Why is CU football program dead as a doornail? Blame Air Force coach Troy Calhoun. – The Denver Post



AIR FORCE ACADEMY – During a 41-10 loss to Air Force on a soggy afternoon when the sky wept for them, the CU Buffaloes wandered aimlessly in the mist, with that zombie look in their eyes. This is a dead football program whistling past the graveyard, haunted by a nightmare of 10 years ago when Colorado went 1-11 before firing Jon Embree.

“We’re really at the bottom,” Colorado coach Karl Dorrell said Saturday, “and we’re trying to work our way back up.”

For this CU football program, it might be a different day, but it’s the same sad song, decade after decade.

If the Buffs are shopping for a new football conference, I’m not certain they’re good enough for the Mountain West. The Big Sky might be more their speed.

And the feisty Air Force Falcons? They’re a load as ornery as fullback Brad Roberts, a Colorado kid who bedraggled the Buffs for 174 yards and three rushing touchdowns all by himself.

Fullback? Isn’t that a football job from your grandpappy’s day? I asked Roberts if he was the last of the dinosaurs, or trying to make fullback retro cool in a Larry Csonka sort of way.

“I guess I’m trying to make it hip again,” said Roberts, who carries the rock with old-school, five-day-bruises intensity. “I love being a fullback, especially the way we run our fullbacks in this offense.”

I don’t know what kind of statement Dorrell is trying to make. Fire him? I’m afraid CU is too short on passion (as well as cash) to get rid of Dorrell, who would be owed $7.8 million, even if the Buffs waited until Jan. 1, 2023, to show him the door.

Colorado has no viable starting quarterback, no confidence and no discernible way out of this mess. If things get any worse, Ralphie might transfer to North Dakota State, where a Bison can be proud of its football program. If this team coached by Dorrell has any identity, it’s defined by those sad, old Embree vibes.

This Air Force team led by Troy Calhoun makes you wish college football would expand its playoff field to 12 teams now rather than later. At 2-0, with a favorable home schedule, the Falcons not only appear to be a real threat to win the Mountain West but garner more than a handful of votes in the national polls if they keep rolling for the 435 yards on the ground they used to unmercifully pound the Buffs.

Calhoun, a former Air Force quarterback in his 16th season as head coach at the academy, has lived and worked in the Rocky Mountain region for almost his entire adult life. So he knows the history of football in these parts, enough to feel sympathy for the travails currently being endured by Dorrell.

“Nobody will handle it better than (Dorrell) will,” said Calhoun, old enough to remember how Bill McCartney turned the fortunes of CU’s football program by installing a triple-option offense. “It just sometimes takes (time). It doesn’t happen (overnight).”

Well, here’s a bit of Buffs’ football history that maybe die-hard fans of the program would just as soon forget. Way back in 2010, after parting ways with Dan Hawkins, our old friend Mike Bohn made an audacious list of coaching candidates. At the top of the athletic director’s wish list was Calhoun, a genius of triple-option football who Bohn wanted to steal from down the street.

Calhoun told the Buffs no. And you know the rest of the sorry story.

The job of reviving the Buffs has been tackled by four coaches: Embree was followed by Mike MacIntyre. Then came Mel Tucker, who bolted under the darkness of midnight. And now the thankless task has fallen to Dorrell, with the twin killers of the transfer portal and name/image/likeness conspiring against him.

Or to put it another way: Since Calhoun turned down the chance to revitalize CU’s football program, the Buffs’ record is 47-84.

After falling behind 20-0 to the Falcons, Colorado scored 10 straight points and had a chance to get back in the game early in the third quarter, only to see running back Alex Fontenot fumble at the goal line.

“Is discouragement setting in? They are discouraged right now. They are,” Dorrel said after meeting in the locker room with CU players who have already lost two games this season by the cumulative score of 79-23.



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