#RollTad – Enjoy the Ride

For the better part of the 1990’s, the University of Colorado was amongst the elite of the college football world.

– Between the start of the 1989 season and the early part of the 1997 season, the Buffs never left the Associated Press poll, a span of 143 consecutive polls (still one of the top ten streaks of all-time).

– Between 1989 and 1996, Colorado finished with ten or more wins five times.

For awhile there, we thought that winning seasons and national rankings were the new normal. We believed that Colorado had found its rightful place as a top tier program, and there it would stay.

Well, that didn’t work out so well.

It has now been 14 campaigns since CU last won a championship, and those same 14 seasons since the Buffs posted their most recent – and only seventh overall – ten-win fall.

The Buffs haven’t sniffed the national polls since November, 2005.

It was great for a good long time, and yes, Colorado still remains in the top 25 nationally in all-time wins. But, if anything, the past ten years have taught us to remember that, in the final words from the epic movie, Patton, “all glory … is fleeting”.

Which makes it all the more important for the Buff Nation to savor, relish, and bask in the glow of what has happened with the Colorado basketball program the past six seasons under Tad Boyle.

After decades of spending the weekend of Selection Sunday lamenting the end of yet another losing season (or, at best, hoping for a call from the NIT), CU basketball fans are once again excited about the NCAA tournament. This season, with the Buffs sitting on a 22-11 record and a fifth place Pac-12 finish, Colorado fans are not even all that concerned about the Buffs being a “bubble team”, with the bracketologists having the Buffs as either a No. 7 or No. 8 seed.

How amazing has the run been under Tad Boyle?

– Colorado won 21 regular season games in 2015-16. That figure tied the all-time record for the program, tying the 1996-97 and 2013-14 teams.

– The Buffs are sitting on 22 victories heading into the NCAA tournament, tying the 1996-97 Chauncey Billups team for fourth most in school history. The three seasons with more victories? The 2010-11  and 2011-12 teams had 24 wins; the 2013-14 had 23 … all three teams coached by Tad Boyle.

– The 2015-16 campaign marked the fifth time in six seasons under Boyle in which the Buffs won at least 20 games. In the first 110 years of Colorado basketball, the program notched four 20-win seasons.

– Let’s let that one sink in a little bit. Granted, for the first half of the 20th century, teams only played about 20 games a season, but 20-win seasons became a standard of excellence decades ago. So, the stat is worth repeating … before Tad, CU had a grand total of four 20-win seasons. In six seasons under Tad, the Buffs have posted 20 or more wins five times.

– Tad Boyle’s record at Colorado is 130-79, a .622 winning percentage which is just a fraction below the .623 Forrest Cox posted between 1936-50.

– Colorado has a 22-39 all-time record in conference tournaments (including a dismal 4-20 record in Big Eight tournaments). Tad Boyle, with a 1-1 record this March, has posted exactly half of those victories. Put another way: Tad Boyle is 11-5 in conference tournaments; all other CU coaches in history have a record of 11-34.

– Boyle’s 130 wins are fourth on the all-time coaching list, just about half of the all-time leader, Sox Walseth. Boyle is in his sixth season in Boulder … Walseth accumulated his 261 wins over 20 seasons.

– The Buffs are 16-10 in the post-season under Boyle (NCAA, NIT, CBI, Conference tournaments). That win total of 16 is double that of the No. 2 coach on the CU all-time list, Ricardo Patton. Patton had eight post-season victories … to go with 18 defeats.

– The Buffs had an 11-game winning streak during the non-conference campaign this past November/December. Only four times in school history – and not once since 1961-62 – had the Buffs gone on such a run.

Let’s talk about the NCAA tournament …

Tad Boyle is taking the Buffs back to the NCAA tournament this year. It will mark the fourth time in Boyle’s six seasons in which the Buffs have been asked to the Big Dance.

CU’s history in the tournament is not as bad as you might think. The Buffs have been invited 13 times previously, have made two Final Fours, and have a 10-15 overall record.

Not bad, but let’s break it down. Take away the three previous appearances by teams coached by Tad Boyle, and you have these stats: Colorado had only made two appearances in over 40 years in the NCAA tournament prior to the current run … once in 1997; once in 2003. Other than the 1997 and 2003 appearances, you have to go back to 1969 to find the Buffs on the list of teams playing in the NCAA tournament (you remember 1969, don’t you? Man walking on the moon? The Amazing Mets?).

And attendance at the Coors Events Center

In Tad Boyle’s first season, 2010-11, four attendance marks fell: sellouts in a season (5); total attendance (140,284); conference total attendance (78,472); and conference average attendance (9,809).

And Boyle was just getting started.

The all-time record for total attendance moved up to 155,884 in 2012-13 and 173,429 in 2013-14.

Which makes the numbers for 2015-16 a disappointment.

Colorado went 15-1 at home this season, but attracted only 145,180 to the Coors Event Center. That’s better than any other season in school history before Tad Boyle arrived, but represents a significant drop from the 2013-14 team – which posted a very similar 23-12 record for the year.

The Buffs only two games with over 10,000 in attendance were the final two home games against the Arizona schools. After the 75-72 win over Arizona, played before the largest crowd of the season, 11,309, Tad Boyle called out the Buff Nation:

“If you didn’t come to watch this game tonight, you missed a hell of a college basketball game”, Boyle said.  “I have two questions after a night like this, and that is why can’t the Coors Events Center be like this every night?  And why can’t we bring that kind of energy and concentration as a team every night.  I think they are both valid questions, it should be like this every night.  And if we want to get this program where we want it, which is a top 25 program, one like Arizona, we have to do this every night.  It’s up to our fans to come out, and it’s up to us as coaches and players to play with the passion, toughness and energy that we played with tonight.  It doesn’t guarantee that we’re going to win every game, but it makes for a hell of a lot of fun.  I don’t understand why it can’t be like that every night”.

The Buff Nation … spoiled? After only a few seasons of success?

The attendance numbers, unfortunately, seem to bear this out.

Boyle, his players and his assistant coaches, deserve better.

In February, the Colorado Board of Regents approved a one-year contract extension for Boyle, with the contract now running through to June 30, 2021.

It was a formality – keeping Boyle’s contract at five years – but did not include any additional pay or benefits.

Perhaps it should have.

Tad Boyle has been nothing but loyal to the CU athletic department. Short of there being a coaching vacancy at his alma mater, Kansas (which does not appear to be likely anytime in the foreseeable future), it would be hard to see Boyle leaving Boulder. He is creating a legacy, one which will be nearly impossible to match.

Were there some tough games this season? Would CU coaches, players, and fans like to have back the last few minutes of both Utah games, the USC game, and the road game against Oregon State? Have the Buffs suffered from some poor guard play, and struggled at times with fundamentals like breaking the press and getting the ball inbounds?

Yes. Yes. Yes. and Yes.

But let’s not lose sight of the big picture.

A 20-win season is rare for the University of Colorado basketball program.

An NCAA berth is far from a birthright for the Buffs.

That we have even come close to getting used to 20-win seasons and NCAA tournament bids is thanks to the efforts of Tad Boyle and his staff.

Enjoy the ride.

Don’t forget – all glory … is fleeting.



One Reply to “#RollTad – Enjoy the Ride”

  1. Great write-up Stuart! We really are fortunate to have him, the numbers are astounding. This crossed my mind while reading it, and I wonder your thoughts: At what point,(hopefully this is irrelevant and Tad’s teams continue to improve, culminating in national championships) do you think asking for more (declines in attendance) would be justified?

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