As we walked through the darkness, whoops and hollers filled the air. Clusters of college kids scurried towards the bright lights ahead. Chants erupted spontaneously as a sense of giddiness and expectation filled the air. Everyone seemed to be donning some combination of black and gold, showing their school spirit on this night of all nights. As we climbed the steps towards our “seats”, the party-like atmosphere permeated the stadium. It seemed on this night, everyone was a Buffalo fan.
One of the most picturesque university campuses resides at the foot of the mountains in Boulder, Colorado. University of Colorado (CU) is a big draw for students who live both in and outside the state of Colorado. But despite its accomplishments in many areas, one thing that wasn’t a big draw was its football team, at least during the last decade.
When we first moved to the Front Range in 2010, we went to a CU football team, courtesy of free tickets given to me by someone at work. The stadium was barely half-full, and the score was lopsided, and not in favor of the home team. This trend of getting blow off the field would continue over the next five years, to the point where many second-guessed the coaches, the players and even the conference they were in.
Except for the most loyal of fans, most in the community lost interest, after the losses continued to mount year after year. Count me as one of those who turned to other interests, despite CU being our “local” university.
Fast forward to 2016. I still wasn’t paying attention because I rarely read a local newspaper. But I like to run on the Boulder Creek Path in the evenings, and so was a bit surprised three weeks ago on a Thursday evening, when it seemed CU football fans abounded everywhere. Tailgaters filled the parking lot, and young and old were walking around garbed in black and gold. What was going on?
What was going on was that CU has quietly turned in one of the most surprising worst-to-first football seasons in Pac-12 history. The team has now reeled off 6 straight wins including a conference-clinching win last Saturday night over Utah State. And boy, has that changed the energy on campus in the community of Boulder.
The excitement, passion, enthusiasm, that this team’s rise from the ashes season has brought was palpable last Saturday night. It actually made me feel 30 years younger, bringing me back to the feeling of fun and hope I had as a coed. And it’s brought a sense of pride to the campus and the town.
This Friday, CU will play the heavily favored Washington Huskies for the Pac-12 overall championship. Once again, they are the underdogs, but regardless of the outcome, it has been a season to remember.