We’ve received questions from several fans about the fundraising effort for the planned artificial turf at Sonny Lubick Field at Hughes Stadium. Fans have wondered why they haven’t heard anything about it from the athletic department. We asked athletic director Mark Driscoll about it, and he said that on all major fundraising efforts, there is a “quiet period” where the athletic department tries to raise the majority of money privately through larger donations. The intention is to have much of the sum raised so that down the road, they may announce a public campaign with a goal that is much more achievable. Pat Stryker has offered to not just match donations, but pay two dollars for every one. In the early stages of the campaign, the athletic department has raised more than $100,000.
The field will cost approximately $1.2 million to install, although the athletic department has actually set a goal of about $1.8 million so that the north endzone restrooms/concessions can be built. Athletic department officials have met with several companies who manufacture various styles of artificial turf, and are still formulating opinions on which turf would be best for Sonny Lubick Field.
The Mountain West Conference’s bowl payout structure has changed this year, and according to Driscoll, it’s a change for the better. Instead of divvying up the payouts among MWC teams with a set formula, the MWC office now takes a portion of the BCS dollars that come in every year ($2 million-plus), combined with the bowl payouts, and evaluates which participating bowl teams need money to cover their costs. According to Driscoll, if CSU’s ticket sales for the Poinsettia Bowl reached around 5,000, the athletic department would “be OK” financially and would be able to cover the cost of the trip, which will cost approximately $600,000 for the football program, other staff, band, and cheerleaders to go. CSU is right around 5,000 tickets sold.
CSU’s marching band, by the way, traveled by bus to San Diego. The group made an overnight stop in Las Vegas on the way. They will be perform at SeaWorld today, and will be the main attraction there, since Navy doesn’t have much of a marching band (more of drum and bugle corps).
Last September, we reported here that a group of boosters made a deal with the athletic department that should the Rams beat Minnesota, they would collectively donate more than $100,000 to the athletic department. As part of the deal, if the Rams lost, which they did, the athletic department would have to buy lunch for the group. Now, some of the same boosters are at it again. Prior to the UNLV game last month, the boosters approached the athletic department saying that if the Rams were to beat UNLV, gain a bowl bid, and win a bowl game, they would each donate a set amount, which is upwards of $200,000. The athletic department is two-thirds of the way towards collecting on that one.
The Ram Club drive for 2005 officially closed last month, and finished at an all-time high in funds raised. The final tally was $1,734,449 ($1.47 million in cash, with the balance coming via gifts in kind). CSU didn’t quite hit its goal for total members (2,500), but was close, at 2,434, which was 114 more than 2004. We’re looking for volunteer fundraisers and team captains for next year’s drive, so send us an email to find out more.
Sonny Lubick is working on a contract extension with CSU that would make him coach through 2009. He told the Fort Collins Coloradoan that he simply wants to be one of the top three highest paid coaches in the Mountain West Conference. That would put him in the range of the high $600 thousands. Per a report by the San Diego Union-Tribune football coaches' salaries were as follows this past season: Gary Patterson, TCU, $1 million; Kyle Whittingham, Utah, $675,000; Fisher DeBerry, Air Force, $636,000; Sonny Lubick, CSU, $500,000; Bronco Mendenhall, BYU, $500,000; Joe Glenn, Wyoming, $438,780; Rocky Long, New Mexico, $425,000; Mike Sanford, UNLV, $425,000; and Tom Craft, SDSU, $400,000.
Meanwhile new San Diego State coach Chuck Long, the former offensive coordinator at Oklahoma, will reportedly jump into the fray as the league’s second-highest paid coach at $700,000/year. That's a big financial jump for SDSU, which will use money from revenue from Utah’s BCS berth last season as well as a recent student fee increase to help fund the salary. According to the Union-Tribune Long agreed to a five-year contract and can jump his salary to $1 million if he meets certain incentives, including $175,000 in bonuses for reaching to-be-determined figures in football revenue, $100,000 for earning a berth in a BCS game and $25,000 for winning the MWC championship.
Lubick and Driscoll will be hosting a “Former Player” reception at the Marina Marriott Hotel Thursday from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. Former CSU wideout Paul Turner and former running back E.J. Watson will be special guest hosts. Beverages and light snacks will be served. If you’re a former player, check with the hotel concierge for details on where the reception will be held.
CSU wide receiver David Anderson, who was invited to play in both the Hula Bowl and East-West Shrine Game, which are both played on January 21, elected to play in the East-West Shrine game. The school's all-time leader in receptions and receiving yards has been named to the West squad. Anderson will be coached by Dennis Franchione of Texas A&M. The annual all-star game will be held in San Antonio, Texas this year, which marks the first time in 80 years the game will not be played in San Francisco. The game will be played at the Alamodome. Kickoff for the game is 3 p.m. CST/2 p.m. MT, and it will be televised by ESPN.
