Sisyphus

Most people know the story of Sisyphus.

Sisyphus is known to history as the former King of Corinth, who, according to Greek mythology, was condemned to spend eternity pushing a boulder up a hill, only to have the boulder roll back to the bottom of the hill.

(If you want to read a brief history of the antics which resulted in Sisyphus being relegated to such a fate – including his placing handcuffs on Hades, king of the underworld, so no one could die – check it out here).

sisyphus

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For over ten years, the Colorado football program has been the Power Five conference equivalent of Sisyphus.

The Buffs – and their fans – have been condemned to push the boulder uphill towards restoration of their program, only to have the boulder drop back down to the bottom, forcing the Buffs – and their fans – to start all over again.

It started with the scandal which wasn’t; the rape accusations which never led to any arrests; the finding of guilt without the nuisance of actually having a trial.

Then head coach Gary Barnett got a bad case of “foot-in-mouth” disease, with the truth, once again, not playing a role in the condemnation of the Colorado football program.

Dan Hawkins seemed like a good fit to get the boulder heading back uphill again, and continue (not restore, continue) CU’s winning ways. A 19-10 loss to Montana State in Hawkins’ debut should have been a clear sign of things to come, but the program – and its fans – kept pushing the boulder up the hill, hoping for better days.

After Hawkins was finally dismissed after five tortuous seasons, Jon Embree and Co. were brought in. The CU administration and the Buff Nation bought into the concept of bringing back former Buffs, players and coaches who understood what it took to get the rock up to the top of the hill and keep it there.

So CU fans started over, pushing the rock up the hill once again.

Embree, though, was never able to get the rock moving up the hill … if anything, the rock fell further down towards the bottom.

Enter Mike MacIntyre. With the top of the hill nowhere in sight, the new coach Mac and his hires, along with the Buff players and fans, started over yet again. Under MacIntyre, the Buffs went from hideous in 2012 (average score: 46-18) to a better grade of lousy by 2014 (average score: 39-28).

The 2015 season, MacIntyre’s third, was supposed to be the season of progress. Perhaps not the ten-win success MacIntyre enjoyed in his third season at San Jose State, but progress nonetheless.

The boulder had been pushed far enough back up the hill that the Buffs and their fans could at least see the summit once again. After a slip to start the season against Hawai’i, the boulder started edging up, with the Buffs posting their first three game winning streak in seven years. A 41-24 loss to Oregon, while not a step higher up the hill, was at least not a step back. It was a sign of progress that the Buffs – and their fans – were upset that they had let an opportunity to take down a vulnerable Duck program slip away.

Then … the Arizona State game.

And the boulder slide back down the hill once again.

Witness:

2011: Arizona State 48, Colorado 14

2012: Arizona State 51, Colorado 17

2013: Arizona State 54, Colorado 13

2014: Arizona State 38, Colorado 24

2015: Arizona State 48, Colorado 23

Same song, different verse.

And it’s not as if the Sun Devils are the dominant team in the Pac-12 conference. Arizona State came into the game against Colorado with a record identical to that of the Buffs – 3-2 – and were one week removed from a humbling 42-14 home loss to USC.

What’s different about the 2015 Colorado football team to make the Buff Nation believe that the team will not slide right back into the same old losing routine the remainder of the season?

Check out these pre-game quotes:

“I think it could be a measuring stick. They’re a very good team’, said Sefo Liufau. “We’re going out there to win. We’re not going out there to measure how close we can lose by. You should never go in with that mindset. We’re going out there to win. We’re going out to win every Pac-12 game. So, everyone has got the belief right now”;

and

“I think it’s just about improving on what we did last year,” Nelson Spruce said. “I think we’re a more competitive team overall. This is a team that kind of dominated us last year, honestly. We didn’t play as well as we could have last week but I think we learned how to fight for four quarters. I think if we handle our business on offense and defense, we’ll still be in it”.

Pre-game talk before taking on Arizona State?

Well, yes and no.

These are pre-game quotes from Sefo Liufau and Nelson Spruce before the Buffs took on Arizona State.

But they are quotes taken from pre-game interviews given by Sefo Liufau and Nelson Spruce before the Buffs took on Arizona State … last year.

