Is Adding Nebraska Back on the Schedule a Smart Move for Colorado?
Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
For those of you who miss the Colorado-Nebraska football rivalry games, the agonizing two-year sabbatical will only be prolonged for five more years.
According to the Daily Camera, Colorado athletic director Mike Bohn has announced a renewal of the schools' games. The two schools' football teams will play each other in 2018, 2019, 2023 and 2024, with Colorado having the option to host its two games at either Sports Authority Field in Denver or Folsom Field in Boulder. More from the report:
Making any kind of decision about where to play the first of those home games in 2019 is obviously years away, but Bohn said CU would only take the game to Denver if the Buffs were playing at a much more competitive level than they have recently and if there was a realistic chance of a sellout at the roughly 76,000-seat stadium.
At first glance, this looks like Nebraska is adding a cupcake BCS team under the guise of renewing a past conference rivalry game series—and the Cornhuskers may be doing just that. But it takes two schools to agree to a series and Colorado signed up for this.
It depends on which school of thought to which you subscribe. Will a team ever improve by playing inferior competition? Or does playing more challenging competition improve a team? Colorado is probably leaning toward the latter, and this bodes well for the Buffaloes.
New head coach Mike MacIntyre knows how to rebuild a program quickly. When MacIntyre had taken over San Jose State in 2009, the Spartans had just come off a 2-10 record. In 2010 he went 1-11, albeit San Jose State was not operating with all of its 85 scholarships filled, and in 2011 he went 5-7. Last year, the Spartans went 11-2 and beat Bowling Green 29-20 in the Military Bowl.
Like San Jose State a few years ago, Colorado is wallowing in ugly football. The school joined the Pac-12 in 2011 and, since its inception in the league, Colorado has won a combined four games. It hasn't been pretty, and it ended up costing then-head coach Jon Embree his job.
Nebraska football, on the other hand, has been fairly decent but certainly not overwhelming—the team's fans have to be frustrated over the lack of progress being made with the Cornhuskers' defense. Last year the Cornhuskers allowed two teams to score at least 60 points on them; Ohio State beat Nebraska 63-38 and Wisconsin beat Nebraska 70-31 in the Big Ten Championship game.
Is renewing Colorado vs Nebraska a smart decision?
Five years from now, Colorado will have improved—it can't get any worse. Remember, it was just over 11 years ago that the Buffaloes were playing in the 2002 BCS Tostitos Fiesta Bowl, where they lost to the No. 2 (AP) Oregon Ducks, 38-16. Colorado also won the 1990 National Championship (AP, FWAA) albeit that was the year of the infamous "Fifth Down Game" game against Missouri.
Since 1898, Colorado vs. Nebraska has played out 69 times, with Nebraska holding a 49-18-2 record over Colorado, and it'll have been eight years since the two had last played each other when they suit up for their game on September 8, 2018.
Colorado fans will probably be initially more excited over this game than Nebraska fans, simply because Nebraska had always viewed Oklahoma as its big rivalry game. But since Nebraska left the Big 12, three of its rivalry games have become dormant: Colorado, Missouri and Oklahoma. Moreover, since its membership in the Big Ten, Nebraska's rival is now considered to be Iowa, although that rivalry seems a bit contrived and forced.
Colorado is also in a similar situation as Nebraska—since it joined the Pac-12 two years ago, it, too, has lost a little bit of its identity in a new conference. The Buffaloes always had their rivalry game with Colorado State but now, it, too, had a new rival thrust upon it; the Utah Utes.
Both of these teams are trying to fit in to their new conferences—they're still the new kids on the block. And while both of these teams clearly need to establish some deep roots in their own respective conferences, it's going to take time.
Renewing an old relationship is probably a very smart decision by both schools, unless both teams get back to their days of yore of when competing for a conference championship was a given.
The playoffs are looming in two years, and if both teams are playing at an exceptional level, this new series may backfire on them when the BCS Selection Committee decides on the teams that will be included in the playoffs.
Having a steady diet of beef definitely impresses pollsters. However, when a superior record determines whether or not a team is going to the playoffs, a few cupcakes may be the better menu option.
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