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It’s no secret the CU Football team has a poor record. In the past 10 years the Buffaloes have only played in the Alamo Bowl twice (2020 and 2016), had more losses than wins since the early 2000s, and are currently rated the worst college football team with their 2022 standing of 1-8. This being said, CU students have proven to be some of the most dedicated fans in the country: consistently filling up the stadium, dressing up for game themes, and showing the Buffaloes their support rain, snow, or shine. 

Obviously this decade-long issue is not the fault of current players and coaches, but instead a systematic problem. So, scary statistics aside, even as a 20-year-old girl with a beginner’s knowledge of football, I can see the work the CU football program is putting in to hopefully break their habit of mediocrity. With each game, I notice new players on the field (I think we’ve played with at least three different quarterbacks this season), reassigning of positions, and most importantly, a new coach. Mike Sanford took the position of interim head coach on October 2nd, 2022, after the dismissal of Coach Karl Dorrell (who started the football season with a 0-5 record). So far, Sanford has only led the Buffaloes to one win, but I believe change is coming thanks to him. 

Career

Mike Sanford has a very impressive resume, even at the ripe age of 40. As a Boise State alumnus, where he majored in Political Science and lettered four years as quarterback, Sanford has over 15 years of coaching experience. On top of that, he has coached full-time in almost 160 games, specializing in offense, quarterbacks, and recruiting. Mike Sanford started his coaching career as a graduate assistant under his father at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNVL) in 2005, and since then has led many offensive players to the NFL, including Jay Ajayi, Jordan Love, Mike White, and more. Sanford has also made grand impacts at Stanford, Yale, Boise State, Notre Dame, Utah State, Minnesota, and Western Kentucky, where he was the head coach from 2017-2018. With his impressive influence on well-known offensive players and previous experience as a head coach, I think it’s fair to say the CU Football program is in good hands with Coach Mike Sanford. 

That ONE Game

Although the Buffaloes currently hold a 1-8 record, I think it’s very important to note Coach Sanford led CU to their first win of the season during his first game as head coach. Taking over a program halfway through the season, especially one as cracked as Colorado’s, is no easy task, and Mike Sanford made his name known by helping the Buffaloes beat UC Berkeley 20-13 in overtime. 

Starting off with an interception in the first quarter, CU started this game with lots of confidence. After a 10-10 tie at the end of the 4th quarter, offense stepped up for another touchdown and defense prevented the Golden Bears from scoring again. Although I am a firm believer that players win games, it is very impressive Sanford started his season as head coach with a win. At this point, I realized CU may have lucked out with this new coach. 

Charisma

Finally, Coach Mike Sanford has warmed my heart, both as a coach and a human being, because of his clear efforts to get involved in the CU community. Before homecoming Sanford visited multiple greek life institutions where he interacted with students, spoke about football, and pumped them up for the rest of the season. I also noticed increased advertising of other teams’ games, like women’s soccer and volleyball, on the @cubuffsfootball Instagram. Heck, even during the last home game, Sanford was spotted turning around to encourage the crowd to cheer louder before an intense play. In comparison to former Coach Dorrell, whose face I couldn’t pick out if I was paid to, Sanfords efforts to intertwine football with the student body are quite admirable. Because Mike Sanford has shown his dedication to the football team by acknowledging and interacting with students, I trust his coaching skills and hope he’s here for the long run. 

Not only has Sanford’s charisma shined through his involvement with the CU community, but he also models a healthy relationship with the team — arguably the most important trait of a good coach. Even though I can only attest to what I’ve seen on social media and during games, Coach seems to have a good rapport with the players, especially those on offense who he’s worked more personally with. In between plays, Mike Sanford can be seen joking around with and encouraging the players. Not to mention his energy at games is unmatched: I love seeing him run in excitement when the team makes a successful pass or cheering along with the student section. Unlike Karl Dorrell, who positioned himself in the shadows during games and seemed to robotically speak into his headset, Sanford seems almost more excited than some of the players to be down on the sideline. There’s something to be said about someone who loves their job. 

I am no football expert. I watch occasional NFL games with my dad, attend multiple CU games a year, and even keep up with scores through the ESPN app, but at the end of the day, I will always be asking questions about the sport. So unfortunately, I can only understand Mike Sanford from a bystander’s perspective. I do not know the specifics of how he is improving the CU Football program, but from what I see and understand so far, he seems to be doing a great job. I would put money on Mike Sanford becoming one of our generation’s most successful football coaches. Thanks for taking over our team; the Buffalo men deserve an energetic, dedicated, and experienced man like yourself to help lead them to success. SKO BUFFS!

Lanaya Oliver

CU Boulder '24

Lanaya is originally from Colorado but has lived all over the world. She loves to play sports, paint, write, and bake. She is double majoring in Psychology and Spanish and dreams of becoming a sports psychologist!