It sounds so wonderful. A coach in his second season flies in with his golden cape and right hand of justice to save a program from extinction. All who doubted will bow and marvel in the greatness bestowed on the football field. In a perfect world, which is also the mind of an avid college football fan, a new coach should have their program up to national relevancy within a couple years.
The days following the Colorado Buffaloes loss to in-state rival Colorado State Rams have been filled with the usual second guessing, arm chair quarterbacking that goes into a typical loss, but the narrative has been surprisingly hostile. The Buffs lost to a better team, plain and simple. While it's painful to see your favorite team get absolutely over powered, the reality can't be ignored.
Maybe it's a very small minority of Colorado fans, but the past few days have been tainted with the notion from the voice of these fans their team is somehow in need of another coaching change if CU doesn't make a bowl game this year. There was even a local host in Colorado who tried to stir the pot by suggesting head coach Mike MacIntyre should be judged on the same guidelines of former head coach Jon Embree. According to this host, fans began their up-roar shortly after Embree's second year began. MacIntyre is in his second season. So, apparently we have to draw the same parallels.
This whole notion is ridiculous. Coach MacIntyre led the Buffs to four wins in his first season, it took Embree two season to reach the same amount of victories. This isn't meant to slam the average CU fan who just wants their team to reach a bowl game. Nevertheless, every fan should understand the position the program is currently in, and be open minded to the fact this team isn't good enough to win six games in 2014.
The Pac-12 has recently earned a new well deserved reputation as the second best conference in the nation (considered THE best conference depending on who you ask), with the gap to the SEC shrinking every week. Fans need to realize how great the talent level within the conference the Buffaloes compete in is. Even during 2013, when plenty of fans acknowledged the team had a better energy during games, they still allowed 44 points a game against conference opponents.
Since joining the Pac-12 in 2011, the Buffs have failed to pull in a recruiting class ranked higher than 10th in the conference every year expect one class (8th in 2012). Do recruiting rankings always correlate to wins on the field? No, but you can check and see that most teams who consistently finish in the final top 25 polls of the season, also finish around the top 25 in recruiting.
The Pac-12 has seven quarterbacks who are among the best in the nation, and the buffs defense, who returns eight starters from a defense that was ranked 104th nationally in passing defense last season, is expected to improve enough to take down Taylor Kelly, Marcus Mariota, Brett Hundley, Sean Mannion, Anu Solomin and Cody Kessler in route to the postseason. We could always say anything is possible, but it's just not likely.
How long does it take to build a program? The general rule is about three to four seasons to see what a coaches' impact has been on the recruiting trail. This is only coach MacIntyre's second season, so how realistic is it to expect a bowl berth for the Buffs? Colorado is young, coach MacIntyre played quite a few underclassman last season, and because of that will continue to develop in 2014 at a good pace. Keep in mind the Buffs are the youngest team in the Pac-12. Furthermore, fans need to be mindful of the fact it will take 2-3 years to see the full extent of the young players development.
The 2013 squad was improved from 2012, and this years' team will be improved from the 2013 squad. Improvements are without question realistic, however, the amount that some eager fans wish to see this season is a bit premature. The future looks bright with quarterback Sefo Liufau, and not to mention new improvements to Folsom Field and upgraded facilities. The Buffs have catching up to do in every aspect of their program, but the proper steps are being made.