Monthly Archives: December 2014

2014 Year In Review, Part One

Welcome to– and a Happy New Year from– the 90th edition of Tuesdays With Mitch, where I’m blogging for the last time in 2014. Let’s get into it… .

Tomorrow is the last day of the year. 2014 has come and gone and in doing so provided 52 weeks– and 52 posts– of sports and pop culture content. It’s time to reminisce on all that we’ve taken in this year so I went back and reviewed each of the last 51 posts and pulled out all of my favorite things.

Let’s look back at the year that was. Sports highlights, sports lowlights, news bloopers, funny videos, moving pictures… Here are some of my favorites. The best, the worst, the most memorable. Vines, GIFs, videos, posts, pictures, tweets, moments and other stuff from 2014. (This post got so big, I split it up into two sections. Part Two will be out next week.)

I present:  Your Tuesdays With Mitch 2014 Year in Review (Part One):

 JANUARY:

The close of college football season is always an important staple of the year’s first month. The Sugar Bowl between Alabama and Oklahoma gave us one of the best videos of the year right off the bat.

Yeah… that’s gotta be the video of the year.

And the BCS National Championship wasn’t bad either.

The biggest thing from January ’round these parts was the AFC Championship game that saw the Broncos pound the Patriots.

Leading up to the game, I wrote this “Why We Should All Hate the Patriots” post that lots of you enjoyed. This could come in useful again in a couple weeks (although apparently some of the GIFs and pictures are no longer “active”).

The AFC Championship is when we learned that pretend horses ARE NOT ALLOWED TO DRUM!

SB Nation

This still cracks me up.

The Broncos won 26-16, but the game wasn’t as close as the score indicates. It was 23-3 with under ten minutes left in the fourth quarter.

@corkgaines

The Broncos were heading to the Super Bowl. They were favored. Optimism was high. Things were good.

FEBRUARY:

And then…

(Getty Images)

(Getty Images)

…The Super Bowl happened. 43-8. The Broncos were completely overmatched in every aspect of the game against an impressive Seahawks team. Has to be considered one of the worst days in Colorado sports history. Probably the worst sports day for anyone in or around my generation.

What a nightmare. I did, however write this post that lots of you enjoyed on “The Annoying People At Your Football Party.”

Next we have the I-kind-of-like-the-Broncos-but-really-I-just-want-to-get-wasted guy. “Dude, we gotta do shots for every Broncos’ touchdown!” on Sunday quickly faded into “Alright dude, we gotta do shots every time the Seahawks score or the Broncos turn it over or they show Richard Sherman on the sidelines or a Bronco gets tackled or they go to commercial!” Again, these guys are pretty standard for most sporting events. Comes with the territory. No big deal.

After the Super Bowl came the Olympics, but before that, let’s check in on Jacoby Jones attending a Pelicans game. This might be the best interview of the year.

Okay, back to the Olympics. The biggest early story was obviously Bob Costas’ freaking eyes, which both looked like they might fall out of his head at any moment.

via @sbnationgif

Ashley Wagner’s reaction to a judges’ scoring was all the rage for about 24 hours:

via Deadspin

After the Olympics, one of my favorite pictures of the year made its rounds. The first 2014 Heisman candidate:

This fairly mysterious picture popped up on Reddit in Late February.

MARCH:

In March we transitioned to basketball and hockey. I wondered if the Nuggets would be better off tanking their season away and laughed at Jan Vesley jab-stepping even though nobody was covering him.

Via The Big Lead

Spring training also started up, which provided this awesome picture from an Indians’ exhibition game.

Via @mlb

In mid-March, the Broncos released Champ Bailey, which just depressed the hell out of me. I wrote about that situation here. Even though some of the outlooks have become outdated after nine months, it’s probably one of the better pieces of writing I produced this year.

…(W)hen I look back at Champ’s days as a Bronco, I think I’ll remember the week-in, week-out excellence more than anything. Without hyperbole, I can say that for several years, Champ was, hands-down, the best football player on the field every single week.

I’ve never seen a cornerback that defended the run like Champ. He was the best cover corner in the game, but he was also the best tackler on the Broncos.

I remember Champ used to track the number of balls his receivers caught on him for a whole season. After an All-Pro year, Champ would lament that that number wasn’t zero. That’s a serious indication of greatness.

So here’s to Champ Bailey, who was just a pleasure to watch and root for over the course of ten seasons in Denver.

For my generation of Broncos fans, there will never be another Champ Bailey.

In the college basketball world, the Buffs were trying to win just enough games to get off the bubble and secure an NCAA tournament bid, while the Rams, Falcons and Cowboys floundered. Even though the Border War didn’t mean much, this dunk from Josh Adams was sick.

March also saw the One-Year anniversary of this blog, which I celebrated by half-assing a post because I was down and out with strep throat.

But the basketball season rolled on, leading to this really insightful tweet from the always insightful Magic Johnson:

Then came March Madness, which produced possibly the best sports weekend of the year (and one of my better posts). The antics of March Madness will never get old.

(via Deadspin)

via @sbnationgif

CU did, indeed build up a good enough resume to hear their name called on selection Sunday. They received an 8-seed and played against Pittsburgh. Things went poorly.

I felt the need to clarify that last tweet.