Now, go back and read those quotes again, bearing in mind this came before the Buffs went on to lose at home to the Sun Devils, 38-24, at home, going on to post their first winless conference season in 99 years.

Same song, different verse.

Now, there is hope for the 2015 Buffs. The Pac-12 has proven in the early going that almost any team can beat almost any team.

Washington was supposed to be in a rebuilding year … but this weekend the Huskies took out preseason top 10 USC … on the road.

Washington State was supposed to be wondering about a replacement for head coach Mike Leach … but this weekend the Cougars took out preseason top 10 Oregon … on the road.

Almost any team in the league can beat any other team, with only two constants to date: No one has been able to beat Utah; and Colorado can’t beat anyone.

The Buffs have lost 13 consecutive Pac-12 games. One more, and they will tie the team record of 14 consecutive losses, with that record set way back between September, 2012, and November, 2013 (so yes, for those of you scoring at home, that is a 14-game conference losing streak, followed by a win over Cal in November, 2013, followed by 13 more conference losses … a run of 1-27 in Pac-12 conference games).

Before conference play opened, the Buffs, sporting a 3-1 record, had some impressive statistics, out-gaining opponents 477 yards per game to 341; out-scoring opponents on a clip of 36-17.

In two Pac-12 games, however, the Buffs have been out-gained by an average of 514 yards to 349; out-scored on a clip of 44.5-23.5.

The boulder may have not fallen all the way back to the bottom of the hill … but it’s slipping again.

Two weeks ago, Buff fans were talking about beating Oregon.

Today, Buff fans are calling for Mike MacIntyre’s head (or at least those of offensive coordinator Brian Lindgren and special teams coach Toby Neinas).

Two weeks from now, after two potentially winnable games against Arizona and Oregon State, Buff fans might be talking about bowl possibilities … or openly wondering if coach MacIntyre can survive as head coach if he posts two consecutive seasons losing every Pac-12 conference game.

If history is any guide, a betting person would side with the latter scenario being more likely.

And once again the Buff Nation, like Sisyphus, will be left to start pushing the boulder back up the hill.

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16 Replies to “Sisyphus”

  1. Fans have an opinion on everything and need a forum to let out their frustrating and thoughts. This is a great place just for that. It does make you feel a little better. We all want the buffs to win again and each week just makes us more and more frustrated with losing. We all don’t like to hear, “just be patient.” The reality is that the pac-12 is really, really good. I think every team except Wash State has been ranked in the last 3 years during the season or preseason. Makes it that more difficult to rebuild. Coach needs a 4th year to showcase that the buffs will win again. 3 seasons like he did in the past is not enough to rebuild a high school team into a competitive pac-12 team. Face the reality and be patient until next year.

    This team wants to win and pissed off they are. Good sign that the culture of losing is about to end. Might start this year and we have to wait till next year, but we can all see the light at the end of the dark tunnel we have been through.

  2. This culture is interesting to watch.

    It took until the fourth snap in Hawaii in game 1 for many to lose hope and write off this team. We are so conditioned to doomsday this program we all equally and passionately love. With 3 quarters in front of them and only one possessio of the season marked off I watched the majority of the Buff faithful I was with, call it a loss. Write off the season. Now, write off the coach.

    Those of you that have joined us at Folsom this year have noticed the same things I have. Light attendance, zero students and a team that objectively has improved from day one of this current staff.

    Remember the last senior day of the Embree Era? The thing most striking is that that team was worse 24 games later than they were at game 1.

    This team has produced enough tangible results, fundimental improvement and mental care to at least get us excited about the future. If this team and its parts played way above the potential of their skills we still would not win the Pac 12 south. A division that is top to bottom the toughest in the country and the Buffs would need to be a top 25 team just to make a bowl because of who we need to beat. We are not a top 25 team, nor should we be. We are not there yet. These are not the athlete pieces to do it. We should not expect that, with where we started 3 years ago.

    Michigan never lost the recruits, never lost the prestige and the hole they had to dig out of was small. You see a proven coach go in there with major talent in the locker room and develop these guys to a top team. Urban Meyer and Ohio State had the same recipe. Unfortunately, we do not have the same ingredients in the locker room. Sefo still plays and plays hurt and will never see up field, but he is by far the best ingredient we have for now in that position. It takes time. It takes athletes. We need to adjust our expectations.

