Sunday, October 25, 2015

The Hucking of the Fuskers

Twenty-nine years is a long time for which to remember anything.  For a memory to live in my mind's eye for that length of time, it has to have been a spectacularly vivid memory.  To be alive in my head today, is has fought off not only the ravages of time but the rather spirited effort I made as a much younger man to further the "fogging" process.  

It was on this date, twenty-nine Octobers ago, in Boulder, Colorado that I bore witness to the University of Colorado Buffaloes doing something that they had not done since Dwight Eisenhower had used 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington, D.C. as the return address on his Christmas cards. I was a nineteen-year-old sophomore at CU and I stood in the student section crammed with other hopeful pseudo-cynics.  We wanted to believe that Coach Mac, Mark Hatcher, and the rest of the Buffs could spring the upset on undefeated and #3 in the nation Nebraska.  

There is a fine line between hope and confidence and for most of the afternoon, we did little more than straddle that line.  We yelled our lungs out as the Buffs, who took the field that afternoon with an underwhelming 2-4 record (although riding a two-game winning streak), battled the heavily-favored Huskers.  At the time, CU and Nebraska were both members of the Big Eight Conference and played each other every season.  Nebraska had defeated the Buffs eighteen consecutive times, last losing to CU in Lincoln in 1967.  The Buffs had not defeated the Huskers in Boulder since America still liked Ike.  

Thus, even when the Buffs jumped out to a 10-0 lead, having utilized "trickeration" for which Coach Mac was not particularly well known, those of us in the student section watched with one eye fixed on the action taking place on Folsom Field's artificial turf surface and the other fixed on the sky above, anticipating the downward trajectory of the other shoe.  When Nebraska broke through and the score at the end of three quarters was CU 10, NU 7, I for one was certain I saw at least the tip of a lace break through the clouds.  

I was wrong.  

Bill McCartney was - to be kind - a conservative football coach.  On more than one occasion during my four years in Boulder, a fan in the student section who bears an uncanny resemblance (or used to anyway) to the reflection I see in the bathroom mirror every morning, used to implore Coach Mac to turn over his 3 x 5 index card and call our other play.  I can only imagine the amount of gentle persuasion his staff employed during the week leading up to the game to get the Campbell reverse installed as part of the game plan.  

Having emptied what was believed to have been the entire contents of our bag of trick, Tom Osborne and Nebraska had every reason to suspect that Coach Mac had nothing else up his sleeve once the fourth quarter began.  


Following Lance Carl's touchdown reception, the teams traded field goals.  The final score:  CU 20, NU 10. As the seconds counted down on the clock, I made my way down onto the field with what appeared to be every other person who had been in the stands - at least those of us there cheering for the home team.  While chaos abounded in some corners of Folsom Field, I was drawn to the expressions on the faces of a few of the players who were simply sitting quietly on the bench, taking it all in.  Those of us who spent that day as I did - cheering from the stands - had been witnesses to history.  They, on the other hand, had been participants.  Our experiences, while concurrent, were not the same. 

Seeing the players seated on the bench, in the role of spectator, affected me.  I quickly thereafter found my way off of the field, out of the stadium, and back to Farrand Hall to celebrate with my friends.  

For one solid week thereafter, as we played our nightly after-dinner football game on Farrand Field, we could still see "CU 20, NU 10" on the scoreboard at Folsom Field.  It was almost as if the university could not bear to see the game end. 

But it did.  It always does.  

The memory remains. 

That is enough.  


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