CU in ’22: The Year Everything Goes Right

The past two days have been tough on the residents of Boulder County, with unprecedented destruction from the Boulder County fires.

The past two years have been tough on the country, as we try to get back to some semblance of normalcy.

The past two decades have been tough on the Buff Nation, with the program wandering in the desert of mediocrity … or worse.

While the sufferings of the Buff Nation pale in comparison to what others have gone through, this is a CU football website, so we’re going to focus on what we have been through as Buff fans … and dare to dream.

The prognostications for the CU football program are not bright, and yet another losing season in 2022 is assumed by everyone outside of the Champions Center.

But … what if … as the New Year begins … we allow ourselves to believe in a year where everything actually goes right for the CU program?

CU in ’22!

January 3rd … After Utah’s 48-45 setback to Ohio State in the Rose Bowl, Ute head coach Kyle Whittingham announces his retirement. “I’ve achieved the dream”, Whittingham said between sobs. “When we joined the Pac-12, the dream was to win the conference championship and take the program to the Rose Bowl. We’ve done that, and now it’s time for me to move on”. Whittingham, 62, gave Utah fans a hint of things to come when he signed a contract extension allowing him to stay on as a “special assistant to the athletic director” if he chose to retire.

The retirement of Whittingham marks the start of Utah’s slow descent back to mediocrity … something Buff fans have been waiting for for a decade.

February 2nd … On the traditional Signing Day, the Buffs clean up, in part due to the new interior line coaches. CU picks up three USC players from the Transfer Portal – four-star linebacker Raymond Scott; three-star edge rusher Hunter Echols; and three-star linebacker Juliano Falaniko. “Coach So’oto is the man”, Echols said about CU’s new defensive line coach Vic So’oto. “I can’t wait to continue my career with him”.

March 25th … CU’s unexpected run to the Sweet Sixteen ends with a 75-71 overtime loss to No. 1 Gonzaga. A bubble team until March, the Buffs followed the example of the 2021 Oregon State team, running through the Pac-12 tournament as the No. 6 seed, defeating UCLA in the title game to earn a No. 9 seed in the NCAA tournament. “I’m proud of this young team”, said head coach Tad Boyle. “I’m sorry we couldn’t take it any further, as every game Evan Battey gets to play is a gift. I can’t wait to get back at it next season”. The Buffs’ run to the Sweet Sixteen was great fun for the Buff Nation, but it wasn’t even the best result of the month for the University. The CU women’s team, toughened by a top-heavy Pac-12, makes its fourth-ever run to the Elite Eight, the Buffs’ first since the 2001-02 season. Not to be outdone, the CU ski team upsets defending national champion Utah to claim its 21st national championship. In the first season under head coach Andy LeRoy, the Buffs take care of business, defeating the Utes on their home course in Park City.

April 17th … CU finishes off a successful spring with a rousing Spring Game before 10,0000 sun-drenched Buff fans in Folsom Field. Quarterbacks Brendon Lewis and J.T. Shrout both play well, with the offense and defense alternating big plays. “I just love coach Sanford’s offense”, gushed Lewis, who threw for two scores and ran for another. “The team is really responding to the concepts, and we have great expectations for the season”.

The fan experience was enhanced as CU allowed fan access to half of the spring practices. “We talked about it, and it just didn’t make any sense to not allow the fans to participate in our spring”, said head coach Karl Dorrell. “Other teams know what Coach Sanford is bringing to Boulder, so why try and hide it? We are trying to build something here at CU, and we want our fans to get excited about what we are putting on the field”.

May 5th … Cinco De Mayo is not a day of celebration in Tempe, Arizona, as the NCAA lowers the boom on Arizona State for recruiting violations which occurred during the 2020 season. “Such blatant disregard for the rules and player safety cannot go unpunished”, said NCAA spokesman Tom Clauson. “Arizona State flaunted the rules by having players take official visits when there was a ban on any direct contact. This program and its coaching staff needs to be held accountable”.

Arizona State head coach Herm Edwards opts to “retire” rather than face punishments imposed by the NCAA. Assistant coaches also face penalties, while the Sun Devils as a program is given a three-year bowl ban, forced to reduce its scholarship allotment from 85 to 75 for three seasons, and given hefty fines. Senior quarterback Jaylen Daniels is among the list of players who abandon the program. Daniels enters the Supplemental NFL Draft, is picked up by the Houston Texans … and is never heard from again.

June 14th … Preseason magazines hit the bookstores, with CU – predictably – not seen as being a threat in the Pac-12 South. Most publications have USC (4-8, 3-6 in 2021) winning the Pac-12 South, while Colorado (4-8, 3-6 in 2021) is considered an also-ran with little hope of a winning season or a bowl invitation. Lindy’s even goes so far as to put the Buffs behind Arizona in its predicted standings. “Arizona is doing better in recruiting, and Jedd Fisch is building something in Tucson”, raves Lindy’s … describing a program with one win (over a COVID-depleted Cal team) in almost three calendar years.

