CU at the Game Mailbag
Have a question about CU football? How about a comment or concern? Here’s your opportunity to be heard. Once or twice a week I will be updating the CU at the Game mailbag with your questions, and my best efforts at an answer. If you have a question or comment, just drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
From Lewis … Andre Roberson’s selection in the first round continues an amazing run for the CU basketball program – three 20-win seasons; back-to-back trips to March Madness; a likely ranking this fall – while the football program is about as bad as it has ever been. Will CU – should CU – turn its attention to basketball, and try to be more like Kansas or Duke?
Not going to happen. While CU’s run in basketball (women’s team included) has been great, for much of the Buff Nation, it is just a welcome distraction. It’s nice to wear the CU colors when the basketball team is competitive, but this is not a long term solution. Recall that it took threats/promises in two men’s basketball contracts to get the Coors Events Center upgraded to a competitive standard. Do you see CU – the new basketball “power” – building a larger arena any time soon to accommodate the overflow of Buff fans? … Me neither. Colorado won’t become a Duke, Indiana, or Kentucky with a few great seasons (and don’t think for a minute that fans at those schools wouldn’t love to be great in football, too)
Yes, it would be great to be a national power in both sports (Ohio State and Florida come to mind), but football is, has been, and will continue to be, the driving force of Colorado athletics.
And that will be true even if, come the end of September, we are already counting down the days to start of the basketball season …
Your thoughts? Send me an email at email@example.com, and let us know your opinion (and/or vote in today’s poll).
From Paul … The concept of permanent cross-division rivalries has been integrated into at least 3 conferences (ACC, SEC, Big Ten). How successful do you think this would be in the Pac-12?
Not all that well, I’m afraid. The league already has a partial allowance for permanent cross-division rivalries, as USC/UCLA and Cal/Stanford, while not in the same division, play each other every year. This leads to schools like Colorado switching out Cal and Stanford in home-and-home series, while rotating amongst the Oregon and Washington schools.
If the league were to adopt permanent rivalries, will go with a few assumptions. First, that the California schools would continue on as is, continuing to play each other every year. Second, that the league would pair up the state schools for their other rivalry scheduling (i.e., the Arizona schools would pair up, as would the Washington and Oregon schools). This would leave Colorado and Utah as partners in the new scheduling.
So, what would it look like for CU? Not all that different from what we have now. For its nine conference games, Colorado would first have its five southern division games, then a game against either Cal or Stanford, with its remaining three games against the Oregon and Washington schools. Let’s assume the league pairs up the Arizona schools with the Oregon schools. That would make the “permanent rivals” for CU and Utah the Washington schools. CU would play each of the Washington schools each year, while alternating Oregon schools each season.
The net result for CU? Instead of playing Oregon and Oregon State six out of every eight seasons (as it is under the current setup), the Buffs would play each of the Oregon schools twice every four years. Instead of playing each of the Washington schools six out of every eight seasons (as it is under the current setup), the Buffs would play these “rivals” every year.
Not a great deal of change … and too much math!
From Paul … What loss (or losses) against the Cornhuskers felt like the biggest wasted opportunity in your opinion?
They all hurt, so I’ll provide a list of some of the most devastating losses in the past 30 years, and let you decide which was the biggest wasted opportunity for the Buffs …
- 1985 – No. 5 Nebraska 17, Colorado 7 – Buffs’ first chance in almost 20 years to take down the Cornhuskers.
- 1988 – No. 7 Nebraska 7, No. 19 Colorado 0 – J.J. Flannigan’s fumble without being touched on his way to a score dooms Buffs in last shutout for the next 20 years.
- 1992 – No. 8 Nebraska 52, No. 8 Colorado 7 – Buffs’ run of games without a loss to Cornhuskers comes to a close in Halloween massacre.
- 1993 – No. 6 Nebraska 21, No. 20 Colorado 17 – Bill McCartney’s words sum it up: “I can’t remember being this disappointed.
- 1994 – No. 3 Nebraska 24, No. 2 Colorado 7 – (My choice) – Perhaps the most talented team in CU history falls out of national championship race.
- 1996 – No. 4 Nebraska 17, No. 5 Colorado 12 – The first of five straight games (all losses) decided by five or fewer points.
- 1997 – No. 2 Nebraska 27, Colorado 24 – Frantic finish falls short as CU posts first losing season in 13 years.
- 1999 – No. 3 Nebraska 33, Colorado 30 (OT) – Buffs score three touchdowns in six minutes to tie the score, but Jeremy Aldrich misses at the end of regulation. Buffs then fall in overtime.
- 2000 – No. 9 Nebraska 34, Colorado 32 – 3-7 Buffs score on two-point conversion to take late lead, but squib kick on ensuing kickoff leads to last second field goal for the Cornhuskers.
What a list. Some very memorable games, some very memorable moments of frustration.
With the firing of Mike Bohn, many questions have been raised. Anyone have the answers? …
Peter has his own question for the Buff Nation … There’s been a variety of reactions to Bohn’s firing, both pro and con, and there are valid points on both sides. But the one thing that I do not understand is the question of the timing. If you’re going to fire him, this seems like the perfect time to do so. The athletes are not in season or practicing, there are no Athletic Department events for a few weeks, students are off campus, and the coaching staff is on the road.
Maybe it’s a question of whether you let him hire a football coach if you’re going to fire him. Well, I assume that the powers that be hoped they wouldn’t have to fire him, that Bohn would make progress on the donor front, but if you assume that this was in the works for awhile, it’s nearly impossible to hire an AD AND a coach at the same time. It’s better to monitor the process of hiring a coach and then move on after.
So for those that have questioned whether this is the right time to do so, my question is, “When would be a better time?”
