Tag Archives: Jim McElwain

2014 Year In Review, Part Two

Welcome to– and another Happy New Year from– the 91st edition of Tuesdays With Mitch, where I’m blogging for the first time in 2015. Let’s get into it…

It’s 2015 now, but I’m not ready to look ahead at the coming year or look back on the five days that have already passed. 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 took in last year so I went back and reviewed each of the last 52 posts and pulled out all of my favorite things.

So 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. We’re talking 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 One was posted last week.)

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

We pick this thing up in…

JULY:

The dog days of summer produced a lot of baseball and soccer talk across the country. And the early part of the month produced another all-time great Vine.

This one became so popular so fast, lots of people thought it was fake, causing the MLB to step in and confirm its validity. It was quite the controversy.

The World Cup finally came to end in mid-July when some country beat some other country. I couldn’t take it anymore and had to provide my thoughts on soccer, which evidently pissed some people off.

On an international scale, we suck at soccer. We always have and we always will. We suck because we don’t really give a damn. We never have and we never will.

People were excited about the World Cup not because they have a newfound love for soccer, but because of national pride (I am an advocate of U-S-A chants, after all), an excuse to weekday day drink, and the biggest factor, social media group think.

Social media was flooded with athletes and celebrities voicing their support on the job done by the #USMNT. For what? The team’s 1-2-1 performance? Or was it to help build their own brand, get a few ReTweets and Facebook likes and show that they’re in touch with pop culture and supportive of whatever you support?

This obviously goes far beyond famous athletes and other celebs. It became “the thing to do” for everybody. Countless Americans didn’t want to feel left out, so they posted a bunch of tweets, statuses, pictures and stupid memes about the #USMNT even though they literally couldn’t name one player on any team the day before the World Cup started.

Is soccer on the rise in the United States? I guess. Maybe. But if it is, it’s increasing from a tiny minority to a small minority. So congrats on that, soccer.

I regret nothing.

But hey, this Vine of goalie or keeper or whatever Tim Howard not giving out hugs is still stellar.

Even though the Rockies were really bad, watching their infield turn double plays was a treat all year. This was probably the best one, which I referred to at the time as “majestic artistry.”

By mid-July the wheels were completely falling off for the Rockies and owner Dick Monfort wasn’t handling things well. This led to what was probably the funniest thing I wrote all year, “In Defense of Dick Monfort.” That post received quite a bit of positive feedback, so thanks. Go read it again, you lazy bum.

The ESPY’S came and went at the end of the month. Stuart Scott’s speech was just the best.

(Note: I had most of this post completed prior to Scott’s passing on Sunday, so this video was already embedded. This speech is certainly more difficult to watch today than it was just a few days ago. But it’s also more moving and important to watch. He nailed it, man. I also encourage you to watch ESPN’s beautiful tribute and Rich Eisen’s perfect, live remembrance from Sunday.)

AUGUST:

Sad news came in the beginning of August when Pat Bowlen stepped down as owner of the Broncos to focus on his battle against Alzheimer’s. So, so damn sad.

I don’t read much Woody Paige anymore, but his column on Bowlen was a must-read.

August brought us the first sniffs of the college football season, starting most importantly, with THE RUNNING OF THE GUMPS. I enjoyed breaking down the Alabama hillbillies racing to worship Nick Saban. (Seriously I just cracked up over looking at the pictures/captions of those freaks one more time.)

And a trio of amazing news stories all came out around the same time, starting with my favorite news blooper of the year.

Followed by the best overall news story of the year, without a doubt.

Although this dude was not to be outdone.

The firing of Jack Graham came in early August and began a CSU-intensive few months for this blog. I kind of still can’t believe it happened. At the time, it seemed like this meant the on-campus stadium project had officially fallen through.

August 17th brought Todd Helton’s number retirement ceremony. It was perfect.

(Aaron Ontiveroz/Denver Post)

The Little League World Series came along and was as entertaining as always. We can’t forget this great speech from a coach who managed to keep everything in perspective.

A lot of you enjoyed my “Colorado State Football and Rocky Mountain Showdown Preview“. I spend a good amount of time just trash-talking CU, including discussing these numbers, which have only gotten dramatically worse after CU went winless in the Pac-12 in 2014.

Obviously, part of the reason for Colorado’s awful records and innumerable blowout losses is because they usually play a really tough schedule. This is all funny to me because one of the bragging points among Colorado fans is their conference. They’re in the Pac-12! That’s one of the best conferences in the nation! It’s prestigious! They play really good teams like Stanford and USC and Oregon! Good for them!

One interesting sidenote many CU fans seem to forget: Colorado is 4-23 against the Pac-12 in their three years in the conference. Wait guys, 4-23? That’s really bad. That’s a .148 winning percentage. But hey it’s a really prestigious conference! Who cares if they get blown out and embarrassed by all the good teams every week?

The pre-showdown CU hate is one of my favorite traditions every year!

SEPTEMBER:

September began with a recap of CSU’s fun victory over CU. The CSU student section was named Stud of the Week for their remarkable performance.

@NolanLees

Naturally, as the season wore on and CU was revealed to be a really bad team again, the win looked less and less important to Rams fans. Still fun though.

The first true “football weekend” started with a bang as the NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE! got underway. The Broncos beat the Colts in the first of many victories that would leave large portions of the fan base disappointed because it wasn’t dominant enough. The weekend also included what I still consider to be the greatest play in the history of the game:

Deadspin

This same week saw CSU lose to Boise State in a game that would greatly affect the remainder of their season regarding aspirations for a conference championship and a “New Year’s Bowl.”

The following week produced another Broncos’s win and, from the college world, this Vine, which has 23 million loops:

I love the pass defense here.

And this guy provided the best selfie-video of the year, from an LSU tailgate.

The Broncos lost to the Seahawks in their third week, which I said was “cool with me.” More importantly, that week provided us with a mascot wildcat intently listening to a postgame locker room speech. The speech is cool, but that mascot, on one knee, nodding in agreement is one of the funniest damn things from the entire year.

Colorado State Beats Boston College For A Huge, Wild Win” was one of the more fun write-ups I did this year. Here’s the lede:

Colorado State had no business beating Boston College as our Saturday mornings transitioned into Saturday afternoons. Not after CSU traveled farther east than the program had since 1959. Not after kicking off at 10:30 a.m. local time (an underrated factor in this game). Not after their senior quarterback threw two first-quarter interceptions. Not after falling behind 14-0 late in the second quarter. Not against an ACC team that beat the #9 team in the country on this field two weeks ago. Not with CSU’s senior quarterback beat up and grabbing his shoulder in pain after just about every play. Not when they were down three points facing a fourth-and-eleven with 1:05 left.

It also produced one of the better pictures of 2014.

Grayson to Lovett for the biggest play of Colorado State’s young season and a huge, dramatic win. (Stephan Savoia/AP

Indeed, the win over Boston College set the tone and made a statement in what would turn out to be a very special year for Colorado State.

On the last day of the MLB regular season, Jordan Zimmerman threw a no-hitter. Here’s the last play of the game from a unique vantage point.

OCTOBER:

October is always one of the best times of the year for sports. That was certainly the case this year with a great MLB Postseason, the NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE!, college football, the NHL and the NBA all in full swing (eventually).

The first week saw the Kansas City Royals beat the Oakland Athletics in an incredible one-game playoff. They won it on this 12th-inning hit from Salvador Perez. This was probably the best game of 2014 in any sport.

The first Saturday in October saw four MLB postseason games and 11 of the top 19 college football teams lose. This might have been the best sports day of 2014.

Katy Perry was on ESPN College Gameday that morning, and after Ole Miss upset Alabama, she was out on the town celebrating:

One of those postseason games went 18 innings. It ended, at last, when Brandon Belt did this. (Notice the bat drop swag.)

By mid-October, the CSU Rams and the Denver Broncos were both rollin’. It seemed easy. Too f**kin’ easy. IT’S SO EASY! At least that’s what Julius Thomas thought.

And around this time, some huge news came off of a football field, when it was announced that Rockies co-GMs (or whatever they were) Dan O’Dowd and Bill Geivett both resigned. Jeff Bridich took over the role. My quick thoughts on the situation:

The Rockies organization is a mess. Change is good. At this point any front office change has to be considered a good thing. That said, the real problem is the guy who owns the team and he isn’t going anywhere. And because of Monfort’s stubborn loyalty towards O’Dowd, resigning is the only way O’Dowd was ever going to leave.

Naturally, Monfort immediately filled the position with an internal candidate. Very, very “Rockies” of him. Jeff Bridich seems like a bright young executive and for all we know, he could be the perfect replacement. But it would have been nice for Monfort to at least poke around the baseball world outside of his own organization.

So I think Rockies fans should proceed with some cautious optimism. I can’t get overly excited, but this is progress. And progress is good.

If you’ve been keeping up with these posts, you know how I feel about this truly amazing Vine.

Still laughing at that thing.

Not to be outdone, Lou Holtz had this to say in another Top-5 Vine.

After those nutty couple of weeks, we turned to watch CSU beat Utah State on homecoming weekend in front of their first sellout crowd in over a decade. The Rams were rollin’ at 6-1 and the games were a blast.

