Colorado Sky Blue

I’m a pack rat.

I have a habit of not throwing things away. Every fall, as another Montana winter approaches, it becomes a more and more difficult task to make room in our garage for our two cars.

In one sense, it has been a benefit in my work on CU at the Game. When the idea was first conceived (in 1996), I relied upon my piles of old game programs, newspaper clippings, and football preview magazines to help me reconstruct games for the Archives. If you were with the website last year, you may recall that there were a number of old Denver Post, Rocky Mountain News, and Boulder Daily Camera headlines featured along the sides of the site.

There is also my odd assortment of Colorado wearing apparel. There are a number of specific baseball caps (Big Eight champions; National Champions; bowl games, etc.), as well as every type of clothing going from t-shirts to polo shirts to sweatshirts to heavy winter coats.

Speaking of coats …

Last Monday (November 2nd), I wrote a letter to CU Athletic Director Mike Bohn, expressing my dismay at the lack of progress on the field by the Buffs over the past four seasons. Colorado was well on its way to its fourth consecutive losing season – for only the second time in school history. The only other time the University of Colorado – a program dating back to 1890 – has been mired in a similar slump, it was the six year run of poor play between 1979 and 1984. In my opinion, the Buffs, despite the costs associated with buying out the present coach, and the costs and disruption associated with bringing in a new coach, cannot afford to keep Dan Hawkins another year.

Then Darrell Scott quit, and the Marcus Houston comparisons began. The prize recruit – the only nationally rated recruit of the Dan Hawkins’ era – was leaving.

And the “blue out” gathered momentum.

In my eyes, the “blue out” was the perfect means for Colorado fans to express their frustration. Not support the team? Not an option. Staying away would only hurt the team we all love (in case you hadn’t noticed, I’m pretty invested in supporting the University of Colorado football program).

But showing up, and saying nothing, would be a lie. It would falsely state to the powers that be that we were content with the present state of the program. It would give false assurance that the dollars will continue to roll into the coffers regardless of the product on the field. For those of us without access to the inner circles of power, wearing blue said exactly what we wanted to say:

“We support the team. We support the players. Help us!”

… and I had just the coat for the job.

Not a powder blue t-shirt. Not a Nuggets’ sweatshirt. But an authentic, genuine, in my closest for a quarter century blue Colorado jacket. “Colorado sky blue at 9,000 feet” was the new color in 1981, and last until Colorado went “Back to Black” in 1985. The Colorado “blue period” witnessed poor play, poor attendance, and poor results. The blue uniforms came to represent a period we all wanted to forget; going back to Black represented new hope and a new beginning.

I wore my blue CU jacket (and, of course, the matching blue CU hat, also from circa 1984), to the Texas A&M game. For those old enough to remember, it brought about smiles of recognition. From the younger Colorado fans, there came inquiries as to whether the jacket was a “throwback” which I had recently purchased.

I cheered for my Buffs. I yelled at Anthony Perkins’ interception. I celebrated the B.J. Beatty fumble recovery to seal the victory.

And that was that … until the Game Notes came out.

In Dave Plati’s game notes, there is the following line: “The so-called ‘blue-out’ by some angry fans at the the team was a flop, with easily less than 200 participating stadium-wide (we counted)”.

The statement is wrong on several counts.

First, the fans I spoke to who wore blue were not “angry”, and certainly were not “angry” with the players. “Frustrated”, “disenchanted”, and “disappointed”? Yes. “Angry”? No.

Second, the “count” of “easily less than 200 participating” is grossly inaccurate. I cannot imagine how anyone in the press box could even begin to “count” the blue. In my immediate area, there was the following: a woman wearing a blue-and-white pinstripe shirt, vocal about the reason for her wardrobe selection; a man wearing his black-and-gold, but also showing to every one in the section his “blue era” souvenir – a blue “Climb With Us” CU bumper sticker; and a man with a young child decked out in Nuggets’ gear – with an explanation as to why. None of these people would have shown up in Dave Plati’s “count” (In fact, I’m not sure if I made it. I took off my jacket when it became warm in the second quarter, revealing – gasp! – a gold CU shirt).

Finally, the count missed any number of “blue” Colorado fans. Anyone who went to the game sat in a section with Texas A&M fans. In my area, there were two young Aggies directly in front of me, with four more a row behind. This is an area of long-time CU season ticket holders – CU fans who gave away or sold their tickets to fans cheering for the opposition. If Dave wanted to count the “blue”, he should have counted the “maroon” not in Sections 101 and 102. In my mind, giving away a CU seat to an opposing fan is far more egegrious than a silent apparel protest.

This is not to mention the 6,500 “black-and-gold” fans who forgot to show up Saturday. The stated attendance was 47,227 – the lowest attendance for the season, and the lowest ever for a game against Texas A&M. Those fans who didn’t come did a disservice far worse than wearing blue – they’ve given up on the team.

You know I’m not going anywhere. Wearing blue to the Texas A&M game didn’t change my loyalties. It was a statement by me – and many others – to Mike Bohn and the Colorado administration that there are fans who care deeply about the program, and don’t want to let the program slip back any further.

It is yet to be determined whether anyone was listening.

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