AllBuffs: 1) What is your first memory as a CU fan?
I have to admit that I was not a member of the Buff Nation until I hit campus for my freshman year in 1980. Raised in Bozeman, Montana, I grew up a fan of the hometown Montana State Bobcats (yes, yes, those Montana State Bobcats. The 2006 game was my own little private version of Hell on Earth).
As a result, my first CU memories were not positive ones. My freshman year, the Buffs and their fans endured the first ten loss season in school history. My first game as a Buff fan? Colorado fell behind UCLA 56-0...at halftime. My first home game? A 49-7 loss to Indiana (coached by none other than Lee Corso).
That same week, a scathing article in Sports Illustrated came out, blasting the CU athletic department for dumping “minor” sports like baseball, wrestling and gymnastics.
The following week, the Buffs were merely bystanders in the epic 82-42 Oklahoma track meet. The game set 63 different records, the most amazing being the 758 yards rushing posted by the Sooners (I’ll pause for a moment while you let that number sink in...Oklahoma/rushing/one game/758 yards). The following week, the Buffs fell—for the second year in a row—to that noted football powerhouse, Drake.
You get the idea...
Thus, I became a Buff fan during what was arguably the lowest ebb in Colorado athletic history. There was nowhere to go but up!
AllBuffs: 2) Tell us how you got started blogging, and a little about the history of CU at the Game.
CU at the Game actually started out as a book, and had its origins about a dozen years before the website was created.
In 1996, I read a book by a pair of football fanatics who spent a fall touring the country, checking out some of the greatest venues in college football (they were in Boulder for the CU/Nebraska game). Saturday Afternoon Madness was inspirational, as I had always wanted to visit the shrines of the game. Leaving my job for four months, though, would not likely sit well with those in our household at the time, consisting of my wife, two kids, two dogs and a cat. So rather than hit the road, I opted, as they say, to ”write about what you know”. What I knew about was Colorado football.
CU at the Game wouldn’t have come to be, however, if it were not for the assistance of the late great Fred Casotti, whose title in 1996 was “CU historian”, and of Dave Plati, then the Colorado Media Relations Director. I was given unfettered access to the CU football archives, where the Buffs have a file on every game Colorado has ever played. Dave also gave me old media guides, which were an invaluable resource for game stats, locker room quotes and player biographies. Armed with boxes of information, I set out to write my own history of Colorado football.
Both Casotti and Plati advised me, though, that books about Colorado football did not sell well. So, for the next twelve years I worked on my book, writing up each current game as it was played, while using the offseason to fill in stories from previous years, all the while doubting that CU at the Game would ever find an audience.
Then, in 2008, my daughter-in-law Mindy, who was much more computer savvy than I, suggested I try “blogging”. I worked with an MSU computer science student that year to set up the website. In the summer of 2009, I turned to a professional web designer, and CU at the Game has now found a home.
AllBuffs: 3) What are the things about CU at the Game that differentiate it from other online Buff sites?
It has to be the Archives.
Every CU website seeks to keep its readership informed and up-to-date about the Colorado football program, but CU at the Game is unique in that it is also a repository of three decades of Colorado football. Want to see the replay of the final drive of the “5th down” game against Missouri? It’s in the Archives. Want to watch “The Catch” just one more time? It’s in the Archives. If you have a favorite game, player or season, you can relive some of those memories in the CU at the Game Archives.
AllBuffs: 4) Please tell us a little bit about the “game memory” project for the CU at the Game archives.
If you are reading this, that means that you are a Colorado football fan. C’mon, if you are taking the time to read about a CU website, in the dead of winter, after enduring a fifth straight losing season, you are a Buff fanatic.
How does one become a “fan” of a given team? It’s the memories. You live through the bad times because you remember the good times. You look forward to catching up with old friends. You have a history with the University of Colorado football team.
All I’m asking is that you share some of your stories.
The CU at the Game Archives has a write up of every game the Buffs have played since 1980. Along with the stories about the games, I have posted my own memories. I do not, however, have a corner on the market of great stories. With each archived game, there is a link at the top of the page entitled, “Post your own memories”. I’m looking for CU fans to post their own stories—favorite game, favorite road trip, best friend met, coldest game, taking a child/grandchild to their first game, etc. My dream is that someday the CU at the Game Archives will be home to hundreds of great stories, posted for others to share again and again.
AllBuffs: 5) How regularly do you update your blog?
Between the start of fall camp in August and signing day in February, I post every day (often several times a day). There are a few down times during the rest of the year when I may go a day or two without posting, but those are rare. May and June are usually quiet months, but last spring when we were all checking the wires daily as conference expansion was a hot topic, I was posting every day.
AllBuffs: 6) What keeps you motivated and interested, even when at times the Buffs haven’t been very good?
Great question. There have been times when I have questioned spending as much time as I do on CU at the Game (my wife certainly does). My 2009 season write up is, in fact, entitled “Crisis of Faith” . My low point in thirty years of being a Buff fan (which includes all three ten loss seasons in school history) was driving up the turnpike the day of the 2009 Nebraska game, the day after it was announced that Dan Hawkins would be retained for the 2010 season. All I could think of was how long 2010 would be—another lame duck recruiting class, another spring of hoped for improvement, another fall of disappointment—with Dan Hawkins setting the program back even further.
