It has been almost exactly 30 years since Nebraska was circled in red.

On June 9, 1982, Bill McCartney was hired at Colorado.

Despite the Buffs' struggles on the gridiron, which included a 14-game losing skid against the Cornhuskers at the time, McCartney declared Big Eight powerhouse Nebraska to be CU's primary rival.

When McCartney's teams were finally in position to compete for conference and national championships, the legendary football coach implored Buffs fans to "keep the red out" of Folsom Field.

Three decades later, Tad Boyle is summoning his inner "Mac."

CU's third-year head coach has added former Big 12 rival Kansas to the non-conference schedule for the next two years. The Buffs will visit Allen Fieldhouse this season on Dec. 8.

CU coach Tad Boyle shows his intensity during the first half of the January 21, 2012  Arizona game in Boulder.For more photos of the game, go to
CU coach Tad Boyle shows his intensity during the first half of the January 21, 2012 Arizona game in Boulder. For more photos of the game, go to www.dailycamera.com. January 21, 2012 / Cliff Grassmick ( CLIFF GRASSMICK )

And when KU returns to Boulder on Dec. 7, 2013, Boyle doesn't want to hear a "Rock Chalk, Jayhawk" chant at the Coors Events Center.

"My challenge to the fans is we have to keep them out," Boyle said. "And we have to expand our season ticket base. I've been saying it since I became the coach here two years ago, until the Coors Events Center is sold out each and every home basketball game, we've got work to do."

Interest in the program has already increased dramatically since Boyle was hired on April 19, 2010. According to research done by the Chronicle of Higher Education, CU had the greatest attendance gain over the last four years of any Division I basketball program (2009 to 2012).

After averaging 4,637 fans during the 2008-09 season, CU averaged 7,804 fans last season (a 68 percent increase). St. John's was a distant second on the list with a 45 percent increase over the time frame.

The athletic department saw a 26 percent increase in basketball season ticket sales last season. CU athletic director Mike Bohn expects the trend to continue.

"I wouldn't anticipate us go backwards," Bohn said recently.

The Buffs have had nine sellouts over the past two seasons. All of them were Big 12 or Pac-12 Conference games (including KU's last visit).

Now the 2013 non-conference slate will have one guaranteed capacity crowd at the Coors Events Center.

But will the Buffs -- who are 32-4 (.889) at home under Boyle -- have a true home-court advantage when KU comes calling? The Jayhawks won the last 18 Big 12 meetings and are 40-26 all-time in Boulder.

"To me it will be a great challenge and a great test to see where Colorado basketball is two years from now," Boyle said. "We'll see how many Buff fans are in the gym versus how many Jayhawk fans are in the gym. Everybody knows in years past there have been more KU people than there should be."

There isn't a team in the Pac-12 that travels to Boulder the way Nebraska football fans or Kansas basketball fans used to for Big 12 games.

Still, Boyle wasn't happy that Arizona fans made their presence felt at the Coors Events Center during CU's 64-63 win on Jan. 21. This season UCLA will make its first trip to Boulder for a conference game.

"What I want to see is the arena filled with black and gold," Boyle said. "Obviously, there are going to be some Jayhawk fans that get in one way or another. But I want it to be a challenge to our fan base that the arena is predominantly black and gold like the Oregon game last year. ...

"We understand that it's incumbent upon us as coaches and players to put a team and a product out there that people want to support and get behind. I think we've done that."

CU will welcome a highly touted 2012 recruiting class to campus next week.

Boyle is putting the finishing touches on the most difficult schedule the Buffs have faced since he was hired, even though the roster will include one senior and six freshmen.

"We may take some licks next year, but it's only going to make us better," said Boyle, a Greeley native who played at KU. "I think this schedule will help us certainly as this program moves forward. It will help us in recruiting and it will help our players understand what they have to do to get to the top level of college basketball.

"We want to get into the top 25, that's where we want to go. We have to test ourselves in the non-conference and we have to play well."

The Buffs will also play in the Charleston Classic this Nov. 15-18. The field includes Auburn, Baylor, Boston College, College of Charleston, Dayton, Murray State and St. John's.

Air Force and Colorado State will highlight the Coors Events Center non-conference slate this season. The Buffs will face two more Mountain West teams, Fresno State and Wyoming, on the road.

"We didn't have to start the series with Wyoming or Air Force. We didn't have to continue the series with CSU," Boyle said. "We've chosen to do that because hopefully our fans are interested in those games. But if our CSU game isn't sold out, the question I will have to myself is: Why are we playing it?"

Before the 2012-13 schedule is released, Boyle needs to find a Division I opponent for the home opener, and the Pac-12 must finalize its television schedule.

"We have to keep getting better and raise the expectation level for this program, both internally and externally," Boyle said. "Playing Kansas is a good way to start doing that."