That same weekend Peyton Manning broke the NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE! record for career passing touchdowns. (Man, there was a lot going on.) Of course Peyton and friends had to have some kind of silly (stupid) scripted celebration queued up.

@_MarcusD_

And the MLB Postseason marched on, too, with amazing game after amazing game. The Giants and Royals secured spots in the World Series. Here’s Joe Buck with my favorite play call of the year.

WE’RE STILL IN OCTOBER HOW IS THAT POSSIBLE?! The Broncos moved to 6-1 with a convincing win over the Chargers. CSU moved to 7-1 with a dominating win over Wyoming to keep The Boot. And the Madison Bumgarner train charged into the World Series without slowing down. By the time he was done, he had put together one of the all-time great Postseason performances in MLB history and perhaps the best individual performance by any athlete in my lifetime.

The other great individual performance from the World Series came from CHEVY GUY, who became an instant sensation after producing all-time high levels of discomfort for everyone watching. “You know, technology and stuff.” (Also keep your eye on Bud Selig at the 33 second mark.)

The Nuggets and Avs also started their seasons in October. Those have both been, umm… disappointing. And boring. And uneventful.

NOVEMBER:

The first weekend of November saw the Broncos go into New England and get their asses kicked by the Patriots. This GIF is a pretty fitting description of how the day’s events went.

@cjzero

The loss to the Patriots forced the Broncos to reevaluate lots of things as their season moved along.

A week later a boring game against the Raiders produced yet another Top-5 Vine.

This guy was an easy selection for Douche of the Week:

So was this bird and the people delighted at his horrifying antics:

Mid-November is when the University of Florida fired their head coach, prompting some national speculation about who might replace Will Muschamp. Jim McElwain’s name was mentioned often. I wrote:

There are always a lot of moving parts in these situations and much of my outlook is based on speculation, but as of right now, there are plenty of reasons to be confident McElwain will be back with Colorado State next year.

Hmmm…

Odell Beckhamn Jr. made the best catch any of us have ever seen.

Deadspin

In the month’s final week, Colorado State went to Air Force for both teams’ final regular season game. The Rams were looking to finish an 11-1 season and still had hope for a Fiesta Bowl apearance. The Falcons capped off their own great regular season (9-3) when they beat the Rams with a field goal on the game’s last play. At the time, it was a devastating loss for Rams fans.

(Andy Cross, Denver Post)

The Broncos beat the Chiefs the next night and Travis Kelce did this.

And Tom Brady was taken for a walk by his handler:

CJ Zero/ Cauldren

DECEMBER:

The beginning of the year’s final month started with some big news when Jim McElwain did, indeed, accept the Florida head coaching position and leave the Rams behind. This was another of my better (and most read) posts of the year.

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.

The McElwain news was quickly followed by bigger, more important news when the CSU Board of Governors approved the much talked about new, on-campus stadium. Somebody, somewhere thinks it will look like this, sooooo… that’s pretty sweet.

It’s slated to open for the 2017 season if all goes well.

The end of the year wasn’t that long ago so you should really remember this stuff.

Colorado State played in the Las Vegas Bowl without a head coach and was blown out 45-10 by a good Utah team. Shortly thereafter, CSU announced the hiring of Georgia Offensive Coordinator Mike Bobo, which appears– albeit before a single game– to be a very solid hire.

I thnk that’ll do it, folks. 2014 was a fun one around these parts. I really do appreciate the hundreds of thousands of devoted readers who check in here each week. Here’s to a successful 2015 with more of the same fun posts on Tuesday afternoons.

And again, if you missed it, here’s Part One from last week.

And finally, here’s the funniest year-end video I’ve seen to date. You should recognize some of these clips, as I’ve happily touched on a bunch of the stuff in here over the past 12 months (and in the past two posts. Careful, you might hear some bad words.

Happy Tuesday, everybody. 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.

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.

***

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.

Recapping Everything About The 10-1 Colorado State Rams

Welcome to the 86th edition of Tuesdays With Mitch, where I’m interrupting my vacation to come through with what actually turned into a pretty good-sized post. Happy Thanksgiving week. Let’s get into it…

Dee Hart cruises over the goal line for one of his six touchdowns on Saturday. Scoring six touchdowns is probably pretty cool. Andy Cross, Denver Post

I’ll start with some quick thoughts on Colorado State football after the 58-20 route of New Mexico that improved the Rams to 10-1. The CSU Rams are 10-1. That’s amazing.

The story of this game was Nick Stevens’ fourth-quarter performance. The back-up quarterback completed three of seven passes for 17 yards in garbage time to close out the game.

Oh, and Dee Hart had a decent afternoon, too. He rushed for 230 yards and five touchdowns. He had 42 more yards and another touchdown receiving. My math tells me that’s 272 yards from scrimmage and six total touchdowns.

Yes, New Mexico’s defense sucks, but that was one of the most impressive single offensive performances I’ve ever seen.

Hollywood Higgins kept doing his thing as well, with 10 catches for 167 yards and two touchdowns. He now leads the nation in receiving yards, receiving yards per game, and touchdowns. His incredible year continues

And Garrett Grayson, on Senior Day, in what could be his last game ever at Hughes, completed 23 of 29 passes for 389 yards and three touchdowns. If it turns out to be his last home game, (hope not) it was a fitting end for the most prolific passer in the history of Colorado State football.

Here’s a pretty cool Vine from CSU of Hart’s first TD of the day. WEEEEEEE!

After the big, dramatic Boston College win, I wrote this about the Rams’ remaining schedule (a screenshot from this September 30th post):

csu 11-1

Hey look I found a typo!

Now, two months later, the Rams are 10-1. All that stands between them and that 11-1 record is a win at Air Force on Friday. Earlier in the year I was under the impression that Air Force wasn’t very good. I’ve changed my mind after watching them go 8-3, including going 5-0 in Colorado Springs. Troy Calhoun is a hell of a coach and has led a very impressive turnaround after last year’s 2-10 campaign.

This game scares me quite a bit even though the Rams are favored by seven in Vegas. Air Force didn’t look all that good on the road against a mediocre San Diego State team on Friday night in their first game without leading rusher Jacobi Owens, who is out for the season. But Air Force is still 5-0 at home. They will be jacked up for this game. The Rams have a short week with the Friday kickoff. The Falcons, who played SDSU on Friday night, do not.

So there’s some cause for concern, but there is also a big reason for Rams fans to be confident. His name is Jim McElwain. McElwain and his staff have had his players prepared for every game this year.

The Rams’ defense will be tested again against an option offense. They certainly held their own against New Mexico, limiting them to 301 yards rushing, though much of that was in garbage time. (For reference, the Lobos rushed for 505 yards against a good Boise State team.) Having the best linebacking corps in the Mountain West can sure help defend the option.

Air Force’s home field advantage could be mitigated some by playing a team that also is comfortable at altitude. A whole lot of green in the stands wouldn’t hurt either. See y’all on Friday.

In the rankings, the Rams jumped up to #21 in both the Coaches poll and the AP poll. They should be ranked by the College Football Playoff committee later this evening, but the committee has shown complete disregard for any non-Power 5 teams, so who knows. I’m not actually sure if the committee is aware that there are dozens of other teams in other conferences at this point.

Okay, time for your weekly record update thing even though by now I think we all get the point and this is getting redundant I don’t care I’m going to keep doing it anyway! Colorado State is now 10-1 in 2014. They’ve won nine in a row. They’re 14-2 in their last 16 games going back to last season. 16-3 in their last 19; 17-4 in their last 21. Those are some crazy-ass numbers, folks.

Of course the other game of almost equal importance this weekend goes down a day and a half after the Rams play Air Force when Utah State heads into Boise. By now you know that a Boise loss coupled with an CSU win would give the Rams the Mountain Division title and the opportunity to host the Mountain West Championship at Hughes on December 6th.

Utah State is pretty good. They’re the only team to come into Hughes this year and not get blown-T-F-out. But Boise is favored by nine in Vegas, largely because Boise is 90-4 at home since 2000, which is decent. Utah State has the best defense in the Mountain West and should be able to slow down the Broncos’ offense. The question will be whether or not the Aggies can muster any points on offense.

Should be a pretty good game. ESPN 2; Saturday; 8:15. Go Aggies.

It would be some unspeakably bad luck for CSU to go 11-1, enter the national rankings and gain some national notoriety after years of futility and not even play in a major bowl game, let alone win the conference, let alone participate in the conference championship game. Guess we’ll see what happens.

The Coloradoan’s Kelly Lyell did a good job laying out the Rams’ different bowl scenarios. There are plenty of moving parts, but I’m reading it with these being the three most likely possibilities.

