Rams lose Showdown 38-17

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Aug 282008
Authors: Adam Bohlmeyer

The Colorado Buffaloes have won the 2008 Rocky Mountain Showdown, defeating CSU 38-17.

The Buffaloes racked up 10 points in the fourth quarter putting the game out of reach from the Rams. Darnell Scott punched in a one-yard touchdown run with just under two minutes completing the Buff’s victory.

CSU head coach Steve Fairchild was upset with the loss, but still saw positives in his team’s performance.

“I’m very disappointed we didn’t win the game, but I made sure our team played physical and played together,” the former Rams quarterback said. “I didn’t want to be a soft football team and I didn’t want any non communication. I was very pleased in both those areas.

Fairchild pointed to an 18 play, 74 yard CU drive spanning the late third and early fourth quarter as what took the Rams out of the game.

“We were hanging on, but when they put together that long drive, that kind of sealed it,” he said.

The Rams were held to a single field goal in the second half.

Gartrell Johnson III led the Rams rushing attack with 96 yards on 12 attempts.

Billy Farris was effective for CSU in his first ever collegiate start, throwing for 187-yards and a touchdown with two picks.

The Buff’s win extends their all time series lead to 59-19-12.

Check Tuesday’s Collegian for more coverage.

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Volleyball survives scare from Eagles

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Aug 282008
Authors: Adam Bohlmeyer

The CSU Volleyball team faced the toughest challenge of its young season Saturday night and came out on top.

The Rams Swept the Hilton Classic Tournament and did it in dramatic fashion, defeating Eastern Washington in five games 25-12, 25-19, 25-27, 21-25 and 15-9.

CSU jumped out to an early lead in game five, one which they would never relinquish, finishing off the Eagles with a Mekana Barnes kill, her 17 of the match.

Rams head coach Tom Hilbert said that the EWU gave CSU a legitimate scare and showed where his team’s weaknesses are.

“We are out of system more than I thought we were and we have to be better at hitting on the outside,” he said. “We have the athletes to play the positions; they just have to get better.”

Hilbert explained that he was still mostly pleased with how the Rams played in their first tournament of the season.

“I’m really happy with our competitiveness,” the 12-year CSU coach said. “These are good experiences for our team to get right now.”

Senior Ashley Fornstrom agreed with her coach.

“It was a good match for us to play this early in the season,” the setter said. “For us to go a five game match and win is huge.”

The Rams ran the tables of the Hilton Classic, besting the University of Arkansas on Friday night and Denver University Saturday afternoon, both in three games.

Along with the being crowned tournament champions, Middle Blockers Tessa Nelson and Mekana Barnes were named to the all tournament team. Barnes received Most Valuable Player honors.

Up next for CSU is a showdown with Pepperdine in the Asics Classic scheduled for Sept 5.

Sports reporter Adam Bohlmeyer can be reached at sports@collegian.com

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Cross Country sprints to Wyo. to begin the season

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Aug 282008
Authors: Scott Callahan

This Friday the Colorado State cross-country team will kick off its 2008 season by competing in the Wyoming Invitational in Laramie, Wyo.

The team anticipates a good performance from every runner in the first meet – a coed race – and to finish high in the standings.

“It’s an opportunity to see guys racing and get an idea of how everyone does (in competition),” said runner Jeremy Freed, a junior.

In preparation for the invitational and the upcoming season, the men’s and women’s teams went to Pingree Park, CSU’s mountain campus, to do some team bonding. While there, the team trained their bodies and exercised their trust in one another while grappling with ropes course and other team-building activities.

Sophomore Jake Keyser returned home with a positive outlook for the season.

“We had quite a few new faces at team camp and practices,” he said. “We have good chemistry and good group of guys this year.”

Coach Bryan Berryhill is optimistic about the team’s talent level. “We have the most talented team we’ve ever had, but we also have the youngest team too,” he said. “The biggest question is how close the team comes.”

“It was good to have everyone together and encouraging to see the team come together quickly,” said sophomore Allison Gohl.

The Rams are following a successful season and are expecting to continue that success in 2008.

“We have great team potential, a lot of new people and good returning leaders,” said senior Kristen Hemphill.

