BOULDER, Colo. – Colorado and Utah, two schools that entered the newly created Pac-12 eight months ago, knew there would be something of a learning curve in their first full season. They just didn’t know the learning curve would be in the School of Hard Knocks. So, here is a breakdown of two of the sports that struggled to make the adjustment – Colorado football and the Utah men’s basketball program.
Colorado completed a 3-10 season under first year head football coach Jon Embree, while Utah is in the middle of its worst basketball season in school history. Neither team was expected to have much success, as both were picked to finish dead last in the Pac-12 in their respective sports. Still, both schools must have left Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott thinking, “I’ve made a huge mistake.” So which first-year feat of furious futility flop is worse (alliteration, poetry is not dead!)?
Even before the dismissal of leading scorer Josh “Jiggy” Watkins, the Utah men’s basketball team was just 4-11. Now, the former Mountain West power is in firm control of the race for last place in the Pac-12. The team’s dwelling in the cellar with a mark of 2-13 in conference play, 5-22 overall. Only one of the remaining Utes, Jason Washburn, averages double figures for the team that ranks 333rd out of 338 in scoring and scoring margin. Utah gets badly outrebounded every game and has one of the worst field goal percentages in the country. This team should work out at Way Below Average Joe’s Gymnasium. They might be able to pull out one win for the Gipper, but I doubt he would even bother to ask. This is a program – not far removed from a Sweet 16 appearance in 2005 – headed in the wrong direction.
As for Colorado, the Buffaloes football team lost nine of its 10 games by double digits and four games by more than 30 points. The combined record of the three teams Colorado did beat was 15-22. The Buffs made a mediocre UCLA quarterback Kevin Prince look like Aaron Rodgers in a game where the Bruins, awful themselves, won 45-6 (kind of a simile? I’m trying people, poetry is hard). Over a five week stretch in October, they allowed 40+ points in every game.
Colorado did, however, win its final game of the season on the road against a Utah team that won a bowl game. The Buffaloes were also faced with the unfortunate task of playing Oregon, Stanford, USC, and at Ohio State. So, comparatively speaking, I give the nod to Colorado football here. No question that, at this point, there is more hope in the future for them. They have a new coach and system that is still being phased in, plus a solid enough reputation as a program to keep the recruits coming. On the other hand, Utah basketball was just plain awful, and – as of right now – it doesn’t look like there is much light at the end of the tunnel. But, to both schools, I give the same advice that a wise man once told me: adapt or die!