  • Fiesta Bowl, Glendale, AZ., December 31st against a big name, top-15 school. This only happens if everything breaks in the Rams’ favor. A win over Air Force. Utah State beats Boise State. Rams win the Mountain West Championship game. Committee has the Rams ranked ahead of Marshall. This is the ideal scenario, but there’s a pretty good team up north on a stupid blue field that provides a large obstacle.
  • Las Vegas Bowl, in… uhh… Las Vegas, December 20th against a decent Pac-12 team. If Boise beats Utah State and wins the Mountain West, they’ll be picked by the committee as the highest ranked Group of Five team and would head to the Fiesta Bowl. The Las Vegas Bowl, which is scheduled to host the Mountain West champion, could then pick any Mountain West team to take their spot. One would have to imagine they would choose CSU. So at this point, I think the Vegas Bowl seems like the most likely.
  • Poinsettia Bowl, San Diego, December 23 against Navy. Navy should become bowl eligible in either of the next two weeks. When they do, they’ll be playing in this game against a Mountain West team. If Las Vegas doesn’t pick the Rams, the Poinsettia Bowl will.

Again, that’s a lot of speculation on my part, but I’d circle those three dates on your calender.

In other very, very, very important news, it sounds like the new on-campus stadium is pretty much a lock with an announcement coming soon.

I was planning on talking about the Broncos next, but I ended up writing more on CSU than I thought I would. This was supposed to be a shortened holiday post!

But I’ll just say I thought the Broncos played pretty well against a good team. They got the ‘W’ and that’s all that matters. That was the #2 overall defense in the NFL and the Broncos scored 39 points, even though it felt like they struggled quite a bit.

The offensive line played really, really well a week after playing really, really poorly. So that was an important development. The Broncos were stubbornly committed to the running game and they had success with it, which greatly changes the dynamic of the offense.

The defense was excellent if you ignore two long, easy touchdowns drives from Miami. Can you do that? No? Okay, so that was a bit of a mixed bag.

Special teams pretty much sucked again. That chip-shot missed field goal immediately followed by a fumble from the no-name punt returner dude just about cost the Broncos the game.

But they overcame their mistakes and won a game against a pretty good team.

So we don’t have to push the panic button yet.

Also this gif of Ramirez and DT reacting to McManus’ chip shot field goal is awesome.

They react just like us! Cool!

Hey look, the Broncos just signed Connor Barth and waived McManus. Had to do it.

Off to the weekly departments…

Stud of the week:

Let’s talk about Odell Beckham Jr. Obviously, you’ve already seen this. (I could watch it like 50 times in a row.)

But let’s put some perspective on who we’re dealing with here. Because what this dude can do is absolutely amazing.

Here is Beckham warming up before Sunday night’s game. NBC showed this almost immediately before his incredible catch, which worked out pretty perfectly.

(I also encourage you to check out those catches in super slow-mo here. It’s hypnotizing.)

And here’s a different, perhaps even more amazing, warm-up routine from three weeks ago.

And here he is at LSU catching a FREAKING TOUCHBACK– without looking– with one hand like it’s a ping pong ball.

Yeah. He’s cool.

A bunch of other stuff from around the internets:

This Vine is the most Raiders Vine ever. Two dudes celebrating like 15 yards in the offensive backfield while a play is about to start. Love it.

Coaches are in good moods after they play CU.

Mississippi State weirdo gave me a good chuckle.

Jameis Winston pushing a ref is awesome because it’s Jameis Winston. And he’s pushing a referee. That’s really pretty amazing when you think about it.

Wyoming basketball might be pretty damn good this year. Here’s their best player, Larry Nance Jr., throwing down in an upset over CU.

Jimmy Fallon mentioned former CSU Ram Weston Richburg in his “Most Likely To” segment:

A couple links worth sharing:

And finally, JaVale McGee would like to wish you and yours a happy Thanksgiving. I love him.

Happy Tuesday everybody. Thanks for reading. Have a tremendous Thanksgiving. Go Utah State. 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.

What Is Wrong With The Broncos? …Is Jim McElwain On The Move?

Welcome to the 85th edition of Tuesdays With Mitch, where the orange and blue sky might be falling. I wrote a lot of words this week. Let’s get into it…

Sunday was not a good day. (AAron Ontiveroz, Denver Post)

At some point late in the fourth quarter of the Broncos’ disheartening and discouraging loss to the Rams on Sunday, I provided the group of family and friends with which I was watching a distinct summary of both the day’s events and the broader implications concerning the big picture of the Broncos’ 2014 season. With the outcome having already been decided, I sullenly slumped forward, plopped my chin on my  palm and proclaimed the following:

“Well…

…(long pause)…

…(sophisticated stroking of chin hair)…

…(vacant stare)…

Shit.”

I think that pretty much sums things up, but let’s dive in to this mess.

The Broncos have just gotten their asses kicked for the second time in three weeks. And this one was pretty much a disaster. They lost 22-7 to the St. Louis Rams. They lost by 15 points. To the St. Louis Rams. They scored 7 points. Against the St. Louis Rams. THE ST. LOUIS RAMS!

Krusty The Clown watched the game. He has the same question as lots of Broncos fans.

Good question, Herschel. What DID we just watch?

We saw dropped passes and bad tackling. We saw bad throws from an MVP quarterback. We saw garbage offensive line play. We saw a kneel down. We saw injuries. We did NOT see any field goal attempts.

Now, there’s no sense in playing the blame game, unless you’re writing a blog about the Broncos after the Broncos got their asses kicked by the St. Louis Rams. Then there’s a ton of sense in playing the blame game. Let’s point some fingers!

THIS IS ALL THE OFFENSE’S FAULT!

For the first time in a few years, the offense was without a doubt the main issue in a Broncos’ loss.

Peyton Manning does not look sharp right now and is undoubtedly playing the worst football of his three seasons in Denver. He seems uncomfortable in the pocket. He seems hesitant or unwilling to throw the ball down the field. He’s hanging his receivers out to dry. He’s throwing picks. It’s all kind of odd to watch.

*Sidenote:  I do not care about Manning’s “bad” body language. He’s been doing that his whole career. His career has been pretty good. He gets pissed off when things don’t go well. So what? Peyton Manning is afforded certain luxuries such as this.

The running game has, for the most part, not been much of a factor throughout the year. On Sunday that nonfactor-ness went to a whole ‘nother level.  The Broncos ran the ball ten times. Manning threw 54 passes. TEN! FIFTY-FOUR! That’s amazing. To an extent, I am of the belief that a team with Peyton Manning and Demaryius Thomas and Julius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders does not need to lean too heavily on the run. That’s not necessarily a point of emphasis based on the personnel that has been assembled here.

But regardless of your offensive makeup, you can’t throw the ball FORTY-FOUR more times than you run it. That is absurd.

Yes, the offense took a hit when two of the passing game’s most important and prominent weapons left with injuries in the first half, but shouldn’t that mean you run the ball– or try to run the ball– MORE?

We can talk about the lack of a running game. We can talk about the two big injuries. We can talk about the struggles of Manning. (Struggles is a very, very relative term here.) But there’s another problem that outweighs all of those.

This offensive line is crap right now. The Broncos have a guard playing tackle, a center playing guard, a new guy playing center, and an all-pro playing like crap. That’s not exactly a recipe for success. Right now the lack of a running game comes back to the offensive line play. The (relative) struggles of Manning comes back to the offensive line play. St. Louis has an above average defense, particularly in the front seven. And they just owned the Broncos up front.

It was ugly.

The Denver Broncos and their immensely talented, record-setting, intimidating offense scored seven points on Sunday. That’s a problem.

THIS IS ALL THE DEFENSE’S FAULT!

Don’t get me wrong, I am identifying the Broncos’ offense as Reason Number One they were dominated on Sunday, but we can throw plenty more blame around.

The defense gets some credit for holding St. Louis to just one touchdown and forcing five field goals. I guess. They only gave up 22 points. The way this team is constructed that’s supposed to be good enough, right? I guess.

But they really weren’t all that impressive when you consider the opponent. Shaun Hill was making his first start in over two months. He’s a backup’s backup. Tre Mason is a fine young rookie running back, but he’s been up and down since taking over as a starter. Kenny Britt is Kenny Britt. He’s not exactly curling the toes of wide receiver coaches across the league. What I’m trying to say is THE RAMS’ OFFENSE SUCKS.

Yet the Broncos defense again had trouble getting stops on 3rd-and-longs. They forced zero turnovers. They sacked Hill just three times.

It would have been nice for this new, revamped defense to step up and shut the Rams’ crappy offense down on a day when Manning and Co. were not at their finest. We’ve heard plenty of talk about the Broncos needing to learn to win a low scoring game. A game that sees both teams score in the teens or low-20s. Evidently this defense isn’t ready for that.

Yes, some of this comes back to the offense. The two interceptions, the bad field position after failed fourth-down attempts, and the lack of a running game didn’t do the D* any favors, but I’m not exactly giving the defense a thumbs up.

*How many times did CBS show that middle-aged dork with the cutout of the D and the fence during the broadcast? Like, ten? It amazes me that someone would bring that to a game in 2014.

THIS IS ALL THE SPECIAL TEAMS’S’S’S’ FAULT!

Tuesdays With Mitch is here with some breaking news. Good teams in THE NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE! have kickers. All of them. Right now, the Broncos do not appear to have a kicker after they thrice turned down long field goal attempts and instead elected to go for it on fourth down or punt. Those game situations are as follows, and keep in mind THEY’RE PLAYING IN A FREAKING DOME!

