Mixed Emotions

When the story broke early Friday afternoon that the football game between the University of Colorado and Fresno State University would be postponed due to the “100-year flood” which had stricken Boulder and the surrounding area, there were certainly mixed emotions.

From a human standpoint, the choice was clear and necessary. The flood was an ongoing disaster. It was not as if Boulder County had been hit by one of its infamous wind storms, a storm which had passed and left behind a tangle of broken tree limbs and downed power lines. No, this was a still unfolding story, with some residents still cut off by the flooding, with others still unaccounted for. Utilizing police and public service resources to put on a football game would not only have been a public relations disaster, it would have been inappropriate and insensitive.

From a CU fan’s standpoint, though, there were other considerations. While not minimizing the tragedy which was unfolding as the lead story on the nightly news nationwide, it was the job of the CU athletic department to start looking ahead. “We’re looking at (numerous) options,” CU athletic director Rick George said. “I’ve been on the phone all morning (Saturday) and I will continue to be on the phone. We’ll find a solution that works for us and works for Fresno State. They’ve been great to work with. They’ve been fantastic.”

“We’ll make it up,” coach MacIntyre said of the game. “There are a lot of things happening on that. The NCAA will jump in. They will make sure. I mean, this is a national disaster. This isn’t just a little thing. We’ll be able to make it up some how some way.

“We’ve been talking back and forth. There are teams that can move that have been talking to us. There are all kinds of situations. I’m pretty sure if that didn’t happen, the NCAA would let us play somebody else because we need to be able to get our revenue back and also help the community with the revenue.”

We’ll see how this plays out, but it does appear that missing the game against Fresno State was a missed opportunity for the continued upward spiral of the Colorado football program.

Not that the Buffs would have necessarily won the game. Colorado was a 9.5 point underdog at home to the No. 27 team in the country, and the two teams the Buffs have beaten have not exactly been world beaters themselves (CSU lost to Tulsa, and almost blew a lead at home against Cal Poly; Central Arkansas lost Saturday to Tennessee-Martin). But progress in Boulder right now has to be marked incrementally. Pretty much anything short of a blowout loss to the Bulldogs could have been built upon.

Strange as it may sound, even a two-touchdown loss, at home, to a Mountain West team, could have been scripted as positive.

To put it simply … Before Colorado can have a chance at beating an Oregon or a Stanford, they have to first prove they can be competitive.

A good effort against Fresno State would have been another step toward that goal.

… Meanwhile … back in Bozeman …

The announcement of the postponement came early enough for me to cancel my flight to Denver. I spoke with Brad Friday afternoon, and we discussed our plans for Saturday, now that going to the game was no longer going to be part of our Saturday plans.

For me, my schedule was wide open, as the CU/Fresno State game was to take up pretty much the entire day. This left me with the rare opportunity to be a football watching fan, with a dinner out with my wife the lone concession for a day otherwise filled with college football.

Which brings me to my second set of mixed emotions for the weekend.

For those of you who have been with the CU at the Game website from its humble origins in 2007, you may recall that a I used to post a feature each week which was entitled, “The enemy of my enemy is my friend”. It was a preview of that week’s games, from the perspective of which outcome would best help our Buffs. I looked at games from the premise that that which helped Colorado the most would be to play its opposition at its weakest.

I soon found out, however, that I was in the minority in this position. Many fans, much to my surprise, had no problems cheering for Buff rivals when they were not facing their Buffs. I found this to be impossible to fathom: Cheer for Nebraska? Root for Texas? Hope Colorado State does well after the season opener against the Buffs?

NEVER!!

What I assumed to be blasphemy was in fact commonplace.

“What’s best for the conference is best for the Buffs”.

Baloney.

What’s best for the Buffs is to win games.

What’s best for the Buffs is to win games so that they can get better recruits. What’s best for the Buffs is to win games so that they can fill the seats, earning the money for better facilities to lure better recruits to … wait for it … win more games.

I’m sorry. I don’t care if the Buffs win “ugly”. I don’t care if the Buffs beat teams when their best player is down for the week with the flu. I don’t care if there is a controversial call which helps the Buffs’ cause.

