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One Quarter Century Down … One More to Go?

Damn, I’m getting old!

If you have ever clicked on the “Archives” section of CU at the Game, you know that the website’s coverage of CU football dates back to 1980 … my freshman year in Boulder.

While every game CU has played over the past 40 years has a story to tell, it’s not as if I arrived at Libby Hall in September, 1980, planning on creating a 40-year history of my beloved Buffs.

Instead, the inspiration to write a “book” about CU football came to me in the Spring of 1996 … 25 years ago.

For me, the off-season between the 1995 and 1996 campaigns was too long.  CU had finished the ’95 season 10-2, ranked 5th in the nation … and all of the Buffs’ skill position players were returning. I couldn’t wait for the ’96 season to begin.

To keep myself busy, I read every book about college football I could lay my hands on.

The pickings in the Bozeman bookstores are always slim. In early 1996, though, I had the opportunity to expand my horizons. In January, my family made a trip to Portland, Oregon, with our son Adam was testing for his black belt in tai-kwondo. At the same time, our daughter Heidi was expressing an interest in attending an art school in Portland, so we combined events. Between watching Adam test and going with Heidi for an interview with the art school’s placement office, we engaged in my wife Lee’s favorite pastime – going to bookstores.

At Powells Book Store, a Portland landmark, I found new (at least to me) college football books. One had to do with the Washington Husky program. Entitled “Bitter Roses“, author Sam Farmer’s book chronicled Washington’s shared (with the Miami Hurricanes) national title season of 1991, along with the scandal-plagued season of 1992. I also found “Under the Tarnished Dome“, an indictment of Lou Holtz and the “holier than thou” attitude of the Notre Dame program.

A few months later, Lee and I had the opportunity to travel to Atlanta. Lee was attending a conference, so I took the opportunity to play tourist. For the most part, I found a city under feverish construction, what with the 1996 Olympic Games only a few months away. In addition to the mandatory stops at Stone Mountain and the Coca-Cola “museum”, I hit a few bookstores. There I found the two books which would serve to become the driving force behind this work.

The first was written by two college football fanatics. One of the writers was, ironically enough, an attorney. The two authors of “Saturday Afternoon Madness“, Bob Waldstein and Phil Silverman, took a season off from their lives in the fall of 1993 and traveled the country in search of the heart and soul of college football. Their road trip took them to such hallowed venues as State College, South Bend, and Ann Arbor. They also took the time to make it to Boulder, Colorado, for the CU/Nebraska game. (They liked Boulder, but the game was a bust for Buff fans, with the Cornhuskers prevailing 21-17).

The concept of traveling the country in search of historic game sites was appealing to me, but was not financially feasible. Fortunately, the second book I picked up was even better than the first.

Titled “The UnCivil War“, it was re-telling of the Auburn/Alabama feud, with an emphasis on the 1979-92 seasons. What made the story unique were the authors and the format for their work. Best of friends growing up, the two were bred to different allegiances. One was born into a Crimson Tide family; the other was from an Auburn Tiger home. Even after separating to attend their schools of choice, they remained friends.

Saying that football is a religion in Alabama is not to give credit to the seriousness with which the game is taken there. The two authors, Scott Brown and Will Collier, brought out the flavor of the rivalry in a clever style. First, they objectively told of the season’s highs and lows, citing results and statistics. Next, the authors penned vivid details of the season-ending grudge match between the Crimson Tide and the Tigers. Then, and this is what made the book fun, the authors wrote individual – which is to say biased – accounts of the game and the season. It made for great reading, and the seeds for this effort were sown.

While playing golf that spring, I spoke with playing partner Randy Tafelmeyer about the books I had been reading. (Randy was not a huge college football fan, but I was taking it as a personal crusade to convert him.) The more I talked about it, the better the idea of following in these authors’ footsteps became. Over the years, I had accumulated a large personal collection of programs, newspaper articles, and memorabilia. Why not put it to good use?

As they say … write about what you know.

CU at the Game was the result.

I set out to write my book, but I needed more source material if I was going to write stories about the games played between 1980 and 1995. I was able to track down a 1996 CU media guide, which listed the late great Fred Casotti as CU’s “historian”. Author of three books on CU football, he was more than willing to help me in my quest.

It was Fred who introduced me to Dave Plati.

Dave opened up the CU Archives to me, letting me dig into the row of filing cabinets in the old Annex building (attached to the southwest corner of Balch Fieldhouse), then taking pity on me and giving me CU media guides to work from.

As a result, all of the writeups from 1980 to 1995 were written with the benefit of hindsight. Every other game, that’s … every … single … game … for the past 25 seasons, has stories and commentaries which were written at the time of the game.

Which means that you can find stories of full-throated optimism about the future of the Buffs under Rick Neuheisel, Gary Barnett, Dan Hawkins, Jon Embree, Mike MacIntyre and Karl Dorrell (though in my own defense I wasn’t convinced that Jon Embree was the right hire – but was hopeful nonetheless).

The “book” never materialized, but I kept writing anyway. Very few ever got to read any of my stories … until 2008, when my daughter-in-law suggested I start a blog. Twelve years later, that same daughter-in-law suggested that I start a podcast (pretty cool daughter-in-law!).

One last thing, as I embark on Year 26 of writing about my Buffs … I have to say that the best part of this endeavor has been the opportunity to meet some of you along the way. From road trips to tailgates, it’s been great getting to know fellow members of the Buff Nation.

