In Tuck We Trust*

It’s been a whirlwind first few weeks for new CU head coach Mel Tucker. Named as the 26th head coach at Colorado on December 6th, Tucker had to put together some semblance of a staff, while still focusing on shoring up and adding to the CU Recruiting Class.

And do it in less than two weeks.

Tucker now has his two coordinators, and has five assistants on board … with three still to be named.

Tucker has also signed his first recruiting Class, adding 17 names to the Buff roster … with seven or eight (perhaps) still to be signed in February.

Tucker is saying all the right things at his press conferences. He is giving Buff fans renewed hope for the 2019 season and beyond.

But …..

… There are still reasons for concern …

CU to – finally – emphasize play in the trenches …

Eight of the 17 signees for the CU Recruiting Class of 2019 are linemen, with four offensive linemen and four defensive linemen.

“Big guy,” Tucker said in his evaluation of new offensive lineman Austin Johnson. “You’re going to hear me say that a lot. We need big guys on the offensive line, on the defensive line. This is what we’re looking for. We have to be stout in the trenches. We have to be able to move people, we have to be able to run the ball on our terms.”

Getting bigger along the lines plays into Tucker’s philosophy of getting CU to be a tougher team.

“There’s an element of toughness on our roster right now and we’re going to promote that”, said Tucker. “That’s going to be paramount to what we do: toughness, relentless attitude, playing physical on both sides of the ball and special teams. We’re going to be violent. I feel like we already have that on our team and we’re just going to add to it.”

Sounds great.

But …..

It’s not like CU hasn’t had an emphasis on recruiting linemen before.

Just two years ago, CU’s Class of 2017, Mike MacIntyre & Co. brought in no fewer than 14 – yes, 14 – new linemen, with five new offensive linemen and nine new defensive linemen.

And there were some quality recruits on the list (this was, after all, the Class coming in after CU’s 10-4 campaign in 2016).

Despite the influx of players, the results have been, to put it mildly, mixed.

So, while it is great to hear the new head coach preach about physical play, and to see the Buffs sign a ton (literally) of new talent, it may be too soon to start clinking glasses over CU’s new dominant lines.

(Here’s hoping for – and, in my view, expecting – better results out of new offensive line coach Chris Kapilovic).

Mel Tucker is taking CU recruiting national

Everyone knows that CU needs to recruit California and Texas to be successful.

Everyone except Mel Tucker, that is.

“We recruited nationally,” said Tucker. “A lot of the coaches we have on our staff are national recruiters. These are all players that were on everyone’s radar across the country. There’s really no secrets in college football in terms of prospects. It’s just a matter of finding the right fit and recruit, recruit, recruit.”

Tucker is not going to allow Colorado to be restrained by borders, or by the competition.

“We’re looking for the best football players, the guys that can fit in what we’re going to do here, how we’re going to play football,” he said. “Physical, fast, relentless, smart, tough, best conditioned – if that’s a defensive back, if it’s a linebacker, D-line, O-line, quarterback – we’re looking to fill the class with those type of guys.”

Again … sounds great.

But …..

If history is any guide, that’s not how Colorado has been successful.

For every Kordell Stewart (Louisiana) CU has ever signed, there is a Joel Klatt (Colorado), Koy Detmer (Texas) and Darian Hagan (California).

For every Rodney Stewart (Ohio) CU has ever signed, there is a Phillip Lindsday (Colorado),  Hugh Charles (Texas), and Eric Bieniemy (California).

You get the idea.

I love the idea of CU being a national player when it comes to recruiting. I love that Mel Tucker & Co. are actually out there making offers to four- and five-star recruits for the Class of 2020.

All four of Mel Tucker’s new hires to date are “national recruiters”.

None of them, however, have a history recruiting in the Pac-12 footprint.

The Colorado Recruiting Class of 2019 is currently ranked 59th in the country (by Rivals; 49th by 247 Sports). The Class is ranked 10th in the Pac-12 by Rivals; 9th by 247 Sports.