The slight doesn’t affect the Buffs, though. In fact, the Buffs find a way to use it to their advantage. YoColorado, a Colorado shirt manufacturer, gets into the NIL game, creating shirts for CU players. “A Chip on Their Shoulder” program is created, with replica CU jerseys made with an imprint of CU’s mascot on each shoulder of the shirt. Buff fans rally through social media, and thousands of Chip on Their Shoulder shirts are sold.

July 28th … At the CU football media days, athletic director Rick George steps to the podium. “I have an announcement to make”, George says with a smile. “But first, some introductions. To my right is Trey Parker; my left, Matt Stone. Some of you might recognize these two gentlemen, who are the creators of South Park, and, importantly for today, CU alums.”

Rick George goes on to announce that Parker and Stone have entered into a $450 million, 15-year naming rights deal for Folsom Field. The stadium will now be known as Folsom Field at South Park Stadium. The contract calls for $30 million annual contribution, with the first year contributions going largely towards stadium upgrades. “We have had plans for the west side of the stadium in the works for years”, George announces. “We will be in position to start work on the stadium as soon as the season ends, with noticeable upgrades in place for the 2023 season”.

The deal also calls for an annual $6 million in designated contributions. A total of $4 million per year will go toward the assistant coaches’ salary pool, in essence doubling the available dollars for salaries for assistants, with $1 million annually going towards enhancing recruiting capabilities. Another $1 million annually will be set aside for an NIL fund, with every scholarship football and basketball player (men’s and women’s) to be given a $10,000 annual stipend in exchange for those athletes promoting South Park in their social media, together with other promotional activities.

“We insisted that the offensive coordinators be renamed ‘Kenny’, and the defensive coordinator ‘Cartman’, but that didn’t work out”, joked Trey Parker. “We’re just happy to give back to CU and Boulder, as well as the student-athletes here in the Champions Center”.

“Clearly, this is a game changer”, said head coach Karl Dorrell. “Now it’s up to us in the coaching staff to take advantage this tremendous gift”.

September … What had been perceived as an insurmountable non-conference schedule proves to be workable for the Buffs. After a home victory over TCU to open the season, the Buffs get some measure of revenge in taking out Air Force, 27-20, on the road. “I have a great deal of respect for the Falcons and what they stand for”, said head coach Karl Dorrell, whose father was a Naval officer. “We knew we had to be disciplined on both sides of the ball”. Offensive coordinator Mike Sanford also gets a little bit of revenge as the Buffs take out Minnesota, 37-27. The Buffs’ balanced attack produces over 200 yards in both rushing and passing. After the Buffs defeat Chip Kelly and UCLA for the third straight time at home (“Someday, we’ll figure out how to win here”, laments the UCLA head coach), the Buffs enter the Associated Press poll as the nation’s No. 24 team.

October … The Buffs open October with an easy win over 0-4 Arizona (which includes a loss to FCS power North Dakota State … take that, Lindy’s!) before squeaking out tougher-than-they-should-have-been wins over Cal and Oregon State. The Buffs finish off a 4-0 October with a No. 14 national ranking and an 8-0 overall record after taking out Arizona State at home. The Sun Devils, unable to attract coaches or players to Tempe, come to Boulder 3-4 on the season, with ASU’s only wins coming over Northern Arizona, Eastern Michigan, and a spiraling Stanford Cardinal program. The Buffs take care of business, 35-17, to enter the toughest part of the schedule on a roll.

November … “The games they remember are the ones played in November” was a favorite saying of former CU head coach Gary Barnett. The Buffs open the month with tough back-to-back games, with a home tilt against Oregon before a Friday night road game against USC. The Buffs stay with the Ducks for four quarters, but lose on a controversial call in overtime, giving Oregon a 33-30 win. The battered Buffs, though, regroup in time to post their first-ever win over USC, defeating the Trojans in the Coliseum, 28-20. A sluggish 20-17 win in a soaking wet Seattle over struggling Washington gets CU back into the top 15 nationally, and sets up a showdown for the Pac-12 South with No. 17 Utah. The Buffs are at home, and a sellout crowd at South Park Stadium cheers the Buffs to their second South division title. 38-28.

December … The Buff Nation is out in full force in Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, with No. 12 Colorado taking out No. 22 Oregon. The Buffs leave no doubt this time, gaining a measure of revenge for the loss a month earlier at home against the Ducks. CU rolls out to a 21-0 first half lead, and withstands an Oregon rally in the second half, holding on for a 41-27 victory. The win gives the Buffs their first Pac-12 title, and a berth in the College Football Playoffs.

