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Random Thoughts – Vol. IV – Good Riddance to the 2010’s; Best of (the few) Memories

Saying Goodbye to the Worst Decade in CU history

So long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, adieu … The Sound of Music

The University of Colorado football program has won 26 conference championships, the 10th-highest total in college football. The Buffs are second in the Pac-12 to only USC, which is ranked 5th.

The Pac-12: 

  • USC – 5th – 37
  • Colorado – t-10th – 26
  • Utah – t-10th – 26
  • Arizona State – t-25th – 17
  • UCLA – t-25th – 17
  • Washington – t-25th – 17
  • Stanford – t-35th – 15
  • California – t-41st – 14
  • Oregon – t-54th – 12
  • Arizona – t-88th – 6
  • Oregon State – t-91st – 5
  • Washington State – t-95th – 4

The relevance to that stat here at the end of the 2019 season is that the decade of the 2010’s was only the second decade in school history without at least one conference title.

Put another way, the only previous decade of CU football – including the 1890’s, CU’s first decade playing the sport – in which the team did not win at least one conference title was the 1950’s, when Bud Wilkinson’s Oklahoma Sooners dominated not only the Big Seven, but all of college football.

The breakdown of CU titles by decade:

  • 1890’s – four conference titles (Colorado Football Association)
  • 1900’s – five conference titles (Colorado Football Association – 4; Colorado Faculty Athletic Conference – 1)
  • 1910’s – two conference titles (Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference)
  • 1920’s – two conference titles (Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference)
  • 1930’s – four conference titles (Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference – 3; Mountain States Conference – 1)
  • 1940’s – three conference titles (Mountain States Conference)
  • 1950’s – none
  • 1960’s – one conference title (1961 Big Eight Conference)
  • 1970’s – one conference title (1976 Big Eight Conference)
  • 1980’s – one conference title (1989 Big Eight Conference)
  • 1990’s – two conference titles (1990; 1991 Big Eight Conference)
  • 2000’s – one conference title (2001 Big 12 Conference)
  • 2010’s – none

Previously, the longest gap between titles was 17 years, between the 1944 and 1961 titles. The current gap between championships is now up to 18 seasons … and counting.

And it’s not as if the previous decade without a championship – the 1950’s – was a bad one for Colorado football. In fact, the worst record the Buffs posted during the 1950’s was a 5-5 record in 1959 … CU posted a winning record every other season that decade (but couldn’t get past the Oklahoma juggernaut, which won four national championships in the 50’s).

The 2010’s, with only one winning season and nine losing seasons, is also – not surprisingly – the worst overall decade in Colorado history. Previously, the “record” for futility was the 1980’s with five losing seasons (1980-1984) and one season with a .500 record (6-6 in 1986). The 2000’s also had five losing seasons (2000; 2006-09).

Happy to see the 2010’s in the rear view mirror. Here’s hoping the 2020’s are more kind to the University of Colorado football team.

Still, there were highlights in the past decade … 

— 2010 … Colorado 29, Georgia 27 … Linebacker B.J. Beatty forces a late fumble to preserve the win …

— 2011 … Colorado 48, Arizona 29 … Buffs pick up first-ever Pac-12 win in a rout over Arizona, with Rodney Stewart going for 184 yards and three touchdowns …

— 2012 … Colorado 35, Washington State 34 … Buffs only win of the season came when quarterback Jordan Webb scored on a four-yard run with nine seconds to play. Victory was all the sweeter as it came on my first-ever trip to Pullman …

— 2013 … Colorado 41, California 24 … Sefo Liufau threw for 364 yards and Paul Richardson set a team record for receiving yards in a season to help Colorado snap a 14-game conference losing streak …

— 2014 … Colorado 41, UMass 38 … One of only two wins in 2014, the Buffs overcame an 11-point deficit to defeat the Minutemen at Gillette Stadium. Memorable for me as I was able to take my two Boston grandsons to the game …

— 2015 … Colorado 27, Colorado State 24, OT … Tedric Thompson blocked the CSU overtime field goal attempt, setting up Diego Gonzalez for a 32-yard game winner. The first of five straight wins over the Rams … Colorado 17, Oregon State 13 … Buffs snapped a 13-game road Pac-12 losing streak. Memorable for me as I was again on hand for the game, a rare CU road win in the 2010’s …