Tucker & Co. get a pass on the overall quality of the Class of 2019, but won’t get a pass next December if the national recruiting campaign doesn’t bare fruit.

We’ll see how this works out …

Six wins per season should not be the ceiling for CU football, it should be the floor

This is the best part of the Mel Tucker hire to date … his expectations for the program.

“Obviously the expectations are high,” Tucker said at his introductory press conference. “We’re here to win championships. I’ve never been in a game, as a player or a coach, that we weren’t expecting to win. Ever. So there’s one thing that I can tell you, there’s no one on this planet that can put more pressure on me than I can put on myself. The expectations I have for this university and this program are extremely high. We’re going to start working today to get this thing going in the direction it needs to go.”

Without knowing it, Tucker even channeled Lawrence Vickers, who was a running back for the Buffs back in the early 2000’s – you know, back when CU was winning division titles with regularity?

“As you walk through the facilities,” said Tucker, “and you meet the people here, the leadership in place here, the question that comes to mind is: why not us? Why not the University of Colorado? Why not the Buffs? Why not CU? There is no reason why we shouldn’t be able to compete at a championship level and win championships. It’s been done here before. This is a great place. It’s a great University, great tradition, great facilities. The time is now.”

Tucker’s quote reminded me of what Vickers said after the Buffs defeated Kansas in 2004. CU had opened the season with a 1-4 Big 12 record, but, after defeating Kansas, 30-21, the now 2-4 Buffs were still alive in the Big 12 race.

“Why not us?”, Vickers said.  “Anything that happens to us is meant to happen to us.  We were put in this position for a reason, to show us that all of the stuff we’ve been through, and all of the losses we’ve been through, that it’s still meant for us to go.”

Of course, the Buffs won out, and went on to play for the Big 12 title.

So, “Why not us?” in 2019 … and beyond.

But ….. 

CU is swimming upstream against some pretty strong currents here.

The 2018 season was a down year for the Pac-12 overall, and the Pac-12 South in particular.

If ever there was a season for a good but not great CU team to claim a Pac-12 South division title, it was last year.

And yet, somehow, the Buffs not only managed to not take advantage of a weaker division … they finished last.

Now, for the 2019 season, the non-conference schedule picks up. Nebraska is showing signs of getting its act together, and Air Force is now on the schedule, not New Hampshire. The fifth- and sixth-place teams in the North, Cal and Oregon State, are being replaced on the schedule by Stanford and Oregon.

Colorado is going to be picked to finish sixth in the Pac-12 South by pretty much everyone next spring and summer.

It’s not going to be enough for Coach Tucker and his new staff to talk a good game.

The Buffs are going to have to start playing well, overcoming not only a seven-game losing streak, but also a decade of presumed inferiority.

In Tuck We Trust*

*at least for now …


9 Replies to “In Tuck We Trust*”

  1. Happy early Morn on Christmas day. Family still sleeping (like the rest of you) Finalizing the celebration room layout. They will all show up at 7.
    Read the stuff below and then check the link.

    Buffs in general are hilarious…………….but CC/Track/Sking and most Womens sports the Mighty Buffs are really good.
    LMAO…………..Merry Christmas

    “My slogan is: ‘No excuses. No regrets.’ Find a way. If we can’t do it that way, find another way”.

    I will make you proud, I promise you. I will work tirelessly, we will work correctly, and we will work with passion … We’ll win a lot of football games, but at the same time, these young men will learn a lot of life lessons.”

    “We’ve got a long way to go, but I”ve been there before, and I know what to do.”

    On meeting the CU players before the press conference: “I can tell they are hurting a little bit, and they should be. They want to prove themselves …………. These young men are hungry. They looked me in the eye, and listened to every word I said. The last thing I told them was, ‘don’t do a double negative. You’re kind of down right now, but make sure you take care of your exams. Make sure you take care of your papers. Don’t push that off and have problems when you come back in January … They all came up and looked me in the eye and shook my hand, I was very impressed with that.”