Joe W. makes the case for hiring Bill McCartney as Athletic Director … It was time for Bohn to go. Yes the timing was suspect, but that will all be forgotten if the correct choice for a new AD is made. Bring back Mac 1. He has the management skills, common sense and fire to do things right. He a great ambassador for the athletic department and a credible motivator to get the funding issue under control. CU needs to make him a deal he can’t refuse!
Yes, it would take a little persuasion to get Mac 1 on board. Nevertheless, he is a true Buff and it might be an opportune time to convince him to come back (in a Tom Osborne-esk fashion).
Let’s stop searching for what we already know would be a terrific choice. Colorado has made a long string of bad decisions, and is now in a pivotal and vulnerable situation both internally and externally. Fundraising efforts will not turn on automatically. There is plenty of skepticism.
Mac 1 is a known entity, and we can’t keep taking chances on filling these key positions the way we have over the past. The candidate list that has been slowly coming out is fraught with risk and uncertainty.
Mac 1 is legendary, and would work well with our players, coaches and donors. On the football front, Mac 1 and Mac 2 would be an extremely formidable team working in concert together.
Dennis replies … If they hire McCartney, I want a refund on my 2013 football tickets. The garbage he spouted after the firing of Embree showed that he has lost it.
Rob weighs in … Why is everybody so shocked? CU fans have been begging for this, myself included for several years. I cannot believe he survived 2010! 99 percent of the Buff Nation wanted his head on a platter. I don’t think people really understand what Hawkins and Embree were up against. It will take more than a new coaching staff and AD to fix this mess, there’s only two people left to blame. I sure hope they have a plan because they might be next! Bring back the Big Mac and the Heart Attack!
TriBuffs take … Why let him hire a 3rd head coach and then fire him? Nothing against Mac II but at what point do you look at the AD job and the head football coach and say these have to be two of the worst positions amongst “BCS” schools.
You have a fan/alumni base with expectations of a top 10 program. An operating budget that spends .30 cents to every dollar USC & Oregon spend. Totally deficient facilities. A donor base that is so disenchanted, they basically have stuck their hands in their pockets and said I’ll give you $ when you show me progress. Finally you have an administration that publically says they wish to be competitive but their actions say, we get our TV $ whether we finish first or last so we’ll promise the fans facility upgrades but we’re going to slow roll the plans and blame it on lack of donor support and if we get lucky and Mac II/Boyle can compete with limited budgets that’s a bonus but either way we pocket a boat load of cash.
Honestly at this point if I was an AD I’d rather take a job at a Big Sky school. I’ll schedule CU every year let them pay me 500k to come to Boulder and kick their ass. Go back home and be a hero.
Tatonka Thunder responds … This decision simply comes down to $. The fundraising just isn’t materializing, whether that’s entirely Bohn’s fault or not remains to be seen. The decision makers either have someone in mind that they think will get the job done, or believe there are capable, available candidates that can.
Winning will take care of a lot of this. Get the football program back on track, and the $ will start to flow in. Hopefully, if this happens, the new AD and the University will be wise in how to capitalize on the success to transform it into $. Really, I don’t believe Mike Bohn was given the necessary control, resources or proper support from the University to do his job well in the manner that was required.
When you look at the major gaffe’s – (Hawkins Extension, Embree hiring)Bohn was not entirely responsible, the decisions were not left to his jurisdiction solely. I applaud his role in getting us to the PAc-12 and for having the stones to fire Embree, which due to budget and booster pressures, was a ridiculous hire to have to make in the first place.
However, its’ all about the $. Let’s hope the new AD has the ability and perhaps even more importantly, the support and resources of the University behind him.
Brad’s input … Certainly an argument can be made that Bohn needed to go, but NOW? Once again CU looks disorganized and opens up the issue of who is making the decisions up there. The lack of any real explanation and of course the lack of any rational statement by Benson leaves yet another impression of a University stumbling along reacting rather than making a clear path. Really, who has faith in Benson to make this hire correctly? And what top candidate will take the job, knowing that he/she will not pick the most important coach and that the job essentially relies on keeping Tad happy and praying that McIntyre can put out the tire fire at Folsom. Add to that CU’s tendency to underpay and I have my doubts that the best prospects will be rushing to our door.
From Paul … What is the biggest upset in college football history?
I’m sure I’m going to get schooled on this one. There have been many great games, and many great upsets.
As to the “biggest”? I’ll offer two choices. Oddly enough, both are from 2007.
First, the upset by Appalachian State over Michigan, 34-32, in the Big House on September 1, 2007. No team from the FCS had defeated a ranked team from FBS since 1989, and Michigan came into the game ranked No. 5 in the nation. Appalachian State, though an FCS power, hadn’t beaten a FBS team since 2000, and that was Wake Forest (in fact, all six of the Mountaineers previous victories over Division 1-A teams had come over Wake Forest).
Second choice, also from 2007, but from eight months earlier. On January 1, 2007, Boise State upset Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl, 43-42, in overtime. True, Boise State came into the game undefeated and ranked ninth in the nation, but the Broncos were still not given much of a chance against the Sooners and All-American running back Adrian Peterson. I’d rank this upset as “big” because of what it meant to the BCS and the exclusion of the “little guys”. While the super conferences tried – and continue to try – to keep the best teams from the “minor” conferences out of the national championship picture, Boise State’s upset victory helped break some barriers … and turn a few heads (and it didn’t hurt that it was a great game to watch!).
Honorable mention … Citadel 10, Arkansas 3 (September 5, 1992). The upset so distressed Razorback athletic director Frank Broyles that he fired head coach Jack Crowe – who had just received a contract extension during the off-season.
