The first football game I ever attended was the 2005 Colorado-Nebraska game. For a kid with no perception of fandom, this was quite a game to be dropped into. I was sitting in the student section for some reason — call the child protective services on my mom for bringing her 8- and 7-year-old sons to the student section of the damn Colorado-Nebraska game — and things got out control. As the Huskers rumbled and the CU offense puttered, boos rained onto the field. Following the crowd, I too started to boo. My mom turned to me and said, "Never boo your team. When they’re down and out, you’re all they have."
In the past, I’ve lamented that of the 20-some CU football games I’ve attended, only twice have the Buffs won. The first of which was the 42-0 smackdown of Miami (Oh.). The second was the 48-0 victory of Nicholls. That Nicholls game sticks in my mind not because of the victory (it was all but a formality), but because of the behavior of the fans.
In the middle of the second quarter, quarterback Sefo Liufau didn’t see a wide-open Shay Fields streaking down the right sideline; instead, he overthrew a double-teamed Nelson Spruce. That was just the latest of Liufau’s many mistakes that day and fans were understandably frustrated with his vision and accuracy. Even though the Buffs were up comfortably, boos once again bombarded the field. To be honest, I was impressed that such a scant crowd* could boo that loudly. The boos stopped only when Cade Apsay replaced Liufau. For the rest of his season, many fans made sure Liufau knew their opinion of him. When Liufau broke his foot against USC, there was a vile sentiment of "good, now we can see what Apsay and Gehrke can do."
*The anguish around Liufau isn’t expressed by the entire fan base, much less the majority. You, reading this article, are a good fan and certainly not part of the horde. Unfortunately, the horde is too numerous to ignore their actions.
The Lisfranc injury Liufau suffered is one of the most difficult injuries to come back from. The recovery time for this is typically 5-6 months with the first 6-8 months spent completely off the foot. It’s also one of the easiest injuries to re-aggravate. The nature of the injury and the fragility of recovery often sap players of their explosiveness, or worse, their ability to retain balance. A football player without their explosiveness or balance is waiting to be embarrassed. Of course, that’s only if they can still play.
During the Davis Webb saga, Sefo Liufau was struggling to walk, much less practice at a high level. After some setbacks, there was talk Liufau would have to take a medical redshirt. Webb signing with Cal eliminated that possibility and forced Liufau into recovery overdrive. To get back onto the field, he lost weight, ran on underwater treadmills, and practiced picking up marbles with his toes, among other exercises. (This is all via Ted Miller at ESPN.) Liufau shouldn’t be able to play right now, but he is, because of his work ethic, determination and, most of all, his mental strength.
Liufau will now start for the Buffs. There’s still a sizable chance that he re-injures his foot, which would not only end his career, but threaten his mobility for the rest of his life. He’ll be out there on the field because of his ability to endure recovery and risk everything for the team and for the fans. If you boo Sefo again, may the tides of Poseidon wash you away.
With his recovery behind him, Liufau knows true adversity. He knows how fragile his career is and will make the most of every minute he’s on the field. He can now focus on success knowing that he can go nowhere but up. This is the year he will show us how a senior quarterback can lead his team to new heights. This is the year he will redeem his career and turn those voluminous jeers into an uproar of cheers. This is the year everything comes together for Sefo Liufau. This is the year the Buffs go bowling.