“… Loyal, we will be to you …”

After the final gun in Colorado’s 52-24 debacle in Seattle, I was hard-pressed to come up with a proper opening for an essay about a Colorado team which had given up 100 points in the past two weeks, and had two high-scoring ranked opponents coming up in the next two weeks.

Thomas Paine? – “These are the times that try men’s souls”? Nah.

How about Winston Churchill? – “Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves, that if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, ‘This was their finest hour’ “. Close, but perhaps a bit too dramatic.

Let’s just stay with the CU alma mater.

Hail, all hail our alma mater / Ever will our hearts be true

In posting the Archive Game of the Week, I was reminded of the story about singing our alma mater at Husky Stadium back in 1989. For those of you who haven’t read the story of the 1989 game between the 5th-ranked Buffs and the 21st-ranked Washington Huskies, here is a brief synopsis:

It was the first game for the Buffs after Sal Aunese died. A year earlier, Aunese was the Colorado starting quarterback, and now the Buffs’ team leader was gone. How the collection of 19- and 20-year olds would react on the field was anyone’s guess, especially on the road against a tough opponent (Washington was also ranked, and had big plans of its own – this was a team which would go on to share the national championship with Miami two years later).

Instead of playing with distraction, the Buffs came out inspired, dominating the Huskies, 45-28. Up in Section 6, after the Buffs took a 45-14 lead in the fourth quarter, Brad and I led a small band of Buff faithful in a rendition of the alma mater. Okay, “led” is not entirely the right word. Then, as now, most Colorado fans do not know any of the words to the alma mater except for the last line, “Dear … old …  C …U!”. For Brad and I, though, the alma mater was something not to be taken lightly.  We sang with gusto, and with pride.

When you are a dedicated Buff fan, the words to the CU alma mater resonate.

“You will live with us forever / Loyal we will be to you”

When you have been to the depths, the heights are all the more spectacular. The 1989 Buffs were a dominant team, and, if instant replay had been in effect at the 1990 Orange Bowl, Colorado might have won back-to-back national championships (I am refering to Eric Bieniemy’s touchdown leap in the second quarter of the 1990 Orange Bowl, a touchdown which was clear on television, but not to the linesman on the field).

Playing on the national stage meant a great deal to those of us who lived through the early 1980’s – through the Chuck Fairbanks’ years; the “Colorado sky blue” uniforms; the six straight losing seasons. We had remained loyal, and our loyalty was ultimately rewarded. Starting with the 1989 team, Colorado would post five 10-win seasons over the next eight years (after having only one ten win season – 1971 – in school history prior to 1989).

“We will sing forever your praises / Ever more our love renew”

Will loyalty of the Buff Nation be rewarded again anytime soon?

Colorado has had five straight losing seasons, with a sixth all but assured. The 2005-11 string of losing campaigns will tie the 1979-84 streak as the longest in school history. Colorado has never lost more than ten games in a season, but, with the Buffs’ play of late, that record may also be in jeopardy.

What’s worse is that it’s about to get, well … worse.

And that brings back some less than pleasant memories.

Back in 1980, the Buffs were at their collective worst. In the season opener, the Buffs fell behind UCLA 56-0 … at halftime. The first home game was a 49-7 loss to a mediocre Indiana team (6-5 in 1980) coached by none other than ESPN”s Lee Corso. It appeared that the Buffs could not sink any lower.

Then Oklahoma came to town.

The Sooners were ranked 12th in the nation, stung by an unexpected loss to Stanford the week before (Oklahoma had gone 11-1 in 1979). Barry Switzer was never known for calling off the dogs in a rout, and he had some ground to make up with the national pollsters.

The result?

A game for the record books. Oklahoma defeated Colorado that day in 1980 by the score of 82-42. A total of 51 NCAA, Big Eight, school, and Folsom Field records were broken. Oklahoma rushed for an unfathomable 758 yards, and had 875 yards of total offense.

Keep those numbers in mind, Buff fans, as Oregon comes to town next weekend.

The Ducks are 5th in the nation in rushing offense (trailing only the service academies and Georgia Tech, all four of which rely almost exclusively on the run for their offensive yardage). Oregon is also 5th in the nation in total offense (at 539 yards per game) and third in nation in scoring, at almost 50 points per game.

Like Oklahoma in 1980, Oregon was stung by an early season loss (to LSU). Like Barry Switzer in 1980, Oregon head coach Chip Kelly is not known for calling off the dogs in a rout, and the Ducks have some ground to make up with the national pollsters if they hope to get back into the national championship discusssion.

The result?

What do you think?

Under the best of circumstances, Colorado would be a heavy underdog. Now, the Buffs are on a four-game losing streak, and have given up 100 points in the past two weeks on defense. To add injury to insult – Colorado last week listed nine defensive backs on the weekly injury report, and two of the Buffs’ top linebackers – Josh Hartigan and Doug Rippy – missed all or most of the Washington game with injury, and are questionable at best for the Oregon game.

Meanwhile, on offense, Colorado will be without its leading rusher (Rodney Stewart) and leading receiving threat (Paul Richardson).

Crunch these numbers:

Going up against Oregon, Colorado’s leading rusher will be Tony Jones, who has 116 yards rushing … on the season.

Going up against Oregon, Colorado’s leading receiver will be Toney Clemons, who has 16 catches for 173 yards … on the season.

