Sunday, April 13, 2008

12. Colorado Buffaloes

Several people who I've talked to about this expected to see Iowa State at the bottom of the rankings. If we were going on overall history, the Cyclones might very well be down there. But we are instead going on the status this year, 2008. So that costs the Colorado Buffaloes the most points, surprisingly enough. Everyone thinks of Colorado as a fine program, but the way things shape up right now in the Mountain Time Zone, it's actually a program in shambles compared to the rest of the conference.

Competitiveness: It's not pretty. Colorado doesn't compete in baseball or softball at all, the Buffaloes don't field a team in either sport. But in the sports where they DO have a team, it's still not great. The men's basketball team has finished dead last two consecutive years. The football team was decent, good enough to make a bowl game, but after losing said bowl game, still had a losing record, and was only the eighth-best team in the conference. The volleyball team, usually a big strength, finished 1-19 this season, tied with Texas Tech for last in the conference. After a promising start, the women's basketball team was 5-11. The only sports of substance for CU this year that the Big 12 sponsors are women's tennis, women's golf and cross country. No other CU team is in the top half of its league.

Championships: It doesn't take much of a memory to name the Big 12 cross country champions. Other than a 1998 women's title for Kansas State, CU has won the title for both genders every time. But that's almost all CU ever wins. I'm going to be kind and include division crowns along with conference and tournament crowns. That brings Colorado's mark up to 30. But only 7 of those were in a sport other than cross country, and four of the seven were division titles in football. That's a pretty poor mark. 23 titles aren't impressive if they all come in a sport nobody cares about.

Facilities: Folsom Field is a quaint stadium, picturesque and intimidating when the Buffaloes are playing well. The Coors Events Center is totally overlooked. And why shouldn't it be? It's not an appealing venue when viewed on television, and nobody goes to the games. It's not much, and it could be why the Buffaloes can't get anyone to play in it.

Fan base: You would think Colorado has a passionate fan base. And you would be wrong. The Buffaloes, even when playing well, rarely sell Folsom Field out. Folsom has been around since 1924, and since 1946, the Buffaloes have kept track of season attendance every year. In their history at Folsom since 1946, Colorado has sold out more than half of its games at Folsom six times. Six times out of a possible 62 seasons has Colorado even managed to sell out four of its home games. It's not like it's Neyland Stadium and holds six figures. Folsom holds 53,750.

Attendance at Coors is even worse. It looks like a ghost town most of the time. I haven't seen a true fire-exit crowd yet (a crowd so small that if there were a fire, everyone would have their own exit), but I wouldn't be shocked if Colorado manages it.

Coaches: Finally, something Colorado doesn't totally suck in. Pi'i Aiu, the volleyball coach, has a short, difficult name, but usually has a good program, this year of course being an exception. Kathy McConnell-Miller hasn't been around long, but has her basketball team on the road to respectability. The same can probably be said of Jeff Bzdelik and Dan Hawkins, but for rebuilding coaches, it's a long way back, due to history and emergence of other programs.

Important sports: You can't win if you don't play (baseball). In the other sports, CU finished eighth, ninth, and 12th last year. That's a rough mark, and coupled with only two conference crowns in history, it's pretty poor. This is an athletic department that should work, but isn't. Until it does, Colorado holds the crown as worst program in the Big 12.

My time is up. You've all been great. Enjoy Jessica Andrews.


hoosierdaddy1913 said...

I'm sorry, but atleast CU wins championships all the time in some sport. No matter how "unimportant" it may seem to you. Mark Wetmore is a coaching and running legend and is in the national title hunt for men's and women's cross country on an annual basis. Iowa State can't claim that in any sport, especially now that Cole Sanderson isn't competing for their wrestling team. Bad pick

Dan Angell said...

When that's all you compete in, though, it's an indictment of your athletic department. If Colorado did something, anything in a sport besides cross country, they'd shoot up this list. But I said at the outset that I was not going to reward dominance in only one sport. Iowa State competes well in women's basketball and volleyball among Big 12 schools, is a perennial Top 20 team in gymnastics and is a perennial Top 5 team in wrestling.

Plus, that thing about ISU not being able to claim it's in the national title hunt in any sport? The Cyclones were a mere 10 points shy of the national crown in 2007 for wrestling.

But I can always count on you to defend the honor of the runners. One question, though, why do they never win on the track?

hoosierdaddy1913 said...

Simple answer...because winning distance events alone doesn't win you team titles. Their individual distance runners in the 5 and 10000 meters have won a lot of crowns.

Dan Angell said...

Good answer. It will be interesting to see where CU would be at in a year. For now, though, they hold the bottom spot. But I will say if the Buffs finish anywhere in the top half of one of the big four sports, they'll get out of last on the strength of that cross-country teem.