— 2016 … Colorado 41, Oregon 38 … Steven Montez had a stellar debut, becoming the first CU player with 300 yards passing (333) and 100 yards rushing (135) in the same game, but it was an Ahkello Witherspoon interception in the end zone with 48 seconds remaining which was perhaps CU’s play of the decade … Colorado 40, Arizona State 16 … First-ever win over the Sun Devils as Phillip Lindsay went for 219 yards and three touchdowns … No. 12 Colorado 38, No. 20 Washington State 24 … Sefo Liufau posted his 300/100 game (345 yards passing; 108 rushing) leading Buffs to first win over a ranked team under Mike MacIntyre … No. 9 Colorado 27, No. 21 Utah 22 … Buffs complete worst-to-first season, with a Kenneth Olugbode fumble return for a score the fourth quarter difference maker …

— 2017 … Colorado 36, Oregon State 33 … A 13-yard touchdown pass from Steven Montez to Bryce Bobo with 1:34 left gave CU a second-straight road win over Oregon State (I was there for that one as well. Perhaps CU should pay me to attend more road games) … Colorado 44, California 28 … Buffs’ other Pac-12 win in a disappointing 5-7 season was the best of the season, with Steven Montez passing for 347 yards and three touchdowns …

— 2018 … Colorado 33, Nebraska 28 … Steven Montez hit Laviska Shenault for a 40-yard touchdown with 1:06 to play to give CU an unlikely road win over the Cornhuskers … Colorado 38, UCLA 16 … The Buffs score the final 24 points of the game as CU takes down Chip Kelly in his return to Folsom Field … No. 21 Colorado 28, Arizona State 21 … Laviska Shenault scores all four CU touchdowns as Buffs run record to 5-0 (before losing final seven games of the season) …

— 2019 … Colorado 34, No. 25 Nebraska 31 OT … Buffs bounce back from a 17-0 halftime deficit to surprise the Cornhuskers for a second consecutive season … Colorado 16, Stanford 13 … Buffs broke a five-game losing streak when Evan Price hits a 37-yard field goal on the game’s final play … Colorado 20, Washington 14 … CU picks up its first win over the Huskies since joining the Pac-12, holding the ball for the final 5:09 to preserve the win …

My favorite football moments from the 2010’s … 

The wins over Nebraska … There are few greater feelings for Buff fans than defeating the Bugeaters. The win over Nebraska in Lincoln was unexpected, which made it all the more delicious. It was the debut of the Scott Frost era at Nebraska, and it was an “L” for the home team. The win over Nebraska in Boulder was against a Red Invasion of Cornhusker fans. The Buffs never led – until taking the lead in overtime – sending the Red Horde home stunned. Being in the stands for Mel Tucker’s first home game – and Scott Frost’s second loss to the Buffs – was unforgettable;

The Buffs went 8-2 over Colorado State during the decade … Buff fans like to look down upon little brother from Ft. Fun, and it’s nice that the Buffs have taken it to the Rams on the field of late. It’s been a rough decade for the CU football program, but at least CSU has been accommodating in being worse. The Buffs will take a five-game winning streak in the series to Ft. Collins in September, finishing a ten-year contract (the teams will play again in 2023 and 2024). The final tally in games played in Denver: CU 13; CSU 6, ending forever any whining from Ft. Collins about CU not being willing to play the Rams at a neutral site;

Going from Worst-to-First in 2016 … After a decade of despair, the Buff Nation was treated to an unforeseen run through the Pac-12. CU had gone 5-40 in its first five seasons in the Pac-12 before going 8-1 in 2016. Steven Montez had a remarkable debut in CU’s road upset at Oregon, with the Buffs picking up their first-ever win over Arizona State before defeating two ranked teams (Washington State; Utah) to earn the Pac-12 South title;

The hiring of Mel Tucker on December 5, 2018 … Tucker’s first season at Colorado ended with a 5-7 record, the same record as Mike MacIntyre had posted in the 2017 and 2018 seasons. To the rest of the world of college football, the Buffs are continuing to tread water in the shallow pool of the sport. But Buff fans know (or at least hope) that better days are on the horizon. Mel Tucker certainly seems to know what he is doing, and his players – and the Buff Nation – believe in him.

Other favorite CU moments from the 2010’s … 

The hiring of Rick George as athletic director in 2013 … Before Rick George came along, the CU athletic department had never done more than $15 million of fundraising in a year. All Rick George did was raise $105 million in three years, turning the Champions Center from a dream to a reality. George has not only given Colorado an opportunity to compete with other schools in recruiting, but given Buff fans reason for optimism about the program going forward. The jury is still out on the hiring of Mel Tucker, but if you polled the Buff Nation right now, George would get an “A” for this all-important hire;

The Golden Era of CU’s men’s basketball … We went over the stats of the Tad Boyle era in Random Thoughts, Vol. I, including the fact that six of the ten 20-win seasons in school history have come under Tad Boyle, and that the Buffs have made the NCAA tournament four times this decade … after making it twice in the past four decades.