Paul choices … My first choice is Michigan 24, #1 Ohio State 12 in 1969. It was the game that started The Ten Year War (the period I consider the peak of the Michigan–Ohio State football rivalry). Considering the facts that Ohio State annihilated Michigan 50–14 in 1968, and Ohio State’s closest victory in 1969 was 41–14, it has to be right up there.
My second choice is Michigan State 16, #1 Ohio State 13 in 1974 (I’m sensing a theme here). Levi Jackson ran 88 yards for the winning touchdown with 3:16 left. The Buckeyes then drove to the Spartans’ 1-yard line, but failed to get a play off in time due to the Spartan defenders getting off of Harold Henson, the Buckeye player who ran the ball to the 1-yard line, rather slowly. It wouldn’t matter, as the Buckeyes weren’t completely set and would’ve been flagged for an illegal motion penalty anyway. The ending was so chaotic it took 45 minutes for then-Big Ten Commissioner Wayne Duke to announce: “Ladies and gentlemen, Michigan State has been declared the winner by the score of 16-13.”
Your choices? Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I’ll post your picks …
Paul writes … I have been recently looking up the Falcons and found that their head coach Troy Calhoun thinks that the Buffs and Falcons should revive the once-fierce football rivalry that started in 1958 and ended in 1974. Mike Bohn also tried to set up a deal for a home-and-home, but it fell through. Calhoun has also pitched the idea of a Governor’s Cup trophy between Air Force, CU, and CSU. What are your thoughts?
I like the idea of playing Air Force. Yes, it would be a difficult game to prepare for in terms of the Falcons’ offensive style, but that would be overcome by the local interest which could be generated. I also wouldn’t mind playing Wyoming on a regular basis. That being said, with only three non-conference games each season, and the necessity of having six home games per year, it would be difficult to play more than one of these teams in a given season, making a true Governor’s Cup hard to pull off (perhaps in basketball?). CU needs to do all it can to get the state behind it (witness the excruciatingly long “silent” phase of fund-raising going on right now), and playing Air Force would only help generate local interest in the Buffs … which would generate more local fans and ticket sales … which would generate more interest from local stars … which would generate more instate recruits … which would help generate more local interest in the Buffs …
Paul writes … Have there been any rivalries that you thought were getting too much attention or not enough?
One rivalry which I felt never got enough attention was the Kansas-Missouri Border War. This rivalry transcends football, dating back to the Civil War, The historical roots of the rivalry begin with the open violence involving anti-slavery and pro-slavery elements that took place in the Kansas Territory and the western frontier towns of Missouri throughout the 1850′s, though the conflict predates the founding of the University of Kansas. These incidents were attempts by some Missourians (then a slave state) to influence whether Kansas would enter the Union as a free or slave state. The first Homecoming was in Missouri in the early part of the 20th century, with a call to alumni to “come home” to cheer on the home team against the hated Jayhawks. Even the team’s mascots, the Jayhawks and Tigers, have Civil War connotations. Now, with Missouri off to the SEC, the rivalry has been discontinued.
As for rivalries which get too much attention, I would nominate Michigan/Notre Dame. Too of the most storied programs of all-time (unlike Kansas and Missouri), and yes, these teams do not like each other, but the hype for these games is greater than the rivalry. Michigan fans would much rather beat Ohio State once than Notre Dame five times, and hate Michigan State Spartans more than they do the Irish. As for Notre Dame, the Irish have enough rivalries on their plate, including games against USC and Stanford, to fill their plate every season.
Paul’s choices … I choose Michigan-Ohio State because of how lopsided it’s been recently, and Iowa-Nebraska as overrated due to the Cornhuskers performing their best pot calling the kettle black impression. And they say we forced them to be our rivals? Please. Also, “Heroes Game”? Really? Come on. As for underrated, I choose Iowa-Wisconsin because of the fact that the rivalry is tied 42–42–2, and Iowa State-Kansas State simply due to the fact that even though Iowa State is likely to remain the Big 12′s doormat, they always play Kansas State tough, like the Buffs always did against Nebraska after Bill McCartney became our head coach. The Cyclones also lead the series 49–43–4.
Andy writes … Okay, I’m stealing this one from the Daily Camera article … Which of the five Pac-12 first round draft picks will be the best pro?
There are five choices:
- Dion Jordan, DE, Oregon: 3rd overall to the Dolphins
- Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah: 14th overall to the Panthers
- Kyle Long, OG, Oregon: 20th overall to the Bears
- Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington: 22nd overall to the Falcons
- Datone Jones, DE, UCLA: 26th overall to the Packers
In his blog, Brian Howell of the Camera goes with Star Lotulelei. The temptation is to go with Dion Jordan (after all, he was the third overall pick, and the Dolphins moved up in the draft to get him. I’m leaning towards Datone Jones, though. He was a very good college player, and he will find a good fit with the Green Bay defense. After all, the Packers took CU linebacker Brad Jones in the seventh round four years ago, and turned him into a consistent contributor. You’ve got to figure they can do even better with a first round pick.
Paul asks … Conference realignment has ended many rivalries in college football throughout the years. Which ones do you miss the most?
For many Buff fans, the easy answer is Colorado vs. Nebraska. The problem with that rivalry is that the Cornhuskers refused to recognize it. Even though Colorado was the successor to Oklahoma for Nebraska’s Thanksgiving weekend regular season finale, Cornhusker fans could never bring themselves to acknowledge that CU was on their level (and with a series record of 49-18-2, they had history on their side). When the resumption of the series was announced, though, Nebraska fans betrayed their feelings. The trash talk started immediately. If CU is not their rival … why would they care??
Other series I miss … Texas v. Texas A&M. Even though it has only been gone a year, these two teams need to figure out a way to get back onto the playing field … Oklahoma v. Nebraska. I don’t like either team, but I did like the fact that one of them had to lose the game … West Virginia v. Pitt. The “Backyard Brawl” was a bitterly fought battle every year.