CU at the Game has been a labor of love for me for the past twenty five years.

Here’s hoping we’re still in this together a quarter of century from now!

Go Buffs!

Stuart

16 Replies to “CU at the Game Turns 25”

  1. Great background and insight. Love reading the blog. The.passion for the Buffs is so great. Congrats!

  2. CU at The Game, food and sleep – When I only have time for 2 of the 3, CU at the Game makes the cut nearly every time. Thank you Stuart!

  3. Stuart, if you were a rock, you’d be a “Flat Iron.” No pun….. you are a rock for CU sports.

    I can only say, “THANKS” for making my 25 years back in Colorado enjoyable as I love my Buffs.

  4. Stuart,

    Like many others, I check the site daily and use it as my “to go” for Buff info and breaking news. I appreciate all the work you do and look forward to another 25 years!

    GO BUFFS!

  5. Hey Stuart….My son and I read your blog religiously every day …couldn’t live without it…thanks for all your insights and hard work…..
    Go Buffs

  6. I found this website by accident as I was looking for fan websites during a google search. I think it was 2000 (I am getting old too, Stuart, my memory isn’t what it used to be, lol). This website was one of only a couple at that time but I found it to be the most insightful and provide thoughtful, well researched articles (and it still is). I remember I was the only female back then who subscribed to your e-mail list and commented regularly. You do a great job and here is hoping for another 25 years, GO BUFFS!!!!!!

  7. Due to my own internet ignorance I didn’t discover CUatthe game until after 2008, unfortunately that was after I would have had a chance to meet Stuart on his home turf; not that he necessarily would have wanted to meet me… haha.

    An old job had me traveling thru Bozeman about 8 times a year for a couple of years that ended right before I discovered the site. How great would it had been to talk football with Stuart while knocking a few drinks back after work?

    About 2008/09 of Hawkins’ era, I had gone to a few watch parties in SoCal where a few of Hawkins’ ex-players who returned home, were in attendance & they gave me an insight to what they really thought of him and where the program was heading.

    Things like QB recruits being put off by the HC and lost opportunities to get better players due to the coach’s son being at CU, and not just QBs; it would have been interesting if the timing had been a little different to had some conversations with Stuart about that. Cody was a gamer and played hard, but there were missed opportunities at a time when CU still was close to a past where they had been winning, with it’s success still known by potential recruits.

    For over a decade now, CUatthegame is and has been my first site to go to for the Buffs AND the Pac12, or any other college football or basketball info; the search starts at Stuart’s site.

    When other sites were cutting content, espn and the Buffzone for example, and the DP became very negative, or at least even worse than before, Stuart picked up the slack. Remember when the Buffzone had multiple reporters covering football and a reporter covering both men’s & women’s basketball with multiple pages including a spread of colored photos?

    CUatthegame really filled the void.

    Thanks Stuart.

  8. Dear Stuart,
    If I remember correctly, I found CU at the Game around 2009 doing a google search for something related to the Buffs (probably searching for Mike Bohn’s email address to beg him to fire head flimflam football coach you-know-who). Anyway, your site quickly became one of my favorites for all things CU sports related. And likely because you do it for fun and not for advertising dollars, I noticed it had a genuine feel to it that’s difficult to find, particularly in today’s high-dollar college sports landscape. Your site is among about 3 websites I visit every day, and the only site among those that is sports related.

    Thank you for all the time and energy you put into this site and our beloved Buffs, Stuart! I would say thanks for all the hard work, but hopefully it doesn’t feel like work the majority of the time (as you wrote about in “Time to Call it Quits?” not too long ago). So pleased you are still writing… thank your awesome daughter-in-law for us, too!

    With sincere gratitude,
    Thomas

    Go Buffs!

  9. Amazing work Stuart! It’s great to hear the founding story of CU at the Game, what I can only assume has become an integral part of your life and what I know is an unbelievable asset to CU fans near and far.

  10. This is a great summary of the foundations for CU At the Game, Stuart… I unfortunately wasn’t a Buff fan until my freshman year in 1993, so didn’t get to experience the national title in real time like you, but definitely got to bask in the afterglow. Hopefully optimistic CU is building a new foundation of success under Dorrell +++

  11. Ah Spring of 1996… that is the Spring that I graduated from CU. I miss those days of assuming CU would be ranked in the top 10 and losing any game was not only rare but shocking.

  12. Truly appreciate the site and the work you put into it. I have loved the archive functions as I dip into the past to see what a coach was saying about spring and fall camps to judge versus this year. One of my projects for the long summer is to go digging through the archives for old Dorrell quotes when he was here….. thank you so much for the time and effort!

  13. Tip of the hat and a hearty thanks for all you do Stu. When it comes to football Boulder ain’t Columbus or Tuscaloosa where I’m sure there is non stop coverage from way too many angles. You, however are the much needed rock for Buff fans.

  14. Stuart— Thank you so much for what you do for us. Your website is my go to for all things Buffs and has been for years. I really appreciate your insight, your passion, and your thoughtfulness. Here’s to another 25 years!!

  15. That’s awesome. The time you pour into this means we don’t have to. We can pop in, post mostly nonsense, Tease each other, pretend to be football savants, and move on. Great little diversion.

    Here’s to hoping Karl’s coach speak doesn’t materialize into the same mediocre results we’ve sees since the early 2000s.

    If they have, find, or make a qb, this could be a pretty good year.

    Go Buffs

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