Game On: Buffs and Dawgs

On Tuesday, Colorado athletic director Mike Bohn officially confirmed the least kept secret regarding Colorado football. CU has signed a home-and-home contract with the University of Georgia. The Buffs and Dawgs will play in Athens in 2006, and in Boulder in 2010. Also inside, news from the CU athletic department about ticket sales, a possible football game with Air Force, Ceal Barry, sports camps, hoops scheduling and more.

Mike Bohn met with invited members of the media Tuesday for a roundtable discussion of several issues. The following are notes from the session:

Buffs and Dawgs
In order to fill an open slot in the now 12-game 2006 season, Colorado will travel to Athens, Ga., for a Sept. 23, 2006, matchup with the Bulldogs. Georgia will play in Boulder Oct. 2, 2010.

CU will receive $750,000 and 5,000 tickets for the 2006 game. That tops the previous high financial haul that CU has had for a road game (Michigan and Florida State). CU officials expect the game to be picked up by national television. If that happens, Bohn said the payout could rise to as much as $1.3 million.

Allowing for inflation, Georgia is guaranteed $825,000 and 5,000 tickets for its 2010 game in Boulder.

Bohn said he's committed to scheduling marquee opponents as the Buffs continue to fill out vacant slots in upcoming football seasons, and the Georgia games are part of that goal. He said Georgia was attractive, for among other reasons, because CU has a strong alumni base in Atlanta. He said he expects CU, which has not traveled well in recent years, to sell its allotment of 5,000 tickets.

Colorado and Georgia have never played in football. CU has played 10 games vs. SEC teams (LSU, Alabama, Auburn and Tennessee) in its history, the most recent being Alabama in the 1991 Blockbuster Bowl.

Bohn also said Colorado is committed to continuing to play six games at Folsom Stadium each year.

Currently, the Buffs have the following dates open on their non-conference football schedules through 2010: Sept. 6, 2008; Sept. 12 and 19, 2009; Sept. 18, 2010. Bohn said he has been in discussions about filling those slots, which may mean switching some already scheduled dates around.

One opponent Bohn would like to schedule is Air Force. He said it would be a positive for the Buffs because of the regional interest the game would bring and that it would likely be picked up by television. He said Air Force has interest in the game, as well. Bohn admitted that, from a team standpoint, the Buffs would have more to lose, playing a MWC team, while Air Force would have more to gain.

"You look for the right opportunity," Bohn said. "You don't schedule it every year."

He also stressed the desire to play Air Force in all sports, especially men's basketball.

The Buffs played at Florida State in 2003 to fill a 12th game slot. They are scheduled to commence a home-and-home contract with the ACC powerhouse in 2007 (in Boulder) and 2008 (Tallahassee). Bohn said a group from FSU contacted him, wanting to buy out the 2007 game and put it in Florida. Bohn said CU has no interest in that scenario.

Hoops Schedule
Ricardo Patton had scheduled most of CU's non-conference games prior to Bohn's arrival in April. Included on the docket so far are (home games in CAPS) REGIS, Colorado State, St. Mary's (at Pepsi Center), Penn, CAL POLY-SLU, UTAH, UC-IRVINE, Texas Christian, MERCER and DARTMOUTH.

Though Bohn didn't say it outright, there's concern that this schedule will hurt CU's RPI rating, something the NCAA Selection Committee looks at when filling out the 64-team tournament bracket.

Bohn did say he's in favor of strategic scheduling in basketball, meaning knowing what kind of team you expect to have and giving them the best chance to win AND have a strong RPI.

It's unclear why Patton scheduled what on paper looks like an anemic non-conference slate, given that he will have eight seniors on the 2005-06 roster. And for a program that already struggles to draw fans to home games, only a Dec. 7 date with Utah is attractive.

Barry Takes New Position
Associate AD for Academics Mark Nelson has taken a similar position at the University of Minnesota. Rather than fill the vacated position at CU, Ceal Barry's duties as associate athletic director will be redefined. She'll oversee academics, training, equipment and sports medicine.

Bohn had high praise for Barry, saying she's "shown the best initiative and best attitude of anyone in the department" recently.

In its current budget crunch, the department is now down nine employees from recent years.

Sports Camps Restructured
One of the things Barry is helping to restructure is how the Colorado coaches run their sports camps. In the past, they were run as separate entities, and each head coach operated his or her camp as a sole corporation apart from the university.

Under the new arrangement, which will take place beginning this summer and be fully implemented in 2006, the sports camps administration will be consolidated under one umbrella and run administratively by the university.

Football coach Gary Barnett's camp is currently undergoing an audit by the IRS. Barnett has said he and his staff have always run things above board.

Bohn stressed the camp change was not a result of anything other than trying to run things more efficiently.

Bohn said it's not uncommon for schools to run the camps. Barry said they looked at Iowa State and Alabama as models. From a coach's standpoint, Barry said the new structure will be much less of a strain, in terms of liability and logistics.

"When you have 400 kids on campus and you're running them through the dorms, it's good to know you have the support of the university," she said.

Both Bohn and Barry also said the administrative changes won't affect the campers' experience.

Football Tickets and Fundraising Update
The department has raised $1.245 million in its goal of securing $3.7 million by Sept. 1, Bohn said. The $1.245 million figure includes a $1 million donation by an anonymous longtime CU supporter.

The initiative is part of the Your TEAM campaign, which also includes a campaign to sell football season tickets. If you ran in Monday's Bolder Boulder road race, you may have seen several CU head coaches at the stadium handing out Your TEAM stickers.

Bohn said donations to the department are up 5.5 percent over last year this time.

Bohn said the priorities for the $3.7 million capital campaign include upgrades to Prentup Soccer Field, securing an indoor tennis facility, a $350,000 upgrade to the weight room in the Dal Ward Center, and filling a $1.9 million scholarship shortfall.

Bohn said building a weightroom in the Coors Events Center is currently on hold until more discussion about it takes place. It was tentatively going to go in the current media room, which isn't very big. Bohn said he didn't want to build something that would have to be moved and made bigger in the near future. "If we're going to do it, let's do it right," he said.

Regarding football tickets, a year ago, 7,778 people bought 20,821 season tickets. That doesn't include students (which sold out its 12,000 allotment), faculty/staff and club seats and suites. Currently, 84 percent of season tickets have been renewed, and 771 new season tickets have been sold. Staff have accommodated 900 seat upgrade requests.

Thirty suites have been sold and 999 club seats are sold.

No Academic Window Update
There had been discussion among the CU administration last year of closing the academic admissions window for student-athletes. Bohn said he hadn't had discussions with upper level administration yet about that possibility, but may in the next couple of weeks.

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