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Air of Inevitability

Discussion in 'CU Buffs Newsroom' started by RSSBot, Nov 30, 2014.

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    By Stuart


    [h=3]Air of Inevitability[/h]–
    The scene Saturday afternoon at Folsom Field*was idyllic for a Buff fan.
    A 65-degree afternoon in Boulder on the last weekend of November. The air was bright and clean. In the distance,*mountains glistened white from recent snows.
    The home team, the University of Colorado Buffaloes, was ahead in the fourth quarter. The Buffs were up, 34-31, with just over ten minutes to play in the game.
    What’s more, the Buffs had the ball, taking over after*coaxing a punt from the Utah offense. During the television timeout*on the change of possession, the CU band struck up the school fight song.
    Hard to ask for a better scenario for a 2-9 team looking to post its first conference win of the season.
    And yet, there was something wrong the picture.
    I looked towards the field, gazing down upon the 71 rows of fans below me, 71 rows containing some of the hardest of the hardcore CU alumni, as well as the CU student senior section.
    It was a beautiful day. The home team was ahead in the fourth quarter. The defense had just forced a punt. The band was playing the school fight song …
    … But no one was singing the school fight song. No one was standing. No one was cheering.
    Yes, there were a few raised arms for the “Fight, Fight, Fight, Fight, Fight” at the end of the song, but there was little outward enthusiasm from the crowd.
    What was wrong?
    I turned to my right, and asked Tony: “Does it feel like we’re winning?”. Tony gave me a wry smile and a shake of the head. “No”, he said.
    I turned to my left, and asked Brad: “Does it feel like we’re winning?”. Another knowing smile. Another negative response.
    CU was up by three points, in the fourth quarter, and had the ball.
    And yet, despite all of that, the*three of us were thinking the same thing:*CU will*find a way to lose this game.
    We have become so accustomed to losing over the past nine seasons that it has become second nature to be skeptical of any success.
    Yes, the Buffs set numerous offensive records during the season. Yes, the Buffs had stayed close in most games … But they had yet to win any of those close games against teams with equal or superior talent.
    It was almost as if there was an air of inevitability about the final outcome.
    I felt it. Tony and Brad felt it. The crowd sitting on its hands during the school fight song felt it.
    Two plays later, our worst suspicions were confirmed. Sefo Liufau threw an interception for a touchdown, giving Utah the lead, 38-34. Colorado had two more possessions before the end of the game,*but both possessions ended near midfield with punts. CU, which had scored in each of the previous three periods, became inept and scoreless in the fourth.
    Game over. Another loss.
    Another close loss, to be sure, but another loss.
    That being said, I also feel that there is an air of inevitability about the CU program going forward.
    And it’s a positive feeling.
    Let’s start with those close losses.
    The Buffs were blown out in only two games – USC and Oregon – with four of the other seven conference losses coming by a combined total of 15 points.
    The significance? You have to go back to 1964 … 50 seasons ago … to find a year in which the Buffs were that close in four conference losses.
    “It’s like getting on a roller coaster,” said CU head coach Mike MacIntyre. “Last year’s group just buckled into the roller coaster and crept up the hill a little bit. This group crept up the hill farther. Eventually, we’ll be on the other side going downhill, and we’ll be waving our hands and enjoying all of the moments”.
    Additional evidence as to why Buff fans feel better about this year’s 2-10 team than they did about last year’s 4-8 team … an obscure statistic known as “Time Spent in the Lead“.
    Now, I will be the first to grant you that the only time team’s need to be in the lead is at the final gun. Colorado was ahead of Utah after the first quarter (7-3), at halftime (24-16), and at the end of the third quarter (34-31). All that matters, though, is that the Buffs were not ahead at the end of the fourth quarter.
    But consider this: Colorado was in the lead for 37:10 of game clock against Utah, with the Utes ahead for 17:40.
    During*the 2014 season, the Buffs were in the lead 261:22 of game time,*CU’s opponents, 375:25.
    Now compare those numbers to -
    -*2013 … CU: 197:17; opponents: 413:47; or
    - 2012 … CU: 77:38; opponents: 530:04.
    So, while it is true that CU won only one more game than in 2012, and three less than last year, the Buffs were in the lead considerably more often this past season … almost the equal of the past two seasons combined.
    And then there is this:
    While you know that it is my policy not to disparage the efforts of any player (not the quality of their work, mind you, but the effort), there is something definitive which can be noted out of the Senior Class of 2014.
    They were not a heralded bunch.
    The 20 seniors who were introduced before the home finale against Utah included six survivors from the Recruiting Class of 2010, 12 members of the Recruiting Class of 2011, and two transfers. Of the 20, there were nine members rated as three-star prospects by Rivals, four were two-star prospects, and six – 40% of this year’s seniors -*who were walk-ons or unrated prospects.
    That being said, it’s really not their fault that there Classes were so poorly rated and represented. The Recruiting Class of 2010 was the last Class brought in by Dan Hawkins. As you will recall, Hawkins should have been fired at the end of the 2009 season, but, due to some last minute dealings Thanksgiving weekend, was given a year’s reprieve. The Class he recruited and signed in February, 2010, knew – or should have known – that they were being recruited by a staff that was not likely to be there for the majority of their careers.
    The Class of 2011 was also a mess, mostly because it came in the transition between Dan Hawkins and Jon Embree (with a little Brian Cabral thrown in, just to add to the chaos). Jon Embree and his offensive coordinator, Eric Bieniemy, were known as solid recruiters, but the Class of 2011 was a jumble of Hawkins’ leftovers and Embree last minute persuasions.
    Of his senior Class, head coach Mike MacIntyre had nothing but praise and respect for their perseverance:
    “This group is really building a true foundation”, said MacIntyre this past Tuesday. “I told them ‘We’re not building a little house that will only take a small slab, we’re building a skyscraper. So, you have to dig down deep. There’s a lot of hard work and there’s a lot of setting on that with the foundation, a lot of adversity that goes into that. So, there’s a lot of things that happen and to be successful, eventually, you have to have that foundation. If you don’t, you don’t have the basis to sustain it and build what you want to build’. These young men have started that foundation and I’ve talked to them about that a lot. We’ll talk about it a lot at the banquet because there’s a lot of things they’ve done. I’m very sad to see these seniors go but, at the same time, in the two years that I’ve been here with them that they’ve bought into everything that we’ve asked, they’ve done everything we’ve asked and they’ve worked at it as hard as they can. They set a good culture with our young men. I think their attitude and their belief has helped our team to keep battling and show up and play each week”.
    This past season was tough on the Buffs and their fans. Two double-overtime losses (UCLA; Cal), two other games in which the Buffs had the ball in enemy territory, down by less than a touchdown, in the waning moments of the fourth quarter (Oregon State; Utah), and three other games (CSU, Arizona, Washington) in which the Buffs held*a lead for a significant portion of the game.
    Win a handful of those games, and we’re not talking about the worst conference record in school history. Instead, we’re talking about a bowl game in 2015.
    We*will still*have that conversation. If not in 2015, then very soon thereafter.
    There’s an air of inevitability*about it.
    —–



    Originally posted by CU At the Game
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