“In the game referenced in that last tweet, Michigan won by 30 and was the 8-seed. This means Colorado just had the WORST PERFORMANCE EVER from an 8-seed. Historically awfu! They had a good year, but damn, it did not end well.”

APRIL:

April meant baseball, which meant a long winter officially coming to an end. It was time to make ill-fated Rockies predictions and head out to the ball yard. I predicted the Rockies would go 85-77. Optimism was high. I was wrong.

Opening Day also provided perhaps my favorite sports media piece all year (definitely my favorite from the local media). Benjamin Hochman’s colorful account of the Opening Day festivities at Coors Field.

Early April also brought us the national championship that saw Connecticut beat Kentucky. Kentucky lost, but I love this picture of James Young’s amazing dunk.

Getty Images

The national championship also meant the close of the college basketball season, which of course meant “One Shining Moment” was coming to give you goosebumps.

The best early-season baseball GIF still makes me laugh, eight months later.

via Deadspin

Bubba Watson won the masters. His kid was not impressed.

The Big Lead

The Avalanche completed an incredible regular season turnaround and strutted into the playoffs with swagger and confidence. Here was my “recap” of Game One:

“You know what happened. Roy pulls the goalie with three minutes to go (!). Erik Johnson saves an empty net goal by doing this (!) with less than two minutes left.

HockeyGrrls

Then Stastny scores with 13 seconds (!) left. Then he scores again in overtime (!). It was awesome.

 

You also have to listen to Marc Moser’s homer radio call of the two Stastny goals. They’re epic.

Regardless of what happens in the rest of this season and series, Game One will be one of the best sports moments of the year in Colorado. To welcome playoff hockey back to Denver in that manner was truly unbelievable.”

Indeed it was.

This time of year also introduced us to Bartolo Colon batting, which became a favorite around these parts.

Adam Hunger, USA Today Sports.

I could still watch that Vine all day.

As April rolled on, the Avs series went seven games and produced the quote of the year from Patrick Roy when he said “”Now it’s our turn to — sorry for the words — put our balls on the table.”

The series was unbeliveably dramatic and entertaining. Here is the Game Five overtime winner from Nathan McKinnon.

Of course, the Avs lost Game Seven in overtime. It happened on a Tuesday night, so I apparently chose not to cover it seven days after the fact.

MAY:

As we said goodbye to the Avalanche, April flowed into May and the Rockies were playing really good baseball. Troy Tulowitzki had one of the best months any of us had ever seen. He was the best player in the game.

The NBA Playoffs produced one of the great Vines of all-time, when Damian Lillard hit a walk-off three-pointer.

And I wrote one of my most-viewed and best-received post of the year: “How to Sneak In To Better Seats At Coors Field“.

  1. Don’t be too afraid to get caught and have a back up plan. If I get asked for a ticket when trying to enter a section, I generally say something along the lines of Oh yeah my buddy/mom/dad/whoever has mine they should be coming over soon. Then I stand there with a quizical look on my face scanning the fans for my pretend companion before slowly drifting back into the concourse crowd like Shoeless Joe in a cornfield. The usher leaves the park that night gazing at the moon and wondering if I even existed at all. Now, if I’m already seated and an usher comes to give me the boot I usuallly hand him or her my $4 Rockpile ticket with confidence and annoyance as if to say Yeah old man, I know what I’m doing. Here’s my ticket. I usually get quite a kick out of the usher shaking his head, turning and pointing across the stadium at the Rockpile. What? You mean this four dollar ticket doesn’t grant me access to this 2nd row aisle seat? Oh. I’m sorry. Honest mistake.

This real-life version of Andy from “Parks and Recreation” made an appearance.

Wes Welker passed out 100 dollar bills at the Kentucky Derby.

For The Win

With the benefit of hindsight, we are left to wonder if Wes had consumed anything that might have made handing out money a little more fun that it should be.

The progression of baseball season provided us with a new Bad British Commentary video, which was welcome news.

This kid was one of our Studs of the Week:

So was HERO CAT! REMEMBER HERO CAT?!

And I really enjoyed watching an old fat dude smell his armpit and share it with his companion.

JUNE:

By June, the Rockies were falling apart after a 2-7 East Coast road trip. I was still a little bit optimistic at the beginning of June, because I’m an idiot.

The NBA Playoffs were slowly creeping along, and Lance Stephenson provided us with their most memorable moment when he blew in LeBron’s ear.

via @cjzero

Mid-June also means the Spelling Bee freakshows come out to ESPN, which always makes me long for the days when I had summer vacations with nothing to do but laugh at home-schooled weirdos.

As June moved forward, I came to the sad realization that the Rockies, indeed, sucked. This quote from my June 10th post explains the state of affairs at the time…

At some point the injuries became too much to handle, specifically when Nolan Arenado went down. That dramatically changed the entire makeup of the Rockies, both offensively and defensively. And the horrible news just keeps coming. Yesterday three more injury related headlines were announced. Eddie Butler would hit the DL after just one start. Michael Cuddyer would hit the DL (again) and it sounds like he’ll be out for a long while. And Carlos Gonzalez would need surgery on that damn finger. So let’s take a look at the status of eight very important Rockies:

  • Tyler Chatwood 60-Day DL
  • Brett Anderson 60-Day DL
  • Jordan Lyles 15-Day DL
  • Eddie Butler 15-Day DL
  • Boone Logan15-Day DL
  • Nolan Arenado 15-Day DL
  • Michael Cuddyer 15-Day DL
  • Carlos Gonzalez 15-Day DL

I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s hard to win without any players.

