The Denver Post - - SPORTS - By Nick Kos­mider Nick Kos­mider: 303-954-1516, nkos­mider@den­ver­post.com or @nick­kos­mider

san an­to­nio» Any doubt Joe Tump­kin had about whether he was mak­ing the right move leav­ing his de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor job at Cen­tral Michi­gan to be­come the safeties coach at Colorado nearly two years ago was wiped away by the bone-chill­ing cold of a Fe­bru­ary day in the Mo­tor City.

“I re­mem­ber when I got hired (by CU) the wind­chill was mi­nus23 when I got on the plane in Detroit,” said Tump­kin, who will serve as the in­terim de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor for Colorado in the Alamo Bowl against Ok­la­homa State on Thurs­day. “When I landed in Boul­der it was 48 de­grees. I en­joyed that. I also en­joyed that I had an of­fice with a win­dow. At Cen­tral Michi­gan, I didn’t have a win­dow. I was in a base­ment.”

The view of the Flatirons hasn’t been the only perk for Tump­kin since he left Cen­tral Michi­gan in early 2015, his job sta­tus there un­cer­tain af­ter head coach Dan Enos re­signed to be­come the of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor at Arkansas. There was also the op­por­tu­nity to have his hand in restor­ing a de­fense that had been more Swiss cheese than stout be­fore his ar­rival. Tump­kin’s hir­ing co­in­cided with that of de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Jim Leav­itt, who ear­lier this month left CU for the same job at Ore­gon.

“One of the the things that coach (Mike) MacIn­tyre said to me was: ‘You’re go­ing to have a tal­ented back end, and you’re also go­ing to have some young guys to work with,'” Tump­kin said. “And there was also the chal­lenge. I re­mem­ber grow­ing up in South Florida and go­ing to (CU’s) two Or­ange Bowl games (in 1989 and 1990), stand­ing on the side­line. It’s been a huge in­flu­ence for me.”

The role Tump­kin has played in help­ing CU creep closer to those glory years is part of what pre­pared him to take over a Buffs de­fense that was among the Pac12’s best this sea­son.Tump­kin, 45, set the tone when he ar­rived be­fore his spring prac­tice in 2015 by is­su­ing a chal­lenge to the best player in his po­si­tion group.

“He had me check my­self when he first got here,” said CU se­nior safety Tedric Thomp­son. “He asked me a sim­ple ques­tion: ‘What have you done since you’ve been here?’ I thought it was a crazy ques­tion be­cause no­body had ever asked me what I had done. I had to step back that I hadn’t re­ally done any­thing since I’d been here. He ba­si­cally let me know I al­ways had to be my own big­gest critic.”

Thomp­son re­sponded this sea­son by ty­ing a school record with seven in­ter­cep­tions and

san an­to­nio» The big boys from Texas on the Colorado of­fen­sive line were hope­ful they could show their team­mates the light this week.

Jeromy Ir­win, a na­tive of Cy­press, Texas, was anx­ious to stake his claim that Whataburger, not the In-N-Out the team dined on af­ter two road vic­to­ries this sea­son, is Amer­ica’s real king of burger chains. earn­ing sec­ond-team All-Amer­i­can hon­ors from CBSS­ports.com. The abil­ity for Tump­kin to blend mo­ti­va­tion and un­der­stand­ing of the game isn’t rel­e­gated to the se­condary, MacIn­tyre said.

“He’s very knowl­edgable of the front end and back end (of the de­fense) to­gether,” MacIn­tyre said. “Some peo­ple un­der­stand

If any­thing, the Buffs from Cal­i­for­nia, home of In-N-Out, have only dug their heels in fur­ther.

“I don’t think I’ve con­verted any­body yet,” Ir­win said. “We went to the Spurs game and had Whataburger, but it’s at a con­ven­tion cen­ter. I wouldn’t judge it com­pletely on that. But I don’t think it’s go­ing to turn any­body from Cal­i­for­nia onto it.”

De­fen­sive tackle Jor­dan Car­rell, the back end and some peo­ple un­der­stand the front. He un­der­stands both, which is what you need. He gets along with the play­ers and he also un­der­stands our scheme real well. The guys re­ally re­spond to him.” who hails from Ro­seville, Calif., out­side Sacramento, didn’t even have to try Whataburger to know he wasn’t chang­ing his mind.

“I haven’t eaten it,” Car­rell said. “I could just look at it and com­pare it to a Whop­per — even less than a Whop­per. It’s not an In-N-Out burger, that’s for dang sure.”

Colorado in­terim de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Joe Tump­kin af­ter morn­ing prac­tice on Dec. 27 at the Univer­sity of the In­car­nate Word in San An­to­nio. Cliff Gras­mick, Daily Cam­era

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