    On meeting the CU players before the press conference: “I can tell they are hurting a little bit, and they should be. They want to prove themselves … I saw the same thing at San Jose State. These young men are hungry. They looked me in the eye, and listened to every word I said. The last thing I told them was, ‘don’t do a double negative. You’re kind of down right now, but make sure you take care of your exams. Make sure you take care of your papers. Don’t push that off and have problems when you come back in January … They all came up and looked me in the eye and shook my hand, I was very impressed with that.”

  2. Don’t care where they get ’em…. we just need more, big, violent warriors in the trenches.

    ****Bet Montez would appreciate that instead of running for his own safety.

  3. Okay found the spring schedule

    The tentative spring practice dates for #CUBuffs football have been set: March 18-20-22-April 1-3-5-8-10-12-15-17-19-22-24-27. The spring game will be conducted on Saturday, April 27 (time TBA).


    Note: Well that is not how WacMac use to do it
    Note 2: Wonder if there will be a real spring game? Last years “Spring Fiasco” was on March 17. Buffs start the 18th.
    Note 3: With the later start date, perhaps ESPN and such will drop in on the buffs.? And I/m sure you know spring recruiting starts April 15 and official visits can now be heldUnder WacMac the Buffs were already done before they even started their tours. Sheesh.

    New Buff Sheriff in town. This is a whole new deal. Recruit everyday. Holy moly I need to go relax.

    Thanks Stu.

  4. Notes Post:

    1. 85 scholarships allowed
    2. 67 currently on scholarship
    3. 17 signers coming in
    4. 1 scholy left
    5. HCMT say they are gonna get 6 to 8 more depending……………………..??
    6. Have to be at 85 scholarships by the start of fall camp or something like that.
    7. Attrition will have to be about 10 from the current scholarship roster. Easy.
    8. Any graduate transfers?????
    9. Montez. Redshirt senior. He will graduate in the spring…………….Hmmm. Graduate transfer if there is no fit?
    10. Looking hard at that Florida qb.

    Go Buffs. Have I missed the spring football schedule? Must have.

  5. Below 400 eh??
    Lotta stuff their Stu. Lotta Stuff. Sense a little nervousness right here at “cuatthegame” ….. from you. Okay perhaps skeptic demons are in your head? Maybe still wallowing in the Wacmacmud? Rode into the valley with earache too many times?

    Stu…………………DON’T WORRY……….BE HAPPY!/b>

    Im agonna have to up the Smoke here a little bit.
    Okay then
    CU to – finally – emphasize play in the trenches …
    brought in 14 lineman. (Not 14 signed to scholarship was there) [note: 2017 was a real good class with 27 yes 27…….And those 5 were coached by the oline coach who has been fired. And the Dline coach who was fired (and one who followed the Buff DC–record 10-14- to Iowa.) Coaching sucked like money men. And where is that class now and what impact did they have and how good where they really? 2017… 5 oline signees……….2 injured, 1 gone 1 impact 9 (Really 8) dline guys “This group is impacting the Mighty Buffs. Whole class really. Winning season. D guys………..DC left dang it) You/We will demand better results from both the line coaches. Big test on HCMT right there. New guys 8 of em………….50% big guys so far………….Just like 2017 eh?

    Everyone knows that CU needs to recruit California and Texas to be successful.
    Everyone except Mel Tucker, that is.
    Wow. Hey no Texas this year? He didn’t say he was gonna ignore those areas………..sheesh………… Hey no Texas this year? That’s on WacMac

    Just so you know
    California (5)
    Colorado (2)
    Florida (2)
    Georgia (2)
    Arkansas (1)
    Louisiana (1)
    New Jersey (1)
    Oregon (1)
    Texas (1)
    Utah (1)

    2017 California (11)
    Texas (8)
    Colorado (4)
    Florida (3)
    Georgia (2)
    Arizona (1)

    California (10)
    Texas (5)
    Colorado (3)
    Louisiana (1)
    Mississippi (1)
    Oklahoma (1)
    South Carolina (1)
    Washington (1)

    California (6)
    Colorado (4)
    Michigan (2)
    Georgia (1)
    Mississippi (1)
    Oregon (1)
    Virginia (1)

    Don’t be worried about recruiting it is gonna be just fine. (please see all the 2020 offers being put out there and where they are. The difference from the last 6 years to now and going forward is not where the Buffs recruit but how. Fight Fight Fight………..