That pretty much summed it up for the Rox. By mid-June, half of their team was on the DL and their season was over.

The Spurs and Heat played in the NBA Finals. LeBron James set the internet ablaze with irrationality and hot takes when he was carried off the floor because of leg cramps.

@cjzero

Of course, the Spurs would go on to win the series in a relatively easy five games.

AP Photo/David J. Phillip

Yoenis Cespedes made the throw of the year.

The L.A. Kings won the Stanley Cup. Naturally, the most important part of the series for me was a lady falling on her face behind a news broadcast.

Deadspin

By late June, the Rockies awfulness reached a remarkable crescendo with this amazing play:

The World Cup came and that was big news for a lot of people. It included a cannibal guy!

That wraps up June, which wraps up the first half of 2014.

Keep an eye out next week for Part Two.

HAPPY NEW YEAR. And happy Tuesday.  Again, thanks for reading these each week. Here’s to a successful 2015 with more of the same fun posts. See ya next week.

***

Comment on any of this stuff below, or email me at mdhahn1@yahoo.com with post ideas, videos or other media I should know about. Subscribe at the top right of this page. Follow me on Twitter @TuesWithMitch.

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Reaction to Colorado State’s Hiring of Mike Bobo (And the Las Vegas Bowl)

Welcome to– and a very merry Christmas from– the 90th edition of Tuesdays With Mitch, where the Christmas spirit flows as freely as the adult beverages. Let’s get into it… .

Mike Bobo is the new head coach of the Colorado State Rams. (Paul Abell-USA TODAY Sports)

Colorado State on Monday night announced the hiring of a new head football coach to replace Jim McElwain. Mike Bobo is the new man leading the Rams in Fort Collins.

Two weeks ago, I made my case for Dave Baldwin to be promoted as the Rams’ head coach. In that post, I also mentioned that if the hiring committee can recruit an up-and-coming coordinator like Scott Frost that would certainly be looking into. I didn’t mention Mike Bobo, but he fits that mold.

This appears to be a very solid hire from Tony Frank and his search firm. Bobo’s biography on the UGA athletics website can be found here, but here are a couple highlights:

“He’s directed an offense that has led Georgia to two consecutive record-setting seasons on offense: Total Yards in a Season (6,547 in 2012 and 6,294 in 2013); Average Yards Per Game (484.2 in `13 and 467.64 in `12); and Most TD’s in a Season (72 in 2012 and 58 in `13).”

“Bobo has coached several star QB’s at UGA including Aaron Murray (2010-13) who set 27 Georgia records, four SEC marks and finished with 13,562 yards of total offense, 13,166 yards passing, 121 touchdown passes and 921 completions. He became the first player in SEC history to have at least 3,000 yards passing in four consecutive seasons. Bobo has also coached Matthew Stafford, the first pick of the 2009 NFL draft (Lions), and the winningest quarterback in NCAA Division 1-A history at the time–David Greene–who won 42 games as a starter and set the Bulldog and SEC records for Career Passing Yards (11,528).”

You get the idea. Essentially, he played quarterback at Georgia and has been there (almost) his entire coaching career. He started as the quarterbacks coach in 2001 and was promoted to offensive coordinator in 2007. In that position he’s coached prolific, record-breaking, offenses and NFL superstars.

Naturally, this hire is very, very reminiscent to the Rams’ previous move. Three years ago they hired an SEC offensive coordinator to his first head coaching job. That move worked out pretty well so, yeah, it makes sense to go the same route.

Of course, we all saw the drawback to hiring an up-and-comer to his first job just a few weeks ago, when McElwain moved on to a larger, more prolific program after a few successful years. I’m sure in the coming months and years Bobo will have plenty to say about feeling at home and wanting to build CSU for many years to come, but trust me– TRUST ME– he is looking at this job as a stepping-stone. Just like McElwain did. This is, perhaps, a little cynical, but it’s also realistic. These days, coaches either fail and are fired, or they are successful and move on. There is very little middle ground, especially at a place like CSU.

If Bobo is coaching CSU in five years, I’ll be pretty surprised. Unless Bobo really, really continues to elevate the program into the national championship discussion or the the shifting nature of college athletics results in Colorado State somehow entering a Power 5 conference, Bobo will be drawn to more prestige and more money. That’s just the nature of college athletics.

And that’s okay.

Right now, all CSU needs to do is keep winning games, scheduling aggressively, and elevating the program. The rest will take care of itself.

I’m glad CSU stayed away from the NFL. I’m glad they weren’t drawn to candidates simply because of CSU ties. It’s clear they were looking for the best possible candidate for the position, regardless of their background and without long term concerns about staying with the program for many years to come. That’s the best approach.

We’re on Day One of the Mike Bobo era, but I think the Rams have a head coach that can keep things pointed in the right direction and win a lot more games than he loses.

And that’s really all there is to it.