    We were competitive with Oregon in the first half for the first time in forever. The second half saw our starting left tackle (who just so happens to be 2nd on the depth chart but starting due to injury) go down, enter left tackle #3. Our inside linebackers were both backups as we lost this years leading tackler and our leading tackler from 2013. So we were relying on a 5’10” 200 pound special teams player to stop Oregon. You wanna know why we got soft? How in the second half we couldn’t stopt the run? Look into the roster. Ryan Severson is a good kid and has a ton of heart, he worked his tail off at ASU, but he will not stop most of the writers on this blog running the ball with a PAC12 offensive line in front of us.

    The Buffs aren’t beat, they are beat up. We would be fools to think that this program should have a roster fully 2 deep of PAC12 worthy athletes. That IS NOT what this coaching staff walked into. Can we have a low tolerance for timely change? No, we can’t afford it. Should Urban Meyer have gotten 3 years to produce results, absolutely because Ohio State never fell out of top 10 recruiting, he better. That is not our reality. This staff walked into scholarships that were considering playing at little to no power conferences if division 1 at all. We can’t expect our coaches to be magicians. We can’t expect magic with a full healthy roster even.

    Am I ok with mediocrity? No! Do I want the personal support I have in this program to garnish a return? Of course! Has this team given up or lost sight of the goal or stopped developing? No one here can objectively say that either. There has been a steady climb. We are moving up hill. Our bottom this week is SO FAR from the bottom of 3 years ago.

    So let’s not be the student section and abandon this team. Let’s not give up. Let’s not doubt a staff that has shown progress with little to work with. Let’s continue to dream big. Let’s throw our energy at supporting this team and staff and University. Let’s hold our head high in the hardest times in order to fully cherish the good times that are to come. When this team is fully a force and competitive, do you really want to look in the mirror and realize you quit before they did?

    Coach Mac needs time, Rick George is a smart business man and knows he needs time, we need completed facilities which have already paid dividends (see recruits with offers from teams we wish we could beat), we need those improvements funded. We need fans who believe as much as the people on the gridiron.

    We need to exemplify our fight song and stand shoulder to shoulder with all athletics and fight.

    GO BUFFS!

    Peter- Thanks for being a voice of reason

  3. Unfortunately, my prediction for the ASU game of 49-28 was pretty close. The match ups were not good and the Buffs looked, in this game, like they have over the last 5 years against quality opponents. I hope this is a wake up call but even though the Buffs are stronger and believe more than in years past, they simply still do not have the talent of other Pac 12 teams. That is a result of pushing the boulder in Boulder (how is that for redundancy?) for a decade. I was critical of Liufau last year and then decided to take a step back this year to see how it would play out. I don’t know if it is the play calling or just that Liufau has hit his ceiling but it is getting really old watching him holding onto the ball and getting disoriented and mismanaging the clock at critical junctures. If Liufau does not find a way to improve during the second half of this job, it may cost Macintyre his job. He has invested in Liufau without giving the backups any meaningful playing time. I can’t see Rick George tolerating another losing season. Arizona is the game of the season. And should be a winnable one. Lose that one and we can count on another year without a bowl and maybe another regime change.

  4. A totally agree with the post on there has to be someone or something behind Sefo playing so much. Every down every play on blowouts. We can’t develop anyone if there is a season ending injury. Isn’t the dad an alum? This just doesn’t make any sense when you really think about it. College buddies from old donating to facilities? Many people are wondering the same thing. Sefo is definitely hurting his team, which he captains, by playing. Leaders don’t hurt their team typically. He has made statement he won’t let himself to go out. who runs the team? The HC or Sefo…… ? Or the force behind all this??? good question to ponder on….

  5. I agree with Peter! We should have beaten Hawaii, CSU should not have been close, and we really should have beaten Oregon or at least been in it at the end! It has been extremely disheartening. But, we have to remember what McCartney’s record was after three years. This is not the smoke and mirrors of Hawkins, This team is substantially better than the teams of the past decade. Recruiting for the O-line has to improve and something has to change in the offensive philosophy, but Coach Mac can still get it done! Shoulder to Shoulder – go Buffs!

