Daybreak – 2020 A.D.

I wasn’t much of a science fiction fan as I was growing up.

Sure, I understood a “Troubles with Tribbles” reference, and I if someone starting flailing their arms crying, “Danger, Will Robinson!”, I got it. But when it came to reading, I could usually be found curled up with something related to sports or to military history (blame George C. Scott and “Patton” for the latter).

But there was one science fiction book I read in my pre-teen years which stuck with me through the decades. It was “Daybreak – 2020 A.D.”*. A novel set in a post-apocalyptic world, “Daybreak – 2020 A.D.” had its hero and his faithful dog navigating through trials and adventures in their decimated planet. Almost a cliché setting in today’s books and movies, the post-apocalyptic theme was cutting edge to a pre-teen in the late 60’s and early 70’s (along with the “Planet of the Apes” movies and “2001: A Space Odyssey”).

But I digress.

My point of reference is that, after the Colorado men’s basketball team lost to Colorado State last Wednesday, my depressed state got me to thinking about how far the University of Colorado programs have fallen, either in record or perception (or, in the case of the football team, both), how long the Buffs Nation has been suffering, and how long it will take for the Buffs to get back to where they belong.

That’s when the year 2020 popped into my head, and I remembered the book I had read over 40 years ago.

This got me to thinking about best case and worst case scenarios for the University of Colorado for the year 2020, now just five years down the road.

I had some fun with it, and I hope you will, too …

– December, 2020 A.D. – The Apocalypse –

“I really don’t know what to tell you,” Colorado State quarterback Bradlee Van Pelt, Jr., told the fawning press at the Downtown Athletic Club in New York City. “Winning the Heisman trophy again is a dream come true”. Van Pelt, becoming the first player in history to win three Heisman trophies, led the Rams to their fourth consecutive Big 12 title and a second consecutive undefeated regular season.

“I always knew that I would follow in my father’s footsteps and attend Colorado State”, said Van Pelt, “But when the Rams moved to the Big 12 five years ago, that clinched the deal. I have really enjoyed playing all of the top teams in the nation, including Texas, Baylor, and Kansas State”. When asked about his school’s other “rival”, the Buffaloes of the University of Colorado, Van Pelt just laughed. “Hard to call that a ‘rivalry’, really”, said Van Pelt. “I’m sure that some will be sorry to see the series come to an end, but it’s time for both schools to move on”.

Back in Boulder, the Buffs were packing up their gear after yet another losing campaign. Colorado finished the 2020 season with a 1-11 record, the school’s 15th-consecutive losing season. “We had hoped that the move to the Mountain West conference two years ago would make us more competitive”, said athletic director Dan Hawkins. “We hoped that the season-opening win over Northern Colorado would give us a boost, but that next game really hurt us”.

The “next game” Hawkins referred to was the 63-3 beatdown delivered by Colorado State in Ft. Collins in week two of the 2020 campaign. Playing in the newly expanded on-campus Hughes Stadium, the game was the first on-campus game between the two teams since the 2005 game in Boulder, and the first game between the teams in Ft. Collins since 1996.

The game also represented the last of the “Rocky Mountain Showdown” series, the final year of a ten season contract signed in 2010. Over the years, the series which had become lopsided in favor of the Rams. Colorado State won the last six games played in Denver, with the crowd becoming more and more green-and-gold biased as the games got more and more out of hand. With Big 12 television money in hand, the Rams were able to offer better “cost of attendance” money to prospects, while the Buffs, with their Mountain West crumbs, fell further and further behind their neighbors to the north.

“It was tough on our kids to open the season against such a tough opponent each year”, said Hawkins, who fired the Buffs’ head coach, Mike Moschetti, after only two seasons on the job. “With CSU off the schedule in 2021, we hope to give our players a better chance at success”.

Hawkins said that he was conducting a nationwide search for the Buffs’ new head coach, but would not rule out taking over the reigns himself if no suitable candidate could be found.

“It would certainly help our budget if I held both positions at once”, chuckled Hawkins …

Meanwhile, the CU men’s basketball team continued to struggle, absorbing an embarrassing 103-51 non-conference loss to No. 1 Kansas to open the month of December. The Jayhawks’ head coach, Tad Boyle, could have kept his team under 100 points, but Boyle allowed his starters to play much of the second half, perhaps making a point. “I had it good here in Boulder for awhile”, said Boyle, “but the fans and administration didn’t appreciate how hard it was to win 20 games a season. So, when Bill Self retired, it was an easy transition for me to go back to my alma mater”. The loss dropped the Buffs to 2-7 in non-conference play, with the preseason goal of a top six finish in Mountain West play now seemingly a pipe dream.