  • 3-0 Rams. 1:22 left in the first quarter. 4th-and-5 from the 37. The Broncos decline a would-be 54-yarder and fail to convert. …A made field goal would have simply tied the game in the first quarter. That’s obviously not important at all.
  • 13-7 Rams. Opening drive of the third quarter. 4th-and-10 from the 38. The Broncos decline a would-be 55-yarder and punt. …Leaving three more (potential) points on the board in a close game.
  • 19-7 Rams. 9:37 left in the fourth quarter. 4th-and-4 from the 28. The Broncos decline a would be 45-yarder and Manning is sacked for a loss of 12. …At this point it’s a two possession game with under ten minutes remaining. The game would have stayed two possessions with a made field goal, so many would argue that going for it is the right call here regardless of whether or not a kicker wearing a Broncos jersey exists somewhere in the world. HOWEVAH, if the Broncos had kicked a couple of those long field goals earlier, another field goal here might have made sense.

This is not college football, where #collegekickers are notoriously shaky and erratic. This is THE NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE! Kickers in THE NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE! need to be able to make, or at least attempt, 50-plus yard field goals. In fact, I’m fairly certain they’re paid a handsome salary to do just that. So I’m not putting these decisions on the coaching staff. If they don’t trust Brandon McManus, so be it. But something needs to be done about this. You can not have a guy on your roster that you don’t trust attempting field goals when a very, very large portion of his job description involves attempting field goals.

Aside from having a kicker who is not allowed to kick field goals, the Broncos special teams units have been awfully pedestrian all year. They have zero kickoff return threats. They have zero punt return threats.

The more you think about it, the Broncos do not appear to be a complete football team.

…I also have McManus in both of my fantasy leagues, you jerks.

So looking ahead…

The Broncos come back home for their first game at Mile High in exactly a month on Sunday. Things don’t appear to be getting easier. The 6-4 Dolphins come to town with the 2nd highest rated total defense and 2nd highest rated passing defense in THE NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE!. Miami played on Thursday night last week, so they will have a few extra days rest.

After that, the Broncos take their annual trip to Arrowhead to play the 7-3 Chiefs, who will also be coming off a Thursday game with a few extra days to rest and prepare. So yeah, the Broncos and Chiefs will be playing in Arrowhead in week 13 with first place on the line. I didn’t see that coming.

Oh, and the Patriots look like a damn powerhouse after beating the Colts handily in Indianapolis. For Denver to catch New England, the Broncos need to win out and the Patriots need to lose twice in their final six games.

Much of my focus in this space throughout the season has been on securing the top seed in the AFC. This is all one long preseason, I said. Enjoy the ride until the real games start in January, I said. That’s no longer the outlook. Right now the focus needs to be trying to win the division by trying to win some football games by trying to not suck on offense, defense, and special teams.

Because excluding a two-quarter stretch (roughly) against a team that hasn’t won a game in a calendar year, the Broncos have looked pretty crappy three weeks in a row.

You know me, I’m much more levelheaded than most sports blowhards you’ll hear or read. I actually misplaced my Broncos Panic Button a couple years ago and have never bothered to look for it. But after watching the Broncos on Sunday afternoon I think I’m going to need to locate that thing. Because if the Broncos have a similar performance in this week’s game against the Dolphins, I’ll be mashing down the Broncos Panic Button and heading for the hills until… Rockies season? Oh Dear Lord.

Description of . Wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders #10 of the Denver Broncos sits in disbelief after he can't hold on to the ball on a 4th down pass as the broncos turn the ball over on downs  vs the St. Louis Rams in the Edward Jones Dome November 16, 2014 St. Louis, MO (Photo By Joe Amon/The Denver Post)

Before Emmanuel Sanders got hurt, Emmanual Sanders got sad. 😦 is right, Emmanuel. (Joe Amon, Denver Post)

One quick thought on the Broncos potentially signing Hall of Fame MeatHead/DoucheBag/ScumBag/Racist/Sexist/Homophobe Richie Incognito:

This is something I find myself torn on. Not because I wonder whether Incognito would be able to play well after his time away from the game. I think he would help this team’s patchwork offensive line immediately. Not because I’m concerned with the chemistry in the locker room. I think the Broncos have a veteran locker room that wouldn’t put up with his nonsense and I think even Incognito would be able to stay in his lane for the season’s final couple months. And no, I don’t really care about the media distraction it would bring (though that would be the biggest annoyance).

I’m struggling with this thought because as a fan, Incognito is one of the last people on this planet I would ever want to root for. He is a terrible dude. I’m not naive enough to think all Broncos players are saints. Assuredly, they are not. But I do have a hard time believing that anyone in the Broncos’ locker room, the entire NFL, the entire world is as big of a douche as Incognito.

So this is the question I find myself asking:  Would it be worth it to root for someone I find to be hilariously stupid and mind-numbingly repulsive if it substantially increases the Broncos’ chances of winning the Super Bowl?

I’m not entirely sure how to answer that.

Off to the weekly departments…

Stud of the week:

Let’s talk about Jim McElwain. He’s pretty awesome. First though, let’s recap the CSU Rams’ eventful bye week.

First, Boise State took on San Diego State in a game that could have had huge (HUGE!)implications for CSU. Things got off to a pretty great start, with the Aztecs jumping out to a 20-0 lead in Boise. I was feeling prett-ay darn good about things. But San Diego State isn’t all that good this year and Boise State is. So the Broncos came roaring back and won 39-28, delaying the Rams’ Mountain West championship hopes at least one more week.

Boise State plays in Laramie this week at 8:15. The Broncos are 14-point favorites. CSU fans are all die-hard Wyoming fans until further notice.

On Sunday some good news was released in the form of the national polls. CSU was bumped up two spots to #23 in the coaches poll. They moved up one spot to #22 in the AP poll. The committee’s rankings will be released in a couple hours and I think CSU has a somewhat reasonable chance to sneak in there after multiple teams ahead of them lost on Saturday.

Jim McElwain’s name has been linked to the open head coaching position at Florida. (Lance Iversen/USA TODAY Sports )

Okay back to Jim McElwain… Other college football news surfaced on Sunday, when Florida announced the firing (or resignation, whatever) of Will Muschamp. Of course, this immediately sparked speculation as to who will replace Muschamp as head coach in Gainesville. Jim McElwain is on just about every list of potential candidates.

Bovada even has odds on who the next coach will be. McElwain opened as the second most likely “candidate”, but has moved to third as I write this. This is obviously kind of silly, but it’s also a bit concerning, as oddsmakers are generally extremely well-informed.

I would be very surprised if McElwain took the Florida job. It’s a possibility, but I would be very surprised.

The first thing we need to consider is the buyout in McElwain’s current contract, which is an unheard of $7.5 million. Yes, Florida is a big time school with a big time budget and big time donors, but SEVEN AND A HALF MILLION DOLLARS, in a lump sum, one-time payment, is a lot of money, even for them.

I think people’s’ eyes can glaze over when we start discussing millions of dollars in big time athletics. For reference, Will Muschamp’s 2013 salary is about $2.7 million. So McElwain’s buyout alone is almost THREE TIMES what Florida is paying Muschamp each year. That’s not chump change.

Also, it sounds like Florida is going to aim higher than a head coach at a Mountain West school. Florida is considered a top-five or so job in the country and they will probably have their initial sights set on a head coach from a Power 5 school like Mike Gundy (Oklahoma State) or Dan Mullen (Mississippi State).

So my guess is Florida would have to swing and miss on a couple of their first choices, then they would have to REAALLLY, REAAALLLYYY want Jim McElwain to the point where coming up with multiple briefcases filled with cash isn’t an issue.

And that’s only half of the equation.

McElwain has to want Florida, too. McElwain is comfortable in Fort Collins. He is the highest paid coach in the Mountain West (although obviously a job like Florida would provide a big raise). Maybe McElwain will pull a Sonny and be cool staying in Fort Collins for a long time (fingers crossed). But assuming that’s not the case, McElwain doesn’t have to jump at the first job opening that comes his way. He has the luxury to sit back and wait for what he considers the perfect situation.

If McElwain doesn’t want the task of completely rebuilding a powerhouse, he can simply wait for a good situation at a school he considers an upgrade. Chris Petersen did this when he stayed at Boise State for eight years before finally leaving for Washington after last season. Petersen’s name was mentioned in every big school’s coaching vacancy for years. He waited until he saw a school that fit his profile and was left in good shape by the previous coach.

Florida needs a new coach. Michigan will soon be needing a new coach. Nebraska may (maybe not) soon be needing a new coach. McElwain’s name will be associated with every job opening in the country.

There are always a lot of moving parts in these situations and much of my outlook is based on speculation, but as of right now, there are plenty of reasons to be confident McElwain will be back with Colorado State next year.

Douche of the week:

This guy needs to reevaluate everything in his life and I mean that sincerely.

Douche is even a douche when he’s interviewed after the whole thing went down.

A few other things:

The Nuggets beat the Cavs last night in a game that will surely represent the moment that their entire season turned around. Until all that actually happens, this free throw sums up their season.

Never change, JaVale. That’s from Sunday’s loss to New York. The Nuggets scored eight points on 1-16 shooting in the second quarter.

This dude did not like Mr. Referee touching his bottom.

