Buffaloes staging their own version of March Madness

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

Who needs the NCAA tournament?

Members of the Colorado football team are in the process of staging their own basketball competition. The off-the-field event is the invention of Colorado coach Dan Hawkins as a way to foster team unity and keep members of the team out of trouble during the offseason.

The competition has taken place throughout the offseason, with the semifinals and finals taking place Wednesday night -- only a day before the "real" men's tournament begins.

The Buffaloes have some talented basketball players on the roster. Backup quarterback Matt Ballenger was the Gatorade Player of the Year in Idaho in high school.

But the winner of the tournament was directed by quarterback Cody Hawkins, wide receiver Jason Espinoza and running back Rodney Stewart, who is in the process of recovering from a broken leg.

The Boulder Daily Camera reported that Hawkins' team claimed the championship Wednesday night, cruising to victory on the 3-point shooting of Hawkins and Espinoza over a team led by Demetrius Sumler, Shaun Mohler, Jonathan Hawkins and Corey Nabors in the final.

Dan Hawkins has his team competing in academics, classroom attendance and improvement in the weight room in addition to baskeball.

He only hopes it carries over once the Buffaloes start spring practice on March 31.