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“Loyalty”? – What it means to be a CU fan in 2019

In my prediction for the Washington State game last week, I concluded with:

The Washington State defense is not in the same league as the Oregon defense, but can the CU offense exploit the Washington State defense’s deficiencies enough times to keep up with the Cougar offense?

I would like to say yes, but the Buffs are going to have to make it happen on the field before I can start picking them again …

Prediction … Washington State 35, Colorado 24 … 

To which a CU at the Gamer posted in the comments section:

Read your stuff for years and admired your Buff “loyalty”? . Today I heard defeatism and whining. This team is NOWHERE near the canvas tent built by MacIntyre….this team doesn’t fold … 

The punctuation notwithstanding (why both the quotes and a question mark? Not sure), I was struck by the comment. It didn’t bother me that the reader disagreed with my assessment of the Buffs’ chances in their game against the Cougars – I encourage (even hope for) your comments.

If you disagree with my position, that’s fine with me.

What did strike me was the “loyalty”? part of the comment.

You can say what you want about the website (and many of you have), but question my “loyalty”? I feel I’m on pretty secure ground there. Steve’s comment got me to thinking:

  • I’ve contributed tens of thousands of dollars to CU athletics over the years. While I may not be a big-time donor, I do have two bricks with my name on them on outside of Folsom Field … and that’s before we talk the about the $$$ involved in buying season tickets for 40 years;
  • I’ve traveled tens of thousands of miles to watch my Buffs. I’ve been at CU games from Seattle to Miami, from Los Angeles to Boston … and everywhere in between. Hell, it’s a 1,400-mile round trip for me just to get to a home game. I don’t want to even think about adding up the miles I have traveled over the decades to watch my Buffs; and
  • I’ve put in tens of thousands of hours working on the website. I’ll sit down and do the math this off-season, but sometime in the next year or two, the CU at the Game archives will hit 500 games. That’s a lot of writing, and, as my wife will attest, a lot of time.

And yet, the “loyalty” comment stuck with me as I boarded my flight Friday morning for the USC game. Did it really make sense for me to keep making these trips? The Buffs were 0-13 all-time against the Trojans, and were two-touchdown underdogs. The Buffs had, over the past two games against Oregon (45-3) and Washington State (41-10), looked like the Buffs we have – unfortunately – grown all to used to watching the past decade-plus.

Why put in all that time (not to mention the money) into what appeared to be yet another frustrating defeat?

Was my “loyalty” wavering?

It certainly didn’t help when, 59 seconds into the game, the Buffs were already behind. The USC offense, with a third-string quarterback and a fifth-string tailback, needed all of three plays to take a 7-0 lead.

Before the Buff fans had time to settle into their seats (or, in the case for many in the student section, find their way into the stadium), the Buff defense had surrendered yet another easy score. What would the final score be this time? A 45-3 game, like the Oregon debacle? 41-10 – like the Washington State fiasco? The 2019 Buffs were playing defense like the Jon Embree Buffs … and those teams lost to USC by scores of 42-17 and 50-6.

Another rout in the making; another disappointing night for the Buff Nation.

When the Colorado offense marched down the field on its first possession of the game, only to come to an abrupt halt at the USC five yard line, the “here we go again” crowd was in full voice. The Buffs had only scored one touchdown in the previous nine quarters, and field goals were not going to be enough against the Trojans.

On USC’s second drive, the Trojans needed all of six plays (overcoming a first-and-20 after a holding penalty) to march back into CU territory. With the game – and perhaps the season – on the line, freshman cornerback K.J. Trujillo, who didn’t even play in the first three games of the season (as he was slated for a red-shirt), picked off USC quarterback Kedon Slovis, giving the Buffs new life.

Then, for the better part of the next three quarters, the Buffs played about as well as they have all season.

The CU offense scored on its next drive, but not without trying its best not to. Once again, the Buffs had a first-and-goal inside the USC five yard line. Once again, the Buffs looked like a dysfunctional program, posting not one, but two, false start penalties with Laviska Shenault taking the snap from the wildcat formation. Instead of folding, though, the Buffs took the lead on a seven-yard touchdown pass from Steven Montez to K.D. Nixon. Instead of settling for a 7-6 game, the Buffs were ahead, 10-7, taking a lead they would not surrender for the better part of three quarters.

