Bro, do you even Tad Boyle?
The Colorado Buffaloes are by no means a basketball program that travels well nationally. In comparison to a Kentucky or Duke, it is more like the program travels on the back roads of some downtrodden town without paved streets.
Hell, as far as casual college basketball fans are concerned — at least the sort who only come around during March — Boyle might as well be coaching at a university that gets to games on a horse and buggy.
That’s not a slight as much as it is the reality of the situation. Few universities come with a national following. That doesn’t mean, however, those same non-name-brand programs can’t make waves when it comes to the bigger picture.
For Boyle and the Buffaloes, these waves began in earnest the moment he joined the school after three years with Northern Colorado. Funny enough, he wasn’t an obvious hire for the university, as he only had one actual good season with the Bears.
Hindsight, a sports media person’s best friend, has allowed us to realize he is just that, though. Boyle, who is flawed in some ways, is the right man for the Colorado job. He was in 2010, had been while taking the team to four NCAA tournament appearances in six years, and will be moving forward — barring any unforeseen calamity or tomfoolery.
Despite operating in the Pac-12, and doing so well, the Buffaloes have mostly remained under-the-radar as far as programs who are not only having success, but are having the sort that is sustainable. We can point to a variety of reasons for that, but the latest example of it is actually from a singular recruit, Evan Battey.
Well, not so much Battey alone, but the entire 2017 class. He just so happens to be the latest commitment, which makes him the most topical.
Without most of the nation realizing it — with most of the eyes remaining on the blue blood programs of the world — Boyle has sneakily put together what is currently considered a top-10 recruiting class in the country… you know, at Colorado.
This is the same program, mind you, that only went to the NCAA Tournament three times from 1968 till the time Boyle arrived. Yet, somehow, Boyle has accomplished that — plus one time over — in merely six years. It is rather amazing, astonishing, and whatever other adjectives that can be gently hurled toward this entire thing that mostly just mean puzzling.
Anyway, this is obviously good news for the program. Colorado’s 2016 class is lackluster, but that’s mostly only on the surface, as a limited number of scholarships were available.
Does it hurt their chances in 2016-17 that the 2016 class was ho-hum? Of course. So, too, does the loss of Josh Scott, who ran out of years of eligibility. After the talented but now graduated forward, Colorado will move forward after a 22-win season with much of its roster still around, and many of those players — impact-types and otherwise — should help keep the ship ready until Boyle’s dynamic 2017 class enters the fray.
Hell, depending on transferring or early-declarations for the pros, a few players who were impact players last season — Dominique Collier and George King (who, by the way, is a sneaky pick for Pac-12 Player of the Year) — might still be there was upperclassmen to help the invasion of four-star recruits coming to campus adjust to their new lifestyles.
Regardless, things are looking really good for Colorado. Boyle is a good in-game coach, is succeeding on the recruiting trail, and has talent on his current roster that easily puts them in a position to continue to succeed in the Pac-12.
So, sure, let’s keep putting all our attention on all the other sexier Pac-12 programs. USC, UCLA, and now Washington, they all deserve the attention, hype, and praise — but while all of that is going on, rightfully so it is worth noting, Tad Boyle is hiding in college basketball’s dark recesses, just plucking top-tier recruits while no one is looking.
Who knows when the nation will notice it, but sooner or later we might have to acknowledge that Colorado is a legitimate thing in the sport, and it’s not going anywhere anytime soon.