New Year’s Resolutions for CU Fans

The calendar hasn’t even flipped, but the 2024 CU football season is already one of the most anticipated in recent Buff history. To be sure, there was a great deal of anticipation last fall, but no one knew what to expect from a completely redone Buff roster. Would the Coach Prime experiment work … or would CU implode? Millions tuned into find out.

This fall, though, the expectations will be ratcheted up considerably. As Coach Prime himself put it: “Last year was about hope; this year is about expectations”.

Will CU be able to take advantage of its move back to the Big 12? Will the Buffs be able to handle the emotion of road games against its two main rivals?

… And will the Buff Nation be able to maintain perspective through it all?

For those making New Year’s Resolutions, perspective isn’t necessarily always a priority (which is why gyms are full in January, not so much in February).

For the Buff Nation (myself included), here are some New Year’s Resolutions for 2024:

Resolution No. 1 … Enjoy each new commitment … 

How quickly we’ve become spoiled. Coach Prime has elevated the talent on the roster considerably in just 13 short months. Colorado will have three five-star recruits on the field in 2024. Forget rare, this is unprecedented. CU signed only three five-star recruits total in the previous 30 years prior to the Prime era.

But it’s not just the greatest of the great Coach Prime has attracted. The number of blue chip players (four- and five-star prospects) CU is signing is mind-boggling.

In 2017, fresh off of a ten-win season in 2016, Colorado brought in its best recruiting Class in a decade. Riding the wave of a 10-4 season, coach Mike MacIntyre took advantage of CU’s improved national stature to bring in a Top 35 Recruiting Class which included four (four!) four-star prospects, with two four-star offensive linemen (Kanan Ray and Jake Moretti) and two four-star defensive linemen (Jon Van Diest and Terrance Lang).

As CU’s fortunes on the field declined, however, so too did the number of four-star recruits:

  • Class of 2018 – two four-star recruits … Class ranked No. 53 nationally
  • Class of 2019 – three four-star recruits … Class ranked No. 44
  • Class of 2020 – three four-star recruits … Class ranked No. 36
  • Class of 2021 – zero four-star recruits … Class ranked No. 64
  • Class of 2022 – zero four-star recruits … Class ranked No. 47

Then along came Coach Prime, and the script was flipped:

  • Class of 2023 – two five-star recruits; eight four-star recruits … Class ranked No. 21 nationally
  • Class of 2024 – one five-star recruit; nine-four-star recruits … Class ranked No. 21 nationally

Yup. Both of the last two Classes have had as many four-star recruits as the previous five CU Classes signed – combined.

A 2024 CU team with almost a quarter of the roster being blue-chip prospects?


Another perspective … Missouri just completed an 11-2 season. Over the course of the campaign, the Tigers defeated No. 15 Kansas State, No. 24 Kentucky, No. 13 Tennessee and, this weekend, No. 7 Ohio State. Missouri came into the post-season ranked No. 9 in the nation, and will only move up.

The number of blue-chip prospects on the 2023 Missouri roster? 22.

The number of blue-chip prospects currently on the 2024 Colorado roster? 20.

There is certainly more to winning than having a horde of four-star players on your roster (just ask USC), but the chances for success increase markedly with better players.

Yet another perspective … the highest-rated prospect of the Karl Dorrell 2022 CU Recruiting Class (25 members strong), was linebacker Kaden Ludwick, who was given an 88-grade by 247 Sports (three stars). Ludwick (who has since transferred to Oregon to be a backup tight end) would have been no better than the 12th-highest rated member of the CU Class of 2023 (out of 20 freshmen) and sixth (out of seven) in the CU Class of 2024.

And it’s not only the Class of 2022 which was devoid of star-power … Only two of the members of the freshman Class of 2021 (quarterback Drew Carter and tight end Erik Olsen) were rated as high as Ludwick.

And yet … Many members of the Buff Nation spent much of Signing Day two weeks ago wringing their hands over the fate of five-star offensive lineman Jordan Seaton, and wondering – often quite loudly – as to why there were no high-profile flips committing to Colorado.

Thing was, on December 19th, the day before Signing Day, CU picked up a commitment from transfer Pitt defensive lineman Samuel Okunlola. Not only was Okunlola coming to CU in a position of need, he was coming in as a four-star transfer, with a 92 rating by 247 Sports.

Want to make a guess how total recruits CU signed in the five previous Classes prior to Coach Prime’s arrival who came to Boulder with a rating higher than Okunlola’s 92-grade?

That would be none.

There were three recruits in that span who also had 92 ratings – WR Dimitri Stanley (2018), LB Marvin Ham (2019), and RB Ashaad Clayton (2020) – but none were rated higher than CU’s December 19th defensive line transfer … a transfer which all but went unnoticed by many Buff fans.

