… Be It Resolved …

I’ve never been one to make New Year’s Resolutions.

Nothing against those of you who do.

If you are one of those who have resolved, in the upcoming months and years, to lose weight, get a better job, and/or be nicer to strangers … you have my blessing.

My only complaint about New Year’s Resolutions is about the timing. If you want to exercise more, is it really more motivating to do so when it comes time to write a new date on your checks? What about changing your lifestyle on the Chinese New Year? Or Groundhog Day, for that matter?

Anyway, despite my reservations about resolutions, I am going to strive in 2016 to enjoy Colorado victories more and despair less over losses.

And CU athletic director Rick George has given us a great leg up on how to be more positive about how our Buffs are faring.

In his year-end email update to the Buff Nation, you find this line: “Our all sports record against Division I competition this year currently stands at 303-81-4, a 78.6 winning percentage”.

Damn. We’re good.

Certainly much better than I thought we were.

But, wait a second …

The football team went 4-9 this fall (.307 winning percentage).

The men’s basketball team went 16-18 (.470).

The women’s basketball team went 15-17 (.468).

The women’s soccer team went 7-10-3 (.425).

The women’s volleyball team went 19-13 (.593) … and fired its coach.

So where did this 78.6% winning percentage come from?

Well, it was thanks to the CU cross-country teams, with both the men’s and women’s teams finishing second nationally. Excellent results, to be sure (though the second-place finish for the men’s team was a disappointment, what with the two-time defending national champions being ranked No. 1 all season before losing for the first time all season in the NCAA finals), but how did the team rack up all of those “victories” when the teams competed in only six meets?

Simple. By CU’s reckoning, there were 31 teams at nationals, and the Buffs finished second in both competitions. Ergo, both the men’s and women’s teams went 29-1 against the competition at the NCAA championships.

Add up all the teams from all six meets, and the cross-country teams went 199-3 against the nation this fall, a nifty 98.5 winning percentage.

Nothing like going 199-3 in one sport to offset failed expectations in others.

Still, I’m going to need more to help me keep my resolution to be optimistic in 2016 than taking down Tulsa and Temple in the NCAA cross-country finals.

Unfortunately, I’m swimming upstream against human nature.

There is a term in psychology known as “loss aversion”. Simply put, the desire to avoid losses is wired more strongly into our brains than the desire to achieve gains.

This works against us in investments in our retirement accounts. It works against us in relationships … And it works against us when cheering for the University of Colorado. We, as sports fans, tend to dwell more on losses than celebrate victories.

This happened to me with recent bowl game results. I can tell you with a fair degree of certainty that I was upset more by Utah’s win over BYU in its bowl game than I reveled in Colorado State’s loss to Nevada in its post-season contest.

The Buffs went 4-9 this past season. With “loss aversion” working against us, it felt more like two wins and 18 losses. Multiply this lopsided negativity times ten years of losing seasons … and it’s a wonder we are all still here, cheering for our Buffs.

But I am going to try and make the best of it.

For starters, lets talk about some of CU’s victories this past season.

How great was it for the Buffs to take down Colorado State, 27-24, in overtime?

The Buffs spotted the Rams a 14-0 lead, but then came charging back with a resiliency which characterized the team for much of the 2015 campaign. Remember Kenneth Olugbode’s 60-yard interception return for a touchdown? Tedric Thompson’s block of CSU’s field goal attempt in overtime? The 32-yard game winner by Diego Gonzalez?

And how nice was it for the Buffs to end the conference road losing streak with a 17-13 win over Oregon State?

With the win, the program ended school-record conference losing streaks, both overall (14) and on the road (13). The win was especially nice for me, as I was at the game in Corvallis. I went to the game with my son-in-law (an Oregon grad), and spent the night at his parents house in Corvallis (Oregon State fans by default). For a change, Colorado was the team which won. For a change, I didn’t have to put up with the barbs about how poor my team fared … or, even worse, the thinly veiled sympathy after enduring yet another defeat.

There was even some fond memories to be found in the mismatches against UMass and Nicholls. My memory of the 48-0 win over Nicholls will not be of the touchdowns scored, but of enjoying the final few minutes of the game, played out before several thousand fans in Folsom. The only question in the final few series was whether the Colonels could avoid a shutout, with a pair of turnovers by the Buff defense in the fourth quarter preserving the goose-egg.

