Apologies in advance for such a long post.
As a fan, I hate to be negative. It's no fun. At heart, I'm a total sunshine pumper and I was a true believer in Coach Hawkins. I think that's why I was so upset at what I saw the first two weeks of this season. The product I saw on the field completely contradicted everything I had come to believe in as far as where the program is and where it is headed under Hawkins.
But with the bye week, I've had some time to reflect on things. My starting point was the Denver Post quote 2 weeks ago from Coach Mac:
“I still believe he’s laid the right foundation and with a foundation of sound character, hard work and principles, it’s just a matter of time. In construction there’s a principle,” McCartney said. “The higher the building, the deeper you dig the foundation. What’s the foundation look like? He’s getting good kids who stay the course. It will end up being something significant."
Following that quote, we shut out Wyoming 24-0. Wyoming didn't play well and CU still had its problems (especially on offense), but it was a shutout win against a respectable and well-coached smaller conference opponent that has a history of pulling significant road upsets. So I thought to myself, "Maybe Mac is onto something here" and I decided to really consider what he was trying to communicate and whether it makes sense.
I believe Mac was referring to several things, some of which have been discussed and some of which haven't.
1 - CU was a mess when Hawkins took over. He inherited players that had quit on their last coach, a severe lack of talent, and an incoming recruiting class that was barely salvageable.
2 - The quick approach to winning would have been to bring in a number of JUCO players, ignore it when talented guys didn't follow team rules, practice hard or study their play books, and to play the talented true freshmen instead of redshirting them. But Hawkins decided instead to primarily recruit HS kids that fit the mold of what he wanted a "Colorado Man" to be, redshirt every one of them he could to give them time to develop for maximum long-term success, only took a select few JUCOs that fit the profile. Basically, he took his lumps for the sake of building the right foundation.
3 - Because of #s 1 and 2, our junior and senior classes are still thin. Therefore, even though we hate to keep using it as an excuse, the fact is that this team is still extremely young. A bowl game this year, a better bowl in 2010, and a breakout 2011 is actually the realistic expectation when you look at the Buff roster.
As an aside, Cody fits into this one. You never want to start a QB before his RS-Junior year unless he's a truly special player. Cody's taking his lumps and managing our offense to give the younger, more talented QBs time to develop. Dan is trying to set us up as a 5th year senior-dominated program that can re-load every year just like Boise does.
4 - Speaking of Boise, they also run 30 or 40 personnel groups every week. This takes a veteran team of players with high football IQs in order to work. That doesn't happen overnight, but when it does "pop" you're in a position to beat teams that have a lot more elite talent but much lower football IQs simply because your guys are always in the best position to take advantage of the holes in their schemes. Since Colorado will never be able to consistently win recruiting battles with Texas, Oklahoma and Nebraska (Top 10 all-time programs) or get in the borderline students and JUCOs other Big 12 programs make their living on, we need to win by being a more mature football team with more football smarts. The Boise model with the better athletes we can attract could be a perfect match. It makes a ton of sense if we want to see CU be a consistent Top 25 team again.
I could go on, but you guys get the gist. Where I'm at is, upon reflection I trust Coach Mac when he says that Coach Hawkins has done things the right way. That a foundation has been laid for sustainable long-term success. That this is the right approach to take at CU. However, I also believe that it needs to start showing tangible results this year. Bottom line is that my stance has softened and that if we can get to a bowl game this year and win it, that will be enough for me to continue believing in Coach Hawkins and what he is doing. Tonight is essential to the mission and we need to get back to .500 with a big road win. I think we do it.
P.S. Anyone that made it through this rambling piece of mental masturbation, please let me know where I've gone wrong here. Did my wife slip Kool-Aid into my bong water or something?