Memo

To: CU Football Team

From: The Buff Nation

Subject: It’s Time

It may seem hard to believe, but we’ve been through this before.

Of course, since it happened before you were born, it doesn’t seem like anything but ancient history.

For many of us in the Buff Nation, though, it seems like yesterday.

I’m talking about the early 1980’s, when Colorado football was a national joke, and the program was mired in what was then a school-record six straight losing seasons.

Now, with a 4-8 record in 2013, the Colorado football program and its fans have endured eight straight losing seasons, and preseason magazines will be hitting the shelves soon predicting that the prolonged drought of futility will hit nine seasons sometime this November.

The thing is, the rationalizations we used back then – the excuses we used to justify the losing streak – no longer apply. The CU administration is showing new resolve in putting a winner on the field, and it’s time to take advantage.

It’s time to start winning again.

Colorado can’t compete in the arms race for facilities

This is not a new argument … we’ve been using this one for years.

Back in the 1980’s, Nebraska installed a weight room the size of a small city, churning out behemoth corn-fed offensive linemen with assembly line consistency. Oklahoma, meanwhile, had no trouble building its own grand facilities, with money – both acknowledged and under the table – no object for the Sooners.

In the Pac-12, the Colorado football program finds itself once again looking up from the bottom of the barrel. Oregon has already built so many new buildings for the athletic department that they have taken to redesigning wardrobes of its athletes on a weekly basis as a desperate way to try and figure out new ways to spend Phil Knight’s Nike money. Even Utah and Washington State, programs which have no business competing on the same level as the University of Colorado, are ahead of CU in new construction for their football programs.

The “facilities gap”, however, will be closing over the next 16 months. On May 12th, the Monday after graduation, ground will be broken on new facilities for the Colorado athletic department. Shovels will be turned, and cranes will be swaying in the air above Folsom Field. Athletic Director Rick George were able to accomplish in only a year what Buff fans have been waiting on for a generation, an impressive feat. To be sure, there is still fund-raising work to be done, but a lack of attention to new facilities can no longer be an excuse for poor performance on the field of play.

True enough, the facilities that Colorado is building will be outdated even before the ribbons are cut, and CU will still be light years behind other marquee Pac-12 programs in terms of shiny new amenities. The thing is, however, you can only put in so many flat-screen televisions in a weight room before you hit saturation. Colorado’s new digs should be more than sufficient to meet the checklist of any incoming recruit.

And then there is this …

Colorado was also at the bottom of the conference food chain when it came to facilities in the 1980’s. Bill McCartney didn’t have the Dal Ward Center to show off to new recruits as he was building a champion. Instead, the new facilities came about as a result of winning championships. Colorado did not rely on “build it, and they will come”, but rather “win, and they will build it”.

Colorado’s academic standards are too high to compete for talent

An oldie, but a goodie.

We used that old saw many times in the 1980’s, complaining that Colorado could not bring in talented players because too many of the highest-rated players were academic risks.

In fact, I almost got Brad and I killed after the 1987 Nebraska game. We were in a bar after the 5th-ranked Cornhuskers had beaten the Buffs, 24-7. Getting tired of listening to Nebraska fans enjoy their victory just a little too much, I inquired as to exactly what Nebraska players did with their degrees in “Undergraduate Stories” (and that wasn’t even the worst of it. The full story can be found here, in the CU at the Game Archives).

Colorado, we have argued for decades, is more interested in education than in winning on the football field. We compared the CU program to Duke in the ACC, Vanderbilt in the SEC, Northwestern in the Big Ten, and Stanford in the Pac-10 – teams which had academic standards too high to compete on a consistent basis on the gridiron.

The thing is, though, that Northwestern (under, of course, CU’s Gary Barnett) went to the Rose Bowl, Vanderbilt has found a way to compete in the SEC, Duke won ten games and its division last season, and Stanford … well, all Stanford has done has won eleven or more games each of the past four seasons.

So, the excuse doesn’t hold water, and, even if it did, it appears that the University of Colorado intelligentsia has found its way clear to allow more “at risk” student-athletes into the fold.

According to an article in the Daily Camera this week, “at-risk” prospects are being allowed in on a more regular basis in the Mike MacIntyre era, with an “at-risk” recruit at Colorado being defined as one with a predicted grade point average in CU classes between 2.0 and 2.3.

Some might see this shift in policy as a sign the school is lowering its expectations in the classroom for the program in order to boost performance on the field, but chancellor Phil DiStefano said that isn’t the case. DiStefano said the reason he signed off on a higher number of at-risk recruits was because MacIntyre was simultaneously raising the bar on the opposite end by adding more above-average recruits than the program had recruited in recent classes as well.

