Dear Colorado Football Fans,
First, I'd like to give you a hug. You deserve it. These last six years have tried your loyalty. You've seen a high-profile coaching hire fall flat on his face. You've started Bernard Jackson and Cody Hawkins at quarterback. You haven't seen a winning season. You've seen some prestigious marks fall, such as the 242 game scoring streak that was broken by Missouri in 2008. You've also seen some ignominious records set, like the four-plus year losing streak outside the state of Colorado. Thankfully, that record was broken right at the end of the year, which also saved another record from being set: most losses in a Colorado football season ever. You've seen a high number of big-time recruits fail to live up to expectations. And you've seen a coaching staff with deep ties to the university struggle through a difficult first season.
But enough with the hugging. It's time for some advice: suck it up.
Follow the jump for more from my soap box!
I wouldn't ordinarily be so harsh with you, but it's clear that you need it. Expecting a dramatic turn around simply by changing coaching staffs was completely unreasonable (don't worry, I fell for that way of thinking, too). Do you remember the last time a first-year head coach took over for a historically bad predecessor at your beloved university? You absolutely should remember, because that other first-year head coach led you and your school to a national championship, an incredible decade of winning, a Heisman winner, a whole slew of conference championships and some of the best football played at CU. That man, Mr. Bill McCartney, tried to remind you to be patient before the season began. He knows first-hand how difficult it is to turn a program around. And this program needs to be turned completely around.
In Coach Mac's first three seasons, Colorado went 2-8-1, 4-7, and 1-10. That fourth season was his first winning one, and it took him eight years to win his conference. Now, there are fans that are already giving Jon Embree until the end of next year (his second season) to turn things around or start looking for work. Just so you know, Colorado fans, that's ridiculous. Slow down. Take a breath, and think about the long-term.
It has been said many times, that college football is all about recruiting. That is how Coach Mac took CU to the top, and that's what will make the difference for this coaching staff. And what should excite you about CU's future is that the current staff is made up of proven recruiters. But you can't recruit a whole new team in one season. They brought in 23 players (though two of them gray-shirted), and 15 of them played this year. They're looking at bringing in even more kids in the upcoming class, and it's a good bet that many of them will play right away as well. These coaches can only do so much with the level of talent and lack of depth that the previous staff left them. It's become increasingly clear that they last coaching staff was unable to recruit the caliber of players that CU needed to be competitive. Many of Colorado's best players were accidents, like Rodney Stewart, who they only found out about because they were recruiting his cousin, Doug Rippy, or Paul Richardson and Toney Clemons, who initially signed elsewhere. This staff had a limited amount of time to scramble together their first recruiting class, so this next one is the first one on which we can judge them. And not only did the last coaching staff have trouble recruiting, they seemed to be completely unable to develop the talent they had on their roster. I'm not sure I can name a player that improved during his time at CU under the last staff. Speedy Stewart was good, but he was just as good the first time he set foot on the field. Same with Tyler Hansen, Ryan Miller, Ryan Deehan, and just about every kid on the team.
And when you talk about how "easy" it should be for them to recruit kids to Boulder, remember that these kids weren't born when CU won its Nat'l Championship, they're too young to remember or weren't born yet in 1994, and they were less than ten years old in 2001. They have no idea that CU was once great. I'm not giving these coaches a pass in recruiting; I'm just trying to put things in perspective. Yes, CU has the most beautiful campus in the country. Yes, we're one of the winningest programs in college football history, and we're one of only twenty-something schools that have both a Heisman Winner and a national championship, and yes, now that we're in the Pac 12, all of our games will be televised, but CU hasn't been relevant since before these kids were in high school.
But I'm not trying to depress you, or leave you in despair. I'm just reminding you how much this program needs to be turned around. And we need to let this coaching staff do that. Yes, we need to see an improved product on the field, and the Utah game was hopefully the beginning of that, but many of the key contributors in that game were seniors. While we will be starting over at some positions with new players, we won't have to worry about that happening with the coaches. Hopefully they won't have to spend so much time getting kids versed in the way they like to run practices and what they expect of them, and they can spend all of their time developing and teaching the players now that they've been here for a full year. Not only will the current players know what the drill is, but they've been recruiting the players that will be coming in for long enough that they'll know more of what to expect as well. If they don't have to spend so much time re-learning how to approach practices and off-season workouts, the Buffaloes should be able to spend much more time getting better.
So really, this is just a plea for patience. We have an easier schedule next year, with fully half of our opponents trotting out new head coaches, but it still won't be easy. We'll be breaking in a new quarterback, a new starting running back and new offensive linemen on offense, and a bunch of key contributors on defense will be gone. We need to breathe, and trust that those in charge of the Buffs care about where they are headed. I believe they do, and I think you should too.
Does this mean we shouldn't expect an improved product on the field next year? Of course we should, but righting this ship requires some time. I urge you to continue to support your beloved Buffaloes, while also being patient with them. That is the only thing that can help right now.