Even though the season won't kick off until early September, I thought it would be fun to take a look around the conference for a quick preview of the other eleven teams -- in no particular order. We'll get more in depth during the week before the Cardinal plays each team, but for now we've got a quick overview of how the team looks at this point as seen through the eyes of a blogger who knows that team best. Enjoy.
Colorado Buffaloes (Pac-12 South)
Head Coach: Jon Embree (First Year)
2010: (5-7, 2-6, 5th in Big 12 North)
Did not play Stanford
In the eight seasons from 1989 to 1996 the Colorado Buffaloes compiled a cumulative record of 78-15, including five bowl victories, and a national championship in 1990. In the middle of that stretch they enjoyed the services of Heisman Trophy winner Rashaan Salaam and dynamic quarterback Kordell Stewart. Remember the Miracle at Michigan? Without question, Colorado was a national power.
Things have changed. Boy Wonder Rick Neuheisel and his successor, Gary Barnett, kept the program respectable over the next decade or so, but in 2006 the university looked north and plucked Dan Hawkins from Boise State. This decision would prove to be a mistake, as Hawkins never finished a season in Boulder over .500 and was dismissed after nine games in 2010 after going 19-39 as head coach.
This year the Buffaloes enter the Jon Embree era. Embree played tight end for Colorado in the mid 80s, and he's thrilled to be back home. "This is a dream come true. When I stepped on the field for my first spring practice here as a volunteer coach in 1991, I started to envision what it would be like to come back one day and be the head coach of this great university. It's truly a privilege when you have the opportunity to become head coach at your alma mater." It's as if he was reading from the same script Stanford coach David Shaw used at his introductory press conference.
Embree will rely on the senior leadership of quarterback Tyler Hansen and tailback Rodney Stewart, both of whom could finish their careers as the best to have played their positions in Colorado history. Will that be enough to compete in the Pac-12 South? I checked in with the folks at The Ralphie Report, and Jon Woods gave me the lowdown. Check it out...
Why is the Pac-12 good for the Buffs?
The Pac-12 is a much better fit for the University of Colorado than the Big 12 was. CU is similar to a lot of the Pac-12 schools in terms of athletic budgets, facilities, academics, and more. On top of that, a very large portion of Colorado alumni live in the Pac-12 region (especially California) and will now have a lot more chances to see their school play in many sports.
Why are the Buffs good for the Pac-12?
In addition to Utah, the Buffs helped the conference get to twelve teams, split divisions, and a conference championship game. The Denver market will be a big one for the conference, as there are a ton of transplants from the West residing in Colorado.
What are fans excited about for this season?
Everything. The move to the Pac-12 conference is one that has been universally praised by Colorado alumni and fans. It will be a great first two years welcoming opposing fans to Boulder and vice versa. On top of that, we finally get the end of the Dan Hawkins debacle and the beginning of the Jon Embree era. Even though we're aware that Embree won't be able to turn this ship around overnight, we are confident that Colorado can get back to challenging for conference titles and national championships.
What are the biggest concerns facing the team?
There's a lack of depth in a few different spots, most glaring in the secondary where Colorado loses two starters to the NFL. To make matters worse, CU has one of the toughest -- if not THE toughest -- schedules in the country this season. The Buffs travel to Ohio State and Hawai'i in September, they have their usual rivalry game against Colorado State in Denver, and they have to take on California in a non-Pac-12 contest. On top of that, instead of missing out on Stanford and Oregon like Utah does, the Buffaloes play every team in the conference except for Oregon State, and they don't have a single bye the entire year.
What's the best-case scenario for the team?
The Buffs escape non-conference play at 3-1, losing only at Ohio State, and are able to scrape out conference wins against Washington State, Arizona, UCLA, and either Utah or Arizona State to return to a bowl game for the first time since the 2007 season.
What's the worst-case scenario for the team?
Colorado gets beat up in non-conference and enters Pac-12 play at 1-3. The Buffs take care of Washington State and one other game at home to finish the year with a demoralizing 3-10 record.
Realistically, how do you expect the season to pan out?
The Buffs finish non-conference 2-2 with wins against California and Colorado State, but tough road losses to Ohio State and Hawai'i. They beat Wazzou at home and finally get a win on the road against Washington. Wins against Arizona and UCLA bring the final season record to 6-7 as the team just misses a bowl game for the third straight season.
- California Golden Bears
- Oregon Ducks
- Oregon State Beavers
- Utah Utes
- Washington Huskies
- Washington State Cougars