The Buffs went on to score three touchdowns in their next four possessions, three times taking two-score leads.

But … as we know, the Buffs couldn’t hold the advantage.

There was a time – a decade, actually – when the Colorado defense could be counted upon to hold a two-score lead. Between 1990 and 2000, in a decade in which the Buffs held many a two-score advantage, CU lost exactly two games in which the Buffs held a two-score lead at any time during the game (both in 1993, losing to both Stanford and Kansas State).

Unfortunately for the Buff Nation, the CU has lost two such games … already in 2019, with both meltdowns coming at home. The Buffs took an early 10-0 lead over Air Force in September, only to lose in overtime, 30-23. The Buffs took a 31-21 lead into the fourth quarter against USC, but gave up two long touchdown passes – covering 44 and 37 yards – to lose to USC, 35-31.

Much will be said and written about how the Buff offense played in the fourth quarter. Quarterback Steven Montez was knocked out late in the third quarter, but returned to duty with CU in possession, with a first down at the Buff 37-yard line (thanks to a 27-yard run by backup quarterback Blake Stenstrom on the final play of the third quarter).

The Buffs were in prime position to take a three-score lead and put the game out of reach. Instead, the Colorado offense, which had been prolific for much of the game, went into reverse. The Buffs had 219 yards of total offense in the third quarter … then 45 in the fourth. The running game, which had cranked out 191 yards on 28 carries through three quarters, had the chance to continue mowing through the Trojan defense, chewing up clock along the way.

Instead, the Buff rushing attack in the fourth quarter went silent, with only five yards on six attempts.

What happened?

When asked about abandoning the running game in the fourth quarter, coach Mel Tucker didn’t agree with the assessment. “I don’t look at it like that. I thought we called a good game,” Tucker said. “We were aggressive. They were having a hard time covering our guys. We took our shots.”

Then perhaps Steven Montez shouldn’t have come back into the game in the fourth quarter after being knocked out late in the third?

“He seemed fine,” Tucker said. “If he wasn’t he wouldn’t have been back out there.”

Not particularly satisfying responses from a coach who said that power football was going to be the CU signature. The Buffs had the chance to win the game by dominating the line of scrimmage, but,

At the end of the day, the why’s and the wherefore’s don’t matter. What matters is that CU lost – again – to USC, and that the Buffs are – again – in last place in the Pac-12 South.

Colorado is 3-5, with games against Pac-12 pre-season favorites Washington and Utah still on the schedule. Yet another losing season looms large.

Will the Buff Nation remain loyal to the program under Mel Tucker? Are Tucker & Co. the answer … or just another miss in a series of coaching misses for the program? Will this team fade like the 2018 team did, finishing the season on an embarrassingly long losing streak?

Or will the Buffs take some positives from the game – over 500 yards of total offense; 31 points; no turnovers; leading a two-touchdown favorite for almost three quarters of the game?

“We talked about that in the locker room after the game”, Tucker said. “I said, ‘Look, you can look at this two different ways. You can sit there and feel sorry for yourself. Or you can look at yourself and say look at the type of team that we can have.’ If you take care of the ball, take it away, run the ball, finish in the red zone, stop the run, and get off the field on third down then you have a really good chance to beat anybody. I told them I believe in them and believe in this football team and that we can get the job done.”

Mel Tucker has built up a reservoir of good will in his first 11 months in Boulder. My guess is that the Buff Nation will remain loyal to this team, even if there are some growing pains.

I know I am going to remain loyal to the program, even if my comments and predictions seem to echo “defeatism and whining”.

For most of us, loyalty to the Buffs is a non-issue. We’re not going anywhere.

It’s right there in the alma mater:

Hail, all hail our alma mater,
Ever will our hearts be true,
You will live with us forever,
Loyal, we will be to you ….

