NIWOT -- Colorado basketball fans are falling in love with Tad Boyle.
You can't blame them. He's taking them dancing. He has provided a seat for them at the cool kids' table. He has them feeling good about themselves like they should have been here all along. They're confident, joyful and proud to be finally getting noticed at this time of year.
The thing is, this is like the prettiest girl in school dating the goofy kid who knows he's a bit out of his league.
It can't last.
Or can it?
Colorado won its first conference tournament championship in more than four decades and earned a spot in the NCAA Tournament over the weekend. Boyle hosted a crowd of more than 100 at his home, including his assistant coaches and their families, his players, athletic department staffers, boosters and media Sunday afternoon to learn "who the Buffs were going to take down next" as he said prior to the tournament selection show.
They didn't have to wait long. They were slotted into the No. 11 seed in the first region revealed and will play sixth-seeded UNLV in Albuquerque on Thursday.
There are those who believe it's only a matter of time before a perennial power in college basketball needs a new coach and comes calling on Boyle, stealing these blissful scenes away in the process.
They worry the money will be too much for poor CU to match. They worry the opportunity to lead a program with more prestige and tradition will be too tempting. They worry these hoop dreams they're living can never become the norm in football-obsessed Boulder.
They worry too much.
Boyle might very well leave CU one day, but he doesn't sound like a man using his home state's flagship school as a stepping stone. He said Sunday he wanted everyone to return to his house again this year after last year's selection show party disaster "to flush the karma out of this room."
He went on to say he would like to host similar parties on future selection Sundays either in the Coors Events Center or in one of the gyms in the basketball practice facility, allowing more supporters of the program to take part in the celebration.
Doesn't sound like a guy who can't wait for Kansas or UCLA to ask for his phone number. It sounds like a man building something for the long haul. He said one of his biggest challenges this week will be getting his players to play with the same relentless effort they did during the conference tournament. He said he doesn't want any of his guys feeling like they're just happy to be here.
"That's something we're going to talk about," he said. "We're not just happy to be here. We're playing for a national championship. We've got to get that in our mind and get our minds right."
The thing that has made Boyle a success wherever he has gone as a basketball coach is the thing that might keep him here in Boulder for years to come. He's never satisfied with the results even when the results are pretty darn good. He believes he can do better. He wants to do better.
Boyle says his team a year ago was robbed of an NCAA Tournament berth he believed it had earned. The Buffs might have been easy to overlook at this time last year because of their lack of tradition and no sustained history of success.
The Buffs kicked down the door of the tournament this year making it impossible to be overlooked by winning the Pac-12 title.
"They didn't invite us to this party, we're crashing it," Boyle said.
Ultimately Boyle aims to build a program that is in the conversation every year. There is no reason the Colorado basketball program can't rise up and meet that vision, competing for the Pac-12 title, the best recruits and the spotlight on selection Sunday every March.
"I don't feel like we've earned the respect we deserve yet," Boyle said. "We got a lot of work to do on that -- nationally. These last four days have helped that, but again the perception of our league isn't great nationally, so I don't know if we've climbed on anybody's radar saying, 'Colorado basketball is for real now.' We've got to go prove that and we have a chance to do that Thursday."
He's really just scratching the surface of what he might be able to accomplish here.
His team could win the first NCAA Tournament game for the school since 1997 this week. A second victory would set a new school record for wins in a season. Boyle still hasn't driven the program back into the national rankings or won a regular-season conference title or won consistently on the road for that matter.
As the celebration erupted around him in his living room Sunday afternoon, Boyle smiled but remained calm and seated in a chair on the side of the room. He looked like a man happy with where he is but far from satisfied.