Massive new facility, crispy new uniforms, new big-name defensive coordinator, upperclassman-led roster, year three under a head coach who has done positive things. The momentum train is finally beginning to roll in the right direction for the University of Colorado football program, and the door is wide open for the Buffaloes to begin their return to relevance.
There is just one piece missing, that same piece that has been missing for the last decade, the Buffs’ old friend, wins. The Buffaloes have to find a way to add wins to the mix, and if they do, the effects will be immense.
Recruits will take notice, and see those sweet new uniforms and incredible facility alongside tangible evidence that Colorado is a program on the rise, all of the sudden Boulder could become a “cool” destination for players again. The fans will be in full support of the coaching staff, the seats will begin to fill up this season, season ticket sales will sky rocket for 2016, and donations will roll in faster than a mid-summer Boulder thunderstorm.
The question is: how many wins do the Buffs need to activate this chain reaction?
Obviously seven wins and bowl eligibility is the 2000 pound Buffalo in the room, but they don't necessarily have to reach that to see that momentum train pick up serious steam. If the Buffs can get to six wins before they face Utah in the last game of the season they don't necessarily have to win. The hype the program would build going into that game would be off of the charts, anybody who has ever called themselves a Buffs fan would tune in to see if they could complete the turnaround. Even if the Buffs fell short, there would be an overarching feeling that the program was so close, all of those things listed above would still be in the cards.
So how attainable is six or seven wins for Colorado this season? Very. The Buffs kick off the season with four very winnable games (Hawaii, UMass, Colorado State and Nicholls State), and they will definitely find themselves with a chance to win at least two games in conference (Arizona in Boulder, and Oregon State in Corvallis if I had to guess). Throw in the fact that all four meetings between Colorado and Utah since the formation of the Pac-12 have been a dog fight, and you can see that six or seven wins is not that crazy for this team.
Of course, many have been made a fool by looking at a schedule and pointing out all the potential wins and losses before the team sets foot on the field, but it’s May 11th and it’s Monday, what else do we have to do?
The scary thing for Colorado is that the window for this big comeback feels small, if this season turns out to be yet another failure, big questions will arise about whether Mike MacIntyre is the right man for the job, people will begin to wonder, "if the Buffs can't make it with all of this new stuff on their side, can they ever come back?"
The fact that there is so much positivity around the program coming off of a winless season in the Pac-12 is pretty miraculous, but the Buffaloes must capitalize on it, they must compliment this slight bit of momentum with on-field victories, and if they do, 2015 will be looked at as the year Colorado Football began their return to prominence.