It’s not a matter of whether CU’s glass, in the first year under Mel Tucker, is half-empty or half-full …

… It’s our f*%^ing glass …

—–

24 Replies to ““Loyalty”?”

  1. You the MAN…giving all of us Buffs a place to come together. I click the ad links all the time, just for the webscores….I don’t think we all say it enough, THANK YOU.

    GO BUFFS

  2. Synonyms & Antonyms for loyalty
    Synonyms
    adhesion, allegiance, attachment, commitment, constancy, dedication, devotedness, devotion, faith, faithfulness, fastness, fealty, fidelity, piety, steadfastness, troth

    Antonyms
    disloyalty, faithlessness, falseness, falsity, inconstancy, infidelity, perfidiousness, perfidy, treachery, unfaithfulness

    CU is CU. Really good coaches and teams………….say every 30 years or so……………pretty good teams…………say every 20 years…………..and the rest………………up and down good, bad, ugly.

    The circle of life……………….
    Hey if yur a Buff yur a Buff. You can agree or disagree or rant or not rant and believe in a coach or not believe in a coach…………………and still be a Buff.

    I like to watch the Mighty Buffs play anything.
    I like to see the Mighty Buffs win everything.
    When they win, happiness shows up
    When they lose, not so much happiness. Sometimes even great pain.
    But gotta go do to work so off we roll

    I am in.

    Buffs.

    Note: HC and staff. Hey I give em three years. Can’t get it turned? Next man/woman up. (giving a coach 6.8 years when you know he can’t do it in 3 can give rise to an earache.)

  3. Really liked that throwback logo.

    Buffs are always loyal.
    The frustration button is an easy push
    Expectations, desires, needs, wants of every Buff were extremely high.
    Defense was always a concern.
    Can’t win without defense (See Buffs 2016)
    Defensive cupboard was/is bare. Injuries aside. Especially in the DB and DE areas.
    It is gonna get better.

    Buffs.

    Note: Looking forward to a new qb. No offense intended. (pun?)

  4. We all read and comment and I think there is no question about loyalty here. It’s healthy to vent and verbalize, and Stuart the fact you create this environment for free is loyalty beyond any question (many professional therapists make a living on this sort of thing). I also think we are all just a little nuts.

  5. Nah, anyone who questions your loyalty is a fool.

    I’ve been a season ticket holder for 47 years and watched us hire/fire coaches since Eddie retired. I’ve been excited about every new coach hired (including Chuck Fairbanks cause he was from Oklahoma/New England for cripes sake), watch most of them eventually fail for various reason (some legit, some not).

    I am again excited about Mel Tucker, primarily due to his coaching pedigree history at the best programs in the country. But, he is learning on the job, as are some of his assistants, and he will need 3 years to get his player in here and make it ‘his team’. (don’t they all?) So, hang in there Buff Nation, this will take awhile.

    I was pleased with our improved mostly freshman secondary last night, the USC QB who we may have to face for couple of more years, our run game and Montez. (but, there should have been a penalty on the play I think he had a mild concussion and should not have gone back in. Turning wrong way on first two handoffs when he came back??)

    I go to the games to root for them and the opportunity to interact socially with other CU fans. Football in the fall has been, and will continue be, a highlight of my year, win or lose.

    Buckle up buttercups, it’s always an up and down ride.

    Buffalo Bill

  6. Stuart – your reflections are inspiring. I always appreciate your detailed and honest writing about the Buffs. Your brand of loyalty is the best kind. Keep it up brother and tell your wife thank-you on our behalf. 🙂

  7. I watched my first Buff game in September 1959. I have been a Buff fan ever since.
    I believe Coach Tucker knows how to recruit, and will build a first rate defense with his next 3 recruiting classes, when all of the recruits will be his guys and mini-macs Mountain West guys will be gone.

  8. Stuart, I know your thesis was really more of a self-examination than a criticism of the comment. We all love the passion you throw into this page, and recognize the amount of work that it takes.

    Personally, I find myself leaving the home losses nearly every time saying “I’m done…not going to re-up those tickets next year.” And yet….I always do. I also catch myself when I complain about my commute, which is about a 3 hour round trip these days (thanks Golden!). Seems a bit petty when you are coming from the wilds of Montana!