Mr. Referee looks kind of terrified.

This is the greatest punt ever. Right back in his own grill.

I stumbled across this GIF from a recent boxing match this week. It is the coolest thing I saw all week. Incredible.

Deadspin / @bubbaprog

And,


A
couple links worth sharing:

And finally, here’s Daniel Tosh tearing up ESPN. Really good stuff:

Pretty solid from Tosh, but he loses some credibility when he includes Mike and Mike in his “you guys are cool” disclaimer at the end.

Happy Tuesday everybody. 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.

Weekly Roundup! Colorado State! Broncos! Baseball!

Welcome to the 82nd edition of Tuesdays With Mitch, where last-second field goals and record breaking touchdowns are commonplace. Big post this week. Let’s get into it…

Hollywood just making plays on the reg. (Andy Cross, Denver Post)

I’ll start– again– with some thoughts on the Colorado State Rams. I keep planning on focusing on something else in these posts, but they just keep winning in dramatic fashion. They leave me no choice.

This one started with a bang. On the first play from scrimmage Rashard Higgins took a short pass and turned it into a 69-yard gain. CSU would score three plays later. The sellout (no, really!) crowd at Hughes was rockin’.

A couple series later, Utah State answered with a 59 yard touchdown run from Joe Hill.

From that point until the fourth quarter the game was… actually pretty boring. Lots of punts. Lots of penalties. A couple field goals. A couple injuries. A missed field goal. That was pretty much it.

In fact, the second and third quarters saw a combined total of three points.

So credit goes to both defenses for stepping up. Even though there wasn’t a lot of flash, the game was intense throughout.

Things became particularly intense when the fourth quarter started. Let’s break that down a bit.

The final frame began with Utah State at the CSU 22 and driving with a little bit of momentum. But CSU held them to a field goal. 13-10 Aggies.

Colorado State then moved the ball, but the drive stalled and Jared Roberts missed a 47-yard field goal that seemed like it could be a back-breaker. But the CSU defense forced a quick three-and-out and the Rams took over down by three with nine minutes left.

The Rams moved the ball and chewed a lot of clock, which set up a huge third and five at the Aggie 30 with about two minutes remaining. McElwain surprised me with a conservative play call on what could have been the Rams’ final drive. A Jason Oden run up the middle went for no gain. When I saw the running play I thought maybe McElwain was in “four down territory” mode. And perhaps he would have gone for the first down if the prior play had led to a fourth and short. Instead, on fourth and five he trusted his kicker to make one from 46. It worked. Tie game. 1:40 left.

That moment was pretty damn dramatic. The final 1:40 wasn’t too bad either.

Utah State took over at the 26 and Hughes came alive like I’ve never seen before. It was a pretty cool moment for me personally to take a step back and glance around the stadium and listen to that sellout crowd roar in the game’s biggest moment. The students, who often leave to go increase their B.A.C. sometime in the third quarter, were still loud as hell and focused. Pretty good stuff.

After one first down, the Rams’ D stepped up again and forced another punt from the Aggies.

CSU took over on the twelve. Most of us assumed they would play for overtime, which is what they did initially. Handoff to Hart for a couple yards. Let the clock run. Handoff to Hart… Except this one went for 17 yards and a clock-stopping first down.

Well shoot, now you might as well take a shot right?

(You’re welcome for that very technologically advanced and professional multimedia presentation I created by holding my phone in front of my TV. Via CBS Sports.)

So that pretty, majestic, dramatic, stalwart 46-yard bomb to Higgins blew the roof off Hughes and set up a last-second 46-yard field goal from Roberts, who COMPLETELY REDEEMED HIMSELF after his miss earlier in the fourth quarter.

Victory.

Colorado State is 6-1.

I think I’ve said this before, but this was a big win for CSU.

Utah State is another good team and they came to play. Yes, CSU caught a break when quarterback Darrell Garrettson went down for the Aggies. But honestly, the USU offense wasn’t doing much with him in there either.

It was not the prettiest of wins. The Rams’ offensive line line was completely outplayed by Utah State’s strong front seven, which recorded three sacks in the first half and five more in the second. Colorado State had to overcome a whole crapload of big penalties, too (11 for 116 yards). But they did.

So the bottom line from Saturday is that Colorado State won yet another game they could have easily lost against a quality opponent.

Hey let’s update these numbers, which I enjoy doing every week (apparently). Colorado State is now 10-2 in their last 12 games going back to last season. 12-3 in their last 15; 13-4 in their last 17.

Before the season, I said Colorado State’s schedule had one “maybe” game, three “probably not” games, and 9 “should win” games. CSU won the “maybe” (Colorado) and went 2-1 in the “probably nots” (Wins over Boston College and Utah State). It’s been an impressive seven weeks.

The Rams will be favored in every game for the remainder of the regular season. If they can take care of business against lesser teams, this could turn into a very special year.

And while we’re at it, go ahead and jump to the 1:56 mark of this video to bypass a bunch of screaming hooligans who rushed the field and some interesting(?) locker room dancing and enjoy some awesome locker room Fight Song-ing.

Off to the weekly departments…

Stud of the week:

I’ll use this space to share some thoughts on the Broncos, because their quarterback is kind of a stud. Did you know that Peyton Manning broke that record for touchdown passes or whatever? He totally did.

Manning breaking the record was a special moment for the Broncos and their fans, even if Manning did throw 399 of his touchdowns in a Colts uniform. Simply put, I am constantly in a state of awe at what Manning has done in the two and a half years he’s been in Denver. It has to be the most remarkable story of my generation, right? Coming back from those surgeries and being released by Indianopolis and missing an entire season to achieve all of this is just unbelievable. All he needs is a Super Bowl (or two) to cement his story as one of the all-time best in sports history.

And while I’m on the topic here are some non-Manning-record Broncos thoughts:

  • They currently look like the best team in the NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE! by a wide margin. Vegas agrees, listing them as heavy favorites to win the Super Bowl at 3-1.
  • They just pounded a pretty darn good 49ers team, albeit one that is depleted by injuries. Sunday night was the biggest statement the Broncos have made all year.
  • We might be entering the part of the season when the Broncos just beat the crap out of whoever they play and we’re all bored by halftime. It is not okay to complain about this.
  • That said, they lost a Thursday night home game to San Diego last year. They play San Diego at home on Thursday night. Thursday night football is stupid and this game concerns me.
  • Against the 49ers the Broncos used the pass to set up an effective run game instead of trying to set up the run from the outset. This is how it should work every week.
  • When Von Miller steps on the field, he is the best football player out there. A healthy and active Miller is a huge game-changer.
  • The sweetest play of the night might not have involved Peyton Manning. It may have been this fake spin move sack from DeMarcus Ware.

And as a quick aside, if you didn’t assume this was scripted and planned out (which it was) from the moment you saw it, you’re far less cynical than me. This was classic, goofy, aren’t-we-cute? Peyton.

Tweet of the week:

The lady who received Brett Favre’s now infamous picture message had some advice for Peyton on Sunday night.

Well played, even though I hate the term “prolly”.

Douche of the week:

I’ll use this space to talk about some baseball because I hate the Giants so damn much. Travis Ishikawa is a douche for doing this.

Although… I also hate the Cardinals so he’s kind of a stud too.

A quick thought on Joe Buck’s call there… It was perfect. He knew the ball was gone and jumped in immediately. Perfect timing. “The Giants win the pennant!” has historical significance. He quickly made the call with exuberance followed by silence from the whole booth for 46 seconds. Perfect. If you don’t like Joe Buck calling a baseball game, you’re trying too hard to find something to complain about.

Anyway, I can’t believe the Giants are in the World Series again. I’m convinced they’re just not that talented. It does not add up. Their starting pitching isn’t even that good this year outside of the postseason version of Madison Bumgarner. But I suppose there is something to be said for a team that finds ways to win. Even if those wins come on wild pitches, errors on bunts, and routine fielders choices.

Over in the ALCS, the 2007 Rockies 2014 Royals swept the Orioles and haven’t lost a postseason game yet. They’re the first team in history to start a Postseason 8-0. Though, to be clear, that statement is a bit of a misnomer. The ’07 Rockies did the exact same thing, but their Wild Card play-in game was considered game 163 of the regular season and not a Postseason game. Same exact thing though.

Also, this is a thing that happened.

@cjzero

@cjzero

Here was the awesome scene in Kansas City on Wednesday afternoon:

The MLB Postseason has been awesome– even with all of the short series–  and I’m geeked for the Fall Classic, which starts tonight on Fox.

I’ll pick the talentless and hatable Giants to win it all for the third time in five years. I have no idea how San Fransisco will score late runs off the Royals’ bullpen and that outfield defense (Gordon and Cain are simply a treat to watch out there), but they will probably find a way on some flukey garbage nonsense. Giants in six. Hope I’m wrong.

Vines of the week:

More good stuff this week, but I have to warn you, nothing as funny as that Longhorn punch from last week, which I still haven’t stopped laughing at.

…But Lou Holtz saying this sentence is pretty darn close:

I’m not the Mike! This is just awesome audio.

I’ve never heard a ref say this.

Here’s Tubby Smith falling on a mortorcycle.