How to look past all that? I have to say that what has made the tough times bearable has been my fellow Buff fans. I have a core group of friends from my days in Boulder, and I have been able to stay in touch with many them over the years, largely because of football. Then there are the new friends I have made since CU at the Game was launched, many of whom are members of AllBuffs.com. Being able to share the good times—and the bad—with friends makes it all worthwhile.
AllBuffs: 7) Has the new staff re-energized you at all, or, as some Buff fans are, are you in “wait-and-see” mode?
I do admit to having some reservations that neither Jon Embree nor either of his coordinators have any head coaching experience.
That being said, I am nonetheless fully invested in this new coaching staff. My article the week Embree was introduced is entitled, “Jon Embree – Why You’ll (Ultimately) Like This Hire”. (http://www.cuatthegame.com/2010/jon-embree-why-youll-ultimately-like-this-hire/)
When Jon Embree was hired, I flashed back to the tape of the 1986 Colorado/Nebraska game. The video was spliced together from game tapes and the KOA radio broadcast (Why televise a game between the third ranked team in the nation, Nebraska, and a 2-4 Colorado team which hadn’t defeated the Cornhuskers in 17 years?).
During the opening, with Patti LaBelle’s “New Attitude” playing in the background, there is a shot of the Colorado locker room before the Buffs went out onto the field. Strolling across the screen is No. 80, senior tight end Jon Embree. The 1986 game would be Embree’s last shot at the Cornhuskers, and his pregame look is one of poise, confidence and determination (Of course, the Buffs went on to upset the Cornhuskers, 20-10, to set the stage for everything good which has happened to the program over the past quarter century).
Poise, confidence and determination...three pretty great qualities in a head coach.
AllBuffs: What, if any, expectations do you have from the team in 2011?
If I could, I would put blinders on every member of the Buff Nation, ask them to ignore the W/L record this year and remain focused on the long term.
The first season does not set up particularly well for Jon Embree. Seven road games for a team which hasn’t won on the road since 2007. Three games against teams which will finish in the top five in the final 2010 polls (Oregon, Ohio State,= and Stanford). A team decidedly lacking in overall talent and depth, playing in a conference which has only one truly poor team (Washington State). The 2011 Buffs could be a much better team than the 5-7 2010 Buffs, but not have a better record.
My expectations for 2011 are: 1) gradual—but continuous—improvement in all phases of the game (including special teams!); 2) the establishment of offensive and defensive philosophies; and 3) the makings of a killer 2012 recruiting class (when the Buffs will have a full class of 25-28 players to sign).
AllBuffs: 9) Any expectations of the staff in this very short recruiting window?
It is a blessing in disguise that the 2011 class was destined to be small, anyway. With only about 15 slots to fill, this year’s recruiting class was not going to be highly ranked, regardless of who was the coach.
That being said, I expect to see Jon Embree and his staff go out and fill immediate needs—quarterback depth; cornerbacks; wide receivers. I believe it would be a great shot in the arm for the Buff Nation if Colorado could steal away a four-star commit from another school. But it is not, in my mind, a requirement for this year’s class to be considered a success.
AllBuffs: 10) Heading back to your blog for a second, will Stuart from CU at the Game be continuing his “Totally Biased Buffaloes” podcasts next season? Can you talk a bit about what “Totally Biased Buffaloes” http://totallybiasedbuffaloes.wordpress.com/ is all about?
I appreciate the credit, but “Totally Biased Buffaloes” is not my podcast, I am merely a contributor.
RJ, a CU alumnus and Denver business owner, started “Totally Biased Buffaloes” this past season. RJ sent me an email last summer, asking if I would be willing to participate (a chance to talk about CU football? Count me in). We “skyped” (if that’s the right term) every week, dissecting the previous game and previewing the next. RJ also has his own features and other contributors, but talking about the Buff games was my contribution. We will be doing another podcast in February after the 2011 recruiting class is introduced and one or two podcasts during spring practices.
“Totally Biased Buffaloes” is now where CU at the Game was in 2008—a new product finding its way. I’m sure RJ would appreciate feedback from his listeners as to how to expand and improve the podcasts.
AllBuffs: 11) Should we keep an eye out for anything new from CU at the Game in 2011?
In my “New Year’s Resolutions” article http://www.cuatthegame.com/2010/new-years-resolutions-for-buff-fans/, I broached the idea of a “CU at...” contest. Buff fans would submit photos of themselves and/or their friends and families, wearing their CU gear when they traveled. I’ve got my own “CU at Stonehenge” and “CU at the U.S. Open” photos, and I thought it would be fun to see what sort of photos Buff fans might contribute. Even though I am still working out the details of the contest, there has already been a favorable response.
So, put your (CU) thinking caps on, Buff fans. “CU at...the Eiffel Tower? The Grand Canyon? The Coliseum (Rome)? The Coliseum (Los Angeles)?” This will be fun...
AllBuffs: 12) Why haven’t you moved to Colorado? Sure would save you a ton on commuting to games.
You’ll have to talk that one over with my wife. If we ever move, it won’t likely be to Colorado, but into hostile territory...Oregon. We have two kids living in Portland with a new grandson (and another grandchild on the way!). Don’t worry though, I am already laying the groundwork for the next generation. My grandchildren will not have to wait for their freshman year to become full-fledged members of the Buff Nation!