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Enough Talk – Let’s Play Some Football!

The last time I watched my Buffs play, I walked out on them.

Now, you don’t know me, but leaving a CU game early is not something I do.

I stayed to the bitter end when the Buffs lost to Big Sky powers Montana State and Sacramento State. I didn’t leave the Glass Bowl debacle in Toledo in 2009, when the Buffs were embarrassed by the Rockets, 54-38, on national television. When the Buffs were getting mauled by Nebraska and Oklahoma in the early 1980’s, I stayed to the final gun (okay, in 1980, when CU lost to Oklahoma, 82-42, we stayed in part to see if the CU scoreboard would look like if the Sooners got to 100 points).

I did leave a CU game at Mile High early once – the 1999 Rocky Mountain Showdown. That was the game when the Colorado State fans were sprayed with tear gas by Denver police after getting too unruly in wake of the Rams’ surprising 41-14 upset of the 14th-ranked Buffs.

And, then, last November, I walked out on my Buffs again.

Now, true be told, I do deserve some credit for showing up in the first place.

While the official stats indicate that the attendance for the 2018 Colorado/Utah game was 39,360, that total was far from the actual number of fannies in the seats. The official figure represents tickets sold, including season tickets purchased months before anyone knew that the Buffs and Utes would play the first Folsom Field game in a snowstorm in 18 seasons.

The actual number of fans who braved the snow and 28-degree temperature at kickoff?

16,627.

Utah was on its way to the Utes’ first Pac-12 South title; the Buffs were on their way to their sixth straight defeat after a 5-0 start.

When the Utes scored 17 unanswered points in the third quarter to take a 24-7 lead on the bumbling Buffs, I was too cold and too frustrated to watch another minute (of what turned out to be a 30-7 final).

But it was more than the just the cold and poor play that made me leave. It was the sad realization of what was to come. The loss to Cal on the road the following week was all but a given, as was a regime change as the Mike MacIntyre limped to a quiet end.

What was also a given after the Buffs finished the season on a seven-game losing streak … nine months of Buff bashing.

Another losing season … another last place finish in the Pac-12 South … and another off-season of being reminded that, but for the 2016 season, the Buffs have failed to be competitive in their new conference.

It didn’t matter who the new coach would be, the narrative of the Buffs being a last place team would drown out positive voices praising any new hire.

And such has been the case.

Mel Tucker was not a “splash hire”, and so CU did not get any bump from the national press.

So, when the preseason magazines came out, the predictions were … predictable:

  • Athlon … 6th in the Pac-12 South; 69th nationally;
  • Lindy’s … 6th in the Pac-12 South; 73rd nationally;
  • Phil Steele’s … 6th in the Pac-12 South; 80th nationally;
  • ESPN FPI … 6th in the Pac-12 South; 63rd nationally;
  • CBS Sports … 6th in the Pac-12 South; 82nd nationally

Et cetera … et cetera … et cetera … ad nauseum …

The lack of respect is nothing new – we’ve been enduring it for well over a decade.

What is different this year, at least for me … I am finally excited again about the beginning of the season.

The difference is Mel Tucker.

I was skeptical at first. Tucker has never been a head coach at the collegiate level, and had no experience coaching west of the Mississippi.

And it’s not as if we haven’t been burned before:

  • Dan Hawkins was hot mid-major coach, and was considered a top-rated pick in 2006. Hawkins had coached Boise State to 50 wins in five seasons, and was taking over a CU program which had won four division titles in the past five seasons. It seemed like a great fit … until it didn’t;
  • Jon Embree was a NFL coach who was a former Buff, who brought in fellow alumni to return Colorado to its winning ways … but that didn’t work out so well;
  • Mike MacIntyre had turned San Jose State around in short order, and had strong recruiting ties in California. MacIntyre was able to bring the Buffs back from the bottom of college football, but hit a glass ceiling at five wins a season.

Who’s to say that Mel Tucker will work out? Perhaps we are just grasping at straws, hoping against hope that Tucker & Co. will actually be able to right the Buffs’ ship.