Those numbers add up to a decent half for some of Oregon’s players.

“Pledge our whole devotion to you / Dear … old … C … U!”

Will the Oregon game be a rout? Undoubtedly.

Will the Arizona State game which follows – on the road – likely be as ugly? Probably.

Does that mean I am giving up on my team?

Not a chance.

I be on the road to Boulder next weekend. I will be wearing black-and-gold, take in a few tailgate parties, sing the alma mater before the game, and cheer on my team to the bitter end.

And will I remember these dark days a few years down the road, when the Buffs have turned things around, and I will appreciate the victories all the more.

After all, it’s my alma mater.



10 Replies to ““… Loyal, we will be to you …””

  1. Really an outstanding article written from the heart and Stuart’s love for his alma mater. I have found that so many Buff alums have a tremendous love for their university and “Once a Buff, always a Buff” is a fact regardless of the ups and downs experienced by our athletic teams.

  2. I graduated in 1991, saw every home game for seven straight years, and travelled to Oklahoma, Nebraska and both Orange Bowls. I was in the stadium when Rashaan Salaam turned the corner on Iowa State to get his 2000 yards. So, I’ve seen the very best football that CU has played. And even though we’re nowhere near that level anymore, win, lose or draw this is my team. It will always be my team. And when we win a conference (or national) championship again, I’ll be just as proud to be a Buff then as I am now. Black and gold will always flow through my veins, regardless of the W-L record. You’re not alone Stuart! We’re all here together, so keep the faith. And thanks for such a great website.

  3. My years at CU were 65-74 with Eddie Crowder as head coach (still my favorite). He recruited some great players but never seemed to have a great game plan. 1971 was his best year I think. The most fun player to watch was Cliff Branch – you never knew whether he was going to score a touch down or fumble or drop the ball on a pass. And you could get high just siting in the student section.

  4. Great article Stuart. I was at CU during the McCartney rebuilding years and finally got to see the Buffs make it to a bowl game my senior year. We will recover from this horrid season and make a name for ourselves again in the not too distant future. In Embree I trust! Go Buffs!

  5. I was a freshman at CU in the fall of ’85. A year earlier Sports Illustrated had voted Boulder the most beautiful place in the country to watch college football. As we all know, from ’85 (when they first turned the corner and went to a bowl game) thru the decade that followed the Buffs went from also-rans to contenders year in/year out. These are dark days on the Front Range to be sure but as long as they keep working hard, one never knows what can happen. For those of us among the alumni base who screamed for Hawkins’ head because of the damage he had done to the program, we had to know in screaming that there was no magic elixir that would undo all of that damage in one fell swoop. The Missus and I shall make a trek from NJ to Boulder for the University of Arizona game. And we shall wear our Buff regalia and cheer like hell for the kids and the coaches.

    Stuart, if I could add one more thought to your quotations, “Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.” Ralph Waldo Emerson.

    Shoulder to Shoulder!

  6. Great article to inspire a little faith in the dwindling CU faithful! I too am tired of being embarrassed week in and week out, but I’ll be a buff through thick and thin. Here’s to seeing a better team on the field next year, maybe one that can break this gloomy streak. I try and stay positive by remembering that, “the sweet isn’t as sweet without the sour.”

  7. You just gotta believe. It sucks right now, but in time Embree and company are building their program brick-by-brick and day-to-day. When the Buffs are contending for the Pac-12 title and in the hunt for the national championship we’ll be able to say we stayed true and loyal. Even though I didn’t attend CU like Stuart, I’m proud I’m a native of Colorado. I’m pround to wear the black and gold. I’m proud to be a CU Buff fan.

  8. Same time period as you guys. I was an average high school receiver and thought I’d try out as a walk on. Chuck Fairbanks didn’t like walk-on’s especially. He had me go across the middle 10 times and had whoever was the QB throw the ball high so I left my gut exposed. After getting plowed by the linebacker the first two times, with everyone laughing their brains out, even the guys I was going against thought Chuck was a jerk when he kept calling the same play. I remember walking off the field and seeing Chuckie giggling. I couldn’t walk for a week and obviously I didn’t make the team. I still sat through the powder blue years cheering. I still hate Chuck.

  9. Can’t make Boulder, but agree with all of this. Same time on campus as Stuart and terrible memories of sky blue and Marcus Dupree running rampant…lest we forget losing to DRAKE! Looks like UCLA and Arizona may prove to be competitive, so wins could still happen this year.
    They will come and we will all be meeting around this conference, year in and year out, singing the Alma Mater, without the scoreboard flashing the words, and saying “GO BUFFS” to every black and gold fan we see in the stands! My 15 yr old son, who knew the fight song by age 2, said afterwards, “Sure was nice to see the support of old days on away trips, like when we went to that bowl game down at Arizona against Boston College, dad.” That is what CU fans needs to remember; we have been to the mountain, hung around for quite a while, and we want to go back! We will

    1. Great comments.
      It’s nice to know that there are many Buff fans out there, willing to keep the faith, and hang with the Buffs until brighter days return.

      (Thanks, also, for your comment on the game report. There were many Buff fans in the stands in Seattle – despite the likely outcome. There will come a day when there will be many more in the stands, as Colorado becomes one of the best “traveling teams” in the Pac-12!).

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