Hemphill is anticipated to be a leader herself, along with senior Kirsten Anthony who finished just ahead of April Thomas in the NCAA championship race last season, and sophomore Allison Gohl who was named MWC Freshman of the Year.

Gohl realizes that she is expected to perform well.

“I expect a lot of myself,” she said. “I don’t really feel pressure. I just use the gifts given to me and to do my best for the team.”

While the men’s team was ranked fourth in the Mountain West Conference preseason rankings this year – they were third in 2007 – the women’s team was ranked No. 1 – an improvement from their 2007 ranking of fourth.

The improved standing is largely due to the women’s efforts last season. They finished first in the Mountain West Conference and 15th in the NCAA national championship race.

The women’s team lost five runners from last year’s team that competed in the NCAA championship race.

“Due to the loss of seasoned runners, both teams will have to rely on the new recruits and young runners this year,” Berryhill said.

Returning runners said that the new runners will help take the team to the next level.

“We are excited to have the new freshman and transfers,” Anthony said. “We are going to have a strong team. We have the same goals as last year – to win conference and regionals, and to do better at nationals.”

Both Hemphill and Anthony, seniors, have minor injuries, but are not expected to miss any competitions.

Hemphill has a stress reaction from the strain of the long runs, and Anthony has a mild hip flexor strain.

While the women look to hold on to their No. 1 ranking, the men are looking to improve upon their fourth place finish in the MWC championship last year.

“The biggest thing is to improve upon efforts of a year ago,” Berryhill said.

Leading the men’s team this year will be Jeremy Freed and MWC Freshman of the Year, Jake Keyser.

The men’s team has a new face from New Zealand. The addition is transfer student and sophomore Daniel Wallis.

“We are looking forward to a national race and to do well when we get there,” Freed said. “We have the talent to do it this year, we need to pull together as a team and we’ll have a good chance to race well.”

Staff writer Scott Callahan can be reached at sports@collegian.com.

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Meet the opponents

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Aug 282008
Authors: Matthew Pucak

There are no cupcakes to open the season for CSU, as the Rams host three tough squads this weekend.

Last season the Rams went 14-0 at home and look to start 2008 off in similar fashion this weekend.

The Razorbacks return four starters from a team that went 12-19 last season.

The Rams aren’t sure exactly what to expect from Arkansas, as they have a first year coach in Robert Pulliza.

“(Pulliza) is a first year coach, actually it is his first career game as head coach, and though he is a friend of mine, it is difficult to scout them,” said Hilbert.

Denver went 22-12 last season, including a tough 28-30, 28-30 and 30-32 loss to CSU.

This season they are expected to win the Sun Belt Conference West title and have the preseason SBC defensive player of the year in sophomore Kacie Wikierak.

Eastern Washington went 15-15 last season, but they were 12-4 in the Big Sky Conference and return all starters from last season’s team.

“Eastern Washington is a Big Sky powerhouse, and they have been for a while,” said Hilbert.

“They are a very openly competitive team with whoever they play; they fight like crazy and I expect a very tough game.”

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Rams host Hilton Classic to start season

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Aug 282008
Authors: Matthew Pucak

While many CSU students have their eyes focused on Denver this weekend for the Rocky Mountain Showdown, they shouldn’t look past the show the Rams volleyball team and three other schools will put on in Moby Arena.

The Rams host the 21st Hilton Classic this weekend, kicking off their 2008 season with games against the Arkansas Razorbacks, Denver Pioneers and Eastern Washington Eagles.

The Rams open against the Razorbacks tonight at 7:30 p.m. at Moby, their first game in a season that starts with them ranked as the No. 17 team in the nation, according to Division I coaches.

The Rams then play twice on Saturday, first at noon against Denver and then at 7:30 p.m. against Eastern Washington.

Rams head coach Tom Hilbert is hoping that the community shows up to support the Rams this weekend, as he expects three tough, entertaining games.

“There has been so much build up for this season. I think we will have a very competitive team this season, and I really think that we play much better when we can build off the crowd in Moby.

“I just hope that anyone out there who hasn’t been to a game will come, because I think they will like what they see,” said Hilbert, in his 12th season at the Rams’ helm.

CSU is also attempting to get students interested in the game, offering rally towels and “Green Machine” t-shirts to the first 500 students that show up Friday night.