“What Mike MacIntyre has done is he has recruited some really top-notch academic players, more so than what we’ve seen in the past,” DiStefano said in an interview earlier this spring. “So when I take a look at the whole roster and he’s bringing in student-athletes with predicted grade point averages of 3.0 or above, I’m willing to take a look at more of the at-risk because it’s not going to be so much of a strain on the academic services in athletics.”

Really?

Let me get this straight … The reason CU didn’t allow “at risk” student-athletes to come to Boulder before was because it caused “a strain on academic services”?  But now that we have some straight-A students it the mix to off-set the “at risk” athletes, the “strain” has been lessened?

C’mon.

Whatever. It doesn’t matter. All that this means is that Colorado and its fans can no longer use the excuse of high academic standards for failures on the football field.

Anyone still trying to use that excuse should be required to explain Stanford …

Colorado does not fit in amongst its brethren in the Big Eight

Okay, so this one is no longer usable by default.

The excuse back in the 1980’s was that Colorado was not a good fit for the Big Eight. It was not a “mid-western” school, and was more closely aligned with the schools in say, the Pac-10.

Well, we got what we asked for.

Instead of finding its niche, the Colorado football program has struggled mightily in the new Pac-12. In three seasons since joining the Pac-12, the Buffs’ conference record is 4-23. In the 1990’s, Colorado lost 18 conference games – total – in the entire decade.

And then there is this …

Colorado has finished last alone in the basement of the Pac-12 South for the past two seasons. As a member of the Big Seven, the Big Eight, and the Big 12, Colorado finished last alone in conference play exactly … zero times.

That’s correct. Until the 2012 season, Colorado had gone nearly a century (since 1915) without finishing in the basement in conference play.

In fact, before the current run of ineptitude, Colorado had exactly two seasons – 1898 and 1915 – in its entire history in which the Buffs found themselves in the basement alone in conference play.

Get the picture?

Finishing last is not the Colorado way.

Posting a streak of consecutive losing seasons is not the Colorado way.

The University has brought in a coach who can win, is allowing that coach to recruit the players he believes will help him win, and is building facilities sufficient to compete in the Pac-12.

No more excuses.

No more delay.

It’s time to start winning again.

—-

7 Replies to “Memo To Buffs: It’s Time”

  1. I think that both Stuart and Mark have hit on what the central problem has been these past 8-10 years: It has proven easier to make excuses than to make progress. It has to stop. Accountability is everything. Own what you do. Life is a forward-moving exercise. Stop pointing backwards at what happened 5 to 10 seasons ago as justification for not getting the job done presently.

    At some point, you stand on your own two feet. You say “Enough!”, untuck your head from your own rear and start doing the hard work necessary to achieve success. As a guy who arrived at Boulder in the fall of ’85 and watched Coach Mac I’s Buffs transition from laughingstocks to bowl teams on a year in/year out basis, which success became the launching pad for the early 1990’s, I know it can be accomplished.

    Stop bitching. Start doing. Based upon what I have read and heard thus far in the new regime, Coach Mac II and our AD appear to subscribe to that philosophy. Time shall tell.

  2. Stuart,

    As a fellow “old guy” when it comes to following CU Football, let me resprectfully disagree with all of the so-called reasons for CU’s problems over the last 8-9 years.

    Facilities? That’s total BS originated by folks making lots of money trying to convince the world that 18 year old kids can only be enticed by a video game environment worthy of the show “Cribs” — Some pimple faced dipstick at the Bleacher Report (who had NEVER even seen the CU facilities) wrote that the Colorado facilities were among the worst in the country, and that idiotic statement has been repeated ad infinitum for the last four years or so. It’s been the model perfected by FOX News. Make something up and then use the made up BS as a “source” forever more. Go to the website of the folks who built the Dal Ward Center, and it is listed as “one of the nation’s premier training facilities.

    The academic requirements are too HIGH? BS again. In any case, I think most of here in Boulder prefer STUDENT athletes to semi-professional, criminally inclined young men (see Oklahoma, Nebraska, and most of the SEC) who are tolerated in the name of a good football program. Check the news over the last several months. The admittance of illiterate young men to play football and basketball at supposed top-notch universities is RAMPANT. I will not accept that crap here at Colorado. I would rather they gave up incollegiate athletics than stoop to paying their players. Does anyone remember MIAMI and some of their ghetto-born star players driving around in $80,000 cars and wearing $20,000 gold chains? And this was back in the 80’s and 90’s.

    The problem with the Colorado Football program can be pinned to head coaches.