Smooth, Tubbs.

Madison Bumgarner Wasting Beer, Volume III

We’re up to 66 oz. of waste this week.

A couple other cool things:

The Ohio State marching band is amazing. Keep an eye out for the pin ball session.

@Landgrant33 / SB Nation

I am told those are people moving around out there, presumably playing instruments.

This lady is just too damn much:

A couple links worth sharing:

And finally, Katie Nolan is on the same page as me when it comes to Madison Bumgarner’s celbratory antics. This video is great, but I’m really just putting this in here because Nolan is one of my favorite people on the internet. She’s a star in the making. And… you know… I think we’d probably get along.

Happy Tuesday everybody. Thanks for reading. Enjoy the Fall Classic. 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.

Colorado State Beats Nevada; Utah State Up Next

Welcome to the 81st edition of Tuesdays With Mitch, where I’m still overloading on sports. We have a lot to cover. Let’s get into it…

Jim McElwain and the Rams just keep winning. (Lance Iversen-USA TODAY Sports)

Let us begin with some thoughts on Colorado State’s important win over Nevada.

The Rams were absolutely dominant through most of the first three quarters while building up a 31-3 lead. Garrett Grayson threw three touchdowns without any turnovers. Rashard Higgins did what Rashard Higgins does. The sophomore went off for almost 200 yards receiving with two touchdowns. He looks like the best offensive player in the Mountain West.

And the defense played strong and physical– particularly the secondary– while shutting down a potent Wolfpack offense.

Nevada, of course, made things very, very interesting and uncomfortable for CSU fans in the fourth quarter. After Dee Hart scored to give the Rams a 28 point lead, Nevada came back with three unanswered touchdowns to make it a seven point game. The Wolfpack had the ball late and a game-tying touchdown appeared imminent until DeAndre Ellington sealed the win for the Rams with an interception in the end zone.

This was another big win for CSU.

Yes, they almost choked away that 31-3 lead, but it’s important to remember that Nevada is actually a pretty good team. Pretty good teams are rarely blown out by four touchdowns at home. Nevada had a decent little resume heading into this one. They nearly beat #16 Arizona in Tucson, they easily beat Washington State in Reno, and they almost beat the same Boise State team that handled CSU with ease.

So while that comeback/chokejob wasn’t pretty (or particularly fun), it’s not like the Rams were falling apart against Tulsa or UC Davis. Cody Fajardo is a baller and he was bound to make some things happen at some point.

An injury-avoiding conference road win is never, ever, ever, ever a bad thing. So I came away from this one with nothing but positive thoughts. (I also had a good time with a lot of you on Twitter, as I threw out some fairly absurd and possibly not sober Tweets throughout the game. That was fun.) Anyway…

At the halfway post of the 2014 season, the Colorado State Rams are 5-1.

DeAndre Ellington with the game-sealing interception in what turned out to be another dramatic win for Colorado State. (Jeff Mulvhill Jr. For the Reporter Herald)

So we can now make that 9-2 in their last 11 games going back to last season. (Or 11-3 in their last 14 or 12-4 in their last 16. Go ahead and focus on whichever one you find most impressive.)

Of course, big wins like this and Boston College can turn out to be far less important if the Rams are unable to build on them as the season progresses. That brings us to this week’s Homecoming matchup under the ‘A’ vs. Utah State. In my CSU season preview I identified this as the most important game on the Rams’ schedule. That remains true, and one could certainly make the argument that there is actually even more on the line than I envisioned in late August. Because I certainly didn’t expect this team to be 5-1.

Utah State entered the year as most people’s co-favorites to win the Mountain West alongside Boise State. They shutout the Rams in Logan last year and won the Mountain Division. This year, they’ve played a more difficult schedule than the Rams and are 4-2. Chuckie Keeton, who generated a little bit of preseason Heisman buzz is out for the year after another devastating knee injury. After slipping up at Arkansas State (that’s still a head-scratcher), they went on the road and beat #18 BYU and followed that up with an easy home win over Air Force. Those two wins came sans Keeton.

So yeah, this is a big game.

Which means you should really get your ass to Fort Collins on Saturday and support this team. It’s a damn good time to be a Colorado State fan. We haven’t been able to say that much in the past decade so take advantage of it, people. Not only is this team pretty good, but they’re entertaining. Even if you don’t like or understand football just sit there and watch #82 because he’s probably about to do something awesome.

Attendance has been a problem for Colorado State athletics. That’s no secret. Legitimate reasons for lower turnouts are plentiful. But, at some point, that needs to change. Winning changes everything. At least it’s supposed to.

Colorado State fans are a guarded bunch. We’re not particularly anxious to get our hopes up over a football team. In recent years, we’ve seen quite the combination of unmet expectations, heartache, let downs, and just an overall crappy product. I understand all of this as well as anyone.

And I’m not sitting here trying to tell you that Colorado State is one of the best teams in the country. But, folks, they’re 5-1. That’s good! The season is half over and their winning percentage is .833. They’re coming off a 2013 bowl victory. They’re undoubtedly the best college football team in the state of Colorado. They received votes in both national polls and a win on Saturday just might mean cracking the top-25 for the first time since prior to the 2003 season. They have serious Mountain West Championship aspirations.

And they play a very good Utah State team on Saturday in a game that could go a long way in determining who wins the Mountain West. The forecast says sunny and low-70s. Kickoff is at 5 pm. It’s nationally televised (kinda). The Rams are about 5 point favorites. It’s Homecoming weekend. What’s not to like?

Yeah, I’ll see y’all on Saturday.

The late CSU game on Saturday night led to a really quick turnaround before…

The Broncos played in New York for one of their two early games of 2014. I wanted to discuss this game a little bit here, but apparently don’t have the time. So I’ll just say what I always say in this space. Everything is fine. All is well. Winning by 14 points on the road in the NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE! is cool with me.

Sure, the Jets suck. But this one could have been a sneaky trap game and the Broncos took care of business. Nothin’ wrong with that. Pretty simple really.

In fact, Julius Thomas thinks “It’s so easy.”

And to complete a great week for football in Colorado, let’s not forget CU. They did their part by not playing. Good job, guys!

Even with all of the football happenings, the biggest Colorado sports news of the week came from the front office of the Colorado Rockies when General Manger People Dan O’vett and Bill GeiDowd both resigned on Wednesday morning.

It’s been real, Dan. (photo via Denver Post)

This happened six days ago, so my thoughts aren’t exactly timely. (That’ll happen when you post on a weekly basis). Here are a couple anyway:

The Rockies organization is a mess. Change is good. At this point any front office change has to be considered a good thing. That said, the real problem is the guy who owns the team and he isn’t going anywhere. And because of Monfort’s stubborn loyalty towards O’Dowd, resigning is the only way O’Dowd was ever going to leave.

Naturally, Monfort immediately filled the position with an internal candidate. Very, very “Rockies” of him. Jeff Bridich seems like a bright young executive and for all we know, he could be the perfect replacement. But it would have been nice for Monfort to at least poke around the baseball world outside of his own organization.

So I think Rockies fans should proceed with some cautious optimism. I can’t get overly excited, but this is progress. And progress is good.

Instead of the weekly departments, I just have a bunch of Vines…

Vines are taking over the sports highlight/sports humor world these days. We’ll start with my absolute favorite Vine in months. So much going on here:

I know I say this kind of thing a lot, but that Vine had me in tears for a solid five minutes. So much going on. The reaction from numero 42 just slays me. It’s part What the hell did I do? and part Did I just get punched in the face?. Also notice Charlie Strong coming in and saying Wooaaahhhh as a reminder that if you’re that punching unsuspecting teammates right in the face mask, you should probably take it down a notch.

This one is a distant second, but also had me laughing pretty hard. Don’t know what the hell is going on, but look at this guy’s sweet dance!

Also, here’s a “Man Getting Hit By Football.”

Not funny but awfully innovative and cool:

Madison Bumgarner added a beer to his celebration when the Giants advanced to the NLCS.

I think he wasted 55 ounces this time.

And finally, I’ll just leave you with this guy doing this:

@cjzero

I could watch that all day. Damn, you know it’s a busy week when I can’t even find time to comment on the MLB Postseason. Every game is incredible. This postseason is making a run to be considered the best event in all of sports

Happy Tuesday everybody. Thanks for reading. See you at Hughes on Saturday. Then again right here 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.

football in the groin.

Colorado State Beats Boston College For A Huge, Wild Win

Welcome to the 79th edition of Tuesdays With Mitch, where tonight officially starts one of the best times on the sports calendar with the MLB Postseason, college football and the NFL all going strong. Let’s get into it…

Lovett

Grayson to Lovett for the biggest play of Colorado State’s young season and a huge, dramatic win. (Stephan Savoia/AP)

“This is what I came here to do.” – Jim McElwain

Colorado State had no business beating Boston College as our Saturday mornings transitioned into Saturday afternoons. Not after CSU traveled farther east than the program had since 1959. Not after kicking off at 10:30 a.m. local time (an underrated factor in this game). Not after their senior quarterback threw two first-quarter interceptions. Not after falling behind 14-0 late in the second quarter. Not against an ACC team that beat the #9 team in the country on this field two weeks ago. Not with CSU’s senior quarterback beat up and grabbing his shoulder in pain after just about every play. Not when they were down three points facing a fourth-and-eleven with 1:05 left.