I want the Buffs to win.

Now, let me qualify this a bit. I am quite familiar with the fact that Colorado played the toughest schedule in the nation when it won the national championship. I am aware that Bill McCartney has said, “you have to play the best to be the best”. Sounds good.

Thing is, I doubt that the quote came from Bill McCartney prior to 1989. Through 1988, the first coach Mac was 2-19 against ranked teams, 1-13 against Nebraska and Oklahoma.

I am also aware that strength of schedule will perhaps play a role in the Buffs’ future. In basketball, where “bubble teams” are all about strength of schedule and RPI ratings, I am with you in cheering for CU’s past and future opponents, both conference and non-conference. Their success can be directly tied to the Buffs’ success, so I can see the logic of wanting rivals to do well when not playing the Buffs.

I also understand that, in the future world of college football playoffs, having the Buffs play the tougher schedule, and having the conference do well in non-conference games, makes sense.

But we’re a ways away from that, folks.

You have to walk before you can run.

And you have to crawl before you can walk.

So I continue to live with “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” mantra.

Which meant I was torn this weekend, particularly when watching two of the multitude of games which were available: UCLA at Nebraska, and Oregon State at Utah.

The first game was tough. Under my logic, I had to cheer for Nebraska. The Cornhuskers are no longer conference foes, and will not be a non-conference opponent (barring a bowl game) for another four years. UCLA, meanwhile, is not only a Pac-12 foe, but a Southern Division rival. The Buffs must travel to Los Angeles the first weekend in November to take on the Bruins, a team which has beaten CU 45-6 and 42-14 in the first two seasons of Pac-12 play.

But cheer for Nebraska? Root for the Bugeaters and their obnoxious ear-of-corn-hat-wearing fans?

I couldn’t do it.

As hard as it may be on the Buffs in November, I relished the Bruins posting 38 straight points on Nebraska. I was happy to see Bo Pelini’s face contorted in new and comical ways at every Cornhusker miscue.

My only disappointment there was to learn that UCLA’s 28-point third quarter broke the record for the most points ever scored on Nebraska in the 90-year history of the Memorial Coliseum.

Why disappointed? The old record was 27 points, set by Colorado in the fourth quarter of the 1990 game, when the Buffs turned a 12-0 deficit into a 27-12 victory, with Eric Bieniemy scoring all four touchdowns. (If you need a Buff pick-me-up, here is the write-up for that game).

The nightcap for a Saturday without the Buffs also presented a dilemma.

Oregon State played at Utah, in the conference opener for both teams. Oregon State loomed as Colorado’s next opponent, while Utah, at least on paper, was the Buffs’ chief rival in the new league.

Who to root for? To cheer for Oregon State was to cheer for the Beavers to be 3-1 heading into their game against the Buffs (with only lowly San Diego State standing in the way). A victory for the Beavers would be a righting of the ship after the season-opening loss to Eastern Washington. A loss for the Beavers would bring about second thoughts about why Oregon State had been given a spot in the preseason top 25.

To cheer for Utah, though, was also hard. The Utes present perhaps one of the Buffs’ best opportunities for a road victory this fall. A win for Utah would place them, at least for the next few weeks, atop the Southern Division standings … an unpleasant thought, particularly when considering their obnoxious fans (it has to be something about wearing red).

My cheering interest between Oregon State and Utah went back and forth with the game. When I finally decided that I had to cheer for the Utah comeback, as I wanted a 2-0 Buff team to be facing a 2-2 Oregon State team, what usually happens, happened.

The team I was cheering for lost.

Oregon State 51, Utah 48, in overtime.

Perhaps I’ve had it wrong all along.

Perhaps all I have to do is cheer for the success of CU’s rivals, and, by my taking on their cause, I will doom them to failure.

Perhaps you have known this all along, and that is why you cheer for CU’s rivals instead of cheering against them.

Why didn’t you just tell me??