    Go Buffs………………

  6. Yo Stuart,
    Buck Up dude!

    Of course CU has not had many players from outside the Colorado, Texas and California areas. Because that is primarily where CU spent all their time recruiting. Time for Colorado to move forward, not dwell on the past. If Coach Tucker wants to go after the best players, let him. A lot of the initial player evaluation is now done online. Saves a lot of time.

    As for linemen, it’s not enough to just sign guys. You first need to sign the RIGHT guys and then help them develop into Pac-12 players. CU now has a really good offensive line coach for the first time in forever it seems. It will make a world of difference. You’ll see.

    We now have coaches who will help our guys get better on the field. They’ll get tougher and in better shape. And they will learn how to dominate.

    Mickey Mac only could fathom being a middle of the road Pac-12 team, and five times out of 6 he failed to even do that. That’s because he played favorites and was more loyal to his buddies than to his school. Thanks to the football gods that he is no longer here.

    Lastly, Tucker and his staff will be better prepared BEFORE the games and will know how to ADJUST during the games. That alone will be a huge difference.

    Our tough schedule is what we should have year in and year out. If you want to be the best you have to beat GOOD teams, not New Hampshire. I want Nebraska to be so good that they win their Big 10 division, even after losing to Colorado. I want the same for CSU and Air Force. It’s no fun to boast about beating bad teams.

    Dream big. That’s what off-seasons are for.


  7. Well said, Stu.

    The other thing that was interesting that I stumbled on to the other day, reading about Chip’s recruiting to UCLA, was where CU stands in total offers/yr, on average. The list was for this year, I think, and it had CU around 200 offers, for 25 guys (or whatever number it happens to be/yr). That put CU in about the middle of the spectrum. The highest amount of offers was over 400. Maybe by Mississippi State or something.

    Chip/UCLA offered like 70 or 75 this year. The author (Bud Elliot maybe) didn’t think that was going to work out that well, b/c he/they seemed to have missed on the bigger fish they’d targeted.

    Interestingly, UW only had 90 offers out for their 2019 class.

    I’m curious to see where Mel ends up w/ that, in addition to who they can bring in.

    Much like with bringing coaches to CU, I think the same is true for recruits. They’ve got to be able to close the gap between who they want, and who wants to come to Boulder.

    Fortunately, for both levels, that attraction is stronger and the gap is now smaller I believe, due to the improvements around the program, roster, facilities, admin support, etc. relative to most of the past 20yrs.

    I think we’re all guardedly optimistic – some maybe less guardedly than others – that Mel and Co can elevate this program another notch, or three.

    Again, he’s saying all the right things. But, at the same time, it’s striking how much it sounds like the same refrain, we’ve heard over, and over again. Not just in Boulder, but pretty much by every coach, in every transition.

    If it were easy? Well… you know.

    Go Buffs.

  8. It doesn’t help that CU’s schedule next year is brutal. Skip the worst teams in the pac-12 north, and have to play all the best teams. CSU and Air Force are the two easiest teams on the schedule, but even then…Air Force is a hard team to prepare for. Nebraska ended this season as a much, much better team than when CU played them at the beginning of the season. The south division is uncharacteristically steady (in terms of coaching changes), and I expect the ‘bottom’ teams in the division this year (especially UCLA) to be significantly better next year than they were this year.

    It’s gonna be a rough year for a first-year head coach. I wouldn’t bet on Vegas putting the over/under on wins at any more than 4.

    That said, this team has a lot of talent and the capacity to beat anyone on the schedule (given proper coaching), as we saw with games at USC and at Washington just a few months ago.

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