And there have been some special moments along the way, including winning four games in four days to capture the first-ever Pac-12 Tournament championship … Askia Booker’s three-pointer to beat Kansas in 2013 … D’Shawn Schwartz’s three-pointer to beat Dayton just this month … A win over UNLV in the NCAA tournament in 2012 … ESPN GameDay coming to Boulder in 2014 … Six of Boyle’s players being drafted into the NBA;

CU joins the Pac-12 … While the first decade with nine losing seasons in football wasn’t exactly what the CU administration had in mind when the decision was made to join the Pac-12, it still remains a pivotal moment in CU history. The Buff Nation continues to wait to see the fruits of the move, but joining institutions which are more like minded than those of the Big 12 was a smart move for the University of Colorado overall;

Building of the Champions Center and Indoor Practice Facility … See Rick George, above. The significance of these capital improvements cannot be overstated. Without the Champions Center, the CU football program would be destined to remain in the basement of the Pac-12 for the foreseeable future … and there would have been no way to lure Mel Tucker to Boulder from Georgia without it;

National Championships … The University of Colorado has 29 national championships to its credit, with six of those coming in the past decade. The CU ski team, which boasts 20 national titles, won the NCAA championships in 2011, 2013, and 2015. The CU cross country teams, meanwhile, have accumulated a total of eight national championships, with the 2013 men’s team, 2014 men’s team, and 2018 women’s team picking up titles this past decade.

When you look at the achievements by the University of Colorado athletic department outside of Folsom Field, it was actually a pretty good decade.

Here’s hoping the 2020’s see the Return to Dominance on the football field which we’ve been promised since the dawn of the millennium …

—–

8 Replies to “Random Thoughts – Vol. IV – Good Riddance to 2010’s”

  1. To win:

    Recruiting is half the deal and development of the recruits is the other half.
    HCMT and his staff can recruit. Now can HCMT develop the recruits.

    Go Buffs.

    Note: The gardener and his staff were good at neither!

    1. New year, new perspective? For st least a decade you said it was scheme, and play calling. Now it is recruiting and development? No worries. It’s all good. May you and yours have a most excellent new year. And if az was having dinner with his wife and ran into me with mine, then we know who we are. Unlikely, but possible. If not, it was some other Cu alum from 1973. In a random little spot. Small world.

      Happy new year everyone.

      Go Buffs

        1. Right on, az. They were from Tucson. Didn’t ask if he followed stu’s Stuff. He saw my Buffs swag and said hello. We exchanged pleasantries. Would have been hilarious if it was you.

          Go Buffs

      1. Happy new year.

        Are you CNN? MSN?
        You are earache the fake news guy.

        For a decade I have said it was coaching. Yup.
        An since you don’t know what that is, you ol fan of the gardener, it is all of that.

        Yup it is.
        Recruiting
        Development
        Scheme
        Play calling

        But since the gardener (yur idol) and his staff pretty much were clueless you as they, do not understand it.

        So keep doing the bankers dance…………….oh wait just one more signature……………

        Buff Sko

  2. Nice article Stuart. It was nice to briefly re-live those highlights from the past decade. And I agree that Coach Tucker has us on a good trajectory.
    Regarding “other favorite moments,” I think it’s worth mentioning the Women’s Soccer Team’s relatively successful seasons, as well as the immediate success that we saw with the Lacrosse team.
    Now… How many days until Spring practice starts???
    Go Buffs!

  3. Yo Stuart,
    Happy holidays and welcome to a New Year and a New Decade! So looking forward to wins becoming the new norm… but more importantly, watching Mel Tucker change the culture and expectations at Colorado.

    The last decade showed that the football program was in deep trouble. It won’t be an easy fix, but I know Mel Tucker is the right man for the job. How satisfying it is to have recruits choose Boulder and Colorado over the likes of LSU, Ohio State, and Alabama. It’s such a change from the days of Carpetbagger’s past when were told to minimize our expectations and our recruits were mostly being recruited by Group of Five and FCS schools.

    Mel Tucker is willing to go up against anyone on the recruiting trail. And he will also develop them into championship caliber players and men. I can’t wait to witness how the program grows in the future.

    As BSBUFF pointed out, we should also be thankful for Rick George. He got the right man for the job in Mel Tucker.

    Go BUFFS!
    Mark/Boulderdevil

  4. Sad thing is that the decline had past administrations fingerprints all over it. We should all be thankful for RG…..Pretty sure that his hire of HCMT will prove to be one of the best

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