The hype the Rams have dealt with includes being ranked No. 17 in the nation and Moby Arena being chosen as a site for the 2008 NCAA regional tournament — a destination the team would like to make, but know that thinking too much about the future won’t help them in the now.

“We have tried, as a team, to keep putting our focus on taking it one game at a time. We don’t want to get caught up in any of the hype. It is important for us to stay focused,” said senior outside hitter Jamie Strauss.

The Rams are led by All-American and MWC Player of the Year Mekana Barnes, one of several standout players for the Rams returning from last year.

But, as a testament to how deep the team is, several standout performers from last season are still in competition to hold on to their spots.

Hilbert stated that his lineup will see some shuffling over the weekend as he tries to figure out the best spots for everyone.

Matthew Pucak can be reached at sports@collegian.com.

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A night of firsts awaits Rams

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Aug 282008
Authors: Matt L. Stephens

There’s no other way to put it, college football is finally here. Colorado State and the University of Colorado square off their seasons with the 2008 Qwest Rocky Mountain Showdown on Sunday evening in nationally televised action.

This year’s Showdown will feature many firsts for the Rams, including the head coaching debut of Steve Fairchild. Fairchild played quarterback for CSU in 1978 and 1980 (redshirting in 1979), but never faced the Buffaloes as a player. He did, however, coach against them as an assistant in his previous tour of Fort Collins in the late ’90s. Despite his new role, Fairchild said his nerves are calm.

“I don’t anticipate being very nervous. For some reason I can see that clearly,” said Fairchild at his weekly press conference on Monday. “I was nervous last January, I was nervous for spring ball, I was nervous when we started in August. And I told the football team that. The outcome’s decided then. When we roll down there Sunday, all that hard work and all their hard work, we’ll find out where we stand as programs at that point. But most of what’s going to happen has to do with how we trained this offseason.”

While this will be a first for Fairchild, it will also be a first for several Rams, most notably fifth year senior quarterback Billy Farris who has thrown only 20 passes in his career.

Also an offensive first is the start for freshman kicker Ben DeLine, who was named the starter on Sunday after senior kicker Jason Smith broke his arm in a Saturday morning mock-game.

“I can’t wait, it’s going to be a blast. It’s an opportunity for me as a true freshman to go out and have fun,” said DeLine, a native of Steamboat Springs. “You’re as nervous as you make yourself be-I’m anxious more so than nervous. You get nervous because you don’t know how you’re going to perform, having some nerve is good, but being overly nervous is bad. I’m just anxious.”

If the old adage is true, and you play as well as you practice, then the CSU defense should be ready to take on a dynamic CU offense led by sophomore quarterback Cody Hawkins. Hawkins passed for 2,693 yards and 19 touchdowns in 2007, including 201 yards with a pair of TD’s in last season’s matchup.

Hawkins is complemented on offense by receivers Patrick Williams and Scotty McKnight, who combined for 82 percent of the Buffs’ receiving yardage in the 2007 Showdown.

In the backfield, sophomore Demetrius Sumler leads CU. Also hoping to make his mark on the field is true freshman running back Darrell Scott, who, according to Rivals.com, was listed as the number one running back in the nation from the class of 2008. Scott is currently listed third on CU’s depth chart.

Rams’ sophomore linebacker Ricky Brewer is confident in his team’s ability. Brewer will be making his first Rocky Mountain Showdown start on Sunday, as he didn’t work his way into the starting lineup until the San Diego State game last year.

“This game is one of the biggest stages to come on and show what you’re all about as an individual and for the team,” said Brewer. “So I think this game here is gonna set the tone for us and, what bigger stage to do it on than the Rocky Mountain Showdown versus CU?”

One more key first is the first career start for leader of the young CSU cornerbacks, junior Nick Oppenneer.

A Littleton native, Oppenneer is entering his first season on scholarship as he had walked on to the team in 2006 after transferring from University of Mary in 2006.

“It feels great, this is something I’ve been dreaming of my entire life and I’m glad to have this opportunity on such a big stage,” said Oppenneer. “Playing little league in Littleton growing up, you always hear about the game, listening to it on the radio and the way home from your little league game, and to be a part of it is a dream come true.”