Al responds … I know NU was a rivalry in Mac-1′s mind… but not so in the eyes of NU fans and Dr. Tom as they always looked down their noses at the Buffs and CU. I personally hate NU and don’t want anything to do with them, now or never. They don’t play on a level playing field, ie: I have a friend who played for the 49ers who knew Tom Rathman really well. According to my friend, NU players would leave their car windows cracked and find envelopes waiting for them after practice… not containing love notes either. Then, remember how Dr. Tom kept players out of jail for domestic violations and crimes, yet didn’t have any problem putting them on the playing field come game-time? It just speaks to the sleazy way NU and Dr. Tom ran their program. NU is a SLEAZY university that runs the town of Lincoln, and the state like a mafia, accordingly to the way they wanted.
Give me a real healthy Pac-12 rivalry at some point and until then, as I have said, let’s just consider everyone in the Pac-12 our rival …. and become a thorn in every Pac-12 opponent’s side and gain their respect in doing so.
Sam writes … In coach Mac’s immediate interview after the spring game he was asked what the next step was, he replied “recruiting” and that they would “hit the road immediately.” Please tell me they have made progress in this area, as of right now we are the only Pac 12 school without a commit. It’s just been rough Stuart, trying to be patient but have been doing so for too long. BTW I attended CSU’s spring game and ran the down marker for Wyoming’s. The Rams do not look good and I do believe the Buffs have more talent than Wyoming, though the Pokes seem to be far more fluid on offense.
Sam, thanks for the info on CSU’s spring game – let’s hope your assessment makes for a more pleasant Labor Day weekend. As for recruiting, it’s going to be hard on Buff fans this summer and fall, but - at least for right now - not having a large number of recruits is a good thing. Coach MacIntyre is widely regarded nationally as a solid hire by Colorado, but he was not a “splash” hire. Last year, Washington State got the mad scientist in Mike Leach, Arizona got vagabond Rich Rodriguez, while Arizona State and UCLA brought in known names with Todd Graham and Jim Mora, Jr., respectively. Fans expected – and largely received – a bump in recruiting activity before those new coaches ever coached a game for their new teams.
That’s not going to happen with Colorado. Mike MacIntyre may be respected, but he is not going to pull in four- and five-star recruits based solely upon his name. He is going to have to show he can win at this level of competition before high profile recruits are going to give CU a second look. As a result, in a sense, it is not only not a bad thing that CU is without a verbal commit, it’s a good thing. If Coach Mac and Co. can produce wins on the field, recruits will take notice. If the Buffs continue to post two or three win seasons, then the MacIntyre experiment will last three years or so, and the Buff fans will have to start over in their wait for a winning team.
So, as hard as it is to take right now, what the Buff Nation needs is … patience.
Rob S. writes … Rodney Stewart: Any update on his injury? Is he still planning on trying to play in the NFL?
Rodney “Speedy” Stewart, second on the all-time rushing list at Colorado, with 3,598 yards (2008-11), was signed by Cincinnati last spring, but suffered a knee injury before getting anywhere close to playing for the Bengals. He was waived last June by the Bengals, receiving an injury settlement.
I don’t have anything since then … Anyone have a more recent update? Send me a note at email@example.com.
Paul writes … Looking back, what are your thoughts now about the Buffs’ move to the Pac-12?
Which can be put together with a question put forth by Rob T. … The ‘what if CU was an independent’ question really got me thinking this week. What I was thinking about was 1996. What if CU had taken the PAC 10 up on their offer to leave the Big XXII and join the PAC while the Buffs were still in decent shape? There would not have been a 62-36, there would not have been a Big XXII Championship against Texas, there would not have been that fantastic finish against #3/4 OU in 07. But……There might have been a Rose Bowl, Colorado might be in the middle of the PAC and not the bottom. Considering the talent the Buffs had compared to now, do you think it would have had a happier history?
In answer to the first question - I am overjoyed that the Buffs moved to the Pac-12. The schools, the academics, the traditions, the alumni, the money, the travel destinations … pretty much everything having to do with the Pac-12 is better for the University of Colorado than the Big 7/8/12. In the 30 years or so I was a fan of CU as a member of the Big Eight/12, I was never much tempted to travel to Ames, Iowa, or to Manhattan, Kansas, or to Stillwater, Oklahoma (I did make it to Lincoln several times, and enjoyed forays into Austin and College Station). Conversely, I am excited about road trips to pretty much every venue in the Pac-12. I have already been to CU games in Tempe, Seattle, Pullman and Eugene, and will add Corvallis and Salt Lake City to the list this fall. The Pac-12 is the right fit for CU, it will just take time for CU to regain its status as a first tier football school.
Which gives rise to my answer to Rob’s question. It is true that a move to the Pac-12 back in the mid-90′s would have meant there would have been no 62-26, no Big 12 title game win over Texas, or any of the other memorable games of the 15 years of the Big 12. But …. I would have gladly traded those in for what could have been the future of the program had the move been made in 1995. Colorado was the No. 3 team in the country entering the 1995 season, was coming off of an 11-1 season, and had just produced the team’s first-ever Heisman trophy winner.
Recall that CU went 10-2 in 1995 and in 1996. The Buffs were one of the best teams in the country, but just happened to be up against the best Nebraska teams of Tom Osborne’s 30-year tenure. The Buffs might well have played Nebraska in those years … but in major bowl games, instead of during the regular season. Recall that in 1995, four teams from the Big 12 North Division finished in the top ten in the nation, while the highest ranked team from the Pac-10 that year was USC, at No. 12. Think about that … CU would have been the Rose Bowl favorite in Year One of its participation in the new league.
