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CU@Game CU At The Game: Davis Webb: Why It Matters

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    Davis Webb: Why It Matters




    It was late.

    Almost 11:00 p.m., to be exact, on Saturday, October 24, 2015.

    At that moment, I was walking away from Oregon State’s Reser Stadium in Corvallis, basking in the glow of the still illuminated stadium lights.

    Still basking in the glow of CU’s 17-13 win over the Beavers, the Buffs’ first conference victory in 707 days. The road win ended not only a 14-game Pac-12 conference losing streak, but a 13-game Pac-12 road losing streak.

    We walked away from the stadium surrounded by mostly sullen (resigned?) Oregon State fans, turning down South Western boulevard on our trek of less than a mile to the home of my son-in-law’s parents, where would be spending the night.

    The glow from the stadium lights soon faded, as did the glow from the victory. The title for the essay for the CU/Oregon State game came to mind quickly: “We’re No. 1(1)!”, representing CU’s modest climb from the basement of the Pac-12 conference, moving one step closer to respectability.

    It was a small – yet important – step for a program mired in the cellar of its new conference from the first day it donned uniform bearing its new logo in 2010.

    The win provided some much needed momentum to the Colorado football program, giving the 4-9 Buffs and their fans some reason to believe in the future.

    The momentum continued into the off-season, with the Buffs picking up a breath-of-fresh-air coach and recruiter in Darrin Chiaverini, and a Signing Day boost from two four-star signees in running back Beau Bisharat and wide receiver Juwann Winfree. Chiaverini also had a very strong hand in bringing about a commitment from one of his former players at Texas Tech, quarterback Davis Webb.

    Webb committed to Colorado in late January, “signing” with the Buffs on Signing Day, though his signature was not the same as the Letter of Intent faxed in by members of the incoming freshmen Class. Instead, Webb signed a financial aid agreement, all he was allowed to sign until he actually graduated from Texas Tech in May.

    Which left Webb “committed”, but still able to sign wherever he wished come graduation day.

    The next three months, as has been well documented, have been a roller coaster ride for the Buff Nation. Webb used his own spring break to visit Boulder and take in a week’s worth of meetings, with all signs being positive.

    Shortly thereafter, however, the strong bond between Webb and the Buffs began to loosen, with the former Red Raider quarterback visiting Berkeley and the Cal Bears. Rumors of Webb visiting Auburn proved unfounded, but the romance with the Bears continued.

    Webb, for his part, remained silent, stating only that he was still committed to Colorado. “I’m a selfless guy, but I want to make sure this decision is selfish because I only have six months there”, said Webb in one of his few interviews since February. “I want to make sure I have a chance to compete and make an impact on a program, leave a legacy and get my master’s.”

    With graduation for Webb now imminent – Saturday, May 21st – the reason for Webb’s hesitation has finally come to light: Webb is reportedly waiting to see if he is accepted to the Cal graduate school.

    Presumably, if Webb is accepted by Cal, he will become a Bear instead of a Buff.

    All of which leaves the Colorado program – and its fans – in a precarious position.

    Do we still even want Webb – if he fails to qualify at Cal?

    Do we want a player who waffled on his commitment to the CU program, leaving the Buffs hanging for three months?

    Do we want a player who looks upon the University of Colorado as his backup? As his “fall back” choice?

    Would such a player, coming to Boulder under these circumstances, actually hurt team chemistry with his arrival and presumed anointment as the starting quarterback?

    The answers – yes; yes; yes; and hopefully not – reflect the current status of Colorado football.

    If Webb cared about history, Colorado would be the clear choice over California:

    — Colorado is 25th in all-time wins; Cal is 34th;

    — Colorado has won 26 conference championships; Cal has won 14;

    — Colorado also leads Cal in bowl games, All-Americans; weeks in the AP poll; NFL draft picks, etc., etc., etc.

    If history doesn’t matter to Webb, there is this: Colorado also offers Webb the opportunity to be a hero. The Buffs haven’t been to a bowl in almost a decade, while the Bears played in the Armed Forces Bowl (a 55-36 win over Air Force) last December. CU finished last season 4-9; Cal 8-5.

    To put it bluntly … an 8-5 season in 2016 would not be met with much fanfare in Berkeley, while it would be cause for Mardi Gras worthy celebrations in Boulder. If Webb wishes to be noticed by the NFL – his stated goal – turning around a CU program (which appears primed for such a turnaround) would garner just such notice.

    It has been reported that Webb became concerned, after his visit to Boulder, that the CU offensive line is too weak to support him and his desire to excel in his senior year. While it is certainly true that the Buff offensive line is the weakest link of the offense, Webb must also be cognizant of the fact that Cal lost the top six of its receivers from last season. True, CU hasn’t had a winning season in a decade. It is also true that the Cal coaching staff could only coax an 8-5 record out of a team with the NFL’s overall No. 1 draft pick at quarterback.

    There is also the competition. Webb’s flirtation with Cal had me do something I have rarely done before – watch the Spring Game of another program. I watched the Calif spring game (played a week after the CU Spring Game), and it appeared to this non-professional observer that the Bears have not one, not two, but perhaps as many as four viable candidates for the starting quarterback position … even without Webb.

    Meanwhile, at Colorado, the starting job behind center is there for the taking. Sefo Liufau’s recovery from the foot injury suffered last November is proceeding apace, but there are no guarantees Liufau will be ready to play come August. The Buffs’ other roster options – senior Jordan Gehrke, red-shirt freshman Steven Montez, and incoming true freshman Sam Noyer – do not present a significant challenge … at least they shouldn’t to a quarterback with designs on playing in the NFL in 2017.

    So, does it matter if Webb spurns the Buffs for the Bears?

    Yes.

    It matters for the roster, as the Buffs need all the talent – and potential talent – it can find in its pursuit for a bowl game in 2016.

    It matters for the depth chart, as even if Webb signs with CU, the Buffs are precariously thin at the quarterback position.

    And it matters for the psyche of the Buff Nation.

    Colorado has been the 98-pound weakling of the Pac-12 for all of its five seasons. It has finally managed to climb its way out of the gutter, all the way to No. 11 in the minds of the pundits and prognosticators.

    The jump to No. 10 is more difficult.

    Ten teams from the Pac-12 played in bowl games last season. For Colorado to ensure a bowl bid, the Buffs must find six or more victories on the calendar, and push their way past not only Oregon State but beyond another school or two (Arizona? Arizona State? Washington State? Cal?).

    Losing what is, in essence, a recruiting battle to California would hurt the program. In part due to personnel concerns, but as much psychologically.

    The CU program has enjoyed a small resurgence this spring. The Champions Center officially opened, the coaching staff was bolstered, the team won some Signing Day recruiting battles.

    Some of that much needed momentum, however, would be lost with a defection by Davis Webb.

    We want Webb, if for no other reason than we don’t want to spend the next four months wringing our hands over Sefo Liufau’s foot, and whether, even if healthy, Liufau has what it takes to lead the Buffs to a bowl game.

    If Webb goes to Cal (as appears likely if he gains admission), we will put on a brave face … You can’t lose what you never had … Webb was a backup at Texas Tech … We only want players who bleed black-and-gold … We’re better off without him

    But it will still hurt to be spurned by a player who helped foster some positive energy for the program this spring, a player who gave Buff fans reason to believe that 2016 would be the year the Buffs returned to its traditional winning ways.

    Yes. It matters.

    —–

    Stuart
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