While it will be a night of firsts, it will also be a night of lasts for the seniors including tight end Kory Sperry, who had three touchdown catches in last year’s rivalry game.

“I’m nervous, but I get nervous before any game. It’s my last season, my last time to play them. So I’m nervous, but as soon as that first whistle blows I’ll be fine,” Sperry said.

Football beat writer Matt Stephens can be reached at sports@collegian.com.

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Rams look good in Vegas, not Denver

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Aug 282008
Authors: Sean Star

I’m picking the Rams Sunday … to beat the folks in Vegas, not Boulder.

Sorry, I’m not in this to make friends.

An 11-point spread between these two teams is just too large, as is the number of points the CU offense will put up.

Because after all the hype and adrenaline of the rivalry runs out, reality will set in.

CU’s offense is athletic, experienced and coached by Dan Hawkins, who has more tricks up his sleeve than David Blaine. CSU’s defense is slow, small and coordinated by Larry Kerr, who must’ve had a trick of his own to get out of coaching football at Duke.

Simply put, Cam is going to have a hard time keeping up with Ralphie.

For the first time since he arrived in Boulder three years ago, Hawkins has all the parts he needs to drive his Cadillac. Bigger and strong than a year ago, his son, Cody Hawkins, is ready to make the leap from a serviceable quarterback to a real difference-maker. Hawkins will be protected by an improved offensive line anchored by preseason second-team all-conference tackle Ryan Miller. And sophomore wide receiver Josh Smith’s 19-yard average as a freshman last year was just a preview of how good he’ll be this fall.

A breakout game could be in order for Smith, who will be covered by a Ram cornerback crew that has played a combined six collegiate games. The corps is led by Nick Oppenneer, whose highlights at CSU include putting on his uniform for every game last year.

Then there’s the Buffs’ backfield. Five-star freshman recruit Darrell Scott, who by most experts was ranked as the best running back in the nation for the class of 2008, is listed third. Yes, third.

The kid has a YouTube video titled “The Next LaDanian Tomlinson” for crying out loud.

Don’t be surprised if that depth chart is thrown away after the first quarter. Actually, don’t be surprised by anything from Scott. The Parade All-American is a living punt, pass and kick phenomenon.

At his first practice as a Buff earlier this month, Scott averaged 40 yards a kick and says he’s intrigued by the prospect of lining up behind center on punting situations.

And if anyone is crazy enough to implement a punter/runner, it’s Hawkins.

In fact, Scott’s probably a better punting option than anything the Rams have.

Senior kicker Jason Smith was slated to pull double duties this year until, for some reason, he picked up a loose ball during a scrimmage and tried to run with it, breaking his arm and severely fracturing the Rams’ chances if the game comes down to one kick, as it has so frequently.

But don’t worry, Smith’s replacement, true freshman Ben DeLine, appears confident. DeLine said earlier this week he welcomes the possibility of having the game rest on his shoulders.

CU would probably like that scenario too.

Freshmen from Steamboat should be more worried about getting booze and a ride home on Sunday rather than kicking the game-winning field goal.

But not all is lost. The Rams still have Kory Sperry.

Sports columnist Sean Star can be reached at sports@collegian.com.

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Welcome to Underdog U

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Aug 282008
Authors: Nick Hubel

Here’s something that you probably haven’t heard that much of this week: the Rams are going to win the Rocky Mountain Showdown.

That’s right. In case you didn’t believe me the first time, the CSU football team — young, inexperienced, and slow as they are — will walk away from Invesco field this Sunday hoisting a Centennial Cup filled with Cody Hawkins’ tears.

Eleven point underdogs in Vegas, the Rams have the opportunity to officially start the Steve Fairchild Era right. Cue the cliché machine, because this is the first of many “Nobody believed in us” moments for the CSU athletic department this year.

This season the Rams are the classic underdog. A year ago, the program was in turmoil (it just didn’t know it yet). Sonny Lubick hadn’t been himself since 2003, and the bad hoodoo was spilling onto the field.

Injuries and the pressure involved with the whole “win or the football messiah of northern Colorado gets canned” thing deflated the team to the breaking point, translating into uninventive play calling, uninspired play and an understandably frustrated fan base.