Point is … almost every new Buff Coach Prime is bringing in would be considered a star in almost every previous Class over the past two decades.

Let’s not act like six year-olds on Christmas morning, opening one package only to throw it aside, in search of the next package to open.

Let’s enjoy each new gift as it comes.

Resolution No. 2 … Tune out the noise

The national attention Coach Prime brought to Colorado in 2023 was unbelievable. The coverage by Fox and ESPN was hard to foresee, but CU was the national story in college football for a month. Coach Prime was everywhere: all the sports talk shows; 60 Minutes; Good Morning America … going on to be named the Sports Illustrated Sportsperson of the Year.


But along with the accolades has come more than a little negative press.

The hate from fan bases at Colorado State and Nebraska was to be expected (though how much Oregon fans despise Coach Prime is a bit surprising), but there are also plenty of journalists who have made it there business to tear down what Deion Sanders is trying to build.

One example from this past week: From Jon Wilner at the San Jose Mercury News, who is supposedly a Pac-12 cheerleader:

The early signing period is a wrap, thus completing most of the heavy lifting in the 2023-24 recruiting cycle.

So let’s take a look at the Pac-12’s biggest winners and losers … 

Loser: Colorado. Yes, we know coach Deion Sanders wants to focus on the transfer portal. But only six high school signees? That won’t cut it, no matter how many transfers are brought in. Convincing five-star offensive tackle Jordan Seaton to sign his letter-of-intent saved the Buffaloes’ class from being a complete and utter disaster. But even with Seaton, a product of IMG Academy, the class is ranked last in the Big 12 (out of 16 schools) by 247Sports.

No mention that CU, at the same time, had the nation’s No. 1 transfer portal Class in the country, and an overall No. 21 rank for the entire Class.

Hey, Jon, if you look at the entire Class, you know, looking at all of the 24 players who became Buffs on Signing Day, and who will be playing for Coach Prime next fall, CU’s Class ranks first in the Big 12 (out of 16 schools) by 247 Sports.

The haters were having fun with CU’s small freshman Class … but who will have the last laugh?

It’s hard sometimes, but Buff fans need to just ignore the noise.

Resolution No. 3 … Enjoy The Rise … or at least The Ride

The Buffs’ home schedule this past fall worked to my advantage.

Colorado had back-to-back home games against Nebraska and Colorado State, and I wanted to go to both games. With the Buffs4Life golf tournament on the Monday in between the two games, it was an easy decision to spend the week between games in Boulder (rather than visit DIA four times in ten days, shuttling back-and-forth to Montana).

Arrangements to hang out in CU world were made well in advance of CU’s upset of No. 17 TCU, so the week went from being fun to being special. The Fox Big Noon Saturday show set up camp in Boulder, and ESPN GameDay to CU for the first time since 1996. In between, there was the Buffs4Life golf tournament, Coach Prime’s radio show broadcast, the Buff Walk on Friday night … not to mention getting to spend some extra time with fellow Buff fans.

We didn’t know at the time that the first three weeks of the season would be the high water mark of the campaign, but it sure was an enjoyable week!

And now we get to enjoy the continued ascension of Colorado football, or at least what we hope will be the continued ascension of Colorado football.

There are still holes in the lineup to be filled, and Coach Prime is having to replace both coordinators.

Plenty of questions need to be answered before Buff fans can reliably start thinking of a bowl bid and a winning season as the program’s floor – instead of its ceiling.

But Colorado will be in the national news again during the second Signing Day in February … and … the CU Spring Game will again fill the stands … and … Folsom Field will again be sold out for most (if not all) of CU’s home games … and …  Quarterback Shedeur Sanders and cornerback/wide receiver phenom Travis Hunter will be on awards lists and mock first-round NFL Draft lists for 2025.

Will the program continue to rise? Will Coach Prime’s remake of the roster result in more victories on the field?

To be determined …

But we’ve been through a lot. We’ve been wandering the desert of anonymity in college football for decades. We’ve suffered. We’ve been mocked, ridiculed, even pitied.

Colorado may not yet be dominant, but there is no questioning that Colorado is again relevant.

My resolution is to try and enjoy every minute.

The 2024 season may not bring about the second coming of “The Rise”.

But there is no reason not to at least enjoy “The Ride”.

Happy New Year!