The month is topped off with CU signing its best recruiting Class in 20 years. The Buffs’ Recruiting Class of 2023 is ranked second in the Pac-12, and 18th nationally, with four four-star recruits added to the fold. “We’re building a culture here in Boulder”, says Karl Dorrell, who was named Pac-12 Coach of the Year for the second time in three seasons at Colorado. “The fans have been patient, and have seen what we have been trying to create. Our players have bought in, and they play for each other. It’s been a pleasure to be a part of this run to the Playoffs”.

Okay, it’s nevvvver gonna happen … but, it’s the start of a New Year, and with a new year comes a fresh start.

In the last week of 2021, Karl Dorrell added three very exciting young assistant coaches.

So, who knows what the next 52 weeks will bring …


12 Replies to “CU in ’22: The Year Everything Goes Right”

  1. Love the optimism. I am firmly in wait and see mode. I believe at this point coaching is much more important than the players. So losing rice and Gonzalez was hard but not the death of a program. What it says to me more than anything is that CU does not have a leader yet holding this together. Reminds me of the early Macintyre days. Who will pull this group together. Who will be the leader? Can Shrout step into the role o er the spring and summer and dominate the Qi position so he. An become that leader? One of the other qb’s? Doubtful as Dorrell does not seem to want to anoint a qb until fall. On defense who steps in for Landman and Wells? Barnes? Perry? The other Perry is gone, but he was so quiet anyway. Maybe Sami?

    I like the line coach hires. Surprised to see a d line coach though….wonder how that will shake out.

    Frankly, I think if everything works out we turn into this running juggernaut hit with a good defense. Some teams will figure us out and a few teams will just outscore us, just like Minnesota but if things work out we might just be a 7-5 team and get a bowl game. I suspect we will know pretty early. Beat TCU and beat air force and we should be able to clean up the bottom of the PAC12 for another 4-5 wins.

  2. Ah, the Kool-Aid Column, fill me a cup please…
    I will take a bowl game in 22 and Stuart’s “everything goes right” in 2023 (btw I just ordered your novel for winter reading)
    Ute’s looked good last night, too bad they lost. I’m quite sure OSU would have been a better Bama opponent than Michigan.
    One thing I see in some of these run-heavy offenses, whether they choose to run or not, is that the good ones have some great receivers and a QB that can drop a dime…that balance capability to do both is nice when it works, hard to stop

  3. Am not sure why the players have not fully “bought in” to Coach Dorrell’s vision of family, growing as a player and individual. It seems solid three star players/student athletes and their parents have. His proven experience/success in the NFL and an over .500 collegiate head coach should serve him and CU well over time.

    This year will be equivalent to Coach McCartney’s initial foray into the wishbone. However, rather than a trick offense to paper over a talent gap, this is the transition to HIS offense and approach. CU NEEDS this effort to work.

    So much hope it will be a success.

    Many of the articles’s scenarios COULD prove true.

  4. You can get exhausted sitting on your ass all day watching the rose parade and a mind numbing amount of football games …… off games excluded… I knew exactly how they were going to play out. Not sure how Michigan won 10 or 11 games.
    So before the Pizza, guac and margs finished me off for the evening I noticed Stuart’s mention of the 0 and 5 PAC 12 bowl record.
    The conference was ripe for the picking this year, including USC and its looks like the same for next year, maybe not USC …and before the AU geek coach’s recruits get seasoned.
    Will the new coaches help us improve to the point of almost making a bowl game again? Or will we hot rock bottom as the worst team in the worst power five conferences? Its going to have to be more than baby steps for a change on O (see Rice)
    Will we get finally get some dramatic help along the line from the portal? Wake me up when it happens. Definitely baby steps in that direction. The new line coaches could make it happen though.
    If Herm the worm is leaving he will more likely get fired by ASU without any pressure from the NCAA. Chris and Rick in Full ride get after the NCAA almost every morning. The NCAA enforcement guys are the very definition of baby steps.
    I will put a Benjamin down on Whittingham staying put. He doesnt seem like a guy who lets unfinished business go.
    10,000 could show up at the spring game. Just provide free pizza, guac, margs and a pre game concert by ZZ Top, or maybe someone else. Not sure of Billy and the base guy are still dong it now that the drummer has passed away.
    Hoops? The Buff’s could get at least 2 wins into the dance but Tad would have to steal another assistant from Gonzaga to help him organize his Buff offense.

  5. Happy New Year to everyone and a better 2022 all the way around, including for Buffs football. I liked the recent hires and the solid recruiting class. There will be more fallout with the transfer portal and it will be what it is. Hopefully offset through aggressive approach to bring other talent in. Maybe the new staff will surprise, including the O coordinator. Once a Buff, always a Buff. Will look forward to articles and posts here as well as another season. Go Buffs!!

  6. I’m guessing that the “CU in 22” column was guest written by Timothy Leary, with words and music by the Moody Blues?

  7. I like that scenario!
    I would happily eat crow at Allegiant Stadium, right before attending the big, “CU at the Game” after party!
    If only…

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