Best Of :: Sports & Recreation
The Falcons may not get the big ink, but this year there was no better Colorado-based team sports story -- that didn't appear in the crime blotter, at least -- than Air Force basketball. Credit coach Joe Scott. First as a player, then as an assistant coach under the masterful Pete Carril, Scott was schooled in the disciplined Princeton University version of controlled, team-centric roundball. In 2000, the first year he arrived in Colorado Springs, the Falcons went 8-21. The next year, they went 9-19, and by 2002-03, the team had improved to 12-16. Even so, this year the Falcons, who'd never finished better than sixth-best in the Mountain West Conference, were the pre-season favorite to finish dead last. Instead, Scott's men -- none of whom is taller than an average NBA guard -- went 22-5, walking away with the MWC title and a top seeding in the conference tournament. They also earned a berth in the NCAA Tournament. Make no mistake: The Falcons soared.
Just as Governor Bill "Sparky" Owens was able to turn the fearsome 2002 wildfire season into a national promotion for Centennial State s'mores, surely the University of Colorado and its spin-meisters can capitalize on all of the national press over the recruiting-party sex-assault scandal. Boulder's already given a whole new meaning to the term "student body " -- why not make it part of the Buffs' randy brand?
We really, really want John to do well at something. Anything, really. After all, he's our icon, our stainless hero. So it'd be nice to have him around for a while longer -- at least until someone better comes along. The problem is figuring out what, exactly, he's good at. He can't start a successful new business (see ya, MVP.com). He's not that good at interpersonal relationships (buh-bye, Janet). He's a better-than-average duffer, but nowhere near professional caliber. In fact, being a retired Elway is not unlike being a retired politician: Everything he's done before has prepared him for nothing after. Our advice? Stick to the two things you know and accept a high-level position with Broncos boss Pat Bowlen: special assistant in charge of acquiring team cars.
Yes, yes, we know. Not all of the evidence has been collected and analyzed. The strippers have not laid their souls bare. The bills from the liquor store are still coming in. And the regents have not yet admitted that they, too, smoked a little dope in their undergraduate days. Nonetheless, the recruiting, rape and party scandal that has shaken the University of Colorado football program to its foundation has yielded one incontrovertible fact: Whether he was an enabler or not, whether he endorsed the late-night frolicking or he didn't, head football coach Gary Barnett made little effort to grasp what was going on or not going on with his players. And that makes him an ideal guy for a new career mopping out the monkey cages at the zoo. You know: Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil.
CU football's sex-and-recruiting mess has inspired many a wiseguy's raw humor, but the lantern-jawed host of The Tonight Show, Jay Leno, nailed the thing cold on February 25 during his monologue. To wit: "Today the Taliban denounced the University of Colorado for its treatment of women."
Say what you will about L.A. Lakers star Kobe Bryant and that scrape he got into last summer up at Cordillera. Everybody else does. Thousands of Denver Nuggets fans have apparently already reached a verdict in Kobe's rape case, and they aren't afraid to announce it from the cheap seats. When the Lakers visited the Pepsi Center for the first time this season, the Los Angeles hoopster was mercilessly booed and jeered every time he touched the ball, and whenever he stood at the foul line to shoot a free throw, the assembled multitudes chanted at him: "Guilty! Guilty! Guilty!" No one knows how the case will turn out, but for once, Denver won a game against the Lakers. Final score: 113-91.
It's impossible to know if he was motivated by sincerity, self-interest or an undeniable urge to expand his social life at high altitude, but when embattled L.A. Laker Kobe Bryant was asked in mid-February what teams he might consider signing with should he exercise his options next year as a free agent, the name "Denver Nuggets" immediately sprang to his lips. Really. Truly. Wonder if Stan Kroenke would throw in a furnished condo west of Vail and the phone numbers of some unattached chambermaids?