The announcement and subsequent press conference signaled the end of a very tumultuous few weeks in the Colorado State football world. Check out this crazy timeline:

  • November 28th: The Rams still have hopes of going to the Fiesta Bowl heading into their last regular season game against Air Force in Colorado Springs. They lose a heart-breaker on a last-second field goal.
  • November 29th: Boise State blows out Utah State and wins the Mountain Division, meaning the Rams’ loss to Air Force actually didn’t mean much.
  • December 2nd: Quarterback Garett Grayson is named Mountain West Offensive Player of the Year. Coach Jim McElwain is named Mountain West Coach of the Year.
  • (Later on) December 2nd: News breaks that Florida is flying to Fort Collins to (very publicly) recruit Jim McElwain as their new head coach. There are media tracking private planes and waiting at airports and staking out McElwain’s house. It is weird. No actual news is ever released.
  • December 4th: Two days of public speculations and various media reports and private negotiations about buyouts and contracts come to an end when Florida introduces McElwain as their new head coach, leaving the CSU football community pretty damn crushed.
  • December 5th: One day after the huge news regarding McElwain becomes official, the CSU Board of Governors makes much bigger news when it officially approves an on-campus stadium. Again, this news is bigger than any coaching decision.
  • December 7th: The Rams learn their bowl game fate:  A December 20th matchup vs. Utah in the Las Vegas Bowl.
  • December 20th: After a couple of quiet weeks, the Rams finally play in the Las Vegas Bowl vs. Utah with interim head coach Dave Baldwin at the helm. It does not go well. At all. The Rams are blown out 45-10. (More on that later.)
  • December 22nd: News breaks that Colorado State will hire Georgia offensive coordinator Mike Bobo as their new head coach.
  • December 23rd: (that’s today!): Mike Bobo is officially introduced as CSU’s new head coach and speaks extensively during a 45-minute press conference.

Pass the Pepto Bismal, that’s a lot to digest in a short amount of time.

So about that Las Vegas Bowl…

Garrett Grayson’s days as a CSU quarterback are done after a disappointing finish in the Las Vegas Bowl. (Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports)

I don’t really know where to start on this one. The Rams were out-talented, out-coached, out-efforted, out-focused. Out-everythinged. 45-10. Season over.

Last week, I said it would be interesting to see how focused and cohesive CSU would be in this game after the difficult few weeks that led up to it. As the second half of the season’s last game slowly dragged on, it became clear that the Rams’ coach bailing on them definitely made an impact.

Jim McElwain’s departure may sound like a built-in excuse to throw out there after getting your ass kicked, but is there any doubt in your mind the Rams would have had a better showing if none of the McElwain stuff ever happens? There’s not in mine.

It was a very disappointing end for an important class of seniors who deserved a better send-off. But it’s important to remember that this was still a special year. And on the whole, the season accomplished what it needed to.

The program moved forward, and along the way gained national rankings and notoriety and prestige that hasn’t been associated with the Colorado State Rams in a long time.

The Las Vegas Bowl was pretty much a disaster, but the 2014 season was a huge success.

And a few short words about Jim McElwain being interviewed by Musberger and Palmer during the game…

Initially, I was pretty jolted by how odd the concept of that is. Like, Wait, did they just say they’re going to speak with Jim McElwain after the break? That can’t be right.

And yes, it is a pretty damn strange concept, but overall the interview didn’t harbor any ill-will from my point of view. He’s talking in coach-speak… You can tell he cares about his former players…

But then Musburger asked him about Florida. That’s when it got disappointing and… gross. Here’s a coach in full PR-mode, on national television selling the Florida program while the players and assistants he just ditched are playing (and losing) in the most important game for the program in many years.

It kind of reminded me of the Rockies vs. Red Sox World Series in 2007 when Alex Rodriguez announced his new contract in the middle of Game Four as a blatant attempt to draw attention to himself and take away from, you know, THE FREAKING WORLD SERIES.

If McElwain really wanted to be interviewed as some sort of tribute to his former players, it probably wouldn’t have been difficult to make NO FLORIDA QUESTIONS a condition of the interview. Or when asked about Florida, he could have said something along the lines of I’m excited about my new opportunity but right now let’s keep the focus on these guys at CSU. I’m just so proud of all we’ve accomplished.

Instead, McElwain got one last little boost out of the CSU program for his personal career while taking away from his players.

So, I don’t know… it’s not like I HATE JIM MCELWAIN now. But, bro, that wasn’t very cool.

And with that, it’s time to turn the page…

And talk about this CSU men’s basketball team. They finally entered the national rankings this week and have a chance to make it through their noncoference schedule undefeated with a win at New Mexico State on Saturday. (That game is far from a gimmie.)

They moved to 12-0 on Monday night with a win over Charleston Southern, which included this sweet little dish from Bejerano to Kidd…

Okay, I definitely wanted to talk more about CSU basketball, but for about the third week in a row, don’t have the time. (Please reference the above timeline for reasoning.)

Hey let’s hit the weekly departments…

Douche of the week:

Last year around this time, I said, “There are no douches on Christmas.” But…

I’m wondering if disgusting sucker punches are a violation of the infamous BYU Honor Code. Full video of the amazing brawl is here.

In Number 12’s defense, he did take a nasty helmet-to-eye-socket headbutt prior to his sucker punch, which explains the ping pong ball you can see wedged below his left eye and the bloody face. That was delivered by 36 on Memphis, though. And he tried to lay out  #40. I guess you’re not overly concerned with identifying the correct party after catching the crown of a helmet with your cheek.

