Colorado Buffaloes

Colorado Buffaloes
Colorado Buffaloes
University University of Colorado Boulder
Conference(s) Pacific-12 Conference
NCAA Division I - FBS
Athletics director Mike Bohn
Location Boulder, CO
Varsity teams 16
Football stadium Folsom Field
Basketball arena Coors Events Center
Soccer stadium Prentup Field
Mascot Ralphie - (live bison)
Chip - (costumed mascot)
Nickname Buffaloes
Fight song Fight CU
Colors Silver & Gold
 and Black (unofficial)


Athletic director Mike Bohn
at the 2005 Spring game.

The University of Colorado Boulder sponsors 16 varsity sports teams. Both men's and women's team are called the Buffaloes (Buffs for short) or Golden Buffaloes (acceptable, but rare).[1] "Lady Buffs" referred to the women's teams beginning in the 1970s, but was officially dropped in 1993.[1] The nickname was selected by the campus newspaper in a contest with a $5 prize in 1934 won by Andrew Dickson of Boulder. The university participates in the NCAA's Division I (FBS) in the Pacific-12 Conference[2]. The current athletic director is Boulder native Mike Bohn, hired on April 13, 2005. Colorado has won 24 national championships in its history, with 18 in skiing, including 2011. It was ranked #14 of "America's Best Sports College" in a 2002 analysis performed by Sports Illustrated.[3]



Competitive football began on the Boulder campus in 1890. Early games, which bore more resemblance to rugby than modern football, were played against the School of Mines and Utah. The football stadium, originally named "Colorado Stadium," was officially named Folsom Field in November 1944 to honor Coach Fred Folsom, one of the most respected college football coaches of his day.

In 1934, the university's intercollegiate teams were officially nicknamed the "Buffaloes." Previous nicknames used by the press included the "Silver Helmets" and "Frontiersmen." The final game of 1934, against the University of Denver, saw also the first running of a bison in a Colorado football game. A bison calf was rented from a local ranch and ran along the sidelines.

The year 1947 marked key point in race relations on campus. The Buffaloes joined the Missouri Valley Intercollegiate Athletic Association, commonly known as the Big Six, then to be known as the Big Seven, and later the Big Eight, and since 1996 the Big 12 (although the Big 12 does not claim the Big Eight's history as its own). However, Missouri and Oklahoma had rules which would have allowed them to challenge teams with "colored" players. A student outcry, led by campus paper Silver and Gold, led to a movement against these Jim Crow restrictions which expanded to all the campuses of the Big 7 and eventually lead to their repeal.

On June 10, 2010, the Buffaloes announced that they would join the Pacific-12 Conference in all sports beginning on July 1, 2011, leaving the Big 12 Conference.[2]

National championships

The University of Colorado Buffaloes have won 24 team national championships, 23 NCAA titles and one AIAW championship, the women's predecessor to the NCAA:

  • Skiing (18): 1959, 1960, 1972–1979, 1982 (both Men's and Women's in the final year before the sport became co-ed, men's NCAA and women's AIAW), 1991, 1995, 1998, 1999, 2006, 2011
  • Men's Cross Country (3): 2001, 2004, 2006
  • Women's Cross Country (2): 2000, 2004
  • Football (1): 1990[4]

Conference championships

The University of Colorado Buffaloes have won 2 team conference championships since joining the Pacific-12 Conference on July 1, 2011. The following is a list of the teams and years won.

  • Men's Cross Country (1): 2011
  • Women's Cross Country (1): 2011

The CU ski teams participate in the Rocky Mountain Intercollegiate Ski Association and have won 25 conference championships.

Historically, the Buffaloes won 27 team conference championships in its time in the Big 12 Conference, from the July 1, 1996 through June 30, 2011. The following is a list of the teams and years won.

  • Men's Cross Country (12): 1996-2007
  • Women's Cross Country (11): 1996-1997, 1999–2007
  • Women's Basketball (1): 1997 tournament
  • Football (1): 2001
    • Football also has 4 North Division championships 2001, 2002, 2004, & 2005.
  • Soccer (1): 2003
  • Men's Outdoor Track and Field (1) : 2008


The University of Colorado was a member of the Colorado Football Association in 1893, and became a charter member of the Colorado Faculty Athletic Conference in 1909, which changed its name a year later to Rocky Mountain Faculty Athletic Conference (RMFAC). Colorado left the RMFAC to become a charter member of the Mountain States Conference (a.k.a. Skyline Conference) in 1938. CU joined the Missouri Valley Intercollegiate Athletic Association in 1947, then commonly known as the Big Six, changing the common name to the Big Seven. In 1958, the conference added OSU to became the Big Eight Conference. It remained the Big 8 until 1996, when it combined with four member schools of the defunct Southwest Conference (Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, and Baylor) to create the Big 12 Conference. On July 1, 2011, the school joined the Pacific-12 Conference along with Utah. A total of 12 of CU's 16 varsity sports compete in the Pac-12, except the ski teams and indoor track & field teams. The ski teams participate in the Rocky Mountain Intercollegiate Ski Association (RMISA), of which is has been a member since 1947, along with fellow Pac-12 newcomer Utah. The indoor track & field teams will participate in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation as the Pac-12 doesn't sponsor indoor track.

