-12 officials in the replay booth. Even if the play didn’t result in a touchdown, the spot of the ball on 4th down was questionable.”

Welcome to the club, Rebels.

Helmet A la Carte: Saw a pretty cool idea by Arizona State where fans can purchase and customize their own Sun Devil helmet via an online interface called the “Sun Devil Helmet Bar” for anywhere from $100-$1000. Options include four different helmet colors, three facemask colors, and 11 decals. Check out the interface here. By the way, when CSU hosts San Diego State for Homecoming next Saturday night, they’ll don their fifth different helmet design in the last three years (see pic). Helmets have included the traditional green with gold horns, white with green bone horns, green with orange bone horns, white state pride helmets with Colorado decal, and now the white helmet with circular Ram logo. Yes, the Rams have more helmet styles than they have victories in the last two seasons. (Cheap shot, I know.) 

Shaq Attack: Who would have thought that the vaunted Denver Broncos would have zero sacks three weeks into the season? It’s the first time a defense has gone three straight games without a sack or turnover since the NFL began tracking sacks in 1982. They are probably wishing they retained former CSU defensive line star Shaquille Barrett, who was a free agent last year and left the Broncos to sign with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The man has eight sacks by himself so far this season. Yes, that’s Shaq with eight sacks; Broncos zero. He currently leads the NFL. 

Basketball School: It’s hard to believe that after just four weeks, Ram fans are asking, “Is it basketball season yet?” But thankfully the answer to that question is, ‘YES!’. CSU had its first practice of the season Tuesday at Moby Arena. The first exhibition game (vs. Western Colorado University) is five-plus weeks away and a date at Duke’s Cameron Indoor Arena is a mere week after that. 

Please Support Our Sponsors! Please give your business to our generous sponsors who keep this website going. Ginger and Baker is one of the best dining spots in all of Fort Collins, with a fabulous restaurant, rooftop bar, bakery, and teaching area. Mighty River Brewing Co. is owned/operated by Dan Miller, a diehard Ram fan and long-time RamNationer…and you will see/taste the passion in each of his craft beers. Rams Book Store has been a sponsor since the very early days of RamNation.com, so if you’re in the market for CSU gear, please make them your first choice! We encourage you to regularly visit each of our sponsors, give them positive reviews on Google and/or Facebook, and thank them for their support of RamNation.  

 

 All previous Around the Horn columns can be found here. 

 

Leave a Reply