The biggest bummer about this brawl is it’s all anyone will remember about what will probably be the best game of the bowl season. A 55-48 double overtime Memphis win. Absolute thriller.

Tweet(s) of the week:

My favorite part of Sunday’s NFL action was Kenny Albert’s sweater. Look closely. At the carrots. And the frown.

A broadcaster wore that thing on national television!

Apparently, the Kansas City police department had something called a KC Tweetalong (or #kctweetalong) where they just told the world what was going on over the course of their day. This little compilation of tweets (start at the bottom) is pretty amazing.

When I read “him/her” I just about died. What a strange world we live in.

And this letter to the editor is an all-timer.

Vine of the week:

Rocky v. Howard:

Pretty corny, but kinda funny. Rocky’s flopping is already on the NBA level. Mascots are not my deal, but Rocky has always been better than most. (Except for that one time when he passed out and it looked like he was being hanged.)

Some other stuff from around the internets:

I guess I don’t have much time to discuss the Broncos’ loss on Monday. But here is the coolest and most amazing moment:

Katie Nolan, one of my favorite sports internet people, had me cracking up with this one:

Hey you people like dogs and stuff! Look at this weirdo:

A couple links worth sharing:

And finally, if you haven’t seen this Apple commercial yet, watch it now. Pretty moving stuff.

Happy holidays, indeed.

Merry Christmas, everyone. I really appreciate those of you who check in on these posts each week. I hope they entertain you on Tuesday nights or kill some time at work on Wednesdays. Hopefully you have some time off from work this holiday season and can spend it enjoying the presence of your families and close friends. Take in the food, the drink, the music, the lights, and the magic of the Christmas season with people who are important to you.

Thanks for reading. See ya next week.

***

Comment on any of this stuff below, or email me at mdhahn1@yahoo.com with post ideas, videos or other media I should know about. Subscribe at the top right of this page. Follow me on Twitter @TuesWithMitch.

Las Vegas Bowl Preview

Welcome to the 89th edition of Tuesdays With Mitch, where the bowl season will soon be upon us. Short post this week; I’ve been busy. (And hey thanks for the positive feedback on last week’s post.) Let’s get into it…

Garrett Grayson - Colorado v Colorado State

Garrett Grayson’s remarkable career will come to an end on Saturday. (Doug Pensinger, Getty Images)

The Colorado State Rams have a chance to finish one of the better seasons in school history on a positive note Saturday afternoon in the Las Vegas Bowl. Standing in their way is an old WAC and Mountain West rival in the Utah Utes. Brent Musberger and Jesse Palmer will be on the call for ABC, 1:30 Colorado time.

So let’s start with a quick breakdown of the Utes. Here’s their 2014 schedule:

(screenshot via espn.com)

(screenshot via espn.com)

So Utah went 8-4 on the year and 5-4 in Pac-12 play. Their best win is probably on the road against UCLA, who is currently ranked 14th by the CFP committee. They have a bad loss at home to a Washington State team that won only one other conference game. Other than that, their schedule played out about like you’d expect, though two of their conference wins came in double overtime. Utah is currently ranked 22nd by the committee.

Utah leans on the run more than the pass and their best player is probably junior running back Devontae Booker, who averaged 5.1 yards per carry on his way to 1,350 rushing yards on the season. Booker was named Pac-12 First Team All-Conference.

Their defense gives up 26.2 points per game and is led by defensive end Nate Orchard who recorded 16.5 (!) sacks on his way to a First Team Pac-12 selection.

Overall, based on what I’ve seen from Utah this year (only a few games) and looking at the numbers, Utah looks like a very balanced team. Not great offensively. Not great defensively. But no real weak spots. They’re a pretty good team, but won’t be mistaken for a championship contender anytime soon.

Utah is favored by about 4.5 points in Vegas. Colorado State could certainly beat them.

Obviously, much of the speculation for this game revolves around the Rams’ lack of a head coach. Dave Baldwin will fill in nicely (I made my case for him last week), but playing without Jim McElwain for the first time all season in the biggest game of the year isn’t ideal. It will be interesting to see how focused and cohesive CSU is after such a tumultuous couple of weeks.

They should be able to score some points against Utah’s defense, who will have trouble covering Rashard Higgins because everybody has trouble covering Rashard Higgins. Containing Booker will be key. I think the Rams will have a chip on their shoulder and will be wanting to prove themselves. I think Utah will be nonplussed and unenthused at their bowl game and matchup after having set their sights on bigger fish for much of the year.

So if you force me to make a prediction, I’ll say CSU wins a very close one. It can’t be as crazy as last year’s New Mexico Bowl, but it could go down to the wire. 34-33 Rams. I have very little confidence in that pick. (I pretty much nailed my New Mexico Bowl prediction last season and this recap is a pretty fun read one year later.)

If CSU does pull off the minor upset, it will be interesting to see if they finish the year nationally ranked in any of the three polls. They’re currently in the “others receiving votes” category in the AP and Coaches polls.

Win or lose, this game represents the final 60 minutes for an important class of Colorado State seniors. Last week, I said that Jim McElwain put the Rams back on the college football map. That’s true, but this class of seniors also played a fairly important role.