The Colorado Buffaloes are represented in the following NCAA Division I varsity sports:

  • Men's & Women's teams
    • Basketball
    • Cross country
    • Golf
    • Skiing
    • Track and field (indoor and outdoor)
  • Women's sports


The Colorado football program is 16th on the all-time NCAA Division 1 win list and 22nd in all-time winning percentage (.614). Since Folsom Field was built in 1924, the Buffaloes have been 280-132-10 at home. The Nebraska game in 2006 was the school's 1100th football game.

Beginning competitive play in 1890, Colorado has enjoyed much success through its history. The team has won numerous bowl games (27 appearances in bowl games (12-15), 23rd (tied) all-time prior to 2004 season), 8 Colorado Football Association Championships (1894–1897, 1901–1908), 1 Colorado Faculty Athletic Conference (1909), 7 RFMAC Championships (1911, 1913, 1923, 1924, 1934, 1935, 1937), 4 Mountain States Conference Championships (1939, 1942–1944), 5 Big Eight (Six) conference championships (1961, 1976, 1989, 1990, 1991), 1 Big 12 conference championship (2001), 4 Big 12 North Championships (2001, 2002, 2004, 2005), and an Associated Press National Championship in 1990.

Colorado football also has one Heisman Trophy winner:

There have also been 9 unanimous All-Americans:

There are 5 players in the College Football Hall of Fame:

Bill McCartney is the most famous head coach, leading Colorado to their only National Championship Title in 1990.
The current head coach is Jon Embree

Men's basketball

1906 Colorado Buffaloes basketball team.

They play at the Coors Events Center on campus and are 313-151 (.674) at home, through the 2010 season when the team went 13-3.

Data through 2009-10 season
Coach Years Seasons Won Lost Pct. Conference Titles NCAA¹ NIT¹
Ricardo Patton 1996–2007 11 184 160 .535 0 2 3
Jeff Bzdelik 2007–2010 3 36 58 .383 0 0 0
Tad Boyle 2010–present 1 24 14 .632 0 0 1
Totals 110 1151 1106 .510

¹ Invitations

Women's basketball

Women's Basketball started at Colorado in 1975. The team has had seven coaches and the current coach is Linda Lappe.


The CU ski team competes as a member of the Rocky Mountain Intercollegiate Ski Association, as CU is one of two members of the Pac-12 along with Utah that competes in skiing. Colorado is one of the dominant programs in the NCAA in skiing, winning 17 National Championships, most recently in 2011. The Buffs also have one AIAW championship for 18 total national championships. The Buffs had finished second at the national championships the past three seasons, prior to winning the title in 2011. The Buffaloes have won 25 RMISA championships, most recently in 2011. The Buffaloes have had 50 individuals connected to the school participate in the Olympics 80 times. Colorado has had 83 individual NCAA Champions, including Reid Pletcher in the men's 20K classical race, and Eliska Hajkova in the women's 15K classical race, in 2011. Pletcher and Hajkova used the exact same pair of skis to win their individual titles just an hour or so apart.

Cross Country

Being at such a high altitude helps the runners in training. Colorado has won three NCAA Men's Cross Country Championships (2001, 2004, and 2006) and two NCAA Women's Cross Country Championships (2000 and 2004). The men's team also has won three individual titles (Adam Goucher, Jorge Torres, and Dathan Ritzenhein), while the women's side has won one (Kara Goucher). The men won the first 12 Big 12 Conference Titles in the Conference's history and the women won 11 of the first 12 (all but 1998-99), with the two teams combining for 23 of the 32 championships awarded before the Buffs left the Big 12 to join the Pac-12 in 2011.


Baseball, along with men's and women's gymnastics, men's and women's swimming and women's diving comprised seven sports that were discontinued on June 11, 1980 due to Title IX. The 1979-80 season was the last year of competition for the Buffaloes baseball team.[5]


CU Athletic Facilities
Facility Name Teams Capacity Largest Crowd Opened
Folsom Field football 53,750 54,972 (9/3/05 vs. Colorado State) 1924
Coors Events Center basketball, volleyball 11,064 11,363 (1/22/01 vs. Kansas) 1979
Prentup Field soccer 800 1,871 2004
Potts Field track and field 2,784 (Single Day); 6,000+ (3 Day total)
during 2008 Big 12 Track and Field Championships)
Balch Fieldhouse indoor track 4,000 1937
South Campus Tennis Complex tennis 2003
Buffalo Ranch CC Course cross country
Colorado National Golf Course golf
Eldora Mountain Resort skiing 1962

Club sports

Colorado has a very active and developed club sports system with over 30 sports. Many club sports used to be varsity sports but were disbanded in 1980 due to Title IX and some that overlap with varsity sports.

