It’s amazing it has been 10 years since The Ralphie Report first laid its foundation. Initially starting on the old blogger platform, it was safe to say The Ralphie Report really got started due to the perceived momentum with the football team. As I look back on 2008, optimism was certainly present with the thought of CU football returning to its glory days under Dan Hawkins.
In 2007, the Buffs, in Dan Hawkins’ second year as head coach, upset 3rd-ranked Oklahoma team in Boulder and ultimately ended the regular season bowl eligible (losing to Alabama in the Independence Bowl). General consensus amongst the fan base was things were headed in the right direction for the program.
That sense of hope was only further strengthened by one of the top recruiting classes in Colorado history. Oh, we all remember the Darrell Scott saga. The back and forth between Colorado and Texas, the rumor his mother was given a job at a bank in Boulder to further entice Darrell to join Colorado, eventually culminating with a commitment on signing day to play for CU. But Darrell was not the only highly regarded recruit in the 2008 class. Remember these names:
- Strong two-way player Ray Polk (top ranked recruit in Arizona)
- The linebacker trio set to anchor the Buffs defense for years to come: Jon Major (the Buffs beat out Oklahoma for his services), Shaun Mohler (a highly regarded JUCO transfer), and Lynn Katoa (the highly touted linebacker from SLC)
- G Max Tuioti-Mariner was going to be the foundation of a talented offensive line set to block for Scott and Company
- TE Ryan Deehan (believed to be the next great CU tight end with the likes of Christian Fauria, Daniel Graham, etc.)
All in all, the Buffs signed 17 recruits, Darrell Scott ranked as a “five-star” with 7 additional “four stars.” It was a top-15 nationally ranked class. The buzz was back in Boulder.
The Buffs started the 2008 season strong going 3–0 with an exciting “black out” win at Folsom against West Virginia on national television, a game that was gorgeous it made it into National Geographic. But the Buffs couldn’t keep the momentum in what turned out to be a very difficult schedule playing six top-25 teams in addition to tough road games against Texas A&M, Florida State and Nebraska.
The 2008 season ended in somewhat disappointing fashion as the Buffs finished at 5–7, ineligible for a bowl game. Some optimism still remained exiting the season, but enough foundational issues were starting to show itself that proved damning to the football program and Hawkins’ tenure at Colorado
- A lack of a talented quarterback was an issue over Hawkins’ tenure; the Buffs couldn’t get stability out of that position
- Many of the top talents from the 2008 class never turned out. Darrell Scott was overweight and outplayed by one of the better Buffs in recent memory in Rodney Stewart. Lynn Katoa’s off-the-field behavior rendered him a non-factor in Colorado football history. He was more of an embarrassment to the program than an asset. Same with Bryce Givens. The likes of Doug Rippy, Rodney Stewart and Will Pericak were more productive players than the highly regard four- and five-star athletes.
- Hawkins had difficulty developing talent and reaching his players (we all remember his crazy sayings) evidenced by the numerous transfers, off-the-field issues and more losses than wins. It is safe to say the Hawkins era was defined more by what happened off-the-field than on it.
The 2008 season was the beginning of the end for Hawkins and set back the program years, once again. The rise was quick but the fall was even quicker.
- Bob Bell, co-founded of The Ralphie Report