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Bowl game, huh? They said it, not me.
As head coach Mike MacIntyre finished a quote about his new 12-man leadership council, at Friday’s media day, he threw out those two words as if they were a matter of fact.
“Maybe the bowl week we might elect the four captains for the game,” he stated casually.
Whether from MacIntyre or from a player, you’ve heard those two precious words come up after every single practice during fall camp. This is new to the MacIntyre era, as fans and media had become accustomed to his “1-and-0 every week” narrative about season goals during his first two years at Colorado.
“They’re saying it to me, that’s not something I say to them, they say it to me, and I hear them say it to each other,” MacIntyre said of his willingness to talk about a bowl game. “They come to me and say, ‘Coach, what’s our schedule for Christmas, for the bowl?’ They haven’t asked me that before… They feel that. Now we gotta go do it, but until they see it in their mind’s eye, I cant make them see it. I can mention it, but I can’t make them see it. So I see more and more of that happening… I can talk about it with this team because they believe it.”
That’s all fine and dandy, but this business of publicly rising expectations can be a dangerous one.
“We have to find a way to get to a bowl game.” -Jon Embree, August, 4, 2012. Buffs? 1-and-11. Embree? Fired.
“Ten wins, no excuses.” -Dan Hawkins, December, 14, 2008. Buffs? 3-and-9. Hawkins? Clowned.
Now are the 2015 Buffs are not the 2012 Buffs, nor the 2009 Buffs, but Mike MacIntyre can surely get the same “used car salesman” stamp on his resume as the two coaches before him, if the Buffs fall flat.
I, and many other folks who cover the program, have been trying to temper expectations for the fan base throughout the offseason, I’ve said many times that I feel five wins is a reasonable, achievable goal for this team… But the sound you just heard was that tempering flying out the window and shattering on the ground.
Colorado Football fans are a positivity sponge right now, you put it out there, they soak it up. So as we sit here right now, the expectation for the 2015 Buffaloes is a bowl game… No excuses.
Of course you grimace as I’ve now alluded to that cringe-worthy coach twice, but the reality is, the ol’ excuse-well has gone dry in Boulder.
New coaching staff? See ya.
Sub-par facilities? Adios.
Potato for a quarterback? Negative.
Lack of speed, athleticism, and depth? Nope.
Well, actually there was one more excuse that would’ve been buyable. When asked about a Bowl game this season, Mike MacIntyre could’ve stood in front of us and said, ” We’re going to play in the toughest division in college football this year, we have a lot of work to do, we’re going to try to get better every day, and try to go 1-and-0 every week.”
It wouldn’t have been flashy, it wouldn’t have grabbed headlines, but it would have been true, and it would have given the Buffs a chance to exceed expectations. Now, in just about anybody’s best-case-scenario, the most the Buffs can do is meet the expectations they have bestowed upon themselves.
The thing that makes this case interesting, is the fact that the expectation is actually achievable. Hawk was crazy and Embo was wishful, but the fact that the excuse-well is dry, makes for a good case on why this Buffaloes team can reach their goal, and allows you to believe that MacIntyre actually believes it.
Four winnable games to start the season could give the Buffs a hole-shot, and a wealth of confidence heading into that conference schedule. It would be a safe bet to believe the Buffs will be in three conference games in the fourth quarter this year, and MacIntyre has said with strong conviction that they will win those games this time around. But anybody who’s ever penciled in wins on a colorado football schedule knows how quickly 4-and-0 can become 2-and-2, and so on.
I’ve said in the past, between the new facilities, the new uniforms, and the visible improvement on the field last season, the Buffs have been fortunate enough to create momentum coming off of a two win season. It’s like manufactured snow on a Rocky Mountain resort, not quite as nice and fluffy as the real stuff, but it’ll get you down the hill until the good snow starts to fall.
The problem is, when the fresh powder never comes, it makes for a rocky season on the slopes.
They’ve talked the talk, now it’s time to go walk the walk.