In 2012, the Colorado Buffaloes will embark on Year Two of their move to the Pac-12 Conference. Despite posting a 3-10 overall record in 2011, and a 2-7 mark in conference play, optimism is abundant in Boulder. Here are five reasons why:
#5 Attenuation of the Taint
Second-year head coach Jon Embree, and his sidekick offensive coordinator, Eric Bieniemy, are one-year removed from the taint of former coach Dan Hawkins. The new coaching staff has now had a full calendar year to sort through and clean up the extensive rubble left behind from the Hawkins era.
#4 Monkey Be Gone
The Buffs ended the embarrassing 23-game road losing streak that had been plaguing the proud program. The streak was snapped in dramatic fashion when the Buffs beat a hungry Utah team favored by 22.5 points in Salt Lake City.
Although the win did not have post-season implications for the Buffs, it ended the Utes' conference title hopes and sent UCLA to the Pac-12 Championship game. The Bruins would eventually become the first team to participate in a bowl game with a losing record.
#3 Salvaged Recruiting Class
Scout.com has the Buffs' 2012 class ranked 27th in the nation among all incoming recruits. Considering the hand Coach Embree was dealt coming into last season, the Buffs will have a new solid foundation of young players to mold.
#2 CW -- Connor Wood
The QB transfer from the Texas Longhorns has impressed the coaching staff since he arrived in Boulder last year. A highly recruited player out of high school, Wood has shown incredible poise learning the CU offense.
Wood will have the luxury of playing with a strong offensive line led by 2011 All Pac-12 offensive tackle David Bakhtiari. In addition, Wood has been getting increasingly comfortable throwing to CU’s explosive wide receiver, Paul Richardson.
As a 6-foot-3, 225-pounder who can run a 4.7 non-wind-aided 40, only the mile-high sky is the limit for this projected starting QB.
The Buffaloes have the most favorable non-conference schedule in the program’s modern history.
The Buffs open the first four games of the season playing: Colorado State, Sacramento State, Fresno State, and Washington State. Hence, the Buffs have a unique opportunity to head into week 5 -- versus UCLA at Folsom Field -- with an unblemished record. An early-season win streak would provide a much-needed spark to expedite the program's rebuilding process.
The Buffaloes have nowhere to go but up, and for the Colorado faithful, this is a long time coming. The 2012 holiday season should mean a bowl trip for the University of Colorado, and until then, their fans should confidently await the announcement of the location.
By Sherwin Sadr
Contributing Writer for The Daily Sports Herald