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Colorado Buffaloes
University University of Colorado at Boulder
Conference Big 12
NCAA Division I
Athletics director Mike Bohn
Location Boulder, CO
Varsity teams 16
Football stadium Folsom Field
Basketball arena Coors Events Center
Mascot Ralphie (live); Chip (costume)
Nickname Buffaloes
Fight song Fight CU
Colors Silver and Gold


Mike Bohn at the 2005 Spring Practice game.

The University of Colorado at 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 US$5 prize in 1934 won by Andrew Dickson of Boulder, Colorado. They participate in the NCAA's Division I (I-FBS in football), in the North Division of the Big 12 Conference. The University's current athletic director is Mike Bohn (since April 13, 2005). Colorado has won 22 National Championships in its history, with most in skiing. It was ranked #14 of "America's Best Sports College" in a 2002 analysis performed by Sports Illustrated.[2] In June 2007, the Buffaloes were placed under probation for two years and fined $100,000 for undercharging 133 student-athletes for meals over a six year span (2000-01 to 2005-06) resulting in the major infraction.[3] The football program, with 86 of the 133 student-athletes involved, also lost one scholarship for the next three seasons.[3]



Football was introduced to the Boulder campus in 1890. Early games, which bore more resemblance to rugby than modern American 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 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. In this year, 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. 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.


National Championships

The University of Colorado Buffaloes have won 22 team national championships. The following is a list of the teams and years won:

Conference Championships

The University of Colorado Buffaloes have won 27 team conference championships since the formation of the Big 12 Conference. The following is a list of the teams and years won. Skiing is not sponsored by the conference.

  • 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

Varsity sports

The University of Colorado was a member of the Colorado Football Association in 1893. Next, they 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 aka (Skyline Conference) in 1938. They then joined the Missouri Valley Intercollegiate Athletic Association, commonly known as the Big Six, in 1947 changing the common name to the Big Seven. In 1958 it became the Big Eight Conference. It remained the Big 8 until 1996 when four more universities were added to the conference and created the Big 12 Conference.

List of Varsity Sports at University of Colorado

Men's sports

  • Basketball
  • Cross country
  • Football
  • Golf
  • Skiing
  • Track and field (Indoor)
  • Track and field (Outdoor)

Women's sports

  • Basketball
  • Cross country
  • Golf
  • Skiing
  • Soccer
  • Tennis
  • Track and field (Indoor)
  • Track and field (Outdoor)
  • Volleyball


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

Beginning in 1884, 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 8 unanimous All-Americans:

There are 4 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 coach is Dan Hawkins beginning in 2006.

Men's basketball

1906 Colorado Buffaloes basketball team.

They play at the Coors Events Center on campus and are 267-119 (.692) (Prior to 2005 season) at home.

Data through 2006-07 season
Coach Years Seasons Won Lost Pct. Conference Titles NCAA¹ NIT¹
Ricardo Patton 1996-2006 11 184 160 .535 0 2 3
Jeff Bzdelik 2007-pres 1 12 20 .375 0 0 0
Totals 106 1104 1074 .507

¹ Invitations

Women's Basketball

Women's Basketball started at Colorado in 1975. The team has had six coaches and the current coach is Kathy McConnell-Miller.


The Ski team competes as a member of the Rocky Mountain Intercollegiate Ski Association as the Big 12 does not sponsor skiing. Colorado is one of the dominant programs in the NCAA in skiing winning 16 National Championships, most recently in 2006, and is always nationally ranked and the only Big 12 school to win.

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 have also won all 12 Big 12 Conference Titles in the Conference's history. The women have won 11 of the 12 Conference Championships (all but 1998-99).


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) 1984
Balch Fieldhouse indoor track 4,000 1937
South Campus Tennis Complex tennis 2003
Buffalo Ranch CC Course cross country

Club Sports

Colorado has a very active and developed club sports system with over 30 sports. Many 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 early 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 1980's, following their win over the Huskers in 1986, and then surpassed the Huskers for the Big 8 crown in 1989.

The rivalry continued in the late 1980s. Colorado traveled to Nebraska to play for the Big 8 title in 1990. The Buffs won the game, 27–12, en route to their first National Championship.

In 1990, Colorado beat Nebraska in Lincoln, for the first time in 23 years. 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. 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.

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

Colorado State University

Colorado's in-state rival is Colorado State University. The two schools are separated by 45 miles and both schools 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. The trophy takes its name from the state of Colorado's nickname of "The Centennial State."

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)[5]
Class of 1999
Gil Cruter (track, 1934-37)[5]
Burdette "Burdie" Haldorson (basketball, 1952-55)[5]
William "Kayo" Lam (football, 1933-35)[5]
Joe Romig (football, 1959-61)[5]
Lisa Van Goor (basketball, 1981-85)[5]
Class of 2000
David Bolen (track, 1946-48)[5]
Jimmie Heuga (skiing, 1961-63)[5]
Dean Lahr (wrestling, 1962-64)[5]
Pat Patten (wrestling, cross country, track, 1940-47)[5]
Class of 2002
Dick Anderson (football, 1965-67)[5]
Harry Carlson (baseball coach, athletic director, 1927-65)[5]
Darian Hagan (football, 1988-91) [5]
Carroll Hardy (baseball, football, track, 1951-54)[5]
Hale Irwin (golf, football, 1964-67)[5]
Russell "Sox" Walseth (men’s and women’s basketball coach, 1956-76 and 1980-83)[5]
Class of 2004
Don Branby (football, basketball, baseball, 1949-52)[5]
Eddie Crowder (football coach, athletic director 1963-84)[5]
Cliff Meely (basketball, 1968-71)[5]
Frank Potts (track coach, 1927-68)[5]
Shelley Sheetz (basketball, 1991-95)[5]
Bill Toomey (track, 1959-61)[5]
John Wooten (football, 1956-58)[5]
Class of 2006
1959 NCAA Champion Ski Team[5]
Bobby Anderson (football)[5]
Fred Casotti (sports information director, historian)[5]
Adam Goucher (cross country, track, 1994-97)[5]
Bill Marolt (skiing champion, skiing coach, athletic director)[5]
Bill McCartney (football coach, 1982-94)[5]


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 Mascot present at all football games is the Ralphie, a live buffalo, and Chip, a costumed mascot who was selected to the 2003 Capital One All-America Mascot Team and won the 2009 UCA Mascot National Championship. 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 most people don't even know the 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.[6][1] 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, 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.[7]

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" (in English) (HTML). Retrieved 2007-01-09.  
  2. ^ "America's Best Sports Colleges". Sports Illustrated. October 7, 2002. Retrieved 2007-06-20.  
  3. ^ a b "Colorado put on probation, fined $100,000 for undercharging meals".  
  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. ^ 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" (in English) (HTML). Retrieved 2007-01-09.  
  6. ^ "Colorado" (in English) (HTML). Helmet Hut. Retrieved 2006-12-31.  
  7. ^ CU Unveils New Football Uniforms -—Official Athletics Web site of the University of Colorado


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