Notable Buffaloes


University of Nebraska

A traditional college football rivalry with the University of Nebraska Cornhuskers re-started in the 1980s (many historical documents show the importance of this game going back to 1898) when Bill McCartney declared the conference opponent to be their rival. His theory was since Nebraska was such a powerhouse team, if Colorado was able to beat them then they would be a good team. Colorado began to repeatedly threaten Nebraska in the late 1980s, following their win over the Huskers in 1986, and then surpassed the Huskers for the Big 8 crown in 1989.

In 1990, Colorado beat Nebraska 27–12 in Lincoln, for the first time in 23 years, en route to their first national championship. Between 1996 and 2000, the series was extremely competitive, with the margin of victory by NU in those five years being only 15 points combined. The rivalry was further buoyed by the introduction of the Big 12 Conference in 1996, which moved Oklahoma & Oklahoma State to the southern division with the four new schools from Texas, formerly in the Southwest Conference. Nebraska had traditionally finished the Big 8 conference schedule with a rivalry game with Oklahoma, but the two were now in different divisions, which meant they met every other year in the regular season. Colorado replaced Oklahoma as Nebraska's final conference game of the regular season, which further intensified the CU-NU rivalry. In 2001 Nebraska came to Folsom Field undefeated and left at the short end of a nationally televised 62–36 loss. Other sports have then taken on Nebraska also as their rival. Both teams departed the Big 12 in 2011, as NU headed east to join the Big Ten and the future of the rivalry is in doubt.

Nebraska currently leads the football series against Colorado 47–17–2.

Colorado State University

Colorado's in-state rival is Colorado State University of the Mountain West Conference, located north of Boulder in Fort Collins. The two schools are separated by 45 miles (72 km) and both consider it important and noteworthy to beat the other for bragging rights for the next year. The two football teams annually compete in the Rocky Mountain Showdown for the Centennial Cup, played in Denver and Boulder. The trophy takes its name from the state of Colorado's nickname of "The Centennial State."

Colorado currently leads the football series against Colorado State 59-20-2.

University of Utah

The intercollegiate rivalry with the University of Utah ran from 1903 through 1962, in which Utah and Colorado played each other nearly every year; through 1962 they had met 57 times.[6] At the time, it was the second-most played rivalry for both teams (Utah had played Utah State 62 times;[7] Colorado had played Colorado State 61 times[8]). The rivalry was discontinued in 1963, and the teams have not played each other since. Utah and Colorado will join the Pac-12 in 2011 and will be in the same six-team division, renewing the rivalry on an annual basis. The Utah-Colorado rivalry remains the fifth-most played rivalry in Utah's history, and the eighth-most played rivalry in Colorado's history.[9][10]

University of Colorado Athletic Hall-of-Fame

Criteria for automatic selection: Three-time all-conference selection, two-time All-American, trophy winner and/or previously retired jersey.

Class of 1998
Byron White (football, basketball, baseball, track, 1935-38)[11]
Class of 1999
Gil Cruter (track, 1934-37)[11]
Burdette "Burdie" Haldorson (basketball, 1952-55)[11]
William "Kayo" Lam (football, 1933-35)[11]
Joe Romig (football, 1959-61)[11]
Lisa Van Goor (basketball, 1981-85)[11]
Class of 2000
David Bolen (track, 1946-48)[11]
Jimmie Heuga (skiing, 1961-63)[11]
Dean Lahr (wrestling, 1962-64)[11]
Pat Patten (wrestling, cross country, track, 1940-47)[11]
Class of 2002
Dick Anderson (football, 1965-67)[11]
Harry Carlson (baseball coach, athletic director, 1927-65)[11]
Darian Hagan (football, 1988-91)[11]
Carroll Hardy (baseball, football, track, 1951-54)[11]
Hale Irwin (golf, football, 1964-67)[11]
Russell "Sox" Walseth (men’s and women’s basketball coach, 1956-76 and 1980-83)[11]
Class of 2004
Don Branby (football, basketball, baseball, 1949-52)[11]
Eddie Crowder (football coach, athletic director 1963-84)[11]
Cliff Meely (basketball, 1968-71)[11]
Frank Potts (track coach, 1927-68)[11]
Shelley Sheetz (basketball, 1991-95)[11]
Bill Toomey (track, 1959-61)[11]
John Wooten (football, 1956-58)[11]
Class of 2006
1959 NCAA Champion Ski Team[11]
Bobby Anderson (football)[11]
Fred Casotti (sports information director, historian)[11]
Adam Goucher (cross country, track, 1994-97)[11]
Bill Marolt (skiing champion, skiing coach, athletic director)[11]
Bill McCartney (football coach, 1982-94)[11]