  6. It would be one thing if we were playing smart, solid, tough, fundamentally sound football. But I feel like we’re the same bunch of clueless sad sacks year after year (players and coaches alike). A pathetic laughingstock. I agree that starting over with a new coach will just set us back even more, but I’m not sure we are making any progress. I will be at the Arizona game cheering on my buffs, but my hopes for a victory are much lower today than they were 2 weeks ago.

  7. Yo Stuart,

    I’m ready to give up. No more writing my blog about the Buffs. No more following them online. No more wasting my time watching the games. Listening to MacIntyre go on about his insane idea to keep doing what they’re doing.

    Offensive Coordinator and QB coach Brian Lindgren is a disgrace. His training of Liufau and his inability to see when a tough guy is TOO INJURED to do anything but hurt the team has turned me and many other fans off to the point where don’t care anymore.

    All the B.S. about being a power team that runs the ball is just that — B.S.
    Lindgren calls NINE straight passing plays to start the game. The Buffs are down 14-0 before the FIRST running play is even called. Lindgren ends the first half with ELEVEN straight passing plays.

    All this passing despite the fact that the offensive line could not protect the QB, and Lindgren apparently thinks Liufau can stand in the pocket for 6-7 seconds while he waits for the idiotic plays to develop. Why won’t they call quick hitting passing plays to protect an obviously injured QB?

    And why does Mac allow Liufau to continue playing when it is obvious that he is hurting the team? He has been scattering passes all year, and particularly so since he got hurt. He should have sat the entire game against Nichols instead of playing into the 3rd quarter.

    Does Sefo know some secret of Lindgren or MacIntyre? Does he make them play him no matter how bad the score get or how injured he is? I don’t know and I really don’t care at this point.

    As long as Lindgren is calling the plays, I am no longer interested in watching. It’s too painful watching young men who are working so hard have their souls shredded by an offensive coordinator who ignores the running game and calls plays which seem designed to get his QB killed.

    Lest anyone think that the running game was not working, check out these numbers from the 1st half when Lindgren finally started calling running plays.
    1st run — 9 yards
    2nd run — 8 yards
    3rd run — 16 yards for Touchdown
    4th run — QB run tackled for loss
    5th run — 3 yards
    6th run — 6 yards
    7th run — 5 yards
    8th run — 1 yard
    9th run — 2 yards
    1oth run – 1 yard

    Take away the badly designed QB run and the Buffs had 9 carries for 51 yards, which is 5.6 yards per carry.

    Instead the Buffs called 30 passing plays. Three of those plays the QB was sacked, seven times the QB missed wide open receivers, five times the ball was thrown to a receiver behind the line of scrimmage, twice ball is thrown away out of bounds, one scramble for positive gain and one interception.

    Someone famously said that “doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result is the definition of insanity.” Having Lindgren call the plays is definitely insanity for these Buffs.

    And watching them again before things change would be insane for me and many other fans.

    Mark
    Boulderdevil

  8. It would be nuts to get rid of MacIntyre. He is a good coach. Same goes for the defensive coaching stuff. The D is improved but hurting from key injuries.

    Special teams coach? 3 blocked punts so far and kickoff coverage full of holes. Could very well be a change coming there this offseason.

    Offensive coordinator? It seems that Lindgren can’t seem to figure out an offensive strategy to fit his talent. Poor OL. Average QB that is not very mobile. I think the receivers and backs are a talented group but underutilized. Either commit to an up-tempo motion offense, get a dual-threat QB, or let another OC have a try.

    Still looking at some of these Pac-12 games as winnable if the Buffs coaches and players can put together a complete game.

  9. We win the Big 12 championship my freshman year in 2001 and it’s been downhill since. Between the false scandals, hiring missteps, and constant beat downs, I’m tired. Every year I come back for more because I love my school, love my Buffs, and want to share fall Saturdays with my kids. For whatever reason CU football seems to make smart players dumb, hopeful fans weary, and opposing schools smiling. I want to hope, but I’m almost apathetic. That’s a dangerous place for this program and I’m sure I’m not alone. I’d take .500 every year if we could be competitive in some damn football games. Same story, new year. Go Buffs.