Now, I have mixed emotions about the way I feel about you …

7 Replies to “Mixed Emotions”

  1. Ahh yes, I remember “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.” Like you, I could not bring myself to root for kNU. Just couldn’t do it. I watched OSU/Utah game with great interest and ambivalence about who to root for. In the end, I figured that both teams showed themselves sufficiently flawed that CU has a great shot to take them out. On that basis, I just sat back and enjoyed the game.
    As for CsU, they’re in the same (no)class as kNU for me. I used to root for them back when they had Steve Bartolo and the Bell bros. Long before Bradley Van Pelthead and Joey Porter but those classless jerks ruined it for me. Now I’d just as soon see them get killed every game!

  2. Yo Stuart,

    A little research shows that there are 29 teams the Buffs could possibly play on October 19th. Check out my post. If the NCAA is willing to help out, there are certainly some intriguing options ranging from Air Force to Nebraska or Texas. Most intriguing might very well be San Jose State.

    Who to root against? My strongest emotions are based mostly on the opposing fans. I cannot stand those from Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas and Texas A&M, USC and Wisconsin. The classiest opposing fans that I have run into over the years are those from Michigan and Notre Dame. I still root against the Irish because of the old evil empire thing, and the fact that they get rated highly almost every year to start the season, no matter how bad they might be.

    Worst of the worst, of course, is Nebraska. It all started with the head corn hole himself, Tom Osborne. His jealousy cost CU an outright national championship because he left CU off his final coaches AP vote. And the retarded NU fans who gleefully wrote across the highway from Colorado to Fuskerland their joy at the death of Sal Aunese.

    Never forget and never forgive.

  3. I will always root against nebraska and csu(because of the Buffs), notre dame and ohio state (grew up with two Michigan parents), as well as Texas teams(just on principle), but I have conditioned myself to generally root conference, although that is sometimes just hard to do (especially if the team is wearing red). Therefore, the UCLA game was easy for me and that was awesome to watch! As for intraconference games, I’ll usually go for the team to lose that poses most danger for Buffs in standings-therefore Oregon St. over Utah, and generally root north teams over south. I also hate johnny “gets too much attention” so A&M is very low on my priority list and it was easy to root against them, especially since for some reason I have found myself to be a closet Bama fan, so Roll Tide, with the 37 points next week!

  4. Stuart, what I missed mostly was news photos and videos of the Buffs manning shovels in the mud… although I’m not being critical of them serving food to displaced residents, I would have liked seeing them helping bucket brigades and cleanup in the community. I think that would have done more for our national image than anything else.

    I loved seeing PAC12 teams beat others, especially UCLA’s dominating victory over the Huskers. I was surprised and pretty impressed with Arizona even though they were playing a much weaker opponent.

  5. Great reflections Stuart, thank-you.

    I’ll throw out that with the Mac 2 the great teacher/coach that he is, it will be to the Buff’s advantage to play the game LATER in the season, as I see his impact on the team only growing and the Buff’s improving tremendously playing their best football towards the end of the season.

    I’m drinking the Mac cool-aid!

  6. Stuart, as usual, great article. I hane been cheering for the Buffs since 1970 and I also have a problem with cheering for the color red … 😉
    However, i also want to cheer for everyone on the Buff’s schedule, as the better their record is the better our chances to be noticed when we beat them.

  7. Stuart, if you ask my wife, she will testify that I was saying the exact same thing! However, I was. 180 out from you. I wanted UCLA to beat the B1G…and specifically Nebraska. Thereby making the conference look stronger (ONLY because I want it to surpass the SEC). But mostly if CU loses to UCLA (which unfortunately is a real possibility), it will look better losing to a nationally proven team, on the road.
    Second – OSU v Utah. Again, same thought process as you. But my illogical reasoning came down to a) I’m going to root my ass off for San Diego State, b) I would rather have Utah 0-1 in the Pac-12, and c) we have 2 solid weeks to prepare and scheme for Oregon State who’s defense looked anything but stifling.
    Finally – ASU v. Wisconsin. See UCLA v Neb.
    What I did want is for the Pac-12 to win, but look bad doing so; to not show they were able to fight back from adversity, not be able to adjust game plans, not execute flawlessly. Looks like that didn’t work out for me.

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