Around the Horn, Oct. 18, 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 Rams Book Store, a RamNation sponsor for nearly 20 years. When you’re in the market for Rams gear, count on Rams Book Store!

Value lack. The Fort Collins Coloradoan releases its Mountain West football power ratings each week based on performance and record. It’s no surprise that Colorado State has lived near the bottom of the list for the last several weeks, currently residing at 10th, ahead of only UNLV and New Mexico. Here’s a look at the rankings and how they compare to head coaches salaries (based on published 2018 figures, aside from new Utah State coach Gary Andersen’s 2019 salary), as well as overall coach rankings compared to salary using MW Wire’s overall preseason coaches ratings (taking into account all past performance and the author’s opinion).

Current Team Rating (Coloradoan)Head Coach Base SalaryValue Differential: Team Rating vs. SalaryOverall Coach Rankings (preseason, MW Wire)Value Differential: Overall Coach Rating vs. Salary
1) Boise StateBryan Harsin:
$1.65M (2nd in MW)
+11) Harsin - Boise St.+1
2) Utah StateGary Andersen:
$900K (6th)
+42) Tedford - Fresno St.+1
3) San Diego StateRocky Long:
$874K (7th)
+43) Long - San Diego St.+4
4) HawaiiNick Rolovich:
$487K (12th)
+84) Rolovich - Hawaii+8
5) Air ForceTroy Calhoun:
$950K (5th)
05) Bohl - Wyoming-1
6) WyomingCraig Bohl:
$1.41M (4th)
-26) Andersen - Utah St.0
7) Fresno StateJeff Tedford:
$1.55M (3rd)
-47) Norvell - Nevada+4
8) NevadaJay Norvell:
$500K (11th)
+38) Calhoun - Air Force-3
9) San Jose StateBrent Brennan:
$590K (10th)
+19) Bobo - Colorado St.-8
10) Colorado StateMike Bobo:
$1.80M (1st)
-910) Sanchez - UNLV-1
11) UNLVTony Sanchez:
$600K (9th)
-211) Davie - New Mexico-3
12) New MexicoBob Davie:
$824K (8th)
-412) Brennan - San Jose St.-2

Getting warmer. The above numbers tell the tale why Bobo continues to reside on Yahoo Sports’ Hot Seat List — including as the coach most in jeopardy of losing his job in the Mountain West. New Mexico’s Bob Davie and UNLV’s Tony Sanchez are also considered on the chopping block.  

Bracketology. For your Twitterers, you may recall the Ram fan with the Twitter account known as “Priceless Prentice” ran a popular bracket-style poll earlier this year allowing fellow Ram fans to vote on the top Ram fan twitter accounts. This week he launched a similar poll allowing fans to vote on their choice of CSU head coaching replacements:

Bonus bonanza. With football programs nearing the half-way point of the season, USA Today is tracking coaches who are stockpiling cash in the form of incentive bonuses. Several MW coaches are already raking it in, including Wyoming’s Bohl, who has earned a whopping $100,000 for beating a Power 5 school (Missouri) in Week 1. Boise State’s Harsin has earned $60K, which includes $35K for reaching six wins and being eligible for a bowl game and $25K for beating a ‘Power 5’ opponent. San Diego State’s Long earned $10K for the win over Power 5 school UCLA. Penn State’s James Franklin is the leader in the clubhouse so far with $200K for being bowl eligible. For the continually updating list, click here

USA Today reporter Steve Berkowitz also noted via Twitter that Fresno State coach Tedford and his staff will share a $135,000 bonus as his football team’s new federal graduation rate has reached 65%, which tops their incentive mark of at least 62%.

Bye week. This is a non-game day weekend for the Rams. But every weekend seems to be a non-Gameday weekend in terms of mentions on the popular ESPN Saturday morning show College Gameday. According to this guy’s database, CSU has not been mentioned as part of the weekly winners selection segment in any week over the last 10 years. By contrast, Boise State games have been featured in the segment 20 times during that span. 

Where’s “He Hate Me”? Three former CSU offensive lineman were selected in the new XFL league, including Trae Moxley (DC Defenders), Zack Golditch (Tampa Bay Vipers), and Nick Callender (Houston Roughnecks). Callender will be playing under head coach June Jones — the former Atlanta Falcons, Hawaii Rainbow Warriors, and SMU Mustangs head coach — while Golditch will play under Jim Zorn — the Seattle Seahawks quarterback great. They’re two of a handful of interesting head coaches in the reborn league, which is headlined by Bob Stoops of the Dallas Renegades. 

By the way, according to Sports Illustrated legal expert Michael McCann, the average XFL player’s salary will be $55K, for roughly six months of work (December-May), plus health care. This is significantly less than the average CFL salary (about $80K) or now-defunct AAF ($75K). It is higher than the average G League basketball salary ($35K for 5 months) and most minor league baseball salaries. 