Charles Lovett, Bernard Blake, Aaron Davis, Max Morgan, Jared Roberts, Mason Myers, and Ty Sambrailo highlight a group that was there for the end of the Steve Fairchild era. Over the course of their careers, they turned the program around.

The most notable senior is, of course, quarterback Garrett Grayson, who is looking for one last win before he moves on to a possible career in the NFL.

Grayson’s progress and growth were fun to watch over the course of the last four years. He was good last year and awesome this year. I’ve mentioned these numbers before, but they bear repeating:

  • Grayson’s quarterback rating in four games (three starts) as a freshman:  108
  • In six games as a sophomore:  126.5
  • In 13 games as a junior:  138.4
  • In 12 games (so far) as a senior:  171.3

Grayson was also what you look for in a “face of the franchise” type quarterback. Well spoken. Good-lookin’ kid. Carries himself well off the field. Good leader.

So here’s hoping Grayson, Sambrailo, Morgan and Davis lead the Rams to one more victory against Utah on Saturday. Colorado State can still finish 2014 with an 11-2 record. This season– and each of those careers — was too awesome to come to an end with two straight losses sandwiched around the exit of Jim McElwain.

In other, non-bowl game news, a non-senior made some headlines this week when Rashard Higgins was named First Team All-American by the Associated Press, Sports Illustrated, Walter Camp, ESPN and USA Today. Higgins came to CSU out of high school as a two-star recruit on Rivals. Now, as a true sophomore– A TRUE SOPHOMORE!– he’s a first team All-American. That’s amazing.

In my CSU season preview I said, “Rashard Higgins was the Rams’ leading receiver last year as a true freshman. I think he’s poised for an enormous season. Remember his name.”

I guess First-Team All American qualifies as an “enormous season”.

I also wanted to talk a lot of CSU basketball here, but don’t have time. I’ll just say that win in Boulder on Wednesday night was very impressive. Closing out good teams on the road ain’t easy, but the Rams passed their first real test as visitors. Larry Eustachy’s band of transfers look like legitimate Mountain West contenders. They should be ranked this week, but they’re settling for “others receiving votes” again.

I don’t have any of the weekly departments this week, but I did enjoy this Vine:

A couple links worth sharing:

And finally, here’s a touching, sad moment from John Wall.

Happy Tuesday everybody. If you’re heading out to Vegas, put 20 on red for me. Thanks for reading. See ya next week.

***

Comment on any of this stuff below, or email me at mdhahn1@yahoo.com with post ideas, videos or other media I should know about. Subscribe at the top right of this page. Follow me on Twitter @TuesWithMitch.

Jim McElwain Leaves the Rams Behind

Welcome to the 88th edition of Tuesdays With Mitch, where I’m renegotiating my blogging buyout clause. Let’s get into it…

Jim McElwain meeting Cam for the first time. They were buddies for just three short years.. (colostate.edu)

Looking back, it’s clear that Jim McElwain always saw Colorado State as a stone on which he could step that would lead him to a higher profile, higher paying job.

Looking back, it feels naive– delusional, even– to read into quotes like these made by McElwain less than two months ago:

“I think it should show how happy I am here, how committed I am.”

“I believe there are great things that can happen here, and we’re nowhere close to the expectation of where I think we can get,”

Looking back, each dramatic victory, each wisecrack at a press conference, each commitment signed by a high school star moved McElwain a little closer to the first private jet out of Fort Collins.

And, when looking back, Colorado State fans should not resent McElwain one bit. They should be thrilled he coached the Rams for three years and thankful for the amazing job he did while he was here.

It really was amazing. After the 2011 season, Colorado State had descended to the bottom of the college football world. It was an embarrassing time for a prideful program. Just three seasons later, CSU was ranked #21 in the nation by the Associated Press and by the coaches. They’ve won three straight games over Power 5 teams. They’re going to their second straight bowl game. They’re 14-3 in their last 17 games. The transformation was as startling and rapid as it was enjoyable.

Every coach that sees success at a school that isn’t a powerhouse will toss out lines about commitment and “feeling at home.” And the vast, vast majority of those lines ring hollow as soon as a bigger paycheck comes along. That’s the nature of college athletics.

Frankly, that’s the nature of the business world outside of sports as well. Who among us would turn down an opportunity to more than double our salary in a position that provides industry-wide prestige and respect? Those Lubick-esque coaches are out there, but they are a rare, dying breed.

A year ago, McElwain led the Rams to an incredibly dramatic win over Washington State in the New Mexico Bowl, one of the greatest games in CSU history. (Tyler Tjomsland, The Spokesman-Review)

So nobody should be shocked that McElwain took a job as prestigious and well-paying as the Florida position. But even with the benefit of hindsight, I’m a little surprised McElwain is gone after just three seasons. We knew the phone was going to ring, but I didn’t necessarily expect McElwain bounce at the first opportunity.

Was he looking to move on immediately and accept the first job offer that came his way? Or did Florida represent one of the few offers he simply couldn’t turn down and it just happened to be the first one? We’ll never know. (Personally, at this point, it’s hard for me to see him turning down a lucrative offer from Nebraska or Michigan.)

