NCF Nation: Lynn Katoa

Posted by's Tim Griffin

Josh Smith apparently has decided that the career route to becoming the next Jay-Z or Fifty Cent can be furthered by attending a school other than Colorado.

Smith and tight end Ryan Wallace have announced they are leaving the school. The move snatches away one of Colorado's top receivers and a developing player in Wallace who many thought could turn into a serviceable Big 12 tight end.

Smith announced that he's leaving Colorado because he wants to pursue a musical career after producing rap demos and CDs since high school. Schools that have the music major he's interested in are Arizona State and USC.

Additionally, the Boulder Camera reported that Smith spent time in the Phoenix area with Arizona State quarterback Samson Szakacsy recording tracks. That seemingly would provide a neat entry into the Sun Devils program if Smith should choose to continue playing at his new school.

Smith's departure comes after he dropped on the team's depth chart over the spring. The Buffaloes aren't exactly loaded at the position and Smith was expected to challenge for a starting job this spring.

But he struggled at times as Markques Simas and Dustin Ebner zoomed past him at his "X" wide receiver position and Scotty McKnight and walk-on Jason Espinoza are fixtures on the other side.

The other question will be how this affects the Buffaloes' relationship with heralded running back Darrell Scott, who is Smith's nephew.

Scott had a strong spring after struggling during his freshman season last year. He reportedly tried to talk Smith out of transferring.

And Wallace was listed at fifth-string on the Buffaloes' post-spring depth chart but was thought to have a good future with the program. He becomes the third member of the heralded 2008 recruiting class to leave Colorado, joining linebacker Lynn Katoa and wide receiver Chance Blackmon.

Colorado's biggest offensive weakness is its lack of breakaway threats. Smith is the team's best deep threat and top kickoff returner.

With a heavy ground-based attack, new offensive coordinator Eric Kiesau hopes to build more of a vertical play-action passing game. He already will be making a tough choice between quarterbacks Cody Hawkins and Tyler Hansen and taking away his best deep threat won't help the offense's productivity.

The Colorado offense ranked last in the Big 12 last season in total offense and scoring. Smith was a critical element in plans for coach Dan Hawkins, who vowed his team would "win 10 games with no excuses" this season after a disappointing 5-7 record last year.

Even with Smith's drop on the depth chart, it's still not a good situation for the Buffaloes or their ability to stretch the field with Smith leaving.

Posted by's Tim Griffin

My apologies for posting this a day late, but I thought that the scores for each Big 12 team in the NCAA's most recent Academic Progress Rate report merited mention.

No Big 12 teams have lost scholarships yet. In fact, only Mississippi and Minnesota have been affected so far among the schools in the "Big Six" conferences.

I think the biggest reason why the rich have tended to be more successful than the smaller schools is because of the academic infrastructure these schools are able to create. Between tutors, computer laboratories and all of the other academic bells and whistles, these schools devote a lot of money to keeping their students eligible -- for obvious reasons.

Here's how the football programs of the Big 12 stacked up in their APR scores this year.

Oklahoma            952 

Missouri                951

Nebraska               950

Texas A&M            946

Kansas                  941  

Kansas State          939

Oklahoma State     939

Texas                   939

Iowa State             935 

Texas Tech            935

Baylor                    930

Colorado                929

Interestingly, the two teams that played in the conference football championship game had the highest APR rates.

None of the schools were below the 925 threshold where penalties begin. That score roughly approximates to a 60 percent graduation rate.  

Colorado is coming perilously close with an APR score of 929. Coach Dan Hawkins provided the program with some wiggle room when he signed only 19 recruits in his 2009 class -- two below the number he could have signed.  

The Boulder Daily Camera reported the Buffaloes have had at least four scholarship football players leave the program ineligible in the current school year.

If the program's score falls below 925 this year, it would lose a scholarship for every player who left ineligible during the year. The number could be five depending on the status of former linebacker Lynn Katoa.