But then Garrett Grayson saw Charles Lovett just hanging out by himself in the back corner of the end zone. He threw him a football and Colorado State did beat Boston College on Saturday afternoon. College football is fun when you win! (Video of the winning TD can be seen here. It’s worth watching again.)

My biggest takeaway from this game is the resiliency the Rams showed once again. We saw it in the New Mexico Bowl vs. Washington State. We saw it in the Rocky Mountain Showdown vs. Colorado And to a lesser extent, we even saw it in the vain comeback attempt vs. Boise State, This team doesn’t quit when they fall behind. Even on the road. Even against good teams. That’s an encouraging characteristic as we move into the meat of the schedule.

I think that starts with Grayson. The quarterback threw two bad interceptions in a horrible first quarter, but he kept his head and stayed poised. (Not to mention played through an apparent injury.) Next thing you know, he’s making one of the country’s most dramatic plays from Saturday.

Much of the credit for this win needs to go to the CSU linebacking corps, which was just able to contain Boston College’s vaunted rushing attack. Max Morgan was all over the field. Morgan, Corey James and Aaron Davis appear to be one of the best groups of ‘backers in the country.

Running back Dee Hart was a game-changer again. His versatility is starting to pay huge dividends for CSU, with McElwain using him on kickoff returns, punt returns, catching passes out of the backfield, and handing him the ball. His 43-yard kickoff return in the 2nd quarter went for naught, but his 43-yard run on the final drive set up that dramatic game-winning touchdown. Hart had 207 all-purpose yards.

And I told y’all that Rashard Higgins is a damn star. He had nine catches for 98 yards and a TD.

So now CSU has won three straight over “Power 5” teams, coming from behind in each one. That’s the kind of stat you used to hear back in the Sonny glory days. They’ve also won seven of their last nine games overall and nine of their last twelve. The Colorado State Rams are straight rollin’ right now.

Listen, Boston College isn’t a college football power. They’re not ranked. But they are a pretty good team and there’s no doubt this represented one of the toughest games on the Rams’ schedule. With that in mind, and with the direction the Colorado State program seems to be heading, this was the biggest regular season win for the Rams in many, many years.

Take a minute and think about how this game would have gone four or five years ago. Those teams would have had about a 50 percent chance of keeping the game competitive and a zero percent chance of coming away with a victory.

The times they are a-changin’.

Colorado State won 24-21.

Colorado State had plenty to celebrate Saturday afternoon. (Stephan Savoia/AP)

So where does this team go from here?  Hopefully upward.

This sounds a little crazy, but with the CSU’s soft schedule, it’s not completely unreasonable to at least think about seeing them win out. The game at Nevada in two weeks looks like a tough one. Utah State for Homecoming no longer looks like a huge challenge. (They’ve struggled on the road and Chuckie Keeton hasn’t been able to stay healthy.) And there is always the strong possibility of CSU laying an egg and losing a game they shouldn’t lose.

So yeah, I realize saying the Rams could win the remainder of their games and go 11-1 sounds pretty silly. And I’m not necessarily predicting that. I’m just saying it doesn’t look impossible.

On a much more important and slightly more serious note, the Rams’ chances of winning the Mountain Division increased dramatically Saturday night. About eight hours after the Rams won, Boise State lost to Air Force. I didn’t think the Broncos would lose a conference game after dominating CSU in Boise in week two. Then they went to Colorado Springs and fell behind a bad Air Force team 28-0. Uhh, what?

So now Boise and CSU both already have one conference loss (though BSU will have the tiebreaker over CSU because of the head-to-head victory). Utah State has to travel to Fort Collins and Boise. I’m still not sold on Wyoming or Air Force as contenders. A whole bunch of football still needs to be played (obviously), but at this point it appears that the Rams are in the hunt for their first conference title since Bradlee Van Pelt’s 2002 team.

So that’s pretty cool.

Subject change…

The MLB Postseason begins tonight, which is just wonderful news. There’s no better dramatic theater in sports than the baseball tournament that begins in a few hours.  The Athletics and Royals are in the AL play-in game tonight in Kansas City. The Giants and Pirates are in the NL play-in game tomorrow night in Pittsburgh.

The best first-round series figures to be Dodgers vs. Cardinals, a rematch of last year’s NLCS that will feature two separate matchups of Clayton Kershaw vs. Adam Wainwright– two of the heaviest heavyweights in baseball. Like most fans without a horse in the race, I’ll be pulling for the Pirates and Royals. Could you imagine that World Series?

That said, I like the Nationals to beat the Tigers in the Fall Classic. While I’m not overly confident in that prediction, my confidence in the Postseason being awesome is very, very high.

Off to the weekly departments…

Vine(s) of the week:

Speaking of the Nationals, Jordan Zimmerman threw a no-hitter on the last day of the regular season on Sunday. The final out was pretty remarkable, especially when you have this vantage point:

I also like Zimmerman’s reaction:

Stud(s) of the week:

Lots of options this week, but I want to give some love to Paul Konerko. The longtime White Sox first baseman played his last game on Friday. Konerko has had a remarkably underrated career and the game will miss him, his quiet and workmanlike approach, and his 439 homers and 1,412 RBI.

I also like this Jose Altuve story. Altuve, who is awesome and only like four feet tall, was leading the American League in hitting heading into the final game. The Astros tried to bench him to make sure Altuve would win the batting title. (He was leading Victor Martinez by three points heading into Sunday.) Altuve refused, played, and got two hits to raise his average and take the AL crown. Pretty legit.

The Rockies went the opposite route and benched Justin Morneau for the last two games to ensure him of leading the NL in hitting. LAME.

And on a somewhat related note, look at this swing from Altuve from few days back:

Douche of the week:

Hey look Michael Phelps got his 2nd DUI today. All the money in the world and a very public reputation on line… I just don’t get it man.

But also… No Broncos were arrested on the bye week. Sweet!

Picture(s) of the week:

Some Ohio State bro did that neat thing where you run out onto the field during a game. Ohio State assistant strength coach Anthony Schlagel took care of that.

The picture is better, but here’s a Vine of the incident:

Wait we have one more picture! My favorite mugshot ever:

Unbelievable! The weird thing about this is if you actually visit that link, that mug is nowhere to be found. So I’m not entirely sure if this guy is the suspected bank robber or if CBS 4 Denver just has an awesome stock photo to run when bad guys get caught. Either way, I’m glad I saw it.

Tweet of the week:

Some really solid analysis from Broadway Joe on Sunday:

Offense of line.

Some other stuff the internet had to offer from the past week:

The Pirates were excited to make the playoffs. This is how you videobomb a newscast!

Mike Trout is inventing the “no-look diving catch”.

I don’t even understand that.

Hey here’s a GIF that made me laugh:

I have no idea why I found this 30-yard stumble to be so damn funny:

Steve Smith has no interest in handing the ball to the ref. I really respect this move:

stevesmh

SB Nation

Arizona State lost to UCLA 62-27 Thursday night, but the final score wasn’t the most embarrassing part of their evening. This was:

A couple links worth sharing from the past week:

And finally, I don’t have much time to get into the incredible overkill of Derek Jeter’s final games. But gosh, Keith Olbermann does makes some interesting points about Jeter’s career:

On the other side of the spectrum, his nephew’s little hat tip was pretty darn cute:

Happy Tuesday everybody.  GO WATCH SOME BASEBALL. Thanks for reading. See y’all 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 Football and Rocky Mountain Showdown Preview

Welcome to the 74th edition of Tuesdays With Mitch, where I’m gearing up for one of the biggest days of the year to kick off a four-day weekend. You best be calling in sick on Friday because we have much more important things to take care of. Get out your grill and cornhole boards and coolers and the pigskin. I’ll bring the beer and whiskey. Football is back. And it brings my absolute favorite party of the year. Let’s get into it…

Garrett Grayson Quarterback Garrett Grayson #18 of the Colorado State Rams scrambles with the ball against the Colorado Buffaloes in the Rocky Mountain Showdown at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on September 1, 2012 in Denver, Colorado.

Garrett Grayson hopes to improve to 2-1 vs. Colorado on Friday.  (Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

Is this the year the Rams take the next step?

Most would agree that Colorado State is a program headed in the right direction as we enter Jim McElwain’s third season as head coach. In both football and basketball, CSU has removed itself from the lower tiers of the Mountain West Conference, but hasn’t been able to make the jump to the top-level. This year just may be the one that sees the Rams start beating the big boys and solidify themselves as a Mountain West contender. That said, a lot of last year’s talent is gone, so is a step back inevitable?

Any way you slice it, this is an important year for Colorado State football to determine just what they are as a program.

Before allowing me to discuss the Colorado Buffaloes and the Rocky Mountain Showdown, let’s (quickly) break down the Rams on the whole. Here’s how their 2013 went, with some very professional comments added by yours truly.

csu 13 sched with my thoughts

So in the first two weeks CSU had WhiskeyTangoFoxtrot losses to bad teams that they should have beaten. Then everything pretty much played out as you would expect, except for another bad loss to San Jose State on Homecoming weekend. That was followed by a blowout win as heavy underdogs in Laramie that completely changed the feel of the season. (Even if Wyo turned out to be pretty bad, most of us didn’t realize it at that point.)