Had CU had national success in the “early years” of the Pac-12, national rankings would have been easier to come by, and Rick Neuheisel would have had an even easier time recruiting the west coast (and might have stayed on, instead of bolting for – wait for it – a Pac-10 team). Sustained success would have been a much more likely result, which would have brought in more money, which would have meant better facilities, which would have meant better recruits … you know the drill.
I understand that CU, which played a major role in brokering the deal to form the Big 12, didn’t want to back out of its commitment to the new league. CU’s integrity in holding to its deal is admirable. But, in hindsight, it sure would have been a great deal more enjoyable to enter the Pac-12 team as a top ten team than a bottom ten team.
Dare to dream …
Paul’s take … I think we should’ve moved to the Pac-12 in 1995 instead of 2011, seeing as how we were better back then. I hate the fact that we moved into a tougher conference during this current down period. I remember saying about the move “Instead of being turned into Thanksgiving seconds for Nebraska, now we can get annihilated by Oregon and USC.” (The Thanksgiving part was before I learned how important the rivalry with Nebraska was.)
Okay, what is your take? Drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, and let us know your thoughts on CU and the Pac-12 …
Steve B. writes … Which Buffs had the best spring?
On offense, I would go with two wide receivers, junior D.D. Goodson and freshman Jeff Thomas. Goodson, the converted running back, who spent time as an emergency defensive back in 2011, has made a case for being the starting job as a slot receiver. Goodson had 13 catches for 169 yards and three touchdowns this spring. Gray-shirt freshman Jeff Thomas, meanwhile, was out for the first half of spring practices, but made the most of the second half. In the third scrimmage, Thomas had three catches for 52 yards and a touchdown, following that up with – wait for it – three catches for 52 yards and a touchdown in the Spring game.
On defense, it would be hard to argue against gray-shirt freshman linebacker Addison Gillam. A San Jose State commit from the Class of 2012, Gillam sat out last fall, waiting to enroll with the Spartans in January. Instead, he followed his head coach and position coach to Boulder, and had a great spring. Though Gillam, listed as the starter in the “pencil” depth chart which came out during spring break, may lose the starting job to junior Brady Daigh (who was slowed by injuries this spring), Gillam will certainly be on the field this fall.
Rob T. writes … Excuse me! Was there any other Buff that had a better spring than Paul Richardson? Or did the fella tossing him all those 70 plus yard TD’s looked so good that poor Nick Hirschman had to cut and run and blow his opportunity to ever be a BCS QB?
Paul puts forth an interesting hypothetical … What do you think would have happened if the Buffs had been independent like Notre Dame? What rivalries could have developed?
That’s a tough question. I guess it first depends on when it occurred. If we are talking back in the late 1940′s, when CU was courted to join the Big Six to form the Big Seven, it would have been tough go for Colorado as an independent. If the University of Colorado had gone independent back then – and invested in the team and facilities – CU could have been like Penn State or Boston College, and tried forged a national (or at least regional) following out on its own. The problem for the Buffs would have been in developing true rivalries, as other independents back then had natural rivals who were also independent (Penn State had Pitt and West Virginia; Miami had Florida State; and the service academies had each other). There just weren’t many independent rivals in our region (e.g., Houston, New Mexico State and Air Force – not exactly national draws).
If you are talking about the recent past, as in three years ago when there was a chance CU could have been left without a seat at the table when conference realignments were going on, I think it would have been a tough sell for the Buffs to make it out on their own. As much as we might like to think to the contrary, CU is not a national brand, and would not have attracted a large television contract as an independent. Look no further than BYU, which wound up independent … and is regretting the move.
Rob T. writes … The ‘what if CU was an independent’ question really got me thinking this week. What I was thinking about was 1996. What if CU had taken the PAC 10 up on their offer to leave the Big XXII and join the PAC while the Buffs were still in decent shape? There would not have been a 62-36, there would not have been a Big XXII Championship against Texas, there would not have been that fantastic finish against #3/4 OU in 07. But……There might have been a Rose Bowl, Colorado might be in the middle of the PAC and not the bottom. Considering the talent the Buffs had compared to now, do you think it would have had a happier history?
Paul writes … I brought back painful memories with my first question. I now ask: what is the greatest win in Buffaloes’ history?
Any number of great options here … The national championship win over Notre Dame certainly has to rank as a “greatest” win, simply because it gave Colorado its
only first national championship. Other options: the “Miracle in Michigan” in 1994; the 62-36 over No. 2 (No. 1 BCS) Nebraska Cornhuskers in 2001; either win over Nebraska in 1989 (Darian Hagan’s pitch to J.J. Flannigan) or 1990 (Eric Bieniemy’s four fourth quarter touchdowns), both memorable victories giving CU the Big Eight championship and a trip to the Orange Bowl.
I may be showing my age here, but for me, the greatest win in Buffaloes history was the 20-10 victory over No. 3 Nebraska in 1986. Colorado hadn’t beaten Nebraska since 1967, and not at home since 1960. What’s more, most of the games were not even close, with games in the early ’80′s finishing with scores like 45-7, 49-0, and 69-19. Bill McCartney had come to Boulder in 1982 from Michigan, and, finding no great rival for the program, decided to take on the most-hated opponent, Nebraska. CU came into the 1986 game with a 2-4 record, while Nebraska was No. 3 and undefeated. The win was unexpected, but the glorious win over the Bugeaters from Lincoln not only gave release to the long-suffering Buff Nation, but it also set in motion a run to the national championship four years later.