  10. I have a similar feeling.
    I believe: 1) the coaches, overall and with some exceptions, are doing an ok job – it is a tough assignment and this crew is the best we’ve had in a while, however, the staff is starting to show some blemishes and cracks; 2) there is not much talent, the Oline seems to be the weakest unit and overall the limiting factor for this team but injuries have exposed the talent gap in terms of depth; 3) the talent level should improve as the new facilities kick in, I hope that is not a vain hope, it has been a long decade or so since cu football was fun – having a tough time beating csu, really?; 4) on purpose i watched only the last 4 minutes of the game, i didn’t miss it and had three hours to do other stuff – i might become accustomed to it; 5) anyone want any UA tickets? I’m not up for another trip home in the wee hours – what happened to Saturday afternoon football?

  11. I feared this week non-conference schedule would rear it’s ugly head. CU is clearly unable to compete against the PAC12 schedule they are facing. I have come to the conclusion the players are capable but it is this offensive coaching staff that is holding them back. Coach Mac is saying they are going to keep doing the same things they have? I am sure the decision about the coaching staff will come when the BUFFS are 3-6. I fully expect Rick George to make a coaching change for next season. Things have to change this simply isn’t working out. The boulder has fallen all the way down the hill.GO BUFFS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  12. Long time reader first time commenter. First off, thanks for maintaining such a great site, I really appreciate the work you put in.

    Secondly, lets all take a deep breath.

    Do you all remember Hawkins and Embree? We didn’t lose games, we got absolutely pulverized. It was like watching a JV HS team play. Remember when we would take two consecutive time outs and STILL get a delay of game penalty? Remember when Kansas (Kansas!!!) put 35 points on us in the fourth quarter as the Buffs coughed up a 28pt lead to lose the game? Remember when Fresno state was beating us 35-0 in the first 13 minutes. Then 55-7 at the half and ultimately 69-14. Remember the off field incidents? The bad grades? The poor sportsmanship of our players? We were cutting every corner we could and still could not sell our soul for a win.

    People are calling for MacIntyre’s head and if we had been playing football for the past decade I could understand that. But really we weren’t playing football, we were playing dress up and occasionally getting lucky on flukey plays, favorable calls, and opponents disastrous mistakes (. You watch the team today and we are actually playing football. MacIntyre is a good man and a good coach (Possibly the best of both since Coach Mac). Give him time.

    Typically you give a coach 5 years because then the players are solely that coach’s recruits. I argue we give Mac 5 years after the completion of new facilities because we aren’t even at parity until those are completed. No known quality (4 star) player that was not a fool would have ever picked CU over Oregon all else equal once they compared the facilities. Hopefully that aspect is changed.

    Also, so what if we fire MacIntyre, what then? Who would come? How would we pay them? CU can’t offer much of a support platform to another coach especially if we fire one coach after 2 years and another after 3. Nobody would touch us, we are dangerously close to being viewed as a sinkhole where coaching careers go to die. Give Mac more time.

    Shoulder to Shoulder. Keep the faith.

    1. I agree. I’m as depressed as everyone else about the seemingly never ending string of losses, but the team is definitely playing better. That said, I also agree that Mac needs to can Neinas and at least have a talk with Lindgren. Lindgren needs to trust the run game, and play uptempo the whole game. Keep Sefo from getting seriously injured. Come on.

    2. Great comment Peter.

      Stay the course Buff fans. We’re on the right path, we really are. If anything, this season is proof of how far we really had to go.

      Can’t wait to go cheer on this team against Arizona Saturday.

    3. In agreement with Peter and others on his reply thread. We haven’t completely caught up with the rest of the Pac-10, but we’re making progress. We don’t have any room for mistakes or these games will get out of hand, with the scoreline looking similar to the last few years, but I feel that this team is better, and while we may not win, I feel each week we have a better opportunity than we have had in the last 5+ years.

      MacIntyre seems to be an excellent coach and we are fortunate to have him. Sefo is a capable QB IMO, but I would be open to trying our backups if he is injured and open receivers keep getting missed over and over.

      I think the Arizona game will be a good contest and I bet it’s competitive. I think this ASU loss will make the team hungry.

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