I don’t think so. I believe this time we have the right coaches in place, with the right facilities, and the right athletic director, to return the Buffs to their rightful spot as one of the top 25 teams in the nation.

The rest of the nation still needs convincing.

As the opening of the season approaches, the pundits keep piling on.

Bruce Feldman, Stewart Mandel, and Andy Staples, respected national writers from The Athletic, posted “Group text: Predicting Pac-12 football for the 2019 season“. The average record prediction from the three for Colorado was a 4-8 record, and the Buffs didn’t qualify as even being worthy of mention in the subsequent article (Hell, even Oregon State got a sentence).

Then Jon Wilner of the San Jose Mercury News, one of the most respected voices in the Pac-12, weighed in with his predictions … a 3-9, 1-8 record for Colorado, with wins over Colorado State, Air Force, and Arizona, finishing the 2019 season with – wait for it – another seven-game losing streak.

From Wilner … Worst-case scenario: The Buffaloes drop one early to a Front Range opponent and get run off the field by Nebraska, the overworked Shenault breaks down in October (again), Montez is what he has been, Johnson is a one-man defensive line, the secondary is a turnstile, the second-half schedule is as difficult as it appears and CU staggers to the finish with questions unanswered and Shenault’s bowl-less career in the books.

Then, the final insult … not just to Colorado fans, but to college football fans.

Nebraska, coming off back-to-back 4-8 seasons, came in as the No. 24 team in the Associated Press preseason poll. The Cornhuskers have basically the same roster as last season, and will bring a ranked team to Boulder on September 7th (Nebraska opens with South Alabama. In case you are wondering, the Jaguars finished 3-9 last season, including a 55-13 loss to Oklahoma State).

This is the Nebraska team which lost to Colorado, at home, last season … and now is considered to be a 9.0-point favorite over Colorado.

Basically, Vegas is saying that, on a neutral field, Nebraska is 12 points better than Colorado.

E-N-O-U-G-H.

Make that E-freakin’-N-O-U-G-H.

Colorado may not make a bowl game in Year One under Mel Tucker.

Colorado may not beat Nebraska in Mel Tucker’s home opener at Folsom Field.

But the 2019 Buffs are a better team than the pundits are seeing … because they will be a better-coached team.

I’m tired of defending my Buffs, both to my friends and to myself. It’s time to get the 2019 team on the field, and see what they can do.

Just as I was in the stands for the 2018 finale against Utah, I plan on being in the stands for the 2019 regular season finale against Washington. It will be the final game in Folsom for Steven Montez, Tony Brown, Tim Lynott, Delrick Abrams, Alex Kinney, and, in all likelihood, Laviska Shenault.

The Buffs may not win that game, either, as the Huskies are one of the favorites to win the Pac-12 this fall.

But there is one thing about that game I can tell you right now … I don’t plan on leaving early.

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10 Replies to “Enough Talk – Let’s Play Some Football!”

  1. Is it Friday yet?

    Here are my super scientific thoughts for the season. I like Mel. I think he’s made good use of the Champions Center b/c it looks like he’s gotten a lot more fit since arriving. That could speak to walking the talk, discipline, focus, etc. Either way, he looks like a dude, himself.

    I’m curious about some of his staff, but definitely trust his judgment more than mine.

    Most importantly, if the NFL dudes on both sides of the ball stay healthy, (by my count, that could be Montez, maybe Lynott, Sherman and Pursell seem like they will be, Hambright maybe, any RB – Mangham? and we know some of the WRs – not convinced KD is NFL guy, but… that’s just me; on defense, there seem to be fewer Mustafa, Landman, can Terrance be? Sami? Davion? Alex? Do we have other NFL dudes in the lb and secondary? We’ll see) and we find they’ve recruited some other NFL dudes who we just haven’t seen yet (Petersen seems to just reload at UW these days), 8-4 seems pretty reasonable to me. They could even do better if depth is actually fine b/c kids can ball out. The worry, of course, is injury and that the kids who have to step in can’t handle that.