One year later, all of that is gone. Fairchild comes into his first game without the burden of expectations over his head. The money is spent, Sonny has moved on. No reasonable fan can expect a complete turnaround of the program in one year.

But coaches’ brains don’t work that way. Fairchild comes from a world where he was expected at all times to make J.P. Losman into an elite quarterback or he was going to get fired. Ex-NFL guys don’t take days off from intensity.

Just think about every picture you’ve ever seen of coach Fairchild. He always looks like he’s trying to stare a hole through the camera lens. It’s terrifying. Now don’t get me wrong, it doesn’t take much to put the fear of God into a sports reporter. We eat the buffet food that gets left out in the press box before games, but that’s about as tough as we get. So it may seem exaggerated when I say he’s a generally intense guy.

But, when football players who spend the majority of their time lifting heavy objects and slamming into each other nervously laugh when asked about Fairchild’s intensity, you’ve got to believe that he’s grooving a newer and meaner culture into the program.

We can’t lose; Fairchild will not let it happen.

Are the Buffs looking past us? Probably. They play the No. 8 team in the nation, West Virginia, at home two weeks after the Showdown. (On a side note, the Buffs are warming up for the WVU game with us and Eastern Washington, which is kind of like getting ready for hole 18 at Torrey Pines with 36 holes of Fort Fun putt-putt and a drunken round at City Park Nine. Only in Boulder… I hope Bill Stewart wipes the floor with Dan Hawkins’ mop top.)

Are there a lot of ifs involved with us winning? Of course. If . Gartrell Johnson and Kyle Bell can manage to be good in the same game (or the same season, for that matter). If . Billy Farris can remember whether Kory Sperry is going to run a hook or an out AND get the ball to him. If . in the next two days, we can keep our specialty players (long snapper, place kicker, punter) out of contact drills and out of a cast.

All of this is exceedingly possible. So when you make the journey to Denver, be prepared to throw a “scoreboard” chant around and say you saw it coming all along.

Sports editor Nick Hubel can be reached at sports@collegian.com.

 Posted by at 5:00 pm

Fairchild ready for Showdown

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Aug 282008
Authors: Adam Bohlmeyer

Entering your first game as the new head coach of a struggling football program can be difficult enough, but it becomes even harder when facing your school’s biggest rival.

Welcome to the life of Rams head Coach Steve Fairchild and his staff.

Fairchild is feeling the pressure of the Showdown, but explained that it has nothing to do with facing the Buffs.

“It’s pretty pressure packed no matter who you open up with,” said the former Buffalo Bills offensive coordinator. “That’s the nature of division one football. I’m just looking at it as we came here to do a job and this is the road we have to travel.”

First year CSU offensive coordinator Greg Peterson explained that he is more excited about Sunday’s game than nervous. The 25-year coach said that there is no sense in getting nervous.

“We relish the chance anytime that you get to play your in-state rival whether it’s the first game of the season or the twelfth,” he said. “We’ll have a good plan for the Buffaloes and we’ll be ready to go.”

Fairchild explained that having coached in the showdown and having coaches who have played in the game before helps nerves a lot.

“Most the guys on this staff are familiar with this game, so we know what it’s about and it’s a great atmosphere,” he said. “It’s a little easier to visualize the game when you have been there and know what you are walking into.”

Five members of Fairchild’s staff have previously been a part of the Showdown, including Daren Wilkinson, Anthoney Hill and Pat Meyer, who donned the green and gold as players.

CSU Athletic Director Paul Kowalczyk said he believes in the things that Fairchild and his staff are doing to transform the program, but explained that there is no pressure on the coaches based on the outcome of this season.

“It’s year one of a rebuilding but I’m already impressed with the progress I’m seeing,” he said. “We’re not putting any pressure on wins and losses this year.”

Kowalczyk added that he is still expecting a good game with CU though.

“I want to see us play hard and give our best effort,” he said. “I believe in the coach, the assistants and players. We are going to give CU all they can handle.”

Marc Lubick, CSU’s tight end coach, admitted that he can see differences between his father, former Rams head man Sonny Lubick, and Fairchild but said the end goal remains the same.

Marc Lubick is the only coach remaining with the Rams from last season.

