Thursday, December 08, 2005
THE RAP SHEET
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Wherein SMQ chronicles eligibility-crippling issues, legal, academic, institutional and otherwise...
Gary Barnett...in trouble? At Colorado? Wha?
Days after a report that the embattled, four-time-in-five-years division title-winning coach was on his way out, the school is forced to investigate further Barnett's involvement in allegations made in an anonymous letter first received by a private investigator and reported by The Rocky Mountain News:BOULDER, Colo. -- Colorado has asked school attorneys to review an unsigned letter that makes allegations of improper conduct against embattled football coach Gary Barnett, a university spokeswoman said Thursday.That is a long report to say nobody has any idea what's happened, what's currently happening or what's going to happen.
Some of the allegations in the letter, which was first reported by the Rocky Mountain News, have already been investigated, spokeswoman Michelle McKinney said. She said the attorneys are trying to determine whether any of them warrant further investigation.
"It is an anonymous letter, so there is some caution on how you approach this," McKinney said. "Several investigations the university has been subjected to have looked at these allegations. If there are any allegations that our legal counsel believe were not full investigated, we do intend to thoroughly look into them."
The letter alleges, among other things, that Barnett attempted to influence sworn testimony by his subordinates during the football program's recent recruiting scandal and that football players were tipped off in advance of supposedly random drug tests, the newspaper said.
The letter was disclosed amid speculation that Barnett will soon lose his job because his team lost three straight games by a combined score of 130-22. Barnett survived the recruiting scandal last year, although the university's president, chancellor and athletic director resigned in its aftermath. Two investigations looked into allegations of misbehavior, including rape, but the only criminal charge involved the misuse of a university-issued cell phone by an aide. Investigators also said sex, drugs and alcohol were available for recruits, though no school official knowingly condoned it.
Steven Snyder, a private investigator who worked for a regents-backed independent commission that looked into the scandal, told the News he received the anonymous letter in October and turned it over to CU President Hank Brown.
Snyder said his work for the commission ended in mid-2004 but he continues to receive tips about the university. He said he did not act on most them because he did not consider them serious, but he thought university officials should see the unsigned letter.
Brown told the News he also gave copies of the letter to state and federal prosecutors. McKinney said she could not confirm that. Spokesmen for the prosecutors declined to comment.
The Denver Post reported this week that a source close to the negotiations between Barnett and the university "indicated" the coach will not be given a contract extension.
The Post did not identify the source. Barnett declined to comment on the report, and athletic director Mike Bohn would not say whether it was true.
Brown told the News he did not think the unsigned letter would affect Barnett's contract.
The university regents declined to comment about Barnett after a 31⁄2-hour executive session Thursday.
"I think that's still in the hands of the chancellor and the athletic director," Brown said
On the heels of last week's mysterious scandals and anonymous rats, we have more intrigue: who wrote the letter?
SMQ has a few suspects:
I wanted to expose the conspiracy - It's in the water, see? There's something in the water in Boulder! I told you it wasn't my fault! The government put something in the water! Some kind of chemical that makes you lose every shred of your conscience and common decency! It's the water! The government! JFK! You can't silence the truth! You can't silence the truth!
Fired? But this was all supposed to be just an implausible but ultimately innocent misunderstanding that's comically settled within the half hour!
Why? I wanted to get fired! You're looking at the new head scout for the New York Mets!
ADDENDUM, DEC. 9: Barnett is out, and he only gets $3 mil to take with him. Take that, cheater! ESPN's Pat Forde provides a few possible successors, including Boise State's Dan Hawkins and former Tennessee and current Miami D-coordinator Randy Shannon.
SMQ watched Forde on Outside the Lines Thursday night, when the analyst - who said he played high school ball under Barnett - blamed the firing not on scandals, but on losing. The scandals laid the foundation for the move, he said, but the fact that Barnett wasn't dropped until almost two full years after the rape and sex for recruits scandals broke in the media - not to mention his unintentionally sexist diss of subpar kicker Katie Hnida - was based on the fact that "he's not winning as many games as he has in the past."
Really? Under Barnett:
Colorado in 1999: 7-5 (5-3 Big XII), Insight.com Bowl
Colorado in 2000: 3-8 (3-5 Big XII)
Colorado in 2001: 10-3 (8-1 Big XII), Big XII Overall Champions, Fiesta Bowl
Colorado in 2002: 9-5 (7-2 Big XII), Big XII North Champions, Alamo Bowl
Colorado in 2003: 5-7 (3-5 Big XII)
Colorado in 2004: 8-5 (4-5 Big XII), Big XII North Champions, Houston Bowl
Colorado in 2005: 7-5 (5-4 Big XII), Big XII North Champions, Champs Sports Bowl
Forde's comments made it sound like Barnett had won ten three seasons running, but the Buffs clearly peaked in '01 and have been clinging to mediocrity since. If Barnett was going to be fired for diminishing returns, it would have happened well before Thursday. Even if you factor in the scandal, CU's record this season is identical to its pre-bowl record last season, when it was also blown out in the conference championship by an undefeated, mythical title game-bound opponent. On average, this season - one in which SMQ and many others had CU ranked as late as Thanksgiving - typified Barnett's run as a whole.
His being shown the door was due to a conflagrance of factors, but suddenly losing - when compared to the results of the recent past - hardly seems like a sensible one.
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