A straw poll of some of the University of Colorado's major athletic department donors this week revealed that segment of the fan base to be frustrated with the football team's 0-2 start but still supportive of the coaching staff.
The Buffs are on the road Saturday for the first time this season at Fresno State hoping to win for the first time in 2012 before Pac-12 Conference play begins next week and opponents become significantly tougher.
Back in August, the first three games of the season appeared to be the most winnable on the schedule and securing victories in September was seen as critical if the Buffs would have any hope of meeting their No. 1 goal of playing in a bowl game for the first time since 2007. After losses to Colorado State and Sacramento State, those hopes seem all but lost and some fans and media members are questioning whether the Buffs might go winless this year for only the second time in history.
The program failed to win a game in its inaugural season of football back in 1890, going 0-4. The Buffs have won just one game in a season five times, most recently in 1984.
The Daily Camera contacted numerous CU boosters this week seeking opinions on the current state of the flagship program in the athletic department, how Jon Embree and his coaching staff have performed and what they believe needs to be done to get the Buffs winning again.
Some said they are content to be patient while Embree builds the roster to match his vision. Others said the school could be doing more to help the program. The Buffs have produced six consecutive losing seasons and seem to be on their way to a seventh.
"It would appear to me the university has put its football program at a disadvantage," said Greg Fulton who along with his wife, Ann, has supported the department for four decades. "There are a number of athletes who would like to go to the university but because of our high (academic) standards, they can't get in.
"...They aren't getting the students in there who can play football as well as the other teams. That's the problem."
Fulton said he believes hiring Embree was a good decision and he continues to believe it will prove to be over the long haul. He said there have been coaching mistakes this season but coaching is only one part of the equation in producing any successful team.
Steve Tebo, a Boulder-based real estate developer, did not attend CU but has been one of the athletic department's best supporters for years. Tebo drives the football team down the Pearl Street Mall at the stampede on Friday nights before home games in his 1956 fire truck.
Tebo said the program needs time to fully rebound from years of lackluster recruiting under former coach Dan Hawkins.
"The fact that we've lost some games isn't going to temper my support at all," Tebo said. "I understand it's a building situation and we've got to build a team and Embree has my full support."
Former CU basketball player Bob Bauers, a member of the Buff Club Cabinet, a group of donors who pay to have inside access to coaches and athletic director Mike Bohn, said he suffered through years of losing with the men's basketball program before it finally turned around in the past two seasons. While he would like to see better results from the football team, he hasn't lost his patience with Embree because he said turning around a football program is much more difficult than in basketball. He says it's going to take more time than 15 games.
"My take is why are people so upset after two games of a season and a year after Jon takes over?" Bauers said. "What did Hawkins leave him? Give me a break. You know what Hawkins left him.
"...I guess what I'm saying is let's give Jon a chance to grow in his job and give him a chance to get a couple or three recruiting classes and see what he can do. If you're going to make judgments on 15 games, is that all the patience we have in this country any more?"
The Buffs face a difficult task at Fresno State, a program that built a reputation for upsetting teams from Bowl Championship Series Conferences over the past decade. But a win for the 1-1 Bulldogs wouldn't be an upset Saturday. They are two touchdown favorites over CU.
FSU is coming off a loss at Oregon last week. For comparison sake, the Ducks beat the Buffs in Boulder last season 45-2. They beat the Bulldogs at home last week 42-25.
One CU booster pointed to Oregon as a school that CU should emulate in terms of supporting its football program.
"It's interesting that some of the other teams that you would like to be as good as like Oregon and some of the other teams, it's amazing how quick they come back from down years," Fulton said. "It's amazing that Alabama turned so quickly. We all know. They've got encouragement from the administration of the school and they've got damn good coaches.
"It doesn't take a genius to read the newspapers and figure out that some universities are encouraging more status in the football arena than the University of Colorado. It's a shame really."