Here’s a compilation of CU/Nebraska highlights to get you going (courtesy of CU at the Gamer Paul):
Skyler has his favorite … The greatest win that I ever experienced in person with the Buffs was probably the 2007 27-24 defeat of #3 OU. I was in the band, and I think the crowd noise in the stadium during the 4th quarter played a pretty big part in the comeback. It was just deafening in there, it was so awesome. I love it when Folsom gets like that. Colorado 27, Oklahoma 24
Matt writes … Has to be the national championship win over ND. But since that really can’t be disputed, I wanted to mention my 2nd best win, the big 12 championship win over Texas. CU 10, Notre Dame 9 … Colorado 39, Texas 37
Justin’s take … 62-36 was my happiest day as a Buff fan, period. Colorado 62, Nebraska 36
Paul’s opinion … I think the win over Nebraska in 1989 is the greatest victory because it helped kick-start the rivalry with the Cornhuskers (not that the epic upset in 1986 didn’t either). Colorado 27, Nebraska 21 … Colorado 20, Nebraska 10
Dennis D. writes … The best win has to be the national championship against Notre Dame. A national title is a national title. However, the happiest moment has to be November 29, 2002. Clinched the Big 12 North title outright (I was at the game, which was awweesssooommeeee) and ended Nebraska’s streak of nine-win seasons. Colorado 28, Nebraska 13
Adam K. has some thoughts … This is my kind of test: NO WRONG ANSWER! I’ve been a Buff fan since I arrived on campus in the Fall of ’85. A lot of great wins have occurred since I graduated in ’89 – including the epic win over Nebraska in ’89 (Hagan’s pitch to JJ), the National Championship over ND, the Miracle at Michigan, the obliteration of Nebraska in ’01 and the Big XII Title win over Texas – but my two selections as “greatest” are culled from games that I was fortunate enough to watch from the Student Section at Folsom.
Of course, 20-10 over Nebraska on 10/25/86 was the signature win for Coach Mac’s crew in my CU years. We had not defeated the Huskers at home since the Eisenhower Administration. I lived in Farrand Hall and from Farrand Field we could see the “20-10” that was left burning on the Folsom scoreboard for the week after the game. As someone who was living on campus at the time, defeating Nebraska – coming as it did on the heels of what had been the program’s first winning season in God knows how long – returned a bit of swagger to CU. It was also the only time in my four years at CU that I ran out on the field after the game. We were all out there jumping around – hugging and high-fiving every player wearing a Colorado jersey, whether he starred in the game or never got off of the bench. It was a feeling of euphoria.
My friends and I (all underage college sophomores and freshmen) were partying at Round The Corner all night after the game. As the evening wore on, we turned our attention to Game Six of the World Series between the Red Sox and the Mets. A day that began with Soupy Campbell hauling ass around end ended with Mookie Wilson’s dribbler going through Bill Buckner’s legs. An amazing sports day.
The other game that I hold near and dear in my heart is one that in the larger scheme of things meant not very much at all, I suppose. Fall of ’85 – my freshman year – the Buffs open by defeating CSU at home. Next up for us was Oregon with star QB Chris Miller. In 1984, Ed Reinhardt had been horribly injured during the Oregon game and but for the concerted efforts of the Oregon medical staff he might not have lived. Not only did he live but he and his family rode around Folsom on the back of a convertible at halftime, smiling and waving to the crowd. I do not think there was a dry eye in the place. I know that neither of mine were.
Game came down to the final play from scrimmage. Oregon was at our 2 or 3 yard line (I think) and it was either 4th-and-goal or there was only time for one final play or some such thing. They were moving towards the open end of the stadium. We are all screaming ourselves hoarse in the Student Section while shaking our keys – knowing that Miller is about to put a dagger right thru our hearts. And then off of the corner comes Mickey Pruitt. He flies around the end as fast as he can in pursuit of Miller as Miller is rolling away from him. There appears little likelihood that Pruitt will reach Miller before Miller finds someone to throw to. Except he does. Pruitt reaches out and grabs Miller and then drags him to the turf. Drive over. Game over. Shoulder to Shoulder!
Twenty eight-plus years later I still smile at the mere mention of Mickey Pruitt’s name. In my mind’s eye he is forever motoring around the edge as fast as he can in pursuit of the quarterback. And he never fails to make the tackle. Colorado 21, Oregon 17
Your thoughts? Send me an email at email@example.com, and let us know your choice for the greatest win in Buffaloes’ history.
Steve B. writes … So, with the Spring game in the books, how many wins do you see for the Buffs this fall?
I’m going with three to four wins this fall. As is usually the case, the Colorado State game is the key. Win that game, and the Central Arkansas game looks far less daunting. Then a few other games – Fresno State, Arizona, Cal, Utah amongst them – offer some possibilities.
Right now, it’s hard to see CU as being anything but an underdog in every road game – Oregon State, Arizona State, UCLA, Washington and Utah – with ASU and Utah being the best hopes for a breakthrough on the road. USC and Oregon at home are also likely losses, so there aren’t any gimmes out there for the taking.
A loss to CSU, though, and it could be a long year …
Andrew H. writes … I could see the Buffs winning anywhere from 2 to 6. I’ll go out on a bit of a limb and say 6 (mostly because I do not have any money riding on it), with an upset win, at home, against USC. What I think I am seeing this Spring is a confirmation that Embree was not all that bad at assembling talent, but he dug his own grave by, as a first year head coach, hiring two coordinators who had only 1 year of experience between them. I think MacIntyre is a good coach, who has kept together most of his veteran coaching staff , and he has inherited players that are not as bad as many people think.
Paul writes … Arizona and Utah are now considered to be our rivals in the Pac-12, which teams do you think could become the next to start a rivalry with the Buffs?
First, we’d have to agree that Arizona and Utah are our rivals. Utah got forced upon us when CU joined the Pac-12 as a tandem, but many in the Buff Nation still look down upon the Utes as being little brothers – just like Colorado State. And while Arizona, at least in basketball, has become a focal point for the ire of the Buff faithful, that might be enough to create a rivalry. Unless CU has become a basketball school (not yet!), the Wildcats are going to have to earn the wrath of the CU fans on the gridiron (2-13 all-time against the Buffs) before they will be deemed worthy of being called a rival.
