Barnett Insists Buffs Moving On

<b>Kansas City, MO --</b> A cloud has surrounded the Colorado football program since last spring. But the trip Gary Barnett and two of his players took to the Big 12 media days provided them all a chance to look ahead to the 2004 season.

Barnett and his players say they've put the whole incident behind them and it has made them closer as a football program.

"This is a team that has grown in a lot of different ways and has experienced adversity that some others haven't had to experience before the season begins," said Barnett in opening his portion of the press conference. "They have responded well throughout the spring and the entire ordeal.

"As the interim head coach Brian Cabral did a great job of guiding our team through the whole ordeal. The coaches didn't let us take a step backwards. We emerged from that spring a stronger and better football team. We've had a couple guys leave our program, but it has probably strengthened the players that are still there."

But when Barnett finished with those remarks, he offered up this remark that only seemed to encourage a large media contingent bent on inquiring about Colorado's recent problems.

"We're very much interested in talking about our football program and team, and not so much interested in talking about what's behind us," he said. "Our focus is on the future and where we want to go as a program and team."

Little did he know that he'd spent much of the next 20 minutes talking about last spring.

Barnett was asked to talk about how he'd gotten through the past several months. He thanked his family, close friends, and fellow members of the coaching fraternity.

"Every day I had a responsibility to work as hard as our players were working to get better," he said. "I had the responsibility for them to get better. Hopefully I took every day as a chance to get better. I'm going to have to wait and see what I need to respond to. What I learned from myself is how important friends are and encouragement from your peers are. I also got tremendous support from almost every coach in this conference, and almost 50 percent of the coaches everywhere. It was tremendously supportive for me.

"Ten years ago if I would have gone through this, I wouldn't have had access to the 10 or 12 positive emails I received. I learned that no matter what happened that day it wasn't terminal. If you take things one day at a time, one play at a time or one hour at a time, you can get through almost anything. If you look at it as a whole it looks daunting and like something you can't get through. But if you depend on your friends and family you can get through anything."

Barnett faced a challenging situation since Cabral was put in charge of the day-to-day operations of the team, while he addressed the issues facing he and his program.

How did he deal with those trying times?

"We were all caught up in surviving and make the best of what was coming at us," he said. "What I hoped would happen in that period of time was the coaches or more specifically me would take most of the brunt of everything. We tried to shield our players and focus them on the things important for their day-to-day survival.

"We focused on what was going on and what was down the road than what was behind us. I'm still more concerned about what we will do instead of what we've done."

Purify-ing CU's run game

Barnett has now assumed his old duties after Cabral spent much of the offseason in charge of the day-to-day operations of the program. Albeit briefly, Barnett was happy to get back to talking about his running game and some of the question marks on defense.

After missing much of last season after sustaining an ankle injury in the third game, Bobby Purify was granted an extra season of eligibility and will return to his starting role in the backfield.

Barnett also hopes the Buffaloes can get back to the same type of running team they were a few seasons ago.

"We want to run the ball the way we did in 2001 and 2002," he said. "That means the physical nature of our run offense. We were not very physical last season, and I think that's been improved and upgraded. I have a lot of confidence in our running game. Having Bobby Purify back after losing him in the third game last season is going to help us."

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