Can Elway Save CU?

The former Broncos quarterback may lead one more drive to victory.

Noted John Madden, former NFL coach and current airline-phobic football broadcaster: "That's what they needed -- wham! Blitz the old guard, go for the bomb, quit waiting for the Hail Mary. CU scores with Biff Elway!"

And former Broncos teammate Terrell Davis, who played with Elway through two Super Bowl championships, offered this: "It is fitting and just that someone like John be given the opportunity to coach a top program. John is a thoughtful, dedicated student of the game who will impart a keen understanding. Way to go, White Bread!"

One exception to the outpourings of support comes from Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, apparently still smarting over the $150,000 signing bonus paid to Elway to play for a Yankees minor-league squad after college. "The bastard owes me," Steinbrenner said. "Pay up, Elway."

Even as rumors of the impending hire began to circulate at the State Capitol, Governor Bill Owens was preparing to trim more from the CU budget. "While the governor is very happy to keep the coaching ranks of CU firmly in the Republican camp, there will be some sacrifices," spokesman Dan Hopkins told legislators. "Due to dwindling resources, we will have to outsource Ralphie."

Despite the tight budget, sources say the CU Board of Regents is prepared to offer Elway a number of incentives to sign on and help the school overcome the scandal. Among the provisions, according to a document obtained by Westword:

: A bonus for every high school prospect who journeys to the Boulder campus but remains in a projection room, watching the collected game films of Elway from his days at Granada Hills High School through Stanford and finishing with the Broncos. An extra bonus will be paid to Elway if the recruits also sit through Crush highlight films.

• A complicated lease-back arrangement of late-model cars from Elway auto dealers, in which Elway and his team of coaches will travel to all away games.

• An exclusive franchise for Elway to sell autographed "Vortex" brand winged footballs at Folsom Field during games. At halftime, Elway would be paid $50,000 if he hits one of the goalpost uprights from the fifty-yard line.

• Generous dental benefits (still being negotiated).

Elway, who has been much in the public eye following a highly publicized breakup with his wife, recently announced that he will open a steakhouse in Cherry Creek this fall. While it was originally designed as a high-end bistro, once Elway signs with CU, he will reportedly turn the restaurant into the "Buff Trough," which will feature all-you-can-eat nights, Jell-O shots and toga parties.

"Let's face it -- John was happiest in college; he really thrived on campus," said Sissy Poynter, who briefly dated Elway when they were at Stanford. "He often said that if he wasn't destined for football immortality, he would gladly spend all of his days in academia. And the frat house."

While local and national media gathered on the lawn of his posh Cherry Hills Village townhouse, hoping for a comment, Elway was huddled with his mother in her Palm Springs residence. Reached there, Mrs. Elway said only, "I'm not saying whether it's true or not, but there is a family tradition of coaching, and since Mike Shanahan's in no hurry to leave, the next best thing could be Boulder.

"It does make sense," she added, "because after five years, John needs a job."

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