Of course, part of the reason I expected McElwain to hang in FoCo at least one more year was that $7.5 million buyout. What a damn fiasco all that was, huh? This all happened a few days ago (I hate it when news breaks on a Tuesday afternoon) so I don’t need to break that down any further, but two things became abundantly clear:

  1.  $7.5 million is a shitload lot of money to pay a coach before he goes on a single recruiting trip. Even for Florida. That is not chump change. It is not a drop in the bucket. It proved to be a significant hindrance to the hiring process. I tried to tell people this. Most wouldn’t listen.
  2. Florida really, badly, desperately wanted McElwain. If he wasn’t their first choice, he was near the top of the list. And they apparently did not have a backup plan.

(Pat Forde with a nice recap of the negotiations and media stakeouts and private jets and HOLYCRAPTHATWASAWEIRDTHREEDAYS.)

Those three strange days are over now, having put an odd stamp on the end of the Jim McElwain era at Colorado State. It was a short era that should be remembered fondly. It should be remembered as the three years that brought Colorado State out the dredges of 3-9 seasons and into respectability.

The Rams are no longer an embarrassment. The Rams are a force in the Mountain West. The Rams are back on the college football map.

Jim McElwain put them there.

Good luck, coach. (Rob Foldy/Getty Images)

Of course, these three classy tweets came as no surprise to me.

So moving forward, where does CSU go from here? I have a few inside sources reporting the Rams will, indeed, need a new head coach.

The Denver Post put together a list of candidates. So did the Coloradoan.

At this point, I’m pretty much all-in on promoting interim head coach Dave Baldwin. Baldwin has had a little bit of success as a head coach and plenty of success in multiple stops as an offensive coordinator. But Baldwin wouldn’t be promoted because of his resume. A vote for Baldwin is a vote for stability and continuity. Baldwin would look to build on the success Colorado State has already enjoyed. Right now, the CSU program has a lot of momentum. The new head coach just needs to keep things moving in the right direction.

The 2015 CSU cupboard is far from bare. The Rams will lose a handful of seniors after this year, including quarterback Garrett Grayson. But plenty of talent is coming back. Rashard Higgins will be back. Dee Hart will be back. Corey James will be back. The current players all know Baldwin and his offense.

Oftentimes, a coaching change precedes a flood of players transferring to other schools. I can’t imagine that would be the case if Baldwin is promoted.

Much of McElwain’s success stemmed from Saban-like organization and a daily devotion to “The Process.” Baldwin has been alongside McElwain all three years at CSU. He’s seen the transformation first hand. “The Process” would not have to change.

Naturally, any list of candidates will include names of people with “CSU ties”. Billy Gonzales was a receiver here. He’s coached under Urban Meyer at Florida and is at Mississippi State now. Tony Alford was a running back here. He’s been at Notre Dame for years. Matt Lubick is coaching at Oregon. He’s Sonny’s kid.

These names don’t interest me much. This might not be fair to the candidates mentioned above, but I think watching the miserable failures of Steve Fairchild at CSU and Jon Embree at CU has forever soured me on hiring a head coach simply because he used to play at a given school. (Another example: Brady Hoke was hired at Michigan in large part because he was a “Michigan Man.” Michigan recently paid him a zillion dollars to stop coaching.)

The Dave Logan suggestions are a joke. The Bob Stitt suggestions are a little intriguing but feel far-fetched. Again, this program is moving in the right direction. Stitt would bring a completely different approach and game plan. Why start over?

Doug Baldwin isn’t a splashy or sexy hire. His name doesn’t carry much pedigree. And if the hiring committee is able to recruit someone like a Scott Frost (offensive coordinator, Oregon) or even a Lane Kiffin (offensive coordinator, Alabama), that would certainly be worth looking into. But I think most of the hot names who are assistants at powerhouses will hold out for a Power 5 job. And of course, hiring one of those guys would put you in this same position when they move on after two or three successful years.

Baldwin makes the most sense. He could slide into the position seamlessly, build on the momentum that’s already there, and keep the CSU train moving in the right direction.

Losing a successful football coach is usually just about the biggest news a football program can produce over the course of a year. CSU trumped the news of Jim McElwain’s departure the very next day when the Board of Governors approved a plan for a full-scale, $220 million, on-campus stadium.

For the entire CSU community, this is huge news. Great news. Game-changing news. I hope this thing is ready to rock by kickoff of 2017. (That’s the plan.) It’s pretty crazy to think there may only be 12 more football games in the history of Hughes Stadium.

Jack Graham got the boll rolling a few years ago. Tony Frank eventually followed through and is making a new stadium a reality.

And that news is much bigger than any coach.

Artist rendering of a new, on-campus stadium at CSU. (via colostate.edu)

And let us not forget college basketball season, which is in full swing. Colorado State is 8-0 and receiving votes in the national polls. The Rams have played a couple decent teams (Montana and UTEP) but have yet play a true road game.

That will change tomorrow when they head to Boulder to take on what appears to be a pretty good (but not great) CU team. A tough test for the Rams. Big game for both teams.

7 p.m. Wednesday on the Pac-12 Network.

Some other stuff from around the internets:

Evidently I still don’t understand soccer. Whatever is going on here is pretty awesome though:

J.J. Watt needs to wear a microphone every week. This is incredible:

Kenny Mayne is still funny! Who knew?

A couple links worth sharing:

And finally, here’s Christopher Walken dressed up as a pirate doing a little dance. Definitely the most hilarious thing from the week. How can anyone not laugh at this?

