In Order to Keep from Crying, Sometimes you have to Laugh

There are times when my column for the CU game will virtually write itself. There will be a play or a player which is the story of the game, and the theme for the week is obvious.

This is not one of those times.

Throughout the 48-0 drubbing by Stanford, I was searching for something to write about. Certainly, writing about how Colorado had been shutout at home for the first time since 1986 was a driving theme, but who wants to read about yet another long-standing record going by the boards?

I could have written about all of the categories in which the Buffs are 100th or worse nationally, but what Buff fan needs to be reminded of CU’s infamy?

The Buffs were out-played on offense, defense, and special teams (okay, punter Darragh O’Neill had a good day. O’Neill’s averaged 44.7 yards on his nine punts, with his 402 yards of punts covering over five times as much Folsom Field turf as the Buff offense managed – in 44 snaps).

Like the Colorado offense, I had nothing.

No ideas, no themes, no concepts.

I was shutout.

Let’s be honest. There is nothing to look forward to for the rest of 2012. Yes, the Buffs do have two home games remaining, two more chances to avoid becoming the first Buff team in history to lose all of their home games. Yes, the Buffs do have three more chances overall to avoid becoming the first Buff team in CU history to lose 11 games in a season.

Anyone betting on the Buffs?

At the same time, is there anyone betting that Jon Embree will be fired, regardless of the outcomes of the next three games?

I’m not, and I’m not saying that Embree shouldn’t be given at least three years to try and make things work. I am saying, though, that there is no evidence on the field of play that 2013 will be any different than 2012. There is no evidence on the field that the school-record string of consecutive losing seasons will not be extended to eight seasons in 2013 … or nine seasons in 2014.

Will there be changes on the staff come December? There almost has to be. There is no way the CU athletic department can sell the status quo to the fan base heading into next season. Translation: one or both coordinators will be different in 2013. “Recognizing our shortcomings early in the season, coach Embree, his staff, our leadership team along with football professionals have been engaged in numerous endeavors to address our challenges,” CU athletic director Mike Bohn said after the Stanford debacle. “We are working to correct voids now in an effort to not lose time before the end of the season.”

Bohn added, “After the last game the intensity of reviewing all aspects of the program will increase dramatically with improvements and adjustments implemented.”


Reading between the lines, the message is: Endure the next three losses, Buff fans. We will then make some cosmetic changes in the off-season in hopes you will be optimistic about 2013 … with “optimistic” being three or four wins in twelve tries.


The 2102 season is a disaster of historical proportions. 2013 may well be a lame duck season for the Jon Embree experiment.

They say that it is darkest before the dawn … but it’s still midnight in Boulder. Dawn is not on the horizon for the Colorado football program.

This being the case, why are you here, reading about your Buffs? It’s because you care. It’s because you know, as I do, that you don’t divorce your team. We are the fans who have survived the tough times, fans for whom the good times – when they do return – will then be all the sweeter. We will endure, we will see this through.

In the meantime, in order to avoid crying, you just have to laugh.

Who then better to turn to in these dark times than the immortal John McKay?

For those of you too young to remember, John McKay was a legendary coach at USC, winning four national championships between 1962 and 1974. McKay, in 1976, decided to take his talents to the NFL, signing on to coach the expansion Tampa Bay Buccaneers. In his first season as head coach of an NFL team, McKay’s Buccaneers became the first NFL team to lose all 14 games in a season. The Bucs then lost the first 12 games of 1977, before rallying to win the final two games to finish 2-12.

Throughout the 26-game losing streak, McKay never lost his sense of humor, leaving football fans in general, and CU football fans in 2012 in particular, some precious nuggets …

– John McKay, in response to a question about his team’s execution – “I’m all in favour of it.”

– “We didn’t tackle well today but we made up for it by not blocking.”

– “I had a five-year plan” McKay said about his work in building the Buccaneers and taking them to the NFC Championship Game in just their fourth season. “But that was because I had a five-year contract. If I had had a three-year contract, I would have had a three year plan.”

– On losing a key game – “I told our players that there were 700 million Chinese people in the world who didn’t even know the game was played. The next week, I got five letters from China asking “What happened?”

– After the Bucs broke their 26-game losing streak – “Three or four plane crashes and we’re in the playoffs.”

– “If you have everyone back from a team that lost ten games, experience isn’t too important.”

– “Kickers are like horse manure. They’re all over the place.”

– “It bothers me that they (the national media) have picked us to be the worst team in football. Because what they are doing now is challenging your physical and your mental capacity and my ability to coach you. Now, this hurts me. Second worst team, I could stand it. But not the worst team.”

– On an interception thrown by Steve DeBerg in 1984 that cost the Bucs a game against the Giants – “It was thrown to nobody. Well, it was thrown to somebody, Harry Carson. But he happened to be playing for the New York Giants at the time. It would have been a good pass if Harry had been playing for us.”

– At a post-game press conference in 1976 – “You guys don’t know the difference between a football and a bunch of bananas.” Followed by … The next week, after a media member has dropped off a case of bananas at his door – “You guys don’t know the difference between a football and a Mercedez-Benz.”

– “We’ve broken down the expansion teams and they’ve averaged winning 2.7 games their first year, which to me is rather difficult. I figured out the 2, but the .7 has got me wondering what the hell is going on.”

And then there is this, which might actually hurt a little as it hits a little close to home right now … “I’ll probably take a little time off and go hide somewhere. We will be back. Maybe not this century, but we will be back.”

The Buffs will be back. Maybe not this decade, but the Buffs will be back (as an aside, did you know that, other than the 1950’s, when Bud Wilkinson’s Oklahoma teams dominated the Big Seven, Colorado has won at least one conference championship in every decade since the team began playing in the 1890’s? Another record to worry about losing, but not until 2019 …

Yes, the Buffs will be back.

And we’ll be there with them, still bleeding black and gold …

8 Replies to “Sometimes you have to Laugh”

  1. LMAO Stuart! Thanks! McKay’s quotes are hysterical, and I’m old enough to remember them. Like you, I’ll never stop caring and hoping and watching (when I can here in the sticks of Georgia). I’ve used the word ‘pathetic’ more this season than I can ever remember. But I keep thinking about the players. Knowing how much the WSU win meant to them, I just hope that they can overcome the longest of odds and finish the year with a couple of wins. Thank you for this web-site! I check in every day and I really appreciate all you do to keep us informed about the state of the Buffs! THANKS!!

  2. Rumor has it Kenneth Crawley is out and many others would like to join him. Maybe we have not yet hit Rock Bottom. Thank goodness BBall starts Friday.

    1. Embree said after practice on Monday that Crawley did practice with the team, and that “He had some things going on there he wanted to get cleaned up so he is fine”.

      You can read into that what you will, but the rumor last weekend was certainly that Crawley was leaving the team.
      There was also this – at Friday’s Buff Club lunch, Embree indicated he was expected to sign a recruiting class of around 20 players. That number only works if there is some attrition from the present squad …

  3. Thanks for the article Stuart, it made me laugh. Those are some great quotes from John McKay. I sat and watched the whole game, it was like watching a train wreck but I watched it anyway. Like you I will bleed black and gold forever and keeping the faith… GO BUFFS!

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