  9. I thought the loyalty question in the comments was more in jest but that it hit a little close to home especially after the previous two weeks at the time. That said I really appreciate your post today. I have been pretty tucker positive until the 4th quarter last night. But as loud as it was you could probably have heard me and my two friends shouting “run the friggin ball!” Tucker needs to admit they called the game wrong. It’s ok, first year head coaches and returning coordinators make mistakes. The question will they fix them or continue along the same path. Macintyre seemed to be 2 years too slow fixing his issues and it resulted in a perennial losing team. The question is will Tucker take a long hard look at himself and his staff and adjust or will they blame it on the kids for not executing. He doesn’t have to admit to us the fans that they made a mistake and to be honest it might be better if he doesn’t for recruiting because 17 year old kids don’t want to go to a football team where the head coaches make mistakes. The proof will be in his actions over the next two weeks. Will we pound the ball for 4 straight quarters or will we give up on the run because our receivers are getting open? Sorry side bar there……. back to thanking you for the post and the site. It is cathartic to post all of this and I never question your loyalty. In light of your loyalty I am also pledging mine. No matter if Tucker is another failed pick I am and always will be a buff football fan! See you at the Stanford game.

    1. Tucker has to realize they made a mistake abandoning the run game. But he needs to keep the focus on the positive for the team, and future recruits, and I’m OK with that. A bit concerned because this is not the first game they did it, but hoping to see the proof next week. Hope, that is what we’re all reading Stu’s great articles and commenting for, right?

  10. Yo Stuart,

    You should have your picture under any description of a loyal Colorado fan. I even wore my CU at the Game hat to the USC game last night.

    Loyalty is not the same as blind promotion. You and I love our school, and as such want them to do as well as possible. Sometimes love has to be tough love.

    You and I both have welcomed new coaches through the years with excitement, promotion and acceptance. We all know new coaches go through growing pains, especially those who are coming in after someone gets fired.

    We were both there for McCartney. So we’ve been here for Rick Neuheisel, Gary Barnett, Dan Hawkins, Jon Embree, Mike MacIntyre and now Mel Tucker since then.

    The honeymoon for Slick Rick ended shortly after Koy Detmer graduated. Barnett was truly railroaded by the Denver TV media. Hawk was the destroyer of the program that McCartney had built. CU never gave Embree the support and he needed (and even turned down McCartney who offered to come and work with Embree and Bieniemy to rebuild the program), and MacIntyre was in way over his head at the Power Five level.

    I still feel very good about Mel Tucker. Carpetbagger Mickey had one brief flash of success due to Jim Leavitt. Other than that he left Colorado pretty ragged.

    But I believe that Tucker is and will build Colorado back a relevant program once again. Can he do it in one year? No, not with what he inherited along with the unprecedented rash of injuries. What will matter after the season is what he does to shake up his coaching staff and what he does with his own recruits. It’s going to be a process.

    Not sure if Jim Leavitt would be willing to come back as defensive coordinator, but his family still lives in Boulder and I have a sneaking suspicion he would love to come back. He loves Boulder and the players loved him. And Leavitt’s proven he can turn around a defense in a hurry.

    Mickey Mac hated anyone other than himself getting credit. I don’t get that feeling from Tucker…

    But there I go again, digressing from anything other than blind devotion…

    From a fan of your loyalty,

    GO BUFFS!
    Mark
    Boulderdevil
    GoldenBuffs.com

    1. My friends thought I was crazing in 2016…I said they needed to fire the COY and promote Leavitt.
      Not sure what happened in the past, but get that guy back here next year to run the D.

  11. Stu, did you hang around for the CU hoops exhibition against the Boyle Juniors? Tried to stream the game online while in the airport but the PAC-12 live stream seems to be down.
    Hard to get a read from a game against this level of competition, but am curious to see all the newcomers and how Walton looks coming back from his third knee injury.

    CU hoops starts 11/8. Can’t wait.

