Since graduating from the University of Colorado, I have often felt in tandem with the football program. The Buffaloes tried to improve while I worked to find my footing in the professional world. CU football mimicked post-college life rather than college.
I would watch the Buffs try in vain to win games against tough competition. There would be signs of obvious improvement on the field, but not on the scoreboard. The Buffaloes struggle and hard work may finally be paying off.
I sat in the student section for Colorado’s victory over Oregon State. The blowout win propelled the Buffs into the Top-25 and offered real hope for the future of the program. It’s a new era for Colorado Football.
It’s hard to argue that my class saw four of the worst years in Buffaloes football history. We witnessed the last season and a half of head coach Dan Hawkins, interim coach Brian Cabral, and the two years of Jon Embree’s tenure. Mike MacIntyre took over in the spring of the year I graduated.
My first game at Folsom Field as a freshman in 2009 was against rival Colorado State. The Buffs lost 23-17 and Rams fans rushed the field in Boulder that night. At my last game as a student in 2012, CU blew a competitive game to Utah, which led to the disastrous firing of Embree.
My class of 2013 saw just five conference wins at Folsom Field in that tenure—four wins in the Big 12 and one in the Pac-12. Before the victory over Oregon State on Saturday, the Buffs had just two home Pac-12 wins in six seasons. That was all the tradition we knew at CU—losing football in Boulder.
This senior class, the class of 2017, didn’t go to school with me. They started the fall after I graduated. They have only seen one coach build the program. The stadium was full of excitement on Saturday afternoon as compared to my experience.
Most of the student section at CU doesn’t care about football. I’m sure that’s true on a lot of college campuses. Students come for the party and no one parties like CU Boulder. They cheer because other people are cheering—that peer pressure sums up most of college. Even last weekend, large chunks of the student section didn’t see half of the Oregon State game. They arrived after the first quarter and left before the end of the third quarter of the Buffs’ blowout.
There is a segment that cares. I surrounded myself with people who loved the Buffs. While we were rewarded with good basketball teams, our weekly football tradition was miserable. We suffered through blowouts. Most students would leave after Ralphie the Buffalo ran around at halftime. We would hopelessly sit in the stands until we couldn’t take another Oregon touchdown against the Buffs.
We will become a forgotten generation at CU. There will be no sentimental montage to mark our tenure. With full hyperbole, we were the beaten up, crushed, bruised and squashed fans of CU.
As an alumnus, I’ve felt the struggle of MacIntyre’s Buffs. The real world seems to operate much like a rebuilding football program. You make decisions without seeing the end of the road. Promising opportunities turn out to be fools silver and gold. Hard work alone doesn’t lead to guaranteed success.
Four years since graduation and a lot of us aren’t as far from the starting line as we thought we would be. I am stubborn and ambitious—much like MacIntyre’s Buffaloes. So seeing some hope on the field is promising to this Buffalo.
The change is evident. The students that care about football can now proudly wear Buffs’ jerseys. There are no more snide remarks from Big 12 and PAC-12 schools. There is no more debating whether Ralphie running over an opposing player is more likely than a touchdown. These students get to experience major college football.
As for those of us from the forgotten era, we get to see the pay-off from those years of struggle. We appreciate it just a little bit more. After all, we’re finally putting our own teams together.
Fight CU Down the Field. We finally can believe in the promises of our fight song and schedule our weekends around CU football.
This post originally appeared on 5280 Sports Network, now a part of Mile High Sports