Must see TV. The MW is near finalizing a new TV contract, Commissioner Craig Thompson said at basketball media days in Las Vegas this week. He said that while late-night football and basketball games have been a point of contention with fans, they will continue to be a part of the league’s TV slate. Thompson has said the MW is seeking a balance between signing a deal for the most money possible while also setting a reasonable set of parameters with limiting the amount of times MW teams play in the late time slot. But with networks wanting to televise four sets of games each Saturday, that includes an 8 p.m. kickoff, and the MW and Pac-12 are the only logical choices to fill that time slot. CSU Athletic Director Joe Parker is on record saying he’d forego some of the TV revenue to have fewer late-night starts. More from the Colorado Springs Gazette here

Fresh threads. In case you missed it, CSU and Under Armour unveiled the 2019-20 men’s basketball uniforms this week. Of note is a subtle textured pattern on the jersey itself, a green/gold waistband with “Rams” in the center, and unique piping on the side of the shorts with the Ram head logo.

Space jam. Speaking of Under Armour, we found this interesting: Under Armour this week debuted its new spacewear for use by future travelers of Virgin Galactic.

Big brother. The University of North Carolina has a unique way of ensuring its student athletes are going to class. They’re using beacon technology to track select student-athletes from the football and men’s basketball teams. More than 150 beacon devices using a technology called SpotterEDU have been installed in classrooms across campus in Chapel Hill. The beacons automatically send a Bluetooth signal to the smartphones of student-athletes who have downloaded the SpotterEDU app, and are able to track if that phone is in the classroom. 

Soon UNC administrators will have to figure out a way to track student athletes who have asked their classmates to take their phones to class with them. 

Inspiring change. Speaking of North Carolina, we were was surprised to see that they are one of just nine teams with 100% attendance this year, which is impressive considering their paltry 3-3 record. Perhaps it’s the fact that they’re serving beer and wine for the first time at football games (which, by the way, has boosted concession sales to $1M through just three home games so far this season, according to the Charlotte Observer). But more likely, it’s the fact that the fan base is enthused by the program’s future under new head coach Mack Brown. Also shocking to see on this list of nine schools was the University of Colorado. (Also sporting a ho-hum 3-3 record, but featuring an inspiring first-year coach. Hmm.) The other schools with 100% attendance so far are Oklahoma, Georgia, Ohio State, Central Florida, Utah, Michigan, and Nebraska. 

RTD? The Buffs’ surge in attendance has meant an increase of $4.5M in football ticket sales from a year ago. According to the Boulder Daily Camera, sales are at $19.8M halfway through the season. The increase already has covered what the Buffs still owe former head coach Mike MacIntyre ($3.696M of the $7.238M) who was fired late in the 2018 season.

Titan moment. Former CSU running back Dalyn Dawkins signed with the Tennessee Titans as a rookie free agent following the 2018 NFL Draft. He spent the majority of his rookie season on the practice squad with two stints on the active roster from Weeks 3-5 and Weeks 11-13. But it wasn’t until last Sunday that he actually got his first regular season game action as a pro. He had two carries for two yards against the Denver Broncos at Empower Field at Mile High Stadium. 

Howdy Doody. Air Force head football coach Troy Calhoun made some interesting comments this week in the Colorado Springs Gazette indicating he doesn’t believe the Falcons are a fit in the Mountain West Conference. It’s not the first time Calhoun has made such references indicating his team might be better off in a different conference or no conference at all, but brought it up again after beating Fresno State Saturday and noting the upcoming schedule, which includes a trip to Hawaii to face the Rainbow Warriors (Saturday).  

“The kind of challenges we have going forward, every game is going to be hard,” Calhoun was quoted by the Gazette. “That’s just the reality of where we are.

“We are in a league where, to be blunt, I don’t know if it’s the route maybe should go.”

When asked to clarify what he meant, his explanation got a little muddled. “I just don’t know if it’s really a match. I don’t know if it’s best. I don’t know if… Now, we are. And we’re lucky to be, just the quality of the schools of the other member institutions that are a part of it.”

Conference expansion fodder. American Athletic Conference Commish Mike Aresco said this week his league will examine expanding to 12 members if the NCAA denies its waiver to play a football championship game with 11 programs (due to the departure of UConn). Considering the NCAA granted the Big 12 the right to do so with just 10 teams, you’d think the league has a decent chance to get it approved.

Meanwhile, Aresco is already playing the parity card while lobbying for his league to be the representative in one of the New Year’s 6 bowl games.

“If we have six or seven (football) teams that we think are just as good or better than anybody in the other (Group of Five) conferences and we might not get to New Year’s Day because somebody else has a slightly better record than our teams because they’re beating each other, that’s a perfect example of what I’m talking about…that we really deserve that contract bowl game because we’re a really strong conference.”
For more from the Memphis Commercial Appeal, click here

Hedge trophy. Following South Carolina’s shocking upset at Georgia last Saturday, some student athletes took branches of Sanford Stadium’s famed hedges home with them. Gamecocks AD Ray Tanner subsequently apologized for his team’s actions, but his counterpart — Georgia AD Greg McGarity —  said, “I don’t like it all. We sure don’t do that when we win at an opponents’ venue under Kirby (Smart’s) leadership.”

Who would do such a thing? — Signed the chunk of Folsom Field turf sitting on my desk from the 2009 Ram win. 

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 All previous Around the Horn columns can be found here. 

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