I remember Brad inquiring whether we – like most of the crowd that sunny September afternoon – should leave early, with the game well in hand. My response: “I never left when the Buffs were down by 40. I’m sure as hell not going to leave when they are up by 40”. I was there for the final gun, the team singing the fight song before (a pathetically small remaining) student section, and the singing of the alma mater.

Good times.

There have been some good times in the past (and if you need a little more encouragement this New Year’s, the CU at the Game Archives are there for your perusal).

We are heading into another long off-season. We have already endured the first of the nine months we must wait for the Buffs to take the field again. In the meantime, we must strive to be optimistic about the future, and try not to dwell on the negative.

That’s my resolution for 2016 … to try and enjoy the positives more, move past the negatives more quickly.

I’m even going to try and be more positive about what some – okay, perhaps only I – perceive as a negative for the Buffs, that being victories and success for fellow Pac-12 teams. We don’t have the chip-on-our-shoulder, us-against-the-world mentality of the SEC and its fans, but most Pac-12 fans will still cheer for other Pac-12 teams when taking on the rest of the nation.

My first challenge will be rooting for Oregon against TCU in the Alamo Bowl on Saturday. Stanford against Iowa in the Rose Bowl and Arizona State against West Virginia in the Cactus Bowl do not present the same mental hurdle as cheering for the (hated) Ducks.

In the alternative, I could just take in the new Star Wars movie Saturday afternoon, and avoid the Alamo Bowl game altogether …

Now that’s what I call loss aversion.



5 Replies to “… Be It Resolved …”

  1. I would like to see PAC-12 and SEC teams play each other during the regular season, and not just one game, but several each year. Has an SEC team ever played a regular season game in the Pacific Time Zone?

    I would like to see Bowl game match-ups between PAC-12 and SEC teams every year.

  2. I am with Scott. We need to go a different direction at QB. Sefo has had 3 seasons and plenty of chances to prove he can win a conference game with the ball in his hands. He has no conference wins in these situations and a plethora of opportunities. Onward with either Apsay or Montez plus some better play calling, particularly in the red zone, with Chiv’s help. Go Buffs!

  3. Oh yeah. I quit making New Year’s resolutions so long ago I can’t remember. Probably some time before or during my time at CU. So, that’s the best resolution I ever made. Still going strong.

    Go Buffs!

  4. Stu,

    You’re one of those who hates the rams, even when they’re not playing our Buffs? Ok. Plenty are.

    For me, I hope they win every game, except against our Buffs. I don’t follow them. I don’t root for them. But, I wish them well. It’s good for CU if they do well. It’s good for Colorado football if they do well. And, it helps fuel the “rivalry” a la UW/Wazzu, and many others, when both teams are winning.

    You didn’t want Utah to win their bowl game? Ouch. CU first. Pac 12 second (and Big 8 and Big 12 before that). Yes, I always hated Nebraska, but…wanted them to win their bowl games. But? Maybe that’s because I’m an optimistic guy?

    Or, it’s because I believe success of the conference is good for CU. Remember how bad the Big 12 North was? That’s largely what hid the flaws brewing at CU that led to…70-3. As well as the mediocre to poor results Hawk got. As you’ve pointed out, there was always Kansas and Iowa State to beat up.

    Everyone’s so down on CU for winning only four games this year. Why? The realistic expectations were to win 5. And, we could argue that if Sefo didn’t go down against USC, maybe they win all of those last three games. Sure, another year of similar ill timed miscues (albeit far fewer than recent years, and actually partially offset by actually making plays, at just the right time, occasionally turning the tide back in their favor). Yes, the offense under performed relative to expectations. But, I think the injuries along the line and to Sefo had way more impact than most appreciate. Depth is still developing. Look at UCLA’s defense. They were similarly decimated, and it showed up hugely in the win/loss record. I’m sure you watched TT’s bowl game with interest. That offense looked a lot like CU’s. Chiaverini will be a nice fit (yes fit, not replacement) and I think will have an immediate impact in…recruiting.

    So, buck up, little pup! The horizon is brightening for our Buffs’ football program. The lost decade is getting shoved into the past. Not as quickly as any of us would like, but…it’s happening.

    Keep up the good work. Best wishes to you and yours for a healthy, happy and prosperous 2016. And? Enjoy the new, cooler side of your leaf as you roll into 2016, as well.

    Go Buffs!

    1. Good point on most. But Sefo would not have won the last three games. Zero chance. He can’t win a conference game. He’s proven that for three years. We have a much better chance if he never sees the field again. McIntyre has to let go of the Manlove for Sefo. Time to move on and win. Go Buffs.

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