As for me, I still holding out for Washington, Oregon and USC as CU’s main rivals. Washington and Colorado already have a good history (with CU winning huge games in 1989 and 1990; the Huskies taking down the Buffs twice right after luring away Rick Neuheisel); Nike U is a school which is easy to hate; and USC represents the pinnacle – beating the Trojans will have the same cache as beating Nebraska used to have.
Kev D. writes … I would say it’s going to take a while to figure out a rival for the Buffs. CU does have some history with Washington and Oregon. With the new offense that coach Mac 2 is running I would like to see it be Oregon, but when you don’t play a team every single year it makes it tough to call it a rival.
Since I’m a betting man (living in Las Vegas) I would have to say that Arizona will become the rival of the Buffs. My Daughter goes to U of A right now so in my house it has already started. But with that being said, she still wears the CU shirt with the fight song on it that she received during her school visit there 3 years ago.
BuffaloBoy writes … Paul, I know a majority feel Kneebraska was a worthy rivalry. Pooh! They were the only University the Korncobs could find in that c-appy state to attend (does that say something about the state?), besides most of those kobbers don’t know there are Kolleges outside Kneebraska, and 75% of them wouldn’t pass entrance requirements and criteria at C.U. anyway. If you are looking for a worthy rivalry look to the PAC-12. We’ll have to wait until we beat a few teams to even come close to developing a good solid rivalry. How about we make it everyone in the PAC-12 for now? (Sorry for being so negative about the kobbers. I, for one, am happy we’re out of the Big-12 and can travel to some coool venues to play some classy universities, rather than visit some podunk town in NE, IA, KS, MO and OK. Austin gets a pass on this one… way cooool town.)
Paul writes … I just want to know what loss by the Buffs you think is the most devastating.
Wow. So many choices (unfortunately). There were losses which were devastating to fans, like the five year streak between 1996 and 2000 when the Buffs lost five times to Nebraska by a combined 15 points, which each year bringing a new and agonizing way to lose the game. The loss to Notre Dame in the 1990 Orange Bowl was also very difficult to take.
But in terms of devastating to the program – and for me personally – I would have to say the Montana State game in 2006. Prior to that game, CU had never played a Division 1-AA school – and mocked schools like Kansas State, which did so on a regular basis. The first game of the Dan Hawkins era was not only a devastating 19-10 home loss to a Big Sky Conference team, but it foreshadowed five years of ugliness which were to follow.
Plus, for me, living in Bozeman, Montana, home of the Montana State University Bobcats, the loss was even more excruciating. When your license plate is “Ralphie”, and everyone you know knows you are a CU season ticket holder, losing to the Bobcats was an irreparable blow. Even if CU scheduled MSU every year for the next ten years, and won every game by 30 points, I would still be hearing about 2006.
Skyler’s pick … The worst defeat for me was probably the 2009 loss to CSU at Folsom. It’s the first time they beat us at Folsom in long time, since the 80′s I think? The lamb fans stormed the field and it was just the first chapter in a long and painful season that should have ended with Hawkins’ firing.
Jeremy’s choices … Most devastating loss – I’m going with the ’94 loss to Nebraska. Yes, Nebraska was insanely good, but so were the Buffs and that was a pure mental breakdown. I personally think the the ’94 Buffs were the best team CU has ever put on the field and that year we were on a direct collision course with the National Championship. Plus being a Junior at CU, that year it was all that more personal. Then, when Coach Mac quit at the end of the year, I knew we were pretty much done for a long time.
* runner up – ’02 Fiesta Bowl loss (blowout) to Oregon. After all that talk about deserving to play in the national championship game and then getting crushed by OU, that was embarrassing.
Cholo’s response to Jeremy … No, it was not a “mental breakdown”. It was Eliot Uzelac STOOPIDLY beating his head against a brickwall and refusing to put any trust at all in Kordell and Neuheisel. NU had 9 guys “in the box” all day (and recall our WRs were future pros Michael Westbrook and Rae Carruth, backed up by P. Savoy and James Kidd; with future pro Christian Fauria at TE) yet absolutely Uzelac refused to pass, preferring to hand off to Salaam all game long, without adjustment or even any attempt at deception. Charlie McBride said it was terrifying to contemplate, but the easiest game he coached. He did not have to make a single adjustment all day! Can you imagine just a couple of play-action passes that day, with Carruth or Westbrook blowing by frozen NU DBs? Or bringing in Koy Detmer to throw a screen or two or a trck play to Kordell? Uzelac was too damned stubborn/stupid to even think of those things! Mental breaj kdown is not what he had that day, and Mac was no help, letting Uzelac getting away with that crap—one of Mac’s regular game day lapses, for which he was known.
It was purely the dumbest offensive game plan EVER, in CU history!!! (Until 2012, when CU had 11 candidates for that.)
Sam’s picks … Kansas and California in 2010 were both terrible, so was Colorado State in 2009.
Rob T. has another offering … I’ve seen plenty of devastating losses in the past 35 years but I have never been as crushed as I was when were were owned in the Glass Bowl by the Toledo Rockets in 2009. I literally went into the ER that night with symptoms of a heart attack. I lost it! I was in denial before that game; I believed the Buffs were the better team that night (Before the game). There have been some seriously ugly losses since that night but that was when reality kicked in for me that the mighty CU Buffs were officially an annual cupcake on everybody’s schedule. I am actually shocked that nobody else brought this up. This was a game that defined the Buffs as a football school falling like a flaming arrow.