“It’s a little different but everything changes,” the tight ends coach said. “We’ve got to go out there and do our best and compete but that’s the nature of the game. Both staffs tried and are trying to do things with players and situations to make the team as successful as possible.”

Even though the Showdown might be the most anticipated game of the season for many fans, Fairchild knows he has the whole season ahead of him and is viewing Sunday as just a starting place.

“This will be a good barometer to see where we are at,” the former CSU quarterback said. “But wherever we are at we are going to keep getting better.”

Football beat reporter Adam Bohlmeyer can be reached at sports@collegain.com.

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Failure of Western media fuels Georgian conflict

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Aug 282008
Authors: Will Caron Ka Leo O Hawaii University of Hawaii UWIRE

Everyone who pays attention to the news knows what’s happening in Georgia right now: The big bad Russians are occupying poor little democratic Georgia after demolishing the Georgian defense force. Right?

What many people don’t seem to realize is that the whole premise of Russian military aggression against the Georgians is a shallow, lazy explanation provided by the Western media, a group that is content to jump at a story that offers even the slightest hint that small, democratic Georgia is not at fault.

According to information one might hear on CNN, BBC, Fox News and in The New York Times, Russia is the bad guy in this situation and Georgia is the victim.

Sure they might mention that Georgia happened to attack first, but what of that?

Georgia is tiny and weak and Russia is a power-deprived bully with a penchant for neo-imperialistic tendencies, so we’ll focus entirely on the role of the Russian military bombing Gori and failing to leave South Ossetia on time.

We don’t need to mention that, if Russian forces leave now, the South Ossetians would be at the mercy of the Georgian army.

Listening to Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, it is easy to be swayed by his passionate defense of his nation: “Georgia did not seek confrontation, Georgia was not the aggressor and Georgia will not give up its territories. Georgia will not renounce its freedom and sovereignty.”

The overwhelming Russian military force and the utter defeat of the Georgian forces also lends itself nicely to the image of a bullying Russia stepping on the fingers of the democratic Georgians, clinging for life over the precipice of sovereignty. Even the fact that Georgia is “democratic” — which simply means that Saakashvili, during the Georgian “Rose Revolution” of 2003, won his election to replace the corrupt Eduard Shevardnadze — fuels this notion.

Of course, Nixon won his election fair and square, too, and helped to open up China to the West, but he wasn’t exactly a mascot for the American presidency.

It is true that the roots of the problem can be traced back to the Soviet era and the poor drawing of Georgia’s borders, the result being the inclusion of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, two regions inhabited by people much more loyal to Russia than to Georgia.

But the basic fact remains that Georgia itself started the immediate predicament.

It is also true that for years, Russia has been trying to aid the South Ossetians in gaining a certain level of autonomy successfully and peacefully, I might add.

However, Saakashvili had other plans for the semi-autonomous South Ossetia.

Upon election, Saakashvili said, “Standing at David’s tomb, we must say Georgia will unite, Georgia will become strong and will restore its integrity.”

By referring to King David — the great unifier of Georgia — the message is clear: end that autonomy.

This was exemplified by the Georgian attack on the South Ossetian capitol of Tskhinvali, which resulted in an unconfirmed amount of deaths and injuries.

Anna Neistat of Human Rights Watch, however, cited a Tskhinvalli hospital report of 273 wounded and 44 dead.

Both sides accuse one another of committing genocide — Russia against the ethnic Georgians living in South Ossetia, Georgia against the Ossetians and ethnic Abkhaz.

The fact remains, however, that it was Georgian forces that attacked first.

Not that the Western media tells us anything of value or anything that doesn’t have to be questioned before any value can be acquired.

But the coverage of the Ossetian War seems especially egregious.

Condoleezza Rice’s comments, comparing the Russian “invasion” of Georgia to the 1968 Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia and bloody put-down of Alexander Dubcek’s “Prague Spring” were misguided, unintelligent and embarrassing and, at worst, hate-filled and fear-mongering.

In this case, what keeps the Bush Administration happy is the media keeping their great friend Mikheil Saakashvili looking like the good guy in all this.

As long as Saakashvili is their great democratic buddy, a negative report will never appear on Fox News.

 Posted by at 5:00 pm