The University has had several fight songs that have lost and gained popularity over the years. The oldest, "Glory Colorado", is sung to the tune of "Battle Hymn of the Republic" and has been around nearly as long as the school. Glory Colorado is considered to represent all campuses of the University. "Go Colorado" was originally sung exclusively by the Glee Club at football games, though it is now played and known almost exclusively by members of the Golden Buffalo Marching Band. The most popular of the three fight songs and the most widely recognized is "Fight CU." Originally sung by the football team, the song has gained enough popularity that few people outside the band know that it is not the only fight song of the university. The original version included the line "fight, fight for every yard" but the line was changed to "fight, fight for victory" to allow the song to be used for all sports, not just football.


The two mascots present at all football games are Ralphie,[12] a live buffalo, and Chip, a costumed mascot who was selected to the 2003 Capital One All-America Mascot Team and won the 2009 and 2010 UCA Mascot National Championships. Ralphie is actually Ralphie V and leads the football team onto the field at the beginning of the first and second halves. The tradition began in 1934 after the selection of Buffaloes as a nickname when a group of students paid $25 to rent a buffalo calf and cowboy as his keeper for the last game of the season. The calf was the son of Killer, a famed bison at Trails End Ranch in Fort Collins, CO. It took the cowboy and four students to keep the calf under control on the sidelines during the game, a 7-0 win at the University of Denver on Thanksgiving Day.


The official school colors are silver and gold, adopted in 1888 as a symbol of the mineral wealth of the state. In 1959, the athletic teams started using black and yellow, because silver and gold ended up looking like dirty white and dirty yellow. The colors have stuck and many are unaware that the official school colors are silver and gold.

On May 28, 1981, black was curiously replaced by "Sky Blue" by a mandate of the CU Board of Regents, to represent the color of the Colorado sky.[1][13] However, this color was different than the blue uniforms of the U.S. Air Force Academy. After three years, the blue was changed in 1984 to a darker shade, though still unpopular. In black and white photographs the players' numbers are nearly invisible. During a difficult 1-10 season in 1984, football head coach Bill McCartney employed black "throwback" jerseys for an emotional lift for the games against Oklahoma and Nebraska, without success.

In April 1985, the CU athletic teams were given the option of blue or black. The football team chose to wear black, and at Folsom Field the background for the signature "Colorado" arc (at the base of the seats behind the south end zone), blue for four years, was repainted black as well. On the football uniforms, the blue was reduced to a stripe on the sleeve for three seasons (1985–87) before being dropped completely in 1988. In 2007, CU debuted new football jerseys that reintegrated silver as a uniform color.[14]

External links


  • Davis, William E. "Bud" (1965). Glory Colorado! A history of the University of Colorado, 1858-1963. Boulder, CO: Prutt Press, Inc.. LD1178 .D35. 
  1. ^ a b c "CU Logo Evolution Fact Sheet". Retrieved 2007-01-09. 
  2. ^ a b
  3. ^ "America's Best Sports Colleges". Sports Illustrated. October 7, 2002. Retrieved 2007-06-20. 
  4. ^ The NCAA does not conduct a championship for Division I-A football. Instead, teams are awarded championships by various private organizations. Currently the recognized championships are awarded by the Associated Press poll and the Bowl Championship Series—however not always in unison.
  5. ^
  6. ^ "Colorado vs Utah". College Football Data Warehouse. Retrieved 2010-06-19. 
  7. ^ "Utah vs Utah St.". College Football Data Warehouse. Retrieved 2010-06-19. 
  8. ^ "Colorado vs Colorado St.". College Football Data Warehouse. Retrieved 2010-06-19. 
  9. ^ "Utah Opponents". College Football Data Warehouse. Retrieved 2010-06-19. 
  10. ^ "Colorado Opponents". College Football Data Warehouse. Retrieved 2010-06-19. 
  11. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac David Plati (2006-09-14). "CU Athletic Hall Of Fame To Induct Five, 1959 NCAA Ski Champions". Retrieved 2007-01-09. 
  12. ^ College football's 12 coolest mascots: 1. Ralphie the Buffalo, Colorado. Retrieved 2010-09-01.
  13. ^ "Colorado". Helmet Hut. Retrieved 2006-12-31. 
  14. ^ CU Unveils New Football Uniforms -—Official Athletics Web site of the University of Colorado

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