    A wise coach recently said something about X’s and O’s being over rated. It’s about the dudes. Gotta find the match ups you can win, and your dude has to beat their dude.

    If they want to impose their will in the run game that usually means the other team knows what you’re doing. They just can’t stop you.

    All the talk so far is awesome. But, it always is. If they get through non-conference 3-0, and they should, that’ll be a great start and get some good confidence rolling into Pac 12 play.

    Go Buffs!

  2. To me this upcoming Mighty Buff Season is kinda like the “Promised Declass”………….I believe it’s there and gonna happen, but dang nab it I gotta see it.

    HCMT has all the words and appears all the knowledge to really be the turn around, build for the future, and lead the Mighty Buffs back to extended Glory. I hope he retires here. Inside Note: HCMT said that strawhat he wore was a ‘camp hat’ and he now is wearing his season gameweek baseball cap. Nice

    I just wanna see that no experience no depth DL like pummel the running attack.
    I just wanna see that no experience no depth DB group be like flypaper
    I just wanna see that Oline rise beyond their potential and dominate the LOS
    I just wanna see a bowl game.

    I expect Montez to be great
    I expect the recivers to be amazing
    I expect the TE position to be a game changer
    I expect the RB position to be more than damn good

    I expect the coaching staff to execute what they believe and what they mantra and what the teach.

    I expect to once again be proud of the WHOLE DAMN FOOTBALL ORGANIZATION

    BUFFALO UP OR OUT.

  3. Man it has been a while since I have posted but I have been a constant lurker, thanks for keeping everything running in this offseason. To be honest I am not sure about this next season. I really like the Tucker hire. He has that old school feel that I have always loved. I am less than excited about his staff. On defense I am comfortable that if necessary Mel can take the reigns and make it right. I also think we likely have more talent on defense than we did in 2016 and while it might be younger I think Tucker has the experience to bring it along. The OC has plenty of real success at lower levels. He might be the innovator we thought Lindgren and then Chev were or he might be more of the same. I wasnt able to go to the fall practice but I did go to the spring game and it was obvious there was a long way to go. That said the words coming out of camp seem to say things that I agree with heartily like we will run the ball on our terms, we will get the ball into Viskas hands but he will not be our only offense….. but all of that remains to be seen. One note, the pac12 channels have been playing games from back in the glory days. One thing I really noticed was how big our lines were. They were mountains of powerful men that truly controlled the line of scrimmage. Tucker immediately recognized we were way too small up front and has brought in some immediate help there on both sides of the ball. I always felt that Mac and crew had that Mountain West thought that we cannot bring elite lineman in so let’s go get smaller but good lineman, and we kept realizing that size truly matters here and you need 6’6” guys weighing 300 of solid muscle to truly make a running game work. And while you can have a Mustafa that plays up, you need some real size and power on the d line to keep the run lanes small and compress the passing pocket.

    I think that Tucker will either echo the last time we brought in a successful coordinator from a perennial powerhouse Mac1. Or his tough nosed approach will lose the team when something goes wrong and we will implode like we did under Embree.

    I haven’t seen enough to be oppomistic, but I also like what I have heard so I am not pessimistic. I am ready to find out……

  4. Seems like CSU is lying in the weeds. Even the Coloradoan’s usual Baghdad Bob approach has dissipated. I can only tell by reading the headlines cause there no way I am going to subscribe. Everyone is expecting them to be down again this year but you know what kind of respect I dont have for a lot of sports writers.
    I had a tough choice to make this evening. It is either the local stock car races or the ASU HI game. I am choosing the game. If its an early blowout I’m off to the track.

  5. Right there with you Stuart. As a “cup-is-always-half-full” guy when it comes to our Buffs, I simply
    refuse to believe they’ll take a step backward, despite being Mel Tucker’s first season. Obviously they could once again prove me wrong. Then again, they could also prove those pundits wrong.
    Hope springs eternal this time of year. GO BUFFS!