Ventman weighs in … Hard to argue with the Montana State loss as the most damaging, but Drake comes to mind.
BraddaBuff writes … Out of all the incoming freshmen, who do feel like has the best chance of starting or getting significant playing time this next year?
Okay if I cheat and say grayshirt freshman linebacker Addison Gillam? Already atop the depth chart as an inside linebacker (at least until Brady Daigh is completely healthy), Gillam will certainly be on the field this fall. Wide receiver Jeff Thomas and defensive end Derek McCartney are two other grayshirts who appear poised to make an immediate contribution.
As to the incoming freshmen class, eyes will certainly be upon quarterback Sefo Liufau when he officially joins the team this summer. While the quarterback race will wait for his arrival, it must be remembered that no true freshman has ever started the first game of the season at the University of Colorado, so Liufau will be a record-setter if he is under center August 31st. Otherwise, the defensive line and linebacker units remain perilously thin, and the Buffs signed several players who may be able to help out sooner rather than later: Jimmie Gilbert, Ryan Severson, George Frazier, or Timothy Coleman.
Last season, 16 true freshman were on the season opening depth chart – an ignoble school record. That should not be the case this fall, as some sense of normalcy returns to the CU roster.
Tucson Buff writes … Where is the love for Josh Ford? He has been a great back when given the opportunity – witness the eight carries for 136 yards on Friday. How can Ford be third on the depth chart at running back? What am I missing?
I don’t think you are missing anything. While much of our attention has been focused on the quarterback depth chart, the running back depth chart, which currently lists Christian Powell and Tony Jones ahead of Josh Ford, is equally fluid. Coach MacIntyre has stated that he will be using multiple players and multiple sets, so Ford will certainly get his chances. Last season at San Jose State, Coach Mac-2′s offense had a 1,000-yard rusher in De’Leon Eskridge, but also found three other backs with over 30 carries on the season. Powell, Jones, and Ford bring different skill sets to the table, and each will get their carries (with the one who proves to be the best receiver out of the backfield perhaps getting more touches in the long run in this offense.
BuffaloBoy weighs in … I certainly would like to see Josh Ford get more game-time reps and see some offensive schemes designed where Tony Jones and Ford would get the ball in the open field. Like many posters, I think 75% (my estimation) of the running plays in the past were between the tackles and ineffective… perhaps due to the inexperience of the OL. I’m much more excited about this year as the OL should have matured and improved due to the new coaching. Can’t wait till Spring Game day.
Demis writes … Factoring in financial resources, recruiting capabilities, the new playoff format, and other strengths/weaknesses of the CU football program, which program is the best template or model for CU? That is, for the goal of CU football having a consistent top 25 program that is at least in the conversation for national championships every couple of years?
Colorado will never be USC or Nebraska, as much as many in the Buff Nation would like for us to be. Assuming there isn’t a $100 million sugar daddy out there, putting CU in position to emulate Nike U in Eugene, you have to look for schools which have an identity like that of Colorado.
One place to look would be Seattle. The University of Washington have similar resumes: both have played in conferences with dominant, over-shadowing programs (Nebraska; USC), but both have had their moments in the sun. The Huskies have 678 all-time wins and won a national championship 22 years ago; CU has 675 all-time wins and won a national championship 23 years ago. The Huskies also play in a large city, also competing with an NFL team for attention. Washington just spent millions upgrading its stadium and facilities. CU …
As for the product on the field, I would say teams to emulate would be Wisconsin or Virginia Tech. Both are also (historically) in the “second tier” status in their conferences, but have carved out a niche (Wisconsin with a power running game; Virginia Tech with defense) which separates them in the eyes of recruits. If Coach Mac-2 could make the pistol a consistent winner in Boulder, who knows?
Demis writes … If we look at the early 90′s as a recent peak of the football program (if not the peak) and the last several years as a nadir or bottom for the program, would you say the Neuheisel or Hawkins hiring was more damaging to the program? Most would likely say Hawkins, but an argument could be made that the Neuheisel hire (particularly at that point in history) was critical miss step. Not so much for the hire itself, but what a different/more successful hire (other than Neuheisel) would have meant to the program. A hire that stays longer and is somewhat more successful than Neuheisel and CU may have gone down a much more successful path, as well as become a hot/”destination” program.
The problem is that both hires – at the time of the hire – looked like good fits. Neuheisel was a risky pick, but the alternative at the time was Bill McCartney’s first choice, Bill Simmons. Oklahoma State hired Simmons when CU didn’t, but Simmons went 30-38 in six years in Stillwater, with only one bowl game. Would he have fared better than Neuheisel’s 33-14 (with admittedly better players)? Hard to say.
Hawkins, though, was almost everyone’s first choice in 2006. Hawkins had 50 wins in five seasons in Boise, and was heralded as a great pickup at the time. Who would have been a better pick? Certainly Boise State’s choice as a successor, Chris Peterson, worked out well, as did 2006 hires Bret Bielema at Wisconsin and Pat Fitzgerald at Northwestern. By the same token, Ron Prince was hired by Kansas State in 2006, as was Chuck Long at San Diego State.
What would have helped the program the most over the past 20 years? McCartney not leaving with ten years left on his contract … CU having enough financial support not to have Neuheisel leave town for greener pastures in Seattle … Gary Barnett having better support from the school and Boulder community over a “sex scandal” which netted nary a single criminal charge … Hawkins not being given a fifth season, screwing up not one but two recruiting classes, leaving CU in its deepest hole in history … sigh …
Agree? Disagree? Let us know your thoughts. Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Two notes … First, let me know how you would like your name to be mentioned (e.g., “94Buff” or “Steve M.”) … Second, no personal attacks on players or other posters. It’s fair to be disappointed or frustrated in a player’s performance, but questioning effort or desire? No place for it here.