CU still discussing contract extension with KOA
LINCOLN, Neb. --- The voices of the Colorado Buffaloes --- Mark Johnson, Larry Zimmer and Charles Johnson --- packed up with the rest of the crew from KOA radio Friday evening at Memorial Stadium with no assurance they will be back to call CU football games in the future.
The five-year radio agreement between KOA, CU and its licensing partner, Learfield Communications, Inc., ends when the men's basketball season is over. Talks are well underway for another five-year extension, but nothing has been finalized.
KOA has been broadcasting the Buffs continuously since the 1985 season, and has generally extended the deal in five-year increments. Athletic director Mike Bohn said the school is happy with its relationship with KOA, which provides a powerful signal that can be heard throughout most of the state during the day and throughout many neighboring states at night.
But Bohn said there has been interest from others who have proposed providing similar coverage through a network of stations. Learfield, which recently agreed to an extension of its relationship with CU, is responsible for securing a radio deal.
"I've got a lot of confidence in our rights holder to continue to escalate our visibility and our partnership and would anticipate them completing a radio agreement early in the new year," Bohn said.
True freshman safety Patrick Mahnke played in place of Walters for the second consecutive game and produced a sack of Nebraska quarterback Joe Ganz that ultimately led to the game-winning 57-yard field goal.
Mahnke finished the game with five tackles and was praised by coach Dan Hawkins for playing with a broken rib and a separated shoulder suffered during the game. Nebraska held a huge advantage in time of possession, holding the ball for nearly 40 minutes, compared to 20 for the Buffs.
"It hurts, but you gotta do what you gotta do, I guess," Mahnke said.
Jones finishes strong
Senior linebacker Brad Jones served as defensive team captain Friday in place of fellow senior Ryan Walters, who was unable to play because of a sprained ankle and knee. Jones registered two of the Buffs' four sacks Friday and led the team this season with seven sacks.
Jones had produced just 2½ sacks in 1,545 plays in his first three years in the program, when he was used more in pass coverage than pass rushing.
J-Fly moves up
Josh Smith produced the best outing of his young career in terms of all-purpose yardage. He finished the day with 245 all-purpose yards, pushing him to No. 2 on CU's single-season list.
Only former tailback Rashaan Salaam has produced more total yardage in one season than Smith. That came during his run to the 2004 Heisman Trophy, when he racked up 2,349 yards.
Smith finished the 2008 campaign with 1,987 yards, the vast majority of which came from kickoff returns. He also caught 32 passes for 387 yards. Smith passed former running back Eric Bieniemy and Byron "Whizzer" White on Friday.
Colorado has now missed a bowl game in four of the past nine seasons. ... According to CU sports information staff, 44 of the 70 players who traveled to Lincoln had never been in Memorial Stadium before. ... Wide receiver Scotty McKnight finished the season with 46 catches for 519 yards, becoming the first player to lead the Buffs in receiving in consecutive seasons since Javon Green did so in 1999 and 2000. McKnight now has 1,007 career receiving yards. ... Despite his struggles this season, CU place-kicker Aric Goodman led the team in scoring with 45 points. It is the lowest total to lead the team since Sal Aunese and Bieniemy each scored 36 in 1987. ... CU sold 3,600 of its allotment of 3,800 tickets for the game, but the black and gold section in the stadium appeared to be smaller than previous years.