  6. Yo Stuart,
    Hear, hear!
    If the so called pundits (or PundIdiots, per EP) were really doing any research and knew what they were talking about, they’d put their money where their mouths are. They’d be professional gamblers making big bucks on their brilliant insights. Not the case. They do some basic number crunching of the last 3-5 years (more for historical rivals) of EVERY team, and make an estimation based on past history. Period.

    That’s why none of them was ready for Jim Leavitt’s impact and the CU run to the Pac-12 South championship in 2016. Also why none of them expected Colorado to start 5-0 last year and vault into the top 20.

    They also keep their ears to the tracks to see what’s being said by other pundits. Funny, none of them does any serious research, so it’s just a popularity contest. Of course, one person couldn’t really keep tabs on every power five conference team, let alone all the others. Not enough time. So they wing it and hope.

    Some programs have truly rabid fan bases. Their minions gobble up everything written about their teams. It’s just clickbait, since a lot of these writers are making their money on website hits. None of the writers are actually disinterested parties making impartial judgments. They are trying to get as many folks as possible to click on their articles, leave comments, and hopefully click on some ads while there. That’s how they make their money.

    You are right that Nebraska is basically the same as last year’s 4-8 squad. They lost to CU in Lincoln, even with Mickey Carpetbagger as head coach for the Buffs. But if you want clicks on your site, tell the Holer fans that Nebraska is going to be a top 20 team, no matter the recent history.

    Forget all the words, it’s time to play the games. Bring ’em on. Bring ’em ALL on.

    GoldenBuffs

  7. My hope is that this can be like the 85 team. By no means a great team, however they laid the foundation for our program becoming a powerhouse from 89-96. If we can get out of non conference 3-0 then i see us going to a bowl, 2-1 it may happen, we will see. If we lose to CSU its going to be growing pains. But I want to see that we are a better team when we take the field in Salt Lake than when we take the field next week. If we get better that is all i can ask. But the first 3 games will tell a lot about where we will end up come post season time in my opinion. Go Buffs!

  8. I will be thrilled once the games start as well. Listening to the pundidiots is time wasted. I’ am promising myself I wont even peek at any of them next year regardless of the headlines. Feldman, Mandel etc as far as i know have never played the game. I know you dont have to play to be a good writer and opine with value on issues surrounding college football but when it comes to predicting how an individual team or player is going to perform, having played the game past Pop Warner gives you some credibility.
    And then you have Wilner “one of the most respected voices ….” west of the Cal border maybe but I think he is going off the rails. You can blame me for his overly dismal Buff prediction. Last year before the season started Wilner said that there are “modest expectations for the Buff receivers. I emailed him about that and when Viska and KD tore it up I got back in his face later on.
    One more nit to pick and I know I will sound like the old codger in his rocking chair on the front porch somewhere in Mississippi never forgetting the civil war…..but…. Dan Hawkins was not the hot commodity. Dan Hawkins was phony baloney and Chris Peterson has proven that in spades.
    Will Mel finally break the Buff’s curse? Do all bad things cone to an end? So many Ironies. Biggest one is Peterson now staring down at the Buffs in the same conference.

    1. The Dan Hawkins comment is dead on. I remembered when it was announced “The Home Run Hire!”… and I read some of the posts from a few Boise State fans that they were happy for us, saying they were keeping the real coach and Hawkins was a “pompous @$$” .

      My first thought was they were just bummed fans that are losing their coach, who won 50 games. But, there was enough of them saying the same that I started to worry and it didn’t take long to see they were right.

      Even in the close bowl game loss against Alabama you could see he was losing the team; then I met a few graduated players at a viewing party and they confirmed that… and what the Boise fans wrote. “They were fighting for each other, but a better coach would have won that game.” From their mouths, not mine.

  9. I’m rarely moved by motivational (or rah rah) pieces….

    But this one got me super pumped about the start of the year! Great read and well written. Thanks!

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