5 Replies to “New Year’s Resolutions for CU Fans”

  1. Wilner, like most of the sports media (and many coaches) hasn’t adjusted yet to the new realities of college football. The only class rankings that matter anymore are those that include high school commits, juco, and transfers. To say that Colorado has the 102nd ranked class based solely on players recruited from high school makes as little sense as saying Georgia has the 21st class (and sixth in the SEC, behind Vanderbilt) based only on the portal. One could even argue that transfers are more important than anything else now, as many HS players will take a year or two to contribute significantly and a number will transfer out for NIL money or more playing time before they can repay the coaching staff’s investment in developing them. Contracts outlining payment, performance expectations, and length of time a recruit must stay with a program to earn that money can’t be far off.

  2. The ride. I love it. I am here for it. Not sure I can turn off the analysis mindset enough to JUST enjoy it, but I am definitely enjoying it. One thing I will say is other than 2 games and 2 halves (USC 1st and Standford 2nd) CU played good football. So much of 2 years ago was tough to watch.
    I think you hit the nail on the head with journalism out there. Some haters some lovers. Wilner is a jack ass. I am glad I know longer have to hear is crap. think I go to Klatt. He is a huge Prime supporter, but is is very very realistic. At the beginning of the year he said a 4-5 win season was a realistic successful season, even with all of the transfers. We all bought a little much into the hype after a 3-0 start, but that is OK. Depth was a problem. The complexity of Kelly’s defense, the predictability of Lewis’s offense (without a running quarterback), the lack of depth (becuase they missed on a lot more guys than they expected to in the portal). One more off-season is going to really help. That depth will be there. The hires for DC and OC are going to be critical. I am not opposed to Shurmur. I know Bronco faithful will not be happy, but I think we need some continuity. I also thought he did a pretty good job by Utah. DC is going to be critical.

  3. Good essay Stuart and true Buff fans think alike.

    Resolution No. 1 … Enjoy each new commitment …
    This has been my way of thinking, I haven’t been clicking on links on who CU might be targeting or who might sign until they sign or at least commit (then I get to read about them here) and if a commit flips before they sign I look at the next guy Prime will bring in.

    Resolution No. 2 … Tune out the noise.
    Again, I’ve learned who to click on and who not to, Wilbur has always been a Wilbur and there are others I don’t even bother with. At the beginning of this ride, I responded 2 or 3 times in total last season on other sites to correct true misinformation of a fact or stat and the haters made it clear really fast not to waste my time with those idiots; even with the supporters on same posting the trolls were out in force.

    Resolution No. 3 … Enjoy The Rise … or at least The Ride.

    This I plan on greatly, but unlike past years where I’ve been hungry for the next item on the calendar, second signing day, camp coming up, spring game, summer workouts and fall camp and I’m a year older… Damn!

    I will still be watching all of that, but I want the in between times of all that to slow down and maybe savor it a little more when it happens and then forget about it for a few weeks, take time to “go fishing… err wheeling and exploring for me”, until the next thing up on the calendar arrives. It’s kind of crazy, but seeing good things happening in recruiting and coaches like Sapp coming in make me OK with something like Kelly leaving, Saban is always recycling coaches and bring in new guys.

    But all the blue chips and the Prime Effect has me more patient. I know the second signing day is coming up soon and a new DC will be hired, but I’m confident Prime and staff will do well and I can wait… instead of “I can’t wait”.

  4. Missouri? How did they get 22 blue chip players on the same roster? I went to a game in Columbia back in the late 60’s. What a backwater place. The only thing that was attractive to me was another school there. Stevens college, which was all girls and a lot of em werent shy.
    I tuned into the 4th quarter for their game, which appeared to be a snoozer prior to that. 2 things were apparent. Even though I’m sure OSU matched them in roster stars, Missouri had more motivation and more gas left in the tank. OSU folded in front of them. Another thing that made a difference was a player, their freak wrecking ball running back. I’m not sure how many stars he had coming in but it kind of reminded me of most of the past 4 stars that came here that didnt turn our as advertised. Coaching was probably a negative factor there as well I suppose.
    And Jon Wilner? pffft
    One of the bright things about the dissolution of the PAC is his voice will be greatly reduced. He may have to become an “expert” on the bay area soccer teams. He didnt know piss about football. His game predictions were always way under .500. He never was a PAC cheerleader. Mostly for USC only. Maybe just a hair above Pizzla on the world class jerk scale.
    You let slip one thing, Stuart. That is we are looking to replace both coordinators. Is it really true? Shurmur wont be here? or wont be a great influence? Please say yes. If so keep your fingers crossed it will be a younger guy who has kept up with the game and makes the game come to him,

  5. Absolutely enjoying the ride.. CP said he was going to build from the outside in..I think he knew what he had in terms of OL/DL and went with what he had. He addressed the holes with the portal because it is the quickest way….better outcomes are coming in 24. Let the haters hate….he has a good plan.
    For context, just think where we were two years ago….we’re not even on the same planet in terms of college football. Go Buffs.

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