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Colorado announces passing of Ralphie IV

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Colorado has announced that Ralphie IV, the Buffs’ retired, rumbling mascot, passed away Sunday. She was 19.

A month shy of the buffalo’s 20th birthday, Ralphie was euthanized after her longtime veterinarian determined wide-scale liver failure put her health in rapid and irreversible decline.”She was ready to go today,” caretaker John Graves said to Colorado’s official site. “It was very peaceful … almost 20 is fairly old for a buffalo.” Ralphie was buried in her retirement home of Henderson, Colo.

Donated to Colorado by Ted Turner, Ralphie IV was one of the longest-serving and most successful mascots in Buffaloes history. She served as the Buffaloes’ mascot from 1998-08, leading the charge for a record-tying 75 games, including six bowl games and CU’s 2001 Big 12 Championship victory.

“Ralphie IV will be greatly missed by all,” Graves said.  “It really is a sad day for the Ralphie Program, the University and for CU fans across the nation.  Fans knew Ralphie IV for her right horn that grew crooked, the Handlers that had the privilege to work with her knew her for her unique personality.

“She had a great career at the University and enjoyed all the times she led the football team onto the field, both at Folsom and at away stadiums. After retirement she lived a great life grazing away in her pastures. We lost a great buffalo, a great mascot, and a great icon.”

Report: Pac-12, Larry Scott strike deal on contract extension

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Depending on your vantage point, this is either tremendous news when it comes to stability or another sign that the league will continue to remain stuck in neutral behind the two current conference behemoths.

According to a report from Pete Thamel of SI.com, Larry Scott has reached an agreement on a contract extension with the Pac-12.  The new deal would keep Scott as the conference’s commissioner through 2022.

Scott had one year remaining on his old deal.

Thamel writes that “terms of the deal aren’t known.” According to a report from USA Today‘s Steve Berkowitz in May of last year and based on tax return filings, Scott was paid nearly $4.1 million for the 2014 calendar year, making him the highest-paid commissioner in collegiate athletics.  By comparison, the Big Ten’s Jim Delany pulled in $3.1 million for the same period.

Scott’s tenure with the Pac-12 was initially marked by what was a then-record television deal with ESPN and FOX Sports in 2011.  Since then, that conference has watched both the Big Ten and SEC secure new deals that earn its members anywhere from $8 million to $13 million more annually than their Pac-12 counterparts.

And then there’s the inability of the Pac-12, under Scott’s guidance, to secure a distribution agreement with DirecTV for its collection of conference networks, causing it to lag well behind the networks offered by the Big Ten and SEC.

Colorado rounds out new defensive staff with hire of former Purdue DC Ross Els

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Just in the nick of time, Mike MacIntyre has rounded out his new defensive staff for the 2017 season.

The Buffaloes announced on Friday evening that former Purdue defensive coordinator Ross Els would be joining the program and serving as inside linebackers coach. The release notes that Els’ paperwork was completed in time for him to join the team for their second practice of spring ball.

“Coach Ross Els brings a lot of energy,” MacIntyre said.  “He has great experience as a coordinator, positions coach and special teams coach, and we’re really excited about having his expertise in those phases in our program.”

Els adds plenty of experience to Boulder, having coached linebackers at New Mexico State, Ohio and Nebraska. In addition, he was the Boilermakers’ defensive coordinator  and safeties coach last season.

The move completes the staff for the Buffs after seeing a number of coaches depart to Oregon with former coordinator Jim Leavitt.

Colorado hires lawyers behind Pepper Hamilton report to investigate Joe Tumpkin response

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Joe Tumpkin is no longer with the Colorado football program, but the Buffaloes are still sorting through the way he left.

To recap: The longtime girlfriend of Tumpkin called head coach Mike MacIntyre in early December to inform him of a pattern of abuse from his safeties coach, which she later told investigators occurred more than 100 times over a 21-month period. According to the woman’s account given to Sports Illustrated — which the school has not denied — MacIntyre and the woman spoke a couple of times with the coach pledging to handle the situation until the line of communication went dead.

In the meantime, Tumpkin remained on staff and was promoted to interim defensive coordinator for the late-December Alamo Bowl after Jim Leavitt left for Oregon. MacIntyre suspended Tumpkin in mid-January, and Tumpkin resigned a couple weeks after that after a restraining order was filed against him.

However, the SI story created a level of blowback in Boulder that prompted MacIntyre to issue a statement defending the program’s response to the situation.

Still, the CU Board of Regents felt necessary to delay the approval of MacIntyre’s announced extension, and on Friday announced they have hired the two lawyers behind the Pepper Hamilton report that sunk Baylor’s leadership to probe the school’s response to the Tumpkin allegations.

“We are looking at what occurred and when, if our policies were violated, or whether those policies should be modified to better explain the reporting (requirements),” CU Board of Regents Chair Irene Griego said in a statement, via the Boulder Daily Camera.

The probe will be conducted by Leslie Gomez and Gina Maisto Smith, a pair of former Philadelphia prosecutors who now work for the Cozen O’Connor law firm in Philly. At center of their investigation will be whether MacIntyre, AD Rick George and chancellor Phil DeStefano followed the university’s protocol for reporting sexual assault.

Still, Greigo noted the pair’s hiring doesn’t indicate a predetermined outcome one way or the other.

“Let me be clear, in no way should this decision to wait be viewed as an indication that the Board of Regents has determined that any employee violated a policy or that any disciplinary action is warranted,” Griego said. “We are simply being prudent.”

Colorado regents tap brakes on Mike MacIntye’s new contract

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Colorado announced in January that it had reached an agreement on a contract extension with head football coach Mike MacIntyre, subject to the approval of the university’s Board of Regents.  Given the events of the last few weeks, the expected rubber stamping from that body has been put on hold.

According to the Boulder Daily Camera, the school’s regents have decided to postpone a planned vote on MacIntyre’s extension because of the fallout involving one of the coach’s now-former assistants.  CU announced Jan. 27 that safeties coach Joe Tumpkin had “resigned” his position in the midst of domestic violence allegations and was subsequently charged with multiple counts of assault.  An ex-girlfriend had accused Tumpkin of multiple acts of domestic violence dating back to 2015 and as recently as November of last year.  She obtained a permanent restraining order against Tumpkin, of which the university became aware Jan. 6 and initially triggered a suspension.

Despite knowledge of allegations that reportedly included 80 episodes of abuse — according to the alleged victim, she first went to MacIntyre’s wife — all parties, including the coach, his athletic director and his chancellor, agreed that Tumpkin would call the defensive plays in CU’s Dec. 29 bowl game in place of Jim Leavitt, who had taken the coordinator job at Oregon.  CU defended their actions a week ago; a day ago, MacIntyre did the same.

An external investigation is being conducted into the chain of events that led to the controversy.  A vote from the regents on MacIntyre’s proposed deal won’t be taken until the results of that probe are revealed.

MacIntyre’s initial contract paid him just over $2 million for the 2016 season.  His new five-year deal would average $3.25 million annually through the 2021 season.