10-4 Bu≠aloes of 2016 won’t be for­got­ten

The Denver Post - - SPORTS - By Brian How­ell

san an­to­nio» The 1977 Den­ver Bron­cos will never be for­got­ten. Same with the 2007 Colorado Rock­ies. Both teams con­cluded other­wise re­mark­able sea­sons with hum­bling de­feats, but cap­tured the hearts of lo­cal sports fans for their ac­com­plish­ments.

Now throw the 2016 Univer­sity of Colorado foot­ball team into that group.

The Buf­faloes fin­ished a 10-4 sea­son by get­ting blown out 41-10 against Wash­ing­ton in the Pac-12 cham­pi­onship game and by get­ting routed 38-8 against Ok­la­homa State in the Alamo Bowl on Thurs­day night. What they did be­fore that, how­ever, se­cured their spe­cial spot in CU his­tory.

Last spring, CU co-of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Darrin Chi­averini threw out a Twit­ter tag, #therise, more or less as a catchy phrase for what he hoped the Buf­faloes would do after post­ing 10 con­sec­u­tive los­ing sea­sons.

That hashtag took on a life of its own, and “The Rise” be­came the slo­gan for the CU foot­ball pro­gram and all of Buffs Na­tion. The ath­letic de­part­ment even pro­duced a sea­son-long se­ries ti­tled “The Rise.”

It be­came the theme of this sea­son, but “The Rise” was never about just one sea­son. All along, “The Rise” has been about the Buffs’ fu­ture, and fight­ing past the ug­li­ness of the past decade.

CU foot­ball — a pro­gram that has won a na­tional cham­pi­onship, a Heis­man Tro­phy and nu­mer­ous other ma­jor awards — be­came one of the worst pro­grams in the coun­try over the past decade. The Buf­faloes made a steady climb out of the muck in re­cent years, but this sea­son was about bust­ing through and forc­ing peo­ple to stop laugh­ing at CU foot­ball. Mis­sion ac­com­plished. After go­ing only 2-25 in Pac-12 games the pre­vi­ous three years, the Buffs went 8-1 this sea­son en route to play­ing in the Pac-12 ti­tle game. They won the Pac-12 South for the first time. They be­came just the eighth team in CU his­tory to win 10 games. They reached the top 10 of the na­tional rank­ings for the first time in 14 years.

“We got a taste of some­thing great, some­thing that Colorado is used to get­ting back in the day and now it’s back,” said run­ning back Phillip Lind­say.

“They’ve given ev­ery­thing they’ve had when no­body be­lieved in them,” coach Mike MacIn­tyre said of his play­ers. “Now ev­ery­body be­lieves in them . ... It didn’t end like we’d like it to, but wow, what they’ve done, they set a foun­da­tion for us to keep im­prov­ing.”

That is re­ally what “The Rise” was all about. The 2016 team didn’t need to win a cham­pi­onship. It just needed to be dif­fer­ent.

“Those young men ... should be re­mem­bered for a long, long time for what they’ve done for Colorado foot­ball,” MacIn­tyre said.

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