Former CSU assistant coach Tony Alford is a finalist for the head coaching job at Northern Colorado. The current Iowa State University assistant was on campus last Thursday interviewing for the position. There are about four or five finalists for the job according to the Greeley Tribune. Alford, who played at Colorado State University, is in his third season as the assistant head coach in charge of running backs at Iowa State. Following his interview at UNC, he flew back to Ames, Iowa to continue preparing for the Cyclones’ matchup vs. TCU in the Dec. 31 Houston Bowl.
Redshirt freshman walk-on safety Mike Pagnotta was granted a full scholarship last week by the CSU coaching staff. Coach Lubick called him into his office with the news and he signed with Director of Football Operations, Tom Ehlers on Friday. Pagnotta has battled some injuries this year, but helped provide depth at safety and was the target of regular praise from the coaching staff during the season. He appeared in seven games this year, compiling 10 tackles, including one for a loss.
The MWC’s bowl season begins Thursday, with the Rams taking on Navy in the Poinsettia Bowl (7:30 p.m. PST, ESPN2) and BYU facing Cal in the Las Vegas Bowl (5 p.m. PST, ESPN). Over the last seven years, the Mountain West has earned 22 bowl bids, including a record four this year. The Rams’ appearance in the Poinsettia Bowl will mark the fourth time since 2000 that a Mountain West Conference team will participate in an inaugural bowl game. Three of the four league teams will be making their first appearance in their respective bowl games; TCU is making its second trip to the Houston Bowl. Utah takes on No. 24 Georgia Tech in the Emerald Bowl Thursday, Dec. 29 (1:30 p.m. PST, ESPN) and No. 14 TCU faces Iowa State in the Houston Bowl Saturday, Dec. 31 (1:30 p.m. CST, ESPN2).
TCU and BYU are each 2-0 against their respective opponents, while CSU and Utah never faced their opponents. Utah is looking for its fifth straight bowl win since losing to Wisconsin 38-10 in the 1996 Copper Bowl (38-10). The MWC won the 2004 ESPN Bowl Challenge Cup by Cooper Tire after posting the highest winning percentage of any league with three or more teams in bowl games. The league is hoping to do so again in 2005. Collectively, eight of the nine members have participated in a bowl game the last six years, led by CSU and TCU with five appearances each in that span. Six of the nine members have won bowl games since 2000, including victories by Utah (Tostitos Fiesta Bowl) and Wyoming (Pioneer PureVision Las Vegas Bowl) last season.
Despite not playing last week, the men’s hoops team improved in the eyes of the experts at DraftExpress.com. It previously listed CSU as a projected No. 9 seed in the NCAA Tournament, but its latest predictions have the Rams as a No. 7 seed, facing 10th-seeded Louisville in the first round. The website also wondered aloud why CSU, among other teams are being ignored in the polls. (CSU earned two votes in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll, but none in the Associated Press poll this week.) To quote the website: “Kansas State, Cincinnati, Colorado and Colorado State continue to play excellent basketball and build on their already impressive resumes, but continue to be unnoticed by the voters in both polls. I don’t understand why the voters aren’t impressed with any of these teams. Not only are they winning, they’re winning against decent competition and winning impressively. That’s more than you can say for a number of teams who are getting tons of respect from the voters…like Louisville, Arizona, and Oklahoma. For those three teams, their next good win will be their first. I’m not suggesting that Louisville, Arizona, and Oklahoma shouldn’t be ranked and I realize that at this point in the season a team’s perceived potential plays a major role in how the voters vote. But if you were to cast potential aside and focus on who’s done more to earn a good ranking, Cincinnati, Colorado State, Colorado and Kansas State have all done more, but don’t seem to be getting noticed by hardly anybody who votes in either poll. I guess Colorado, Cincinnati and Kansas State will get the chance to get the voters’ attention in conference play. Colorado State will probably take longer because they don’t play the same level of competition in the Mountain West that Colorado and Kansas State play in the Big 12 and what Cincinnati will face in the Big East.”
All night sessions of the 42nd Outrigger Hotels Rainbow Classic, where the men’s basketball team is playing beginning tonight (vs. Western Michigan), are available via webcast through Hawaiian Telcom and Honolulu WB affiliate KFVE-TV. Fans can purchase “iTickets” for $9.95 per game or $19.95 for the package (eight games). Visit www.hawaiiantelmedia.com for more information.
In case you missed it, the MWC office is thanking fans and wishing them a seasons greetings via web message created by none other Black Diamond Concepts marketing company, which is owned and operated by CSU alumni. Click here to check it out .
Finally, we bid farewell to CSU’s John Kietzmann, who was a do-it-all guy within the athletic department for a half dozen years. He recently accepted a new position at Black Hills State University in Spearfish, S.D. as the Director of Development. Talk about a quick change, Kietzmann’s last day at CSU will be December 31, and he will officially begin work at BHSU January 1. Good luck John!
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to everyone in RamNation. Thanks for being a part of this site!