Football fans planning on attending the season-opening Colorado State vs. Colorado game in Boulder September 3 may have to deal with an extraordinary amount of traffic. Labor Day weekend is expected be even busier than usual this year, as the “Thunder in the Rockies” motorcycle rally at The Ranch in Loveland is expected to attract anywhere from 20,000 to 50,000 people, according to regional law enforcement and emergency-response agencies. If that was not enough, the Taste of Colorado, held annually downtown at Civic Center Plaza, typically draws 400,000 people per year.
The Fort Worth Bowl, which is assumed to become a Mountain West Conference-affiliated bowl in 2006 with the addition of TCU to the conference this year, has lost its title sponsor, PlainsCapital Bank. In its inaugural year in 2003, the game drew 38,028 for a TCU-Boise State matchup, but the bowl game fizzled last year when just 13,204 attended the Cincinnati-Marshall bout in freezing weather. The game has had a tie-in with the Big-12's No. 8 team, but the league has not had a bowl-eligible No. 8 team either of the last two years. It now appears the bowl will lose its tie-in with the Big 12 altogether. Big 12 Commissioner Kevin Weiberg said he is negotiating with the Gator, Insight, and Sun Bowls, which would likely replace his league’s affiliations with the Champs Sports, Independence, and Ft. Worth Bowls. If the Fort Worth Bowl loses the tie-in with the Big 12, there’s a good chance the game could become a MWC vs. Conference USA matchup.
On a related note, MWC teams have made 18 bowl appearances since the league began play in 1999. San Diego State is the only team to not make a bowl game while a member of the MWC. The Aztecs’ last bowl bid came in 1998, a 20-13 loss to North Carolina in the Las Vegas Bowl.
In its final year with ESPN, the MWC schedule features a minimum of 28 national or regional televised games for the upcoming season, with a minimum of eight telecasts on ESPN regional television. Those numbers are expected to increase vastly once the CSTV contract starts in 2006. But, the MWC has done handsomely in the exposure department over the years with ESPN. Last year 89 percent of MWC football games were televised (including local, regional, and national telecasts, as well as games that were part of other conference’s television packages).
Former CSU lineman Harry McCluskey, who played from 1961-65, is still heavily involved with football. Since graduating from CSU in 1965, McCluskey has served as a high school coach and administrator. He had stints coaching locally in Thornton and Aspen, and has spent much of his career in Texas. His most recent job was at 4A Channelview near Houston. He retired after last season, but was lured back into the profession by Hampden high school in Maine. He and his wife, P.J., will be making the long move there this summer.
It’s been a year since former CSU defensive lineman/linebacker Andre Sommersell was drafted by the Oakland Raiders with the last pick in the NFL Draft, thus earning the title “Mr. Irrelevant”. Sommersell signed a two-year contract with the Raiders in June 2004, but was released in September prior to the season. He had a short stint on the Cleveland practice squad before being released in December and picked up in March by Indianapolis where he is a backup linebacker. Sommersell was the second-string outside linebacker this season for NFL Europe’s Berlin Thunder, which lost in the World Bowl in mid-June. Sommersell is making $230,000 with the Colts. This year’s Mr. Irrelevant, Andy Stokes, a little-known tight end from William Penn College in Oskalaloosa, Iowa, recently signed a two-year deal with New England worth $557,500.
The Football Writers Association of America announced last week its list of 50 standout players from around the country that have been nominated as preseason candidates for the Bronco Nagurski Trophy, awarded to the best defensive player in college football. The Mountain West Conference boasts four candidates on the list: New Mexico cornerback Gabriel Fulbright, Utah defensive lineman Steve Fifita, BYU linebacker Cameron Jensen and Wyoming cornerback Derrick Martin.
CSU and Nevada are slated to play a four-game series starting this year in Fort Collins, but new Nevada athletic director Cary Groth recently signed deals to play at Nebraska in 2007 and at Florida State in 2008. Because of those additions, she has approached CSU to push back the 2007 (Fort Collins) and 2008 (Reno) games. As of now, Nevada is the only home game CSU has on the 2007 slate (CSU goes to CU and Cal that year). In 2008, CSU hosts USC at Invesco Field and Cal at Hughes Stadium.
Speaking of Cal, you’d think Cal coach Jeff Tedford was recruiting the state of Colorado or something. After all, Cal and CSU are amidst a three-game series that was set up a couple of years ago, with CSU beating Cal in Berkeley 23-21 in 2003 and future games scheduled for 2007 (at Memorial Stadium) and 2008 (Hughes Stadium). The Golden Bears also have a future two-game series with Colorado, playing the Buffs at Memorial Stadium in 2010 and in Boulder in 2011.
Former CSU equipment manager Will Rodecap, who resigned last month to accept a position with Boathouse Sports apparel company, said the main reason of his departure was to be closer to family, but hinted that there were other reasons, such as state restrictions and his disappointment that there wasn’t more of a commitment to his department. One example he cited was that up until last fall, the equipment department was using washer/dryer equipment from around 1964. And, in practices, they were using video cameras and other equipment from 1968. Rodecap says he loves the coaches and players, and is will always be a Ram fan.
Fox Sports Net has signed on to televise the “Mile High Classic” doubleheader basketball event November 26 at the Pepsi Center, featuring Colorado vs. St. Mary’s and CSU vs. Denver University.
Former CSU all american Becky Hammon, who plays for the New York Liberty, scored 18 points for the East squad in Saturday's WNBA All-Star Game. She was 7 of 14 from the field and made 4 of 6 three-pointers. It was her first All-Star game start. She was selected for the 2003 All-Star Game, but watched from the bench with an injured ACL. Hammon is averaging 12.5 points and 4.4 assists.
UNLV All-American golfer Ryan Moore, who recently played in the U.S. Open, recently signed a sponsorship deal with PING, which according to reports is in the range of $5 million with incentives that could increase his earnings. Moore’s amateur career includes wins at the 2004 U.S. Amateur and U.S. Public Links and NCAA championship. He was also a two-time first-team All-American at UNLV.
As of Wednesday, only two CSU fans had purchased tickets to the MWC Front Range Kickoff Luncheon. The event, which features CSU coach Sonny Lubick, Air Force coach Fisher DeBerry and Wyoming coach Joe Glenn, is an annual sellout. For more information and to reserve your spot, click here. There will be a RamNation.com table, and we currently have a couple spots remaining. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve a spot at the table.