Things look dreary in Boulder these days when thinking about the future of Buff football. But when I lived in Louisville in the early 80's, when the team was struggling (1-10 in Bill McCartney's 3rd season) it was the same. No one back then could have predicted the Buffs would win a National Championship six years later.
To start the Buffs have to get rid of head coach Dan Hawkins. Just because McCartney struggled his first three years and eventually turned the program around doesn't mean that Hawkins will. The one thing McCartney had going for him was his amazing ability to recruit. Even in the 1-10 1984 season I was hearing good things about recruiting (which led to better years in the mid-80's). The people who follow college recruiting closer than I do say this year's Buff class is Hawkin's weakest and the worst Buff class in years. Unlike McCartney, Hawkin's recruiting classes seem to be getting progressively worse, not better.
This season is going to be a lame duck year for Hawkins - bringing him back for another year was a major mistake and delays the rebuilding project by one year.
But I do think there's still potential in Boulder to build a solid program, just like there was potential in McCartney's early years. Increasing the money invested in the program will help (see Neil Woelk's column about that). The next coach, like McCartney, has to be a great recruiter.