“I had a good run at Colorado”, continued Boyle, “and I appreciate the players and fans. I guess it was just time for me to move on. I just wish”, said Boyle, pausing, “that I could have left the Rams behind as well!”. Boyle was referring, of course, to the No. 2 CSU Ram basketball team, which was co-favorites in the Big 12 for the 2020-21 season. “I had a much easier time with the Rams when they were the little school from Ft. Collins, but Larry Eustachy has built a national power, and I hate having to play them so often!”. In the 2019-20 season, the Jayhawks and Rams had split four games – each team winning at home in conference play, with the Rams winning the conference championship, but the Jayhawks earning redemption in the national semi-finals.

… Or, there could be this …

– December, 2020 A.D. – Utopian –

“It’s been a long road, but having to work for it makes it all the sweeter,” said CU head football coach Mike MacIntyre after the top-seeded Buffs defeated 16th-seeded Georgia Tech, 37-10, in the first round of the College Football Playoffs. “The players, the coaches, the fans – they stuck with me through some difficult seasons, but now they get to enjoy the success”.

Colorado’s resurgence, just like that under Bill McCartney, had taken some time. McCartney had gone 7-25-1 in his first three seasons as CU’s head coach, but had received a vote of confidence – and a new contract – from then athletic director Bill Marolt. MacIntyre, in his first three seasons as CU’s head coach, had gone 9-27, but athletic director Rick George still liked what he saw, and he stuck with his coach. “It took some time just to get competitive,” said George. “And we realized that. We understood what we had in Mike, and could see what he was building”.

Like McCartney, it took seven-plus seasons for MacIntyre just to get back to .500 as CU’s head coach, but, like McCartney, the second coach Mac did it in style. The 2019 season saw the Buffs stay in the thick of the Pac-12 conference race – and the race for the “Sweet Sixteen” football playoffs – falling just short in both, with the Buffs finishing off a 9-4 campaign with a dominating win 62-36 win over Nebraska in the Holiday Bowl.

The 2020 season opened with a 45-7 rout of hapless Colorado State, in a game played in dilapidated Hughes Stadium west of Ft. Collins. Though the Rams were promising to build an on-campus stadium “in the very near future”, Colorado had declined to continue the “Rocky Mountain Showdown” series now that the contract from 2010 had run its course. “The playoff system requires that we have a competitive non-conference schedule in order to make the cut,” explained Rick George. “Playing Colorado State just doesn’t meet that requirement”.

After taking down Colorado State to open the 2020 season, the Buffs had run through the rest of the season undefeated, taking down No. 11 Oregon, 33-14, in the Pac-12 title game in Boulder. The conference had moved the title game back to campus sites in 2018, and had done so with great success. Folsom Field was sold out, with the CU athletic department opening up the newly opened baseball/aquatic center on CU’s south campus for overflow fans to watch the game on big screen televisions. “I still have a hard time calling the baseball field ‘South Park Park’,” said Rick George with a laugh. “But, I guess if someone donates $100 million to your athletic department, you let them name the field whatever they want”.

As the football team prepared for a semi-final showdown against 8th-seeed Notre Dame, the basketball team continued to shine. The 5th-ranked Buffs, 9-1 to open the season, was coming off a tough double-overtime loss on the road to No. 1 Kentucky. “The team played hard,” said CU head coach Tad Boyle, suffering just his third non-conference defeat in the past five seasons. “We had our chances, but give the Wildcats their due, they are tough to beat in Rupp Arena”.

Coming off of a third-consecutive appearance at the Final Four, the Buffs were picked to have a “down year” in 2020-21, with three starters having left school early for the NBA draft. Still, the “Baby Buffs”, three freshmen who made up CU’s No. 1 rated recruiting class, were growing up fast. “We’ll be ready come conference play,” predicted Boyle. “I believe we have a real good chance at defending our Pac-12 conference title once again”.

The reality for the University of Colorado in 2020 A.D.?

Almost certainly somewhere in between the apocalypse and utopia … but it’s nice to be able to dream about utopia!!

… As always, your thoughts and comments are encouraged …


* Apparently, my memory isn’t as good as I thought it was. The book, I remembered was actually titled “Daybreak – 2250 A.D.”. Written in 1952 by Andre Norton, was already old by the time I got to it. The book was about a boy traveling through a post-apocalyptic world, but he had a hunting cat, not a dog … So much for my memory skills 40 years after the fact!


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