Happy Tuesday everybody. Thanks for reading. See ya next week.

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Comment on any of this stuff below, or email me at mdhahn1@yahoo.com with post ideas, videos or other media I should know about. Subscribe at the top right of this page. Follow me on Twitter @TuesWithMitch.

Colorado State Goes Down, Finishes Regular Season 10-2

Welcome to the 87th edition of Tuesdays With Mitch, where the holiday weekend is responsible for a shortened post. I consumed irresponsibly high levels of food and drink over the course of the last week, which among other things, has led to a very long Monday. (I generally put these things together on Monday nights.) Let’s get into it…

(Andy Cross, Denver Post)

The Colorado State Rams were upset by the Air Force Falcons on Friday afternoon. Last second field goal. 27-24. 10-2. No Mountain West Championship for what might be the best CSU team in 20 years.

The following night Boise State trounced Utah State, which meant the Rams’ loss didn’t actually mean much. Even if CSU had won, they would have remained unable to play for the Mountain West Championship or an “Access Bowl”. A the time, though… At the time, this one was devastating.

The most dedicated of sports fans can be a peculiar group. Oftentimes we devote time, money, energy and passion to a cause that regularly leaves us disappointed, angry, or hurt. Why? Why do we put ourselves through all of that?

We do all that stuff with the hope that sometime, one unexpected season somewhere in the future, it will all be worth it. It just takes one. One year when some strange combination of talent, good fortune, and magic all comes together. For three months in 2014, CSU fans thought this year was that year.

A conference championship? The FREAKING FIESTA BOWL? For CSU? In 2014?

Nope. Nope. Nope. And, nope.

It is, however, important to remember that a loss in the regular season finale does not diminish what Colorado State accomplished this season. It’s natural to find disappointment when lamenting what could have been, but don’t let that get twisted with what already was.

To an extent, this was that special season Rams fans have been waiting for.

Colorado State just finished the regular season 10-2. Think about that. Seriously, stop, reread that sentence, and think about that. In 2011 CSU went 3-9. In 2010 CSU went 3-9. In 2009 CSU went 3-9. They finished a 9-27 stretch just three years ago.

They just went 10-2 with the Mountain West Offensive Player of the Year and the Mountain West Coach of the Year.

This was a special, special year for the Colorado State Rams and their most loyal fans who have endured too many long seasons.

And we still have one more game to enjoy. Probably December 20th in Las Vegas. Possibly against Stanford.

Slight subject change… I wrote a little bit about the chances of Jim McElwain accepting the head coaching job at Florida two weeks ago. Sunday night, Pat Forde and Yahoo! Sports reported McElwain as “A leading candidate”, which generated a lot of buzz.

There wasn’t a whole lot of meat in the report. We all had a pretty strong hunch that they would be interested in McElwain. Now according to Yahoo’s sources, we know they are. That doesn’t necessarily address his $7.5 million buyout or the fact that McElwain may simply not want that job (I mentioned why in that post from two weeks back).

Terry Frei at the Post has been on top of all this talk and he’s been railing pretty hard on the media reports that don’t seem to care about such a huge buyout.

Bottom line for me: (I wrote something in this space last night, changed it this morning, and deleted it just now. Things are hitting the fan at a rapid rate today. Moving too fast for me… But it’s starting to look like the Rams might need a new head coach soon.)

If you’re still upset about the way the weekend (and now early week) turned out, this Fox Sports Live piece on CSU Ram Zack Golditch’s amazing story of survival will quickly put things in perspective:

Amazing, indeed.

In regards to the Broncos

I’ve been saying all along* that Virgil Green and Paul Cornick are the keys to this whole season. Been screaming it from the rooftops! WHY DID YOU ALL IGNORE ME?!

*No I haven’t.

Just a couple weeks ago the Broncos looked like a team that might not even make the playoffs. Now they look like they have a chance to beat New England in Foxburough. It’s a good thing nobody ever overreacts when talking about the NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE!.

But that really was an impressive win on Sunday night. If the Broncos could have had much success in the red zone (Julius Thomas, anyone?) that would have been an absolute blowout.

They even ran a fake punt! That is not a common occurrence!

The game’s most interesting moment had to be Travis Kelce throwing out the ol’ I-disagree-with-you-wanking-motion on national television:

A bunch of other stuff from around the internets:

The best thing from Sunday was undoubtedly Tom Brady being taken for a walk by his handler. This way, Tommy! Come on, boy! Gooooood boooyyyy!

The Cauldron / CJ Zero

This series of blocks from Mike Evans is pretty amazing:

Quick breakdown: Evans pushes Newman off balance. Newman responds with an ill-advised angry little jump like he was trying to get up in Evans’ face. That made the “body slam” part pretty easy. Great Vine.

Remember Kyle Orton? Here he is just casually throwing in a mid-game dip on the sidelines.

Not surprising, still creepy. Alabama people are weird.

I’ve watched this Vine more than I’d like to admit.

HAHAHA That ball hits that guy in the head HAHAHA!

And finally,

I’m going to bed.

Happy Tuesday everybody. Thanks for reading. See ya next week.

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Comment on any of this stuff below, or email me at mdhahn1@yahoo.com with post ideas, videos or other media I should know about. Subscribe at the top right of this page. Follow me on Twitter @TuesWithMitch.