The 2016 season was certainly a dream come true for CU fans. After a decade of wandering in the wilderness, a decade that seemed to be marked by almost unlimited setbacks, let downs, and flat out despair, the Buffaloes brought their fans back to the promised land of bowl eligibility. But they didn’t just squeak into some nameless bowl as most probably barely dared to hope for in the preseason. Instead a reborn CU squad kicked in the doors of the college football clubhouse and announced their return with a 10 win season, a brief entry into the top 10, and a final ranking in the top 20.
No one outside the Buff world, and darn few of even the most ardent CU fans, could have or would have envisioned Colorado putting together one of the best seasons in program history. And certainly no one could have foreseen the Buffs ending the season ranked at No. 15 and No. 17 in the two major college football polls. And yet that was exactly what happened in that magical season. It is important to remember this and celebrate what happened last year because it is all too easy to look at the last two games of the year and the loss of three defensive coaches afterward and come away with a negative feeling. It was a season to celebrate, regardless of how it ended.
It was a season where CU proved it could win in the Pac-12. It proved it could win at home, win on the road, win close, and win by blowout. This CU team thrived on pressure, and it’s hard to recall a three week stretch in all of Colorado football history with more on the line than the end of the season facing three ranked squads in a row in Washington State, Utah, and Washington. And while the Conference Championship left a bad taste in fans' mouths, what is more important to remember is that for two weeks in a row that team faced ranked teams with everything on the line, and won both times, facing adversity in both games.
So it’s only fair and proper that the team should be celebrated for what it accomplished last year, and not castigated for how things wrapped up. That really was a season for the ages. But where does this Colorado program go from here? Will this be a one hit wonder? A flash in the pan that reverts back to the 10 year mean? Or was 2016 just the start of something very special?
That will be the underlying question in this series of essays taking an in depth look at the current state of the Colorado program now that we have wrapped up a historic season and a breakthrough recruiting class. We will look at every aspect of the program and try to answer these questions, and more, by looking at the players coming back, new players coming in, the state of the coaching staff, and the state of the various supporting elements, including strength and conditioning, facilities, and administration. There’s a lot to look at, so let’s get started, and as always, your thoughts, observations, and responses on the Stampede Elite message board will make this a conversation rather than just a series of articles. So please weigh in.
Part Two, which will be released on Saturday, will focus on a breakdown of the Buffaloes' offense.