  12. Dear Buff Nation,
    As a CU alum, since the 70’s, and a Buff living in FL, SEC country, we as Buff Nation
    are very “Blessed,” to have Mel Tucker, as our head coach. His coaching experience,
    with the best college coaches, in the game, including NFL coaching experience, as well
    as a player, at Wisconsin, is, truly, outstanding! Building a championship team, takes vision, determination, commitment, and yes, time! This is a new chapter in Buff football.
    Forget the past, look toward the future; not one game, or one season. For me, as a Buff
    fan, the future has never been as bright! All the resources the university has, now, in place, to
    make our football program successful, in competing, for championships, both, in the PAC 12,
    and nationally, are right in front of us! Stay the course, keep the faith! God Bless Buff Nation!

  13. I’m a Buff alum for 40 years. I will always be loyal, win or lose, whether good, bad, or ugly. Though I get steamed with situations like last night’s Q4, it shows, like ep said, that I care. Stuart, you are loyal and I appreciate your work and this site. Go Buffs!!!

  14. Good comments Stuart, and good comments from the 3 previous posters. It is no time to panic now. You heard the announcers saying how impressed they are with HCMT and he is impressive. I truly feel he is not all talk and no walk, but that over time hopefully even before this year ends, and all through next year we will see progress that has not been seen for quite a while in Boulder.

    “Ever loyal to you dear old CU.” …….and the other song……. “shoulder to shoulder we will fight fight fight!!!!”

  15. Hang in there Stu. I keep buying lottery tickets too.
    Having said that
    I get pissed every time the Buffs crater (I’m on blood pressure meds) but that means I care. One thing is for sure I will always be grateful for my experience as a student in Boulder. I see way too many ignorant and bitter people around me who never had their eyes opened to themselves and the rest of the world like my education did for me. If the Buffs are terminal last place victims I will still follow the program. I still have great memories of the past teams and the many stars that will carry me forward.

  16. I’ll charitably chalk up to frustration or unfamiliarity anyone who questions your undying loyalty to this program. In my book, you have the ultimate street cred, and that says a lot. As a lifelong Buffs fan whose professor father took me to my first game 58 years ago, I continue to bleed black and gold but cannot come anywhere close to the logistical nightmares you overcome each game. As an undergrad, I suffered through the end of the Chuck Fairbanks debacle and the one-win start of the Bill McCartney triumph. If anyone expects blind, endless cheerleading apologists who claim to be analysts, become a Huskers fan and wallow in their sycophantic drumbeat. I’ll gladly keep following Stuart, a straight shooter who tells it like it is. Keep up the good work, Stu! GO BUFFS!

  17. Too damn many penalties again. Discipline is tough too teach, you got to do your job.I understand early in the year with a young team, now I am frustrated. I think Montez had a minor concussion which contributed to his lack of effectiveness when he came back. The lack of a pass rush is killing CU and Tucker has addressed this. The future is bright, coaching transitions are tough, thus you give the new coach five years. He has a plan and the players do not give up, unlike the previous coach.

  18. Frustrating loss for sure. It’s laughable that there are “fans” calling for another coaching change. If we were 3-5 coming off this loss in year 4 of the Tucker regime I might agree. The future is bright.
    Fantastic atmosphere at Folsom last night. The students brought it!

  19. I thought that I was going to be the only Buff fan two weeks ago in Eugene. I was amazed that there were many, and I mean many in attendance wearing CU gear.

    I was fortunate enough to be able to take my son (a OSU fan) and my daughter (a Duck fan) with me. They both were like “Dad, why do you put up with this team”?

    Answer has always been “ I’m a Buffs fan, always have been, always will be; and a true fan sticks with their team through the good and bad.”

    Hawk ball could come back next year and I would still be a Buff faithful.

    Tucker and team will get this ship righted. Last year we would have quit after USC’s first TD.

    Love the Buffs
    Keeping the faith….

  20. As a fanatical Buff fan I really appreciate your tireless dedication and the website and am not sure how your loyalty could be questioned. Apparently the critic believes “loyalty” does not allow for realism – keep up the great work and thank you; Tucker is going to turn this thing around!

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