    It started with Rick Neuheisel, who inherited one of the best programs (Top 5) in the country and ruined it. For those who weren’t around then, they look at his record and talk about how good it was. It was a mirage. The program he took over from Bill McCartney was so good that ANYONE could have won 10 games over the next two years, just like Slick Rick did. The next two years, however, which required good player development by the Rickster himself saw CU drop to 5-6 in year three. Neuheisel worked hard to find himself a new gig following year four and bolted to Washington. In 12 years as a college head coach, he had the two gimme’s from CU and one more at Washington. Other than those years, he was barely over .500 for his career. It’s why he makes his living talking instead of coaching.

    Gary Barnett came in and started to revitalize the program. In his 7 years, the Buffs won the Big-12 North 4 times. Regardless, he never got the program all the back to its glory days.

    The true destroyer of the bunch was Dan Hawkins, who came in as the hottest coaching prospect in the country. He came to CU with a career record of 93-22-1. In his five years at Colorado, he never had a winning record. It turned out he could not recruit with the “big boys” and he was horrible at player development. By the time he left, the program was a shambles.

    In came Jon Embree. A nice guy and favorite son who was in WAY over his head coaching at the FBS level. He made the mistake of hiring guys with no head coaching or coordinator experience and the Buffs continued their slide to one of the worst teams at the FBS level.

    The university itself made things even worse by not investing in quality personnel. Embree was the lowest paid coach in the Pac-12. The AD Mike Bohn was the lowest paid in the Big 12, and then the lowest paid in the Pac-12. Embree even pointed out the at the university would not foot the bill for desks for the coaches and bottled water in the office.

    —————-

    Now, finally, Colorado found a real head football coach with a plan to bring the Buffs back to relevance. Then, after firing Bohn, they finally opened up the pocketbooks and found an AD who could raise big bucks. Only time will tell if the new AD can find a good coach when he needs to, since he did not hire any of them.

    And, lastly, we need to let the coaches do the recruiting and the evaluating of talent. Star ratings by amateurs doesn’t mean anything. Look at the 4-5 star guys CU has had over the last decade, and notice how little they have done (as a group) to bolster CU football.

    Mark
    Boulderdevil

    1. BoulderD and Stuart, you hit the nail on the head so many times, even my head started hurting. You guys need to start a magazine!!…. maybe even a TV network. (Just kidding).

      I do enjoy both of your efforts to exact an accurate perspective on our Buffalo nation tho’. Hope you never decide to give it up.

    2. Aside from your silly backhanded slap at FOX News (be honest CNN or MSNBC could be substituted with equal effect) I agree with all your comments especially those related to Slick Rick and the former Montreal CFL coach. However Plati debunked the water and desk incidents in his Plati’tudes blog.

      I’m encouraged with the direction of the administration, the new AD and most importantly Mac 2. He just sounds like coach and he seems to have an eye for the diamond in the rough – Glliam and Adkins – to name a couple.

      1. 83Buff,

        That is certainly true about Fox/CNN/MSNBC. All three are jokes as far as I am concerned. I get my news online. But I do watch the Daily Show and Colbert, and they make their living making fun of the news channels, and Fox seems to provide the most sound bites of dimwits pretending to be journalists.

        Back to the Buffs. Plati may have DEBUNKED the water and desk stuff for the local faithful, but the story goes on. Opposing coaches out recruiting are not immune to painting Colorado in a bad light.

        What is important for the future of the program is that Colorado presents itself publicly as a family, and then lives up to that claim. MacIntyre and his staff seem do be doing that much better than any coach since the first Mac. I have high hopes for this program, even after the initial honeymoon period.

        Mark
        Boulderdevil

        1. I really can relate to what you said about old slickRick .what a joke for a coach. it`s time to see more happening in the recruiting of young men who want to play to win and get the free ride to graduate .Win the Pac 12 and play the rose bowl.

  3. Amen Stuart!

    It now appears that the Administration is finally getting it, and we are starting to make some good strides. For the 2014 season, however, we just simply do not have the talent in the lines to compete. We can sign some really good skill players, linebackers and D-backs, but until we get the linemen coming here, winning 3 or 4 games a year in conference will still be just beyond our reach.

    We have to get some Studs coming here, if we are ever going to really start rising. I watched the 89 CU-Nebraska game the other day, our D-line featured Arthur Walker, Joel Steed, and a young Kanavis McGee and young Alfred Williams.

    They gave the vaunted Nebraska O-line fits nearly everytime the ball was snapped. If we had even a half portion of talent like that, what a huge difference that would make.

    Patience!…………

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