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Pat Rooney: CU Buffs' 3 extra points (May 13, 2024)

May 13—BuffZone writer Pat Rooney discusses three topics surrounding CU Buffs athletics as summer break arrives and the Buffaloes officially exit the Pac-12 Conference.

Jayhawk reunion

Colorado men's basketball coach Tad Boyle brought in an appealing and attractive name while filling the assistant spot vacated by Rick Ray, bringing his former Kansas Jayhawk teammate Danny Manning to Boulder.

Critics have pointed to Manning's record as a head coach, as well as his recent run as an assistant at Louisville, as reasons to be skeptical of the hire. Yet Boyle has a consistent track record of landing productive assistants, and as CU moves into the Big 12 and once again becomes a rival of the Jayhawks, there's no reason to believe the addition of Manning will be any different.

Manning went 38-29 in two seasons as a head coach at Tulsa, using an NCAA Tournament appearance in 2014 to land the coveted job at Wake Forest. It mostly was a struggle for Manning in six seasons at Wake, compiling a 78-111 mark (plus 30-80 in the ACC) with just one winning year, a 19-14 mark in a 2016-17 season that ended in the First Four round of the NCAA Tournament.

Manning's past two stops were disasters by no fault of his. He took over at Maryland early in the 2021-22 after Mark Turgeon's abrupt resignation, going 10-14. Afterward, it wasn't Manning fault the bottom had already dropped out of the program at Louisville before he arrived as an assistant.

Yet in Manning, Boyle has possibly landed the sort of assistant that features a few of the best traits of former assistant Kim English (a former pro able to relate to players) and current long-tenured assistants Mike Rohn and Bill Grier, who have made previous stops as head coaches and aren't necessarily worried about checking job postings for better offers. Manning brings a marquee name to the program as CU moves into the marquee conference of men's college basketball.

Pac-12 farewell

CU officially wrapped up the Pac-12 era this past weekend, as the league's outdoor track and field finals hosted at the refurbished Potts Field marked the Buffs' final Pac-12 event in any sport before returning to the Big 12 Conference with the start of fall sports later this summer.

While the track and cross country programs won a number of league titles in the Pac-12, including the final three Pac-12 titles credited to the Buffs won this past weekend by Bailey Hertenstein (10K and 5K) and Avery McMullen (heptathlon), CU's other programs won exactly two team championships during the Pac-12 era. The men's basketball team claimed the Pac-12 tournament title to cap its first season in the league in 2012, but lost its other two title game appearances (2021 and this past March). The women's lacrosse team won the 2018 regular season title but lost the conference championship game in Boulder.

In 13 seasons in the league, the CU football team posted a .250 winning percentage (28-84), although it did play in the 2016 conference title game after winning the South division. The men's basketball team finished fourth in the league over that span, recording .541 winning percentage (131-11) that ranked fourth behind Arizona (.715), Oregon (.667) and UCLA (.647).

The move to return to the Big 12 was necessary for CU as the Pac-12 began to disintegrate. Still, with the football rivalry with Nebraska no longer a prime benefit of the Big 12, it's difficult to not feel a little wistful about the end of an era.

On hiatus

The three extra points column will be going on hiatus for near future. With commencement over and only the track and field postseason remaining in the 2023-24 athletics calendar, the upcoming late spring/summer weeks offer a lull that nonetheless will feature a number of storylines to watch.

Most prominently, of course, will be the pending acquisitions for football. The Buffs may not be able to add outright game-changers at this stage, but finding additional depth on both sides of the line remains a priority before preseason practice begins in late July or early August.

It's a similar situation, with less of a deadline, for both basketball teams. Women's coach JR Payne has plugged some holes via the transfer portal but, as of Monday, still has three open spots to work with. Men's coach Tad Boyle has added bulk — landing frontcourt transfers Andrej Jakimovski, Trevor Baskin and Elijah Malone — as the Buffs move into the more rugged Big 12. With one spot still open and Boyle professing confidence in his cast of returning guards, expect the Buffs to look for a best-fit type addition rather than focusing on a particular need.