Ryan Thorburn, Camera Sports Writer
Ryan Thorburn, Camera Sports Writer ( PAUL AIKEN )

Sadly, there will probably be a longer line to get into your nearest Wal-Mart than at this year's Black Friday event at Folsom Field.

Colorado football is 1890 bad.

That doesn't mean Buffs fans don't have anything to be thankful for in 2012.

Here's a pre-holiday six-pack of cheer for all the optimists out there:

1. Tad Boyle

The 2012-13 Buffs might be better than last season's memorable group, which cut down the nets at the Pac-12 Tournament and upset UNLV in the NCAA Tournament. They're definitely playing at a higher level in November.

After the impressive championship run at the Charleston Classic (wins over Dayton, then-No. 16 Baylor and Murray State), season ticket sales are at 6,400 and counting, up 60 percent from last year's record 3,941.

No. 23 CU will puts its first Associated Press ranking since Chauncey Billups was the point guard on the line this Sunday against Air Force at the Coors Events Center. Only about 800 tickets left for the Front Range showdown.

2. Nick Kasa

There aren't a lot of positive developments on the Dal Ward side of campus this year, but Kasa's play at tight end has been remarkable considering his lack of experience at the position.

The 6-6, 260-pound senior has made an amazing one-year transition from playing on the defensive line to emerging as the go-to-target in CU's otherwise cadaverous passing game.

One NFL general manager will make himself look really smart this April by taking a chance on the raw but capable Kasa.


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3. June 10, 2010

The conference realignment saga continued this week as Maryland (ACC) and Rutgers (Big East) announced that they are moving to the Big Ten, which is now headed for 14 ... and counting?

San Diego State is still planning to leave the Mountain WEST for the Big EAST. The school's geography department has apparently been cut from the budget.

Even though the Buffs are light years away from competing with Oregon, USC and Stanford on the gridiron, some of CU's programs have benefited greatly from the move from the Big 12. The exposure and money generated by the Pac-12 television deal is going to help the entire athletic department.

CU did well to get ahead of the trend as the first school to make a move.

4. Study table production

The Buffs have been blown out by seven consecutive Pac-12 teams, but Jon Embree's team owns bragging rights over its peers on the conference's all-academic team.

Sophomore quarterback Connor Wood (3.55 GPA, finance), junior defensive lineman Nate Bonsu (3.42, international affairs), senior defensive lineman Will Pericak (3.45, accounting), and sophomore wide receiver Justin Gorman (3.61, finance) all made first team.

Senior wide receiver Dustin Ebner (3.47, integrative physiology), freshman wide receiver Nelson Spruce (3.73, business), freshman offensive lineman Brad Cotner (3.34, arts and sciences), freshman offensive lineman Stephane Nembot (3.20, international affairs), freshman defensive back Isaac Archuleta (3.09, business), sophomore place-kicker Will Oliver (3.66, management) and freshman defensive back Richard Yates (3.60, mechanical engineering) were on the second team.

Five more Buffs were honorable mention. Final score -- Colorado 16, Stanford 12.

5. Spring football

The last seven seasons of CU football have been so bad that fans are aging in dog years. Which means they're well on their way to catching up to long suffering Cubs diehards.

As they say on the north side of Chicago: Wait until next year.

In the Buffs' case it's: Hope springs eternal.

There is no logical reason for wide-eyed optimism based on what we've witnessed this fall, but what if ...

Shane Dillon is a star. Paul Richardson, Jeffrey Thomas and Gerald Thomas are the starting wide receivers. The offensive line actually plays like the strongest unit on the team. Defenses aren't putting extra players in the box to tackle Christian Powell.

The freshmen defensive linemen (Tyler Henington, Justin Solis, Josh Tupou) and defensive backs (Kenneth Crawley, Marques Mosley, Yuri Wright) have their revenge. Vincent Hobbs picks up where Kasa leaves off. The next generation of linebackers bring back the tradition of excellence.

6. Utah joining the Pac-12

CU's highlight in football as a Pac-12 member was last season's upset in Salt Lake City that gave 28 seniors something to smile about and ended the program's humiliating 24-game out-of-state losing skid.

The Buffs have a chance to repeat the feat on Friday against another mediocre Utah team. This time the Utes (4-7), who were knocked out of the conference championship game by CU last November, aren't even playing for bowl eligibility.

It appears misery loves company for the two Pac-12 newcomers. Even if CU becomes the first team in Folsom Field history not to win a home game, the Utes are still going to be awful again in basketball.

Thankfully, this football season is almost over.

Follow Ryan on Twitter: @RyanThorburn