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Better Know a 2017 Opponent: Colorado

In which we have to get serious for a quick second.

NCAA Football: UCLA at Colorado Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

It’s hard to say that a game may make or break a season, especially in July before even fall practices have occurred, but that’s exactly what the Colorado game is for UCLA this year.

UCLA will be entering this game at home with a record that I guarantee will have frustrated every UCLA fan somehow, and Colorado is not the same team they were last year. This makes it easy enough to call as a game UCLA has to win if they want any shot at a successful season (and what qualifies as a successful season? Ask me again on September 2). And especially with the bye week following this game, UCLA would love to have the momentum a win would provide.

So this should be all kinds of fun to preview 3 months out!

LAST YEAR

Hey, can we talk real fast about last year’s Colorado team? Because they were actually really good, and they should be celebrated for that. They’re the defending PAC 12 South champions, after all. Also as a side note, I assume almost nobody had Colorado winning the PAC 12 South before Utah, or even had Utah as the last team to not win the division. BUT WE’LL GET TO THAT ANOTHER DAY!

But seriously, Colorado was really good last year! Their defense featured one of the best defensive secondaries in the nation, and the front wasn’t half bad either! Sefo Liufau finally put things together as a passer! Colorado won 10 games in the regular season, something Jim Mora has yet to do at UCLA despite having a much higher talent level!

I think the most impressive thing to me was that Colorado really didn’t luck into any of those wins. They beat teams, and in games they lost (non-postseason editions) they looked damn respectable, especially considering both losses came on the road to Michigan and USC. You can even forgive their two losses in the PAC 12 Championship and Alamo Bowl considering Liufau got knocked out right at the beginning of the Washington matchup and Colorado never could recover. We’ve all been there.

If you were expecting jokes in this section, I’m sorry, but Colorado was that good, and I have all the respect in the world for them.

THE FANS

Colorado fans are, in general, pretty chill. In a lot of respects, it really is like mountain UCLA in the general chill factor, with a dash of Cal thanks to all of that good good kush.

But more importantly, Colorado has the best live mascot in the conference (sorry Washington): Ralphie. GAZE UPON HIS MAJESTY!

NCAA Football: Utah at Colorado
YES!
Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

I got really excited when I realized Colorado was up this week, because the Running of the Bulls is going on, which led me on a merry quest to find out if Ralphie has ever killed or seriously maimed one of the runners, and I am happy to say that Ralphie has yet to turn on humanity. He’s just a very good buffalo who is much better than a stupid horse.

Although, now I actually want Colorado to do a Running of the Buffalo on their campus. You could probably get the student body high enough to consider it rather easily.

THE COACHES

Alright, time for the serious stuff.

Let’s get this part out of the way first: Mike MacIntyre is a good coach who has done a great job turning around a Colorado program saddled with an athletic department so incompetent that previous coach complained that the administration had no idea how to compete as a Power 5 school.

Now comes the hard part, and a reminder that college football still has a long way to go regarding domestic violence.

Last year’s defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt left the team in early December to take the same job at Oregon, and in response, MacIntyre decided to promote assistant Joe Tumpkin to the position. Simple, right? Hardly, because MacIntyre had received a phone call from Tumpkin’s ex-girlfriend stating that Tumpkin had physically abused her, and at this point I’m just going to direct you to a few articles on the subject from the SBNation Mothership, ESPN, and Sports Illustrated.

Reading the facts of the case, it becomes rather clear that MacIntyre (and by extension other members of the Colorado administration) put the Colorado football program over doing the right thing; Tumpkin was promoted after MacIntyre learned of the allegations, and the school only put Tumpkin on administrative leave after a local reporter asked for comment on the pending criminal charges. There’s other things to unpack, especially from the SI article, such as the apparent Colorado plan to have Tumpkin remain on staff until after National Signing Day, at which point he would be allowed to take a new job at another school, or how Colorado’s go-to lawyer repeatedly contacted the plaintiff and at one point even asked her to drop the charges.

Now, normally this whole article would come out during the weekend, but I’ve been delaying it due to this section, because I know that I have to get this right, and what you’re reading is really the stream of consciousness I went through while figuring out how to approach this topic. That’s why this apology for tardiness is right here in the middle, because I realized I’d been struggling on how to proceed and felt bad about it.

There’s a part of me that is not surprised in the slightest that this whole thing happened. College football programs have proven time and again that they will do whatever it takes to gain an edge, and will put up with transgressions well past the norm as long as they get results. How else do you explain Jerry Sandusky’s long tenure at Penn State, or Art Briles continuing to receive support from segments of the Baylor fanbase? How else do you explain Jameis Winston at FSU, or Joe Mixon at Oklahoma? Again, these things happen repeatedly, and the problem is that it just

keeps

happening.

Maybe the fact that this happened at Colorado under Mike MacIntyre is what upsets me the most? Especially coming off their best season in a decade, the people in power at CU decided to keep chasing that dragon instead of taking a step back and actually assessing their actions, and maybe this is actually my fault for thinking I could trust someone at MacIntyre.

Maybe this is my fault for believing in any college coach? I really, really like Jim Mora as a person, but I’m at the point where if someone told me Mora was shielding a rapist on his staff, I’d probably believe it. I know it goes against our American principles of “innocent until proven guilty,” but at this point the entire college sports system doesn’t have a leg to stand on. And because of how lucrative college football is, there’s no reason for the sport to change, so I’m reduced to yelling “BE BETTER” on the internet. Swell.

The one thing I really can do at this point is to make a plea to you, the reader, to try and help anyone who is a victim of domestic violence. This doesn’t mean you have to make some grand gesture; it can be as simple as providing any small comfort you can. Consider donating to groups fighting to protect victims of domestic violence (for instance, I’m personally partial to the National Domestic Violence Hotline). And if you are reading this and have been a victim of domestic violence, don’t be afraid to speak out. Just know that there are thousands of people out there who want you to be safe and love you.

I’m sorry that none of that was elegant, but it was how I was feeling, and it felt wrong not to write it all out. Time to move on.

THE PLAYERS

Ok, I need a pick-me-up after that. Hold on a sec....

God bless this majestic creature.

Here’s maybe the biggest thing you should know about Colorado heading into this season: they return almost all of their skill position players, including Shay Fields who should come into the season as the frontrunner for best receiver in the conference, and a quarterback in Steven Montez who got valuable experience last year when inserted into the lineup after Sefo Liufau got repeatedly murdered by other teams.

That’s about it, though.

Colorado really lost a lot of experienced players, especially on defense, and ESPECIALLY in their secondary. That’s probably good news for UCLA and Josh Rosen, who really need all the good news they can get at this point. And Colorado lost so many players from last year’s defense that I really couldn’t tell you any standouts that might exist on this year’s team.

So yeah, Shay Fields is real real good, and that’s about all I got.

This whole preview got really rough, huh?

FEARLESS PREDICTION

Ralphie Report understands satire and chooses not to write a response that completely misses the point of these previews.

UCLA wins a must-win game to prolong my suffering.

Just a guess but I’ll just assume some real dumb stuff occurs in the comments.