But again, CSU couldn’t beat the top two teams in their division, not really coming close to taking down Boise State or Utah State.

Those two teams represent the two biggest (non-rivalry) games on the Rams’ schedule again this year.

screenshot via espn.com

screenshot via espn.com

So quickly looking at the 2014 slate I see a pretty damn easy schedule. I have one “maybe” (Colorado, because that game is always flukey), three “probably nots” (at Boise State, at Boston College, home to Utah State), and eight wins.

The “Next Step” I mentioned earlier would look like this for CSU:

  • Beat Colorado. More on that in a bit.
  • Beat the eight other bad teams on the schedule. The bottom of the Mountain West is crap. Wyoming is down (for now; I wouldn’t be surprised if Craig Bohl rights that ship quickly). San Jose State isn’t the formidable program it was under Mike MacIntyre. Chris Ault is gone at Nevada. And Hawaii, New Mexico and Air Force all figure to be absolutely terrible again. CSU should not lose to any of those teams. Good teams that contend for conference championships don’t have bad losses on their resume. Last year CSU was pretty good and they had three.
  • Find a way to take down Boise State or Utah State. These two teams are the heavy favorites to win the Mountain Division of the MWC. Beating a good Boise team on the road seems unlikely. Utah State, though, comes to Hughes on Homecoming Weekend. I think this is the biggest game on CSU’s schedule. This is exactly the kind of game the Rams have to start winning to change the way we all think about Colorado State football.

So I’m looking for this team to finish the regular season 9-3. I’m tempted to say 10-2 because I think they are capable of beating Colorado and winning just one of the “probably nots” I mentioned above.

Nine wins would be an improvement over last year, but that 10th win would assuredly take the program to that elusive next level, especially if that leads to an 11th win after a bowl game. That would put Colorado State at 11-2. Did I just type that? I should probably stop now, because I’m starting to sound crazy as hell.

Until they prove they can avoid bad losses or beat good teams on the road, my official prediction is a 9-3 regular season, which would still be a hell of a good year.

On the field the Rams have some pieces they should feel very good about, but a few question marks too.

Quarterback Garrett Grayson is entering his senior year after a record-breaking junior year. He’s good. If he stays healthy, the CSU offense should run efficiently all year. I have a lot of faith in this kid. Utah State quarterback Chuckie Keeton should be the best in the conference. Grayson is right behind him.

Grayson will have plenty of weapons to choose from, as his whole receiving corps is returning. 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.

Crockett Gillmore is gone to the NFL, but Kivon Cartwright should step in at tight end and replace him on the All-Conference team.

So about those question marks… Obviously the Rams lose just about all of their production at running back with the departure of Kapri Bibbs, Donnell Alexander, and Chris Nwoke. Yesterday McElwain said he expects the Rams to go four or even five deep at running back. For me, Alabama transfer Dee Hart is the biggest wild card on the roster. I wrote about that a couple weeks ago. He could be a season-changer.

The offensive line lost four of five starters, including one of the best Rams ever in Weston Richburg. Ty Sambrailo is the only returning starter, and he should be an all-conference selection and appears to be another future-NFLer. That said, I’m not sure what to expect from this unit. It’s hard to imagine they’ll be as good as last year’s.

Defensively, the Rams struggled quite a bit in 2013. They were actually really good against the run but had a nasty little habit of giving up huge touchdown passes. Like… All the time. They lose the Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year in Shaq Barrett, but I still think they should be improved overall defensively.

The linebacking corps will be a major strength for the Rams. The trio of Aaron Davis, Max Morgan and Cory James could be the best in the Mountain West and one of the better units in the nation. The secondary brings just about everybody back and should be better at not giving up 60-yard touchdowns seemingly every half. I don’t think the defensive line will be a strength.

So I think we’ll see more balance than last year’s team that scored a ton of points and gave up a lot of points. The offense will be high-powered again, but won’t be on the record-breaking level of last year. The defense should be improved.

Okay that’s enough of that. Let’s make fun of CU! (You should know I’m usually pretty objective on here, but with the Showdown three days away… screw it.)

Jon Embree

I don’t really have a good reason to post this, except that Jon Embree crying at his I-got-fired press conference was an absolutely hilarious moment for all involved that we should never forget. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)

CU football sucks. Boulder sucks. CU students and fans suck.

People think Colorado football was much improved last year. That’s because they were! Way to go, guys! They went 4-8. Two of those wins came against Charleston Southern and Central Arkansas. That means they only beat two FBS teams. They went 1-8 in the Pac-12.

Seriously. All of that represented a dramatic improvement over their 2012 season when they went 1-11. Going 2-8 against actual, real-life Division One teams means that you probably can’t rank them 128th out of 128 teams like many did after their 2012 campaign. I miss you, Jon Embree.

Obviously, part of the reason for Colorado’s awful records and innumerable blowout losses is because they usually play a really tough schedule. This is all funny to me because one of the bragging points among Colorado fans is their conference. They’re in the Pac-12! That’s one of the best conferences in the nation! It’s prestigious! They play really good teams like Stanford and USC and Oregon! Good for them!

One interesting sidenote many CU fans seem to forget: Colorado is 4-23 against the Pac-12 in their three years in the conference. Wait guys, 4-23? That’s really bad. That’s a .148 winning percentage. But hey it’s a really prestigious conference! Who cares if they get blown out and embarrassed by all the good teams every week?

I know, I know… CSU was one of the 2 FBS wins CU had last year. Colorado was the better team that day, no doubt. But as I mentioned earlier, the flukey nature of Rocky Mountain Showdown can be the most frustrating thing about the game. By every advanced metric and the good, ol’ fashioned eyeball test, Colorado State had a much better team than Colorado when the 2014 season was all said and done.

So yes, Colorado State dropped a game to a bad team, but let’s not get that confused with CU having a better overall program.

They don’t.

And can CU fans quit pretending you don’t care about this game? This is the biggest game on Colorado’s schedule. That’s what happens when you have zero chance of going .500 in your conference every year. The move to the Pac-12 means you don’t have the opportunity to get blown out by Nebraska in that “rivalry” every year unless each team makes the Rose Bowl. (No, I couldn’t type that with a straight face.) Don’t act like you’re circling that Utah game on your calendar every year either. Nobody cares about that game.

Yes, a lot of great programs come to Boulder every year, but… Haven’t we already covered this? The CSU game is really the only one for the CU fan base to get excited about.

So let’s discuss this year’s Rocky Mountain Showdown…

In a shocking development, I think Colorado State will win. Making predictions for this game is kind of pointless because so much random, flukey crap seems to happen, but what the hell. I think CU will have trouble running the ball. Paul Richardson is in the NFL now so I don’t think he will twice be standing all alone casually strolling into the end zone like last year. Even with CSU’s question-mark of an offensive line I think Grayson will have enough time to throw to open receivers for two or three touchdowns. And I don’t know what to expect from Dee Hart.

But quarterback play decides this one and Grayson outplays Liufau.

My official pointless prediction that we will only revisit if it is correct: Rams 33, Buffs 27.

Off to a couple of the weekly departments…

Douche of the week:

You’d think anything and everything associated with CU would get the honors this week, but I need to scream at shake my fist at whoever made the decision to put this game on a Friday night. Who plays college football on a Friday night? Playing on a Friday night is not a good look for college football programs that want to be taken seriously. This Friday night is the opening weekend for high school football in the state, meaning thousands of football fans will be preoccupied and can’t even consider attending the game. So the attendance, which has already been struggling greatly, will be hindered further. Also, more people have to work on Fridays than on Saturdays or Sundays. That creates an obvious inconvenience for everybody.

The reason for this game being on a Friday was finding a desirable slot for national TV. But then, even after the move to Friday, the game still didn’t land on ESPN. I like Fox Sports One a lot (usually check in at least once a day), but I understand it’s watched by an audience like one-tenth the size of ESPN’s. So we move the game to a time slot that nobody associates with college football nationally and is a pain in the ass for everyone locally, because of a better TV deal even though nobody will be watching on TV because it’s not on ESPN? Got it.

(In addition, all Dish customers might have the RMS and other games blacked out due to a dispute between Dish and FS1.)

Also, the parking lots don’t even open until 3 p.m. THREE IN THE AFTERNOON! What the hell is that? I was planning on setting up our tailgate at 10 a.m.

Stud(s) of the week:

Jim McElwain and whoever is producing these online “episodes.” They’re surprisingly well done and serve as some pump-up fuel for Friday.

Hey here’s another very important video:

And finally, let’s all sing along with Fum:

Happy Tuesday everybody. Thanks for reading. See y’all in the parking lots on Friday. And then in this space next week.

PLEASE NOTE: With the holiday weekend, I’m not sure if I’ll be able to churn one of these out by next Tuesday. I may take the route of my neighborhood trash guys and push it out